Posts Tagged ‘HMS Victory’

HMS Victory (2)

Posted: March 27, 2014 in History
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Following her withdrawal from active service HMS victory was sent to Portsmouth harbour to act as a depot ship for the naval dockyard. There seemed to be little interest in her in the following years, although Princess Victoria is recorded as visiting the ship in 1833. In 1889 the ship became part of the naval school of Telegraphy until this moved to a permanent base at Chatham dockyard. In 1903, Victory was holed by HMS Neptune, which had broken free whilst it was being towed from the dockyard for scrapping. Emergency work managed to prevent the ship from sinking, but it now seemed likely that it, too, would be scrapped and it was only the intervention of King Edward VII which prevented this from being carried out.



In 1905 and 1910 some efforts were made to commence preservation of the ship, but it was not until the ‘Save the Victory’ campaign of 1921 there any real progress was made. Victory was moved to drydock in Portsmouth harbour in January of 1922 and restoration was commenced. This work continued over the years that followed only being interrupted by the Second World War, during which victory was damaged by a bomb, which was dropped on the dockyard. It is interesting to note that some restoration work identified in 1922, was not finally carried out until 2012. The restoration work continues today – currently work is being done on her masts and outer planking. HMS Victory is still listed as an active naval ship, officially serving as the flagship of the first Sea Lord (The head of the Royal Navy).

A visit to Portsmouth allowed me an opportunity to spend a couple of hours in the historic naval dockyard. The main purpose of my visit was to see the new Mary Rose exhibition, which had opened since I was last there. I will post about the museum once I have sorted out the photos that I took on the day.
On the way to the new exhibition hall, I had to pass HMS Victory and whilst I did not have time to go on board (this will have to wait for another day) I thought I would still do a couple of posts on the history of the ship.


HMS Victory is a hundred and four gun ship of the line which was built at Chatham starting in the year 1759. It was only one of 10 ships of this size that were been built in the 18th century. The name Victory was chosen to replace the ship of a similar name which had been lost at sea with all hands in 1744. The keel frame was laid, but then work came to a halt and was not restarted until 1763. Two years later Victory was finally launched, but by now the war was over and she was moored on the River Medway as part of the reserve fleet and didn’t receive a commission until 1778. In her role as Admiral’s flagship she saw action at the first and second battles of Ushant (1778/1780), the siege of Gibraltar(1782) and the Battle of Cape St Vincent(1797) where she was the flagship of Admiral Jervis. Interesting to note that one Capt. Horatio Nelson was also present at this battle commanding one of the ships in Jervis’s fleet. As a result of this battle Victory was declared unfit as a warship and returned to Chatham dockyard where she saw service as a hospital ship. But in 1800 work was started to return her to warship status.

Gunports on HMS Victory

Gunports on HMS Victory

HMS Victory -Stern Cabins

HMS Victory -Stern Cabins

On 31st July 1803, Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson raised his flag on Victory when she joined his fleet in the Mediterranean. On 19 October, she was involved in the Battle of Trafalgar, during which she was badly damaged and Nelson was killed. As a result of the damage susytained she was towed back to Gibraltar for re-fitting. Back in active service she continued to serve as an Admiral’s flagship until she was finally withdrawn from service in 1812, and sent to Portsmouth harbour to act as a depot ship.