Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Veteran Victory

To continue my nautical theme from last weeks ABC entry here is HMS Victory, the oldest naval ship still in commission.   Launched in 1765 it is both flagship of the First Sea Lord and a living museum to the Georgian navy.  The statue in the foreground is of a sailor carrying part of a field gun. Today this is a competition between teams to transport a field gun over obstacles in the shortest time, dismantling, reassembling and firing.  The origins date from the Siege of Ladysmith (1899/1900) when naval guns were taken off ships and transported overland to help relieve the siege. The current record (set in 2010) is 1 minute and 17.78 seconds and the team holding the record, HMS Naval Base Portsmouth,  is located not too far away from  the Victory.  HMS Victory was moved to Portsmouth in 1922 is crewed by a mix of Royal Navy sailors and staff from the National Museum of the Royal Naval.
You will notice that the ship  has rather a lot of guns, 104 to be precise, but all is not what it seems. Only one of them is real all the rest are made of fibreglass.  If they were the original cast iron cannons the weight would damage the ship without the support of seawater as Victory sits in a dry dock
Although HMS Victory was present at a number of battles it is most famously remembered for the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar in the Napoleonic Wars and the  tactical imagination of the commander Admiral Lord Nelson
who was always loosing bits himself in naval battles and in this ship he met his end.   There are disputes to whereabouts on board he died but
not as to where his cabin was, here astern. I don't know if the windows were smashed in battle to the extent that is always dramatically shown in nautical and pirate films, but apart from that  the cabins always looked the perfect way to travel.  With a crew of 850 other accommodation would not be as convivial.
At the moment this and the first photo is not the present view as the topmasts and rigging have been struck, that is taken down.  They have been dismantled as part of the ships restoration.  Wooden ships need constant repair but this is the first time they have been taken down since 1944.
Time to be piped on board? No this is as far as I got   Despite having mooched around Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on numerous occasions over the years I have never gone on any of the vessels. The reason being that we are usually don't have enough time as are about to sail on a more prosaic ferry to continental Europe. This may also be the reason I don't seem to have taken a photo of Victory's bow or  figurehead or maybe it was the overcast day.

So this photo of a poster produced for the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar which was on the wall in one of the dockyard buildings will have to do for the moment.

An entry to ABC Wednesday - a sail through the alphabet


Nora at Island Rambles said...

I love the old ship...we had a wonderful time here when the tall ships came from all over the world. But this ship puts them all to shame! Excellent shots!

Jama said...

That is one gorgeous ship!

Roger Owen Green said...

such skill in making a war VESSEL.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Martha said...

That is quite the ship!

Leslie: said...

The workmanship on that boat - well, ship! - is magnificent! It would have been terrible had it been blown to bits!

abcw team

Gerald (SK14) said...

lovely history - remember visiting it once upon a time but remember no details about it.