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Flagship of The Second Sea Lord, HMS Victory lies in dry dock in Portsmouth, England.

Victory is possibly one of the most famous ships in the world. Flagship of the British fleet, she was Lord Horatio Nelson's ship when he died victorious at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and is now the oldest warship in continuous commission. Victory was launched in 1765, and commissioned in 1778. She first became Flagship of Admiral The Hon Augustus Keppel and is currently under the charge of Vice Admiral Peter Spencer. She was a fine warship of her time and fought many successful battles. Despite the fact that she is seen as a museum piece, she is still a part of the Royal Navy and is used for many and varied official functions.

The ship has 3 main masts and a bowsprit. There are over 26 miles of rigging and nearly 5,500 metres of canvas was used in the 37 sails, the largest of which is still in existence (complete with over 90 shot holes). The ship was built from mainly oak, but also elm and fir, from an estimated 6000 trees.

The Battle of Trafalgar is the most famous of Victory's successful campaigns. It was this Battle which stole the hearts of the British public and was therefore instrumental in ensuring that she remained as a national monument. Victory's active service was completed in 1812, after which she was moored in Portsmouth Harbour. In 1831 Thomas Masterman Hardy (Victory's Captain at Trafalgar) decreed that she should be broken up, but, on his wife's insistance, he cancelled the order the very next day, even though the Navy was at a loss as to what to do with her!

Years of neglect took their toll on HMS Victory, and by 1921 she was nearing her end. A national campaign was set up, the 'Save the Victory Fund' and the money raised was put towards restoring her to her former glory as she would have been at the Battle of Trafalgar. Restoration work is ongoing, but was stopped during World War II and the masts and rigging were removed. At this time the ship narrowly escaped complete destruction when a bomb fell into the dry dock and blasted a huge hole in her side. This was repaired but by the 1950s Death Watch Beetle was her biggest enemy. However this was eradicated successfully by fumigation and the most seriously rotted timbers were replaced.

Trafalgar Day - 21st October, has been proposed by government as a possible candidate for an autumnal Bank Holiday

http://www.hms-victory.com is a very comprehensive site for anyone interested in facts, figures and statistics.

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