CASE STUDY | HMS Victory Conservation Project

CASE STUDY: HMS Victory Conservation Project

ML UK collaborated with BAE Systems to provide a unique solution to help conserve HMS Victory

THE REQUIREMENT

The world-renown 256-year old naval warship, HMS Victory, which is berthed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as the Royal Navy’s museum, required essential restoration work.

Following almost a century of being supported by her original 22 cradles, HMS Victory’s hull and superstructure was significantly warping and deforming at a rapid pace, therefore a long-term solution was required, and swiftly, to avoid long lasting damage, which could potentially result in a devastating outcome.

ABOUT HMS VICTORY

Regarded as the most famous historic vessel of all time and officially the oldest commissioned warship in the world, HMS Victory launched from Chatham’s Royal Dockyard on the 7th May 1765 as a First Rate carrying 116 guns and a crew of 960.

By 1797 HMS Victory was in a poor state and was initially re-fitted as a hospital ship, then in 1799 she returned to Chatham for a significant refit. Over, what followed, as an unusually long service for a vessel of her type, HMS Victory led fleets in the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic War.

In 1805 she achieved lasting fame as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Nelson in Britain’s greatest naval victory, the defeat of the French and Spanish at the Battle of Trafalgar. She then went on to lead the fleet into the Baltic on another venture. In 1812 HMS Victory was relegated to harbour service and served as a resident flagship and accommodation tender.

Over many decades she fell into disrepair, however in 1922, as Britain’s most celebrated warship of all time, she was saved for the nation. She relocated permanently into Number 2 Dry Dock in Portsmouth, coincidentally being the world’s oldest working dry dock, where she remains today as a museum of the Royal Navy, visited by 25 million visitors.

THE SOLUTION

Working with The National Museum of the Royal Navy who operate the HMS Victory Museum, the ML UK and BAE Systems restoration teams designed a new support system whereby 134 customised stainless steel props would be installed to provide full support to the centuries-old oak hull. In addition, each prop would need to be calibrated and adjustable to operate with a fully integrated hull monitoring system, to constantly analyse the hull’s loading. This new system enabled precision adjustments to be made, to both resolve the rapidly deforming of the hull, and to mitigate its recurrence.

“[ML UK] are fantastic contractors who know exactly what they’re doing inside and out”

THE RESULT

Having collaborated with BAE Systems’ design team from the outset, and also on other projects previously, including the Royal Navy’s newly launched aircraft carrier’s fendering system and other maritime conservation projects, ML UK was subsequently awarded the project to manufacture and install the stainless steel prop support system.

Joe Liney, Director of ML UK comments, “The HMS Victory conservation project was a lengthy and complex task, with the props needing to precisely deliver the correct torque before, without placing any further undue stress on the exceptionally heavy timber hull, which could have resulted in a devastating outcome due to her fragility.”

Joe continues, “It was essential that each support prop could be adjusted individually, therefore the ML UK Conservation Teams painstakingly ensured that each of the 134 props was calibrated to the precise calculation dictated by the intelligence provided with the pioneering customised monitoring system, being the first of its kind in the world. We have been delighted to work within the conservation team once again on this exciting project providing long term support to Britain’s most celebrated warship.”

CONCLUSION

Andrew Baines, Project Director at The National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: “HMS Victory is a unique museum object of international importance… The new support system design and the installation process has been painstakingly developed over the past five years. The expertise we have gained, will not only safeguard HMS Victory’s future but help us to support other historic ships around the world.”

The three-year maritime conservation project was completed by ML UK on time and to budget, with HMS Victory now secure and fully prepared to welcome another 25 million visitors over its decks.

For further information regarding this restoration or other projects, please contact Joe Liney on 02392 819144 or email info@ml-uk.co.uk.

ML restores D-Day Landing Craft to former glory

ML restores D-Day Landing Craft to former glory

LCT 7074 being transported to her new home

ML UK’s three-year vessel restoration of the last remaining D-Day veteran WWI landing craft has now reached its conclusion.

LCT7074 was a sinking hulk when she was discovered in Birkenhead, UK. Her twin steel hulls were delaminated, and over 99% of the vessel was submerged in salt water, resulting in the ship rapidly being destroyed. Built and launched in 1944 on the River Tyne, the 57-metre LCT7074 is the last remaining LCT located in the UK and the sole survivor of the Normandy Landings.

Following a stringent tender process, ML UK was selected to conduct all aspects of the restoration, having worked with the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) on other complex projects including the extensive restoration of the 1859 Royal Navy’s 40-gun steam-powered armoured frigate floating museum, the HMS Warrior.

The works encompassed all aspects of the project, from airbag lift to surface, to the careful move to a semi-submersible ship for her transportation, through to cleaning out tonnes of filthy sea water, to removing and replacing 200 tonnes of steel, building and fitting a new hydraulic 4-metre bow door, to the meticulous hand-painting of every square inch of the landing craft. An enormous, dead eel was an unwelcome surprise discovered hidden between the double hulls whilst the team was removing 80 tonnes of silt and debris. Whilst much of the work was heavy slog, at all times the teams needed to operate delicately in order to preserve as much of the existing vessel as possible and it was also key that the LCT was to be restored to closely resemble its D-Day configuration.

Part of a £4.9m project encompassing several Portsmouth museums, the LCT 7074 restoration was achieved through a partnership between The D-Day Story and the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), funded by The National Lottery.

Moving the completed 300-tonne LCT7074 was a complex three-day operation. She was first moved onto a barge and towed across Portsmouth Harbour to Southsea beach, where she was carefully beached then transported along the waterfront road to her final position. A purpose-built exhibition hangar has been constructed to protect her and her visitors from the elements, where LCT7074 is display with two refurbished WWII tanks which were also installed on her decks.

The restored LCT7074 is due to be officially unveiled to the public in 2021 once lockdown is lifted.

Mick Liney, MD of ML UK comments, “As always, it is a privilege to work with the National Museum for the Royal Navy and The D-Day Story, and particularly on such an interesting project. The unique nature of this rare vessel made it extremely challenging, however we ensured that it was delivered exactly on time and to budget.”

Watch the videos of the restoration here. To discuss your restoration or ship refit requirements, please contact the team at ML on phone 02392 819114 or click here to send a mail.

Images (c) courtesy of Maritime Films UK