Skip to main content

HMS Victory

Volume 478: debated on Monday 23 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the state of preservation of HMS Victory, with particular reference to (a) rot and (b) distortion of timbers. (211494)

[holding answer 18 June 2008]: The MOD is committed to maintaining HMS Victory in a sound material state for the nation for generations to come. To achieve this, a planned maintenance regime is in place that includes regular whole ship surveys.

In the late 1990s a new technique was adopted to ascertain the extent of rot in the ship’s timbers and in particular the ship’s hull planking. A survey in 2002 identified an increase in the rot in the hull planking; it also enabled the Department to predict the rate of decay. Subsequent surveys have confirmed these findings.

As a result of the 2002 survey, we started work to secure legal and sustainable hull planks to replace the rotten ones. Sufficient material has now been obtained and work on the hull is scheduled to start towards the end of 2008.

A system for monitoring the movement and form of HMS Victory has been in place since the 1970s, with an improved system being installed in 2005 that allows accurate measurements to be taken on a monthly basis. The movement of the ship is well understood and there is no evidence of any movement of the ship as a result of the degradation of the hull planking.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what funding has been made available for the preservation of HMS Victory; and what programme of work (a) has been carried out and (b) remains to be completed. (211495)

[holding answer 18 June 2008]: Since HMS Victory's restoration was completed for Trafalgar 200 in 2005, returning the ship to its 1805 Battle of Trafalgar condition, only essential repair work has been carried out. Since then, MOD has undertaken detailed research to develop a full understanding of the structural condition of the ship and its construction. This has enabled the Department to select the correct materials for future repairs and to fully understand where and how repairs are to be carried out.

The most significant task to be completed is the replacement of much of the hull planking. In addition, a structure in the After Hold that was removed many years ago, before restoration commenced, is to be reinstated to improve the structural integrity of the ship.

The work is expected to take several years due to the complex nature of the task, but will enable its condition to be assured for several generations.

Sufficient funding is already in place for the most critical packages of work; additional funding will be sought as necessary in accordance with normal MOD processes.