A very popular tourist attraction in the UK is collapsing under its own weight. HMS Victory, Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, needs 136 metal props fitted as the historic vessel’s deck sinks towards its keel (a ship’s backbone) by a fifth of an inch (0.5cm) each year.
The ship is also slowly falling backwards, away from the bowsprit – HMS Victory’s front end – and water is getting into the hull.
‘We spent the best part of two years undertaking laser scanning. We now have a structural model of Victory that has got 89.25 billion measurements in it and from the model we have been able to understand what is causing the ship to move – to collapse, if you like, commented Andrew Baines, head of historic ships at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
‘From that finding we know how to stop the problem and arrest the movement and that is where the 136 new struts come in.
‘We have got plenty of problems with the ship moving and we have an issue where there is a quite a lot of water getting in to the hull.
‘The most important thing for us to do is work on the ship’s structure to stop water getting in, stop the rot and stop us losing any more really valuable historical material in the ship.’
Once Victory’s struts are in place and the ship is solid, her main masts will be replaced.