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HMS Victory

Best known for her role in the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Victory currently has a dual role as the flagship of the Second Sea Lord and as a living museum to the Georgian Navy. Her Majesty’s Ship Victory is the only surviving naval warship that represents the skill of naval dockyard shipwrights, ship designers and the industrial ability of Britain during the mid-18th Century.

“Being in command of HMS Victory for the past 3 years has been a great honour for me. It is without doubt the best job in the Royal Navy that someone of my rank can undertake and I am very privileged to have served onboard her.

Lieutenant Commander DJ ‘Oscar’ Whild
HMS Victory

More than this the Victory is equally a classic example of warship construction techniques used by all maritime powers of that period including Denmark, France, Holland and Spain, also the lesser naval powers of Russia, Naples, Sweden and Turkey.

Besides her historic role serving as Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, the Victory stands in the line of technical advances made between the 16th- Century Tudor warship Mary Rose, the Victorian-built iron warship Warrior of the mid 19th century and the steel built monitor M33 of the early 20th Century – all on display in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.

Simply just a manoeuvrable floating weapons platform, the Victory is likewise historically comparable with the modern naval warships of the 21st Century.

On the 5th March 2012, custodianship of HMS Victory was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the HMS Victory Preservation Trust, established as part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

HMS Victory continues to be a commissioned warship of the Royal Navy under her Commanding Officer and ship’s company and remains as the flagship of the Second Sea Lord until she is made the flagship of the First Sea Lord.

She is crewed by a mixture of Royal Navy sailors and staff from the National Museum of the Royal Navy, and is open to the public daily.


Command of HMS Victory is a huge privilege for any CO but to be the 100th adds a particular significance and I am conscious that I am following in some very illustrious footsteps.

Rod Strathern

Rod Strathern
Lieutenant Commander
HMS Chatham, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Lancaster
Military experience

Lt Cdr Strathern, who lives in Winchester with his wife Sarah and children Ellie and Ben, joined the Royal Navy in 1989 for initial officer training.

Career highlights since then have included a Far East deployment on HMS Chatham, which included a month in Hong Kong as Guardship for the handover of sovereignty to the Chinese.

He later specialised as a Principal Warfare Officer (Underwater), joining HMS Edinburgh, which took him on deployment to include diverse ports such as Latakia in Syria, Beirut and Sevastopol in the Ukraine.

Whilst Operations Officer in HMS Lancaster, the ship became the first frigate to successfully integrate a Merlin helicopter flight. Lt Cdr Strathern has also had staff appointments, most recently at Flag Officer Sea Training as a Staff Damage Control Officer delivering firefighting and damage control team training for RN and NATO ships.




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Heston Delights the Dockyard with his Naval creation on board HMS Victory
Heston Delights the Dockyard with his Naval creation on board HMS Victory
10 December 2013

HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is to be featured...



Crew in 1805






Length of Gundeck


Cost of Construction


Launch Date


Commission Date



Chatham Dockyard




  • Building Commences

    Ordered by the Navy Board on June 6 1759 during the Seven Years' war, this first rate 100-gun ship was designed by the Surveyor of the Navy, Sir Thomas Slade. Building commenced at Chatham Dockyard on July 23 1759 under Master Shipwright John Lock and was completed by Edward Allen on May 7 1765.

  • Victory is my Name

    The ship was actually named Victory on October 30 1760. Her cost, when completed in 1765, amounted to £63,176 (a century later HMS Warrior cost £330,000). After sea trials the Victory was put into "ordinary" (into reserve) until France joined the war of American Independence.

  • An Admiral's Flagship

    First commissioned in February 1778, she became the flagship of Admiral Keppel, and thereafter was nearly always an Admiral's flagship.

  • Refits and Improvements

    In March 1780, following new practice ordered by the Navy Board, she was docked and her hull sheathed with copper sheeting to combat shipworm and marine growth. This innovation also improved her speed.

  • Victory Outnumbered

    1781 saw the Victory under the flag of Admiral Kempenfelt who, on December 13, fell in with a French fleet off Ushant. The French, bound from Brest to the West Indies, were escorting a convoy of troopships. Though Kempenfelt's squadron was numerically inferior, he captured the entire convoy from under the escort's noses, and the Victory added another battle honour to those gained by her forbears of the same name.

  • Victory In Gibraltar

    In October 1782, under the flag of Admiral "Black Dick" Howe (his complexion, not his temper, gave him the nickname), she took part in an action off Cape Spartel and the Relief of Gibraltar. (The Great Siege of Gibraltar lasted four years).

  • French Revolution

    She was refitted in March 1793 at a cost of £15,372, and her armament increased. With the opening of the French Revolutionary war in 1793, HMS Victory became the flagship of Lord Hood who was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean fleet. (It was in 1789 that the use of HMS to describe a warship first became standard.) The fleet then captured, but was unable to hold, the Island of Corsica. It was at the taking of Calvi, where he lost the sight of his right eye, that a young Captain, Horatio Nelson, first made his name.

  • Arise Sir Nelson

    Admiral Sir John Jervis hoisted his flag in Victory the following December. On February 14 1797, off Cape St Vincent, the southwest corner of Spain, Jervis led Victory with 14 ships of the line against a Spanish squadron, comprising 27 ships under Admiral Cordoba. A decisive victory was won. Much was due to the quick perception of Nelson who, now a Commodore in the 74-gun HMS Captain, left the line of battle (an unheard of act for a junior officer), to prevent the two halves of the Spanish squadron from rejoining.

  • Nelson engaged and boarded the San Josef then, using that ship as a "patent boarding bridge" captured the neighbouring ship San Nicholas. This action earned Nelson a knighthood and promotion to Rear Admiral. In October 1797 Victory returned to England, now 32 years old and battle-weary she was sent to Chatham to await her fate. On December 8, considered unfit for service, Victory was ordered to be converted to a hospital ship. Fortune reversed the decision when the first rate Impregnable was lost off Chichester Harbour on 8 October 1799, leaving the fleet short of one three-decker. Consequently Victory was given a new lease of life.

  • A Great Repair

    Another survey considered that she was "in want of middling repair" at an estimate of £23,500. Refitting commenced at Chatham in 1800. The "middling repair" turned into a "great repair" as more defects were found. She was modernised, her open stern galleries being removed and the entire stern closed in. Two extra ports were cut on her lower gun deck and the magazines were lined with copper.

  • The heavy ornate figurehead, now very rotten, was replaced by the simpler, lighter design. Her pole masts (made from a single tree trunk) were replaced with composite masts (made from a number of trunks banded with iron hoops). The ship was also repainted with the black and yellow livery as seen today, although the port lids remained yellow. These were later painted black producing the "Nelson chequer" pattern which became standard after Trafalgar.

  • Victory Reborn

    Undocked on April 11 1803, the cost of this "great repair" now amounted to £70,933. All her heavy lower deck 42-pounder guns were replaced with lighter and more manageable 32 pounders. Under her new Captain, Thomas Hardy, she sailed for Portsmouth on May 14. Threat of invasion by Napoleon caused renewed hostilities with France and, on May 16, the Victory sailed for the Mediterranean carrying Lord Nelson, the newly-appointed Commander-in-Chief. From this point Nelson and Victory became synonymous.

  • Nelson

    For the next 18 months Nelson blockaded the French fleet in Toulon to prevent them escaping to join forces with other squadrons based on France's Atlantic arsenals. Periodically, ships of Nelson's squadron would retreat to Agincourt Sound, Corsica. It was there, May 19th 1805, that Nelson learned that the Toulon fleet under Villeneuve had sailed. Not knowing where they were bound, Nelson headed east first but not finding the French in Egypt, beat back west to Gibraltar where he learned that they were headed for the West Indies.

  • Napoleon's invasion plan was that Villeneuve should sail to the West Indies to draw the English from the Channel. In hot pursuit Nelson followed. Villeneuve carried out a few half-hearted operations in the West Indies and returned to Europe, Nelson hard on his heels. Villeneuve, finding his way to the Channel blocked by Sir Robert Calder's squadron and with Nelson behind him, bolted into Cadiz, to be bottled up by his pursuers.

  • Victory, with a fatigued Nelson, returned home arriving at Spithead on August 18 1805; but Napoleon's invasion of Britain had been foiled and his troops were withdrawn from Boulogne to another theatre of war. After brief respite the Victory sailed with Nelson from Portsmouth on September 15 1805 to join the blockading fleet under Collingwood off Cadiz. Villeneuve's orders now were to take the combined Franco-Spanish fleet into the Mediterranean. On October 18 1805 frigates signalled that the enemy were weighing anchor.

  • Villeneuve's fleet, now comprising 33 ships of the line, headed for Gibraltar but, unable to shake off the British fleet, turned back for Cadiz and inevitable combat. As day broke on Monday October 21 1805, off Cape Trafalgar, Nelson's fleet of 27 ships formed into two columns and sailed towards the enemy. Battle commenced about 1145 with Collingwood's division breaching the rear of the enemy fleet. Nelson in Victory followed shortly, driving into the centre and opening a devastating fire into the stern of Villeneuve's flagship Bucentaure. Victory then engaged and grappled the Redoutable.

  • At about 1315, when the fighting was at its fiercest, Nelson was shot by a French marksman and taken below where he died at 1630. By this time the enemy had been routed and a great victory won. Seventeen ships had been captured and one, the French Achille, blew up as a finale to the battle. The French battle-fleet was never again a threat. Much damaged, the Victory was towed to Gibraltar and finally returned to Portsmouth, arriving on December 4 1805, bearing her dead Admiral.

  • Retirement Victory

    After repairs at Chatham, the Victory was recommissioned in March 1808. For the next 4 years she was on active service in the Baltic and off the coast of Spain. In 1812, now 47 years old, she finally returned to Portsmouth on December 4 and paid off 16 days later, ending her sea-going life.

  • 'Ordinary'

    After the war Victory was given a further refit but, the war with France being over, she was placed back into "ordinary". In 1824 she became the flagship for the Port Admiral. In 1831 the ship was listed for disposal but Hardy, now First Sea Lord, at his wife's request declined to sign the warrant. In 1889 Victory became the flagship for the Commander-in-Chief and remains so today.

  • HMS Neptune

    In 1903 she was accidentally rammed by HMS Neptune under tow to the breakers. This event, together with the centenary celebrations for Trafalgar, raised questions about her future but nothing was resolved before World War I. Finally, following a national appeal led by the Society for Nautical Research, Victory was put into her present dock on January 12 1922 and work began to restore her to her 1805 appearance. She remains now as the embodiment of the spirit and fine traditions of the Royal Navy.

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