Back in 1758 the Royal Navy ordered a new first-rate new ship from the commissioner of the Chatham Dockyard. This seemed strange at the time because the Royal Navy went for smaller faster ships that were very maneuverable.


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The ships plans were based on the HMS Royal George and were presented in June 1759. The George was launched from the Woolwich Dockyard in 1756. Sir Thomas Slade was appointed Surveyor of the Navy and chosen to build the new ships. The new ship was to carry 100 guns and after her launching in practice she carried 104 to 106 guns and carronades.

The name was chosen in October 1760 to commemorate Annus Mirbilis (Year of Victories) or 1759. It was though that Victory was not a good name because the first Victory of 1744 was lost with all hands. The Seven Years War was won at Quebec, Minden and other naval battles of Lagos and Quiberon Bay all contributed to the year of victories.

The frame of the ship was built and then left for almost three years and work did not restart on her until autumn of 1763. This added to the ships longevity allowing the frame to season. The ship was finally completed May 7th of 1765, 90% of oak with some elm, pine and fir and they also used a small amount of Lignum Vitae to complete construction.

The Victory had no reason to be used at the time so she was moored in the Medway River for 13 years dismasted and roofed over and placed under general maintenance. She remained there until France joined the American War of Independence.

John Lindsay appointed as her first captain ended up transferred to the HMS Prince George in May of 1778. The Honorable Augustus Keppel Admiral raised his flag in Victory. The HMS Victory was finally commissioned under the command of Rear Admiral John Campbell and Captain Jonathan Faulknor under the flag of Admiral Keppel.

The HMS Victory’s armaments consisted of smooth bore cannons. She started out with thirty 42 pounders on the lower deck, 28 24 pounder on the mid deck and thirty 12 pounder on the upper deck. The quarterdeck and forecastle held twelve 6 pound guns. Later on some of the sizes were changed out and 2 carronade guns were added that would fire 68 lb shot.

The Victory was stationed at Chatham if February 1798 under the command of Lieutenant J. Rickman. Declared unfit for service as a warship in December she was ordered converted to a hospital ship. The idea was to treat French and Spanish prisoners of war.

After the loss of the HMS Impregnable off Chichester the on the way back from Portsmouth the Admiralty planed the recondition the Victory which turned out to a costly undertaking and extensive reconstruction.

They replaced her figurehead and paint scheme from red to black and yellow. The pattern was called the (Nelson Chequer) adopted by Royal Navy ships after the Battle of Trafalgar. With new masts and paint scheme completed April 11th 1803 under her new captain Samuel Sutton she left for Portsmouth.

HMS Victory 1765 Oldest Commissioned Warship

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HMS Victory The Oldest Commissioned Warship

The HMS Victory is due to undergo complete restoration to the tune of $25 mil. Britain’s maritime power legacy centers around this awesome battleship built 246 years ago. The Victory will undergo the most extensive restoration she has ever had. The last extensive restoration was after the Battle of Trafalgar due to her extensive damage.

BAE Systems was awarded a five year contract to rebuild the HMS Victory. The major construction contract has a unique option to extend for a second five years if needed. The project manager John O’Sullivan thinks the ship is really always a “work-in-progress”. No matter how intensive the restoration a ship of this class needs continuous work to keep it from wasting away so restoration work must continue forever.

No much of the original ship that stands at Portsmouth is from the original ship. The ship was and still is a work of art built 246 years ago that make the experts of today marvel at the workmanship. Even O’Sullivan believes the ship is a true work of art.

Mr. O’Sullivan says that shipwrights would struggle duplicating the craftsmanship today of the HMS Victory. The restoration will require re-planking the entire outside hull. The masts will be repaired and considerable work will be carried out on the interior. Since the battle of Trafalgar the Victory has only undergone maintenance no complete refit of this magnitude has ever been carried out.

The real exciting part is that the restoration will be performed by specialist that still has the skills of doing the work by hand. The very best work can only be carried out by hand when it comes to shaping and carving wood. One goal that O’Sullivan has is to train new apprentices. The art of old tall ship restoration are skills that the world does not want to lose.

The HMS Victory was in service for 30 years, commissioned back in 1778. This great warship is the only one that survived the American War of Independence, French Revolutionary War and Napoleonic wars.

This is one amazing looking ship and would make a great addition to any collection. She is one well armed lady!

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One Response to “HMS Victory 1765”

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