Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Lord Nelson's HMS Victory 'collapsing' under own weight

HMS Victory
Image caption The ship's structure has been "racking backwards" at a rate of 0.5cm each year, experts said

Lord Nelson's flagship HMS Victory is slowly collapsing under its own weight, restoration experts have warned.

The ship, which featured in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, is undergoing a 13-year, £35m conservation project.

Measurements taken over 40 years show the structure in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is slowly bulging outwards. It is also suffering from water damage.

More than 130 metal supports are due to be fitted in the vessel's dry dock to stop the structure from buckling.

'Falling away'

Andrew Baines, head of historic ships at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, insisted the ship could "absolutely be saved".

"As the upper deck moves down, the ship's sides bulge out. She's falling very slowly away from the bows at the front end of the ship," he said.

A 3D scan of the ship had helped experts "understand what had been causing the ship to collapse" and 136 metal props would be inserted to stop the problem, Mr Baines said.

"The most important thing is to work on the ship's structure to stop us losing any valuable historic material in the ship," he added.

Image caption Metal supports are being installed in HMS Victory's dry dock

HMS Victory was first floated out from Chatham in 1765. Lord Nelson was injured during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and later died aboard the vessel.

Visitors are still able to access the ship and Lord Nelson's cabin was recently opened as part of the renovation project.

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