BAE Systems is carrying out an exciting £16m project to repair and restore HMS Victory.
Best known for her role in the Battle of Trafalgar, the Victory currently has a dual role as the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command and as a living museum to the Georgian navy. Work began to build HMS Victory in 1759 and the ship was launched from Chatham Dockyard in Kent in 1765. After serving as a warship from 1765 until 1889, the vessel was used as a Naval School until 1904.
BAE Systems was awarded the five-year contract on December 1st 2011 and there will be an additional five-year option once this contract ends. The company will carry out the project with the aid of ‘Team Victory’, which comprises SSE Contracting for the rewiring, T Nielsen & Co for the structural timberwork onboard and Bell Rigging for the mast work.
Designed by naval architects and design authorities at the MOD, the project will be carried out in a number of stages, including the planned maintenance schedule and the restoration phase. The Victory Advisory Technical Committee, which has been overseeing the restoration and maintenance of the vessel since 1922, will also be involved in the work.
Vice Admiral Charles Montgomery, Second Sea Lord and Commander in Chief of HMS Victory, said:
“HMS Victory is an icon for the Royal Navy and the nation as a whole. This restoration project will enable future generations to experience for themselves a warship that has an enduring and far reaching effect on national and international history.”
John O’Sullivan, BAE Systems Project Manager, added:
“Although this is a historic vessel, there are a lot of comparisons that can be drawn between this structure and a building. For instance, the electrical installation is the same as it would be in any building and we are currently in the process of rewiring the ship.
“However there are also mast refurbishment works, which I assume wouldn’t be found in a building. We will take the rest of the lower sections of the mast down from the ship and survey, refurbish them and put them back up again. Following this we will replace the upper masts, along with all the relevant rigging and blocks.
“Another major job is the re-planking of the vessel, whilst the cradle that actually holds the ship will also be replaced once the design and planning phase is complete.
“This is a very exciting project and we are extremely pleased to be working on it. Although the entire project is interesting, the mast work has proved particularly fascinating for me.”
BAE Systems has supported HMS Victory for more than thirteen years at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. As well as supporting the oldest warship in the Royal Navy’s fleet, BAE Systems also provides in-service support to the newest additions, the Type 45 destroyers.
Rewiring a national maritime treasure is a job for the experts and one that SSE Contracting has taken great pride in completing.
The company, which is one of the largest electrical and mechanical contractors in the UK, was awarded the competitive tender by BAE Systems. It has spent five months carefully overhauling the famous vessel’s wiring to a 21st century standard, so it is now ‘ship-shape and Bristol’ fashion for generations to come.
The SSE Contracting team from Portsmouth skillfully replaced all power and lighting systems on board, installed new electrical switchgear, as well as a new lighting control system to allow the ship’s atmosphere to be altered at the touch of a button. Four hundred ‘lanthorns’, vintage naval lanterns, have even been upgraded to efficient LED technology.
Electricians had the challenge of working across all six decks including the great cabin (Lord Nelson’s quarters) and the quarterdeck, from where he directed the Battle of Trafalgar. Where possible, wiring was fitted using the original routes and holes. The Victory also remained open to the public throughout and great care had to be taken to protect the many artefacts kept out on display.
Alan Bicheno, SSE Contracting Project Leader, said: “We obviously have lots of experience in rewiring both old and new buildings but even for us this was a very different environment to work in, especially having to avoid bumping our heads on the low beams!
“This unique project has been a perfect demonstration of how skilful and dedicated our staff are and we’re very proud of the results.”