Anatomy of the ship of the line
Spanish ships of the line
Evolution of the ship of the line
The art of transom
The Sovereign of the Seas
The HMS Victory in detail
The HMS Victory has an overall length of 69 meters, a beam of 15.7 meters and a draught of 8.7 meters, being her displacement around 3500
tonnes. Her keel was made of elm because this wood was available in large quantity and the rest of the hull was made of oak. About 2500 adult
trees had to be cut down to create the huge ribs, of about 60 centimeters in thickness, and the double timber lining. The rudder, made of oak,
had 11 meters in height and 180 centimeters in its widest part. It was controlled by a twin steering wheel placed in the quarterdeck and the
associated mechanism of ropes and pulleys, attached to the tiller on the lower gun deck. The underwater hull and rudder were sheathed with copper
sheets as protection against shipworms, which bore the hull causing a loss of speed. Beneath the copper sheets there was a layer of oiled linen
The highest of the three masts reached 60 meters above the waterline. The masts were made of fir from the Baltic, a wood which would grant them the
flexibility required to endure the pressure of the wind, and built in three different sections for their easy maintenance and because no tree had
such a height. Also, the main sections were formed by several spars attached together by ropes (the main mast had one meter in diameter in the base).
The masts were secured to the hull by eight kilometers of fixed rigging, of black color because of the tar used for its protection. The masts could
hold up to 36 sails, with a total sail area of about 5440 square meters. In good wind conditions speed could reach ten knots but the most usual was
The HMS Victory reconstructed
The HMS Victory as she can be seen today at her dry dock at Portsmouth is a reenacment of what her appearance was on the times of the Battle of Trafalgar.
During her long life the ship suffered many reconstructions, before and after Trafalgar. Her appearance as she was built is barely known, but it seems she
had open balconies in the stern. The following photographs show the HMS Victory after being reconstructed in the style of a 19th-century ship of the line;
we can see obvious structural changes in the beakhead and the stern and we can only think that, while the HMS Victory is truly a surviving ship
of the line, to return the ship to her former appearance a very large part had to be rebuilt with modern pieces and appliances.
In the following photographs we can see the HMS Victory in exposition inside a drydock in the naval base at Portsmouth. The Royal Navy still keeps the ship
in service and in a perfect state of preservation. The continuous maintenance is evidenced by the absence of topmast, topgallant mast and all the yards in the
main mast, removed for maintenance. Note how only the figurehead and the aft emblem are gilded and polychromed, whereas the rest of the decoration is painted in
dark yellow. We can see as well the dining room for the officers and the work chamber of Nelson located just behind.