BAE Systems engineers have revealed how far British naval engineering has evolved over the past two centuries, by modelling the physical properties of Lord Nelson’s flagship.
Using innovative 3D laser imaging techniques, experts have been able to get under the skin of HMS Victory – the oldest commissioned warship in the world – allowing them to understand in more detail the achievements in 18th Century design and build techniques. This first ever image of the ship’s hull reveals how skilled tradesmen built the ship to very advanced standards in the 1760s.
Laser scanning of Victory, which is owned by the National Museum of the Royal Navy, has been used to construct a digital model which contains the details of every piece of timber and iron in its construction, totally nearly 80,000 components.
Each component has its position, dimensions, material, record of replacement and condition embedded to provide a database for the long term conservation of the ship. This ‘intelligent model’ represents a major advance in the approach to the management of historic structures.
As further restoration is carried out using the model as a template, a record of the work will be added to the model. The aim is to utilise the modern engineering expertise alongside skilled crafting methods to sympathetically restore Victory and capture data in the most cost effective way.
The model is being used by engineers to establish the priorities for the future repair and conservation of the structure of the historic flagship. Structural analysis techniques are applied to the model incorporating data from condition surveys and historic records.
BAE Systems has used modern warship knowhow throughout the restoration project. Techniques used have ranged from strength-testing the masts and rigging which provided her power and propulsion, to using chemicals to treat the wood and destroy any wood-eating insects.
Rory Fisher, managing director BAE Systems Maritime Services said: “The laser mapping provides us with an unprecedented level of insight into the construction of HMS Victory and allows our specialist team to identify the best ways to restore this iconic vessel.” The project is complex and delicate.
“At almost 250 years old, HMS Victory’s structure is incredibly complex, both in terms of design and the history of repair and conservation,” said Andrew Baines, curator and project director for HMS Victory. “This laser mapping and the structural analysis to follow will allow us to plan our programme of conservation and ensure that the ship benefits from the highest possible standards of curatorial care.”