Launched on May 7th 1765 HMS Victory gained its fame by becoming Admiral Nelson flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The victory at this battle ended Napoleons bid for mastery of the sea but cost Admiral Nelson his life. She had previously taken part in many other major actions against the Spanish and French fleets and is now the oldest serving Royal Naval ship still in service being the flagship of the Portsmouth Command. After being restored to the same condition and appearance as she was at Trafalgar she can now be seen in all her glory at her home in Portsmouth by visitors from all over the world.
At the end of 1787 Lt. William Bligh was sent to the Pacific in command of HMS Bounty a merchantman converted by the Royal Navy for carrying breadfruit trees from Tahiti to the West Indies. On the 28th April 1789 the crew led by Fletcher Christian mutinied and set Bligh and 17 others adrift in an open launch. The mutineers settled in the Pitcairn Islands and Bligh and the others eventually landed in the Tumor in the East Indies after an epic 40000 mile voyage eventually returning to Britain in 1790. The ship started life as the Bethia before being bought by the Admiralty and converted to the plant-carrying Bounty. One of the conversions was a leaded deck to preserve water to care for the breadfruit plants onboard.
The Wasa gained it’s fame throught the fact that in 1628 it disastrously keeled over and sank in Stockholm harbour at the start of its maiden voyage. It was one of four ships built at the time to strengthen the Swedish Navy and help to defend Sweden from potential invasion plans. She was raised in 1961 approx 333 years later and is now on display in a permanent restoration site in Stockholm which is open to visitors.
The smallest and fastest of the operational Royal Navy craft during the Second World War. This type had four 18in torpedo tubes on its flushed deck. Other duties included minelaying, and the delivery and collection of agents and commandos to and from the enemy coastline.
These two sister ships were perhaps the most famous German battleships of WWII and were a constant menace to the Royal Navy. Bismarck was sunk after a famous sea chase in 1941 Tirpitz was destroyed by an RAF Lancaster in 1944.
A cutty sark is a short chemise. It comes from a poem by Robbie Burns Tam O’Shanter when Tam a young lad sees some witches dancing in the wood ne of whom is wearing a very revealing Cutty Sark. The Cutty Sark built in Dumbarton is the best known of all the clippers and in her hey-day was the fastest of them all. She could carry 32000 square feet of sail giving her a maximum speed of over 17 knots. Employed in the tea trade she was used to speed the new seasons crop from China to London where the crews hoped to gain the prestige of being the first back. Since 1957 she has been in dry-dock in Greenwich London attracting visitors from all around the world. This much loved ship was almost destroyed by fire on May 21st 2007.
In 1768 Captain James Cook set off on a voyage to the Pacific Ocean. The expedition’s main purpose was to study and observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the sun (in conjunction with several other observations to be made from different locations). However a more pragmatic reason was to be relayed to her captain by the Admiralty in additional instructions; namely to search out the southern Pacific for signs of the yet to be discovered continent we now know to be Australasia.