The wreck of the historically important HMS Victory from 1744 has been gifted to the Maritime Heritage Foundation.
The ship, which precedes Admiral Nelson’s flagship preserved at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, sank in a storm in 1744 with the loss of over a thousand crew.
HMS Victory (1744) was discovered on 2 February 2009 by the US deep-sea exploration company Odyssey Marine Exploration in the western English Channel at a depth of 80 metres, outside British and French territorial waters.
The find was of unique importance to British naval heritage as the remains of British ‘First Rate’ warships from this period of history are rare.
After a period of joint consultation between the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and a public consultation period, an agreement has been reached with the Maritime Heritage Foundation for the Trust to undertake the future management of the wreck site.
In its day, the ship represented the pinnacle of naval technology, and was fitted with a complete arsenal of bronze cannons.
Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans Andrew Robathan said:
The gift of the 1744 HMS Victory to the Maritime Heritage Foundation should give better protection to the wreck which is very important to British naval heritage. We welcome the agreement of the Trust to assume responsibility for this unique part of our maritime history.
HMS Victory (1744) was a 100-gun First Rate ship of the line launched in 1738 and was the flagship of Admiral Sir John Balchin when he led a force to relieve a French blockade of the River Tagus in Portugal, where a British convoy with stores for Gibraltar had been prevented from reaching its destination.
The blockade was lifted, the French retreated to Cadiz and Admiral Balchin escorted the convoy to Gibraltar. On the rescue fleet’s return journey a storm separated HMS Victory from the rest of the fleet and the ship and her crew were not seen again.
The Maritime Heritage Foundation is a registered charity, the chairman of which is Lord Lingfield.
It has been established especially to recover, preserve and display in public museums artefacts from HMS Victory (1744) and to promote knowledge and understanding of our maritime heritage, particularly through educational projects.
The foundation will be supported by an advisory group, with representatives from English Heritage and the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
The group will advise on the extent to which actions proposed by the Foundation are consistent with the archaeological principles set out in Annex A to the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.