Few ships symbolize the legacy of a country; HMS Victory is such a ship. Dry-docked in Portsmouth, England, Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson’s flagship stands as if ready to defend England again, as she did at the pivotal Battle of Trafalgar.
Commissioned in 1778, the Victory fought four major sea battles before helping defeat the French and Spanish fleets off Spain’s Cape Trafalgar in 1805, confirming Britain’s supremacy of the sea. Nelson, one of England’s greatest war heroes, lost his life in the battle, dying as the victory was won. Today the ship is dry-docked, her fighting days long over. The vessel is now a living museum, exhibiting life on board an 18th-century, 104-gun ship-of-the-line.
Visitors entering the ship on the second-floor gun deck have to duck for the low ceilings—less than five feet high. The smell of wood fills the deck, harkening back to the Age of Sail. A roped-off path through the rows of guns leads upstairs to a display of cutlasses and pistol muskets.