HMS Victory - History and Facts | History Hit

HMS Victory

Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom

HMS Victory was Vice Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar and the site where this heroic figure died.

Lily Johnson

01 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About HMS Victory

HMS Victory is one of the world’s oldest and most famous warships, and is the only ship to have served in the American Revolution, the French Revolutionary War, and the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, it was her role as the flagship of British hero Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson during his final battle of the Napoleonic Wars for which HMS Victory is most renowned.

HMS Victory history

Early Career

Launched in 1765 and commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1778, HMS Victory was a first-rate ship, witnessing her first main role during the American Revolution under Admiral Keppel.

In 1793, HMS Victory formed part of the fleet during the French Revolutionary Wars under Lord Hood, and in 1797 was also the warship under the remit of Admiral Sir John Jervis in his victory against a Spanish fleet at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. However, it was her role in the Napoleonic Wars which would define HMS Victory.

Battle of Trafalgar

On 21 October 1805, HMS Victory served under the flag of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar. This naval battle saw Nelson lead the British to victory against the French and Spanish, despite the fact that the British fleet of 27 ships was greatly outnumbered. This decisive victory confirmed the supremacy of the British navy and instilled Nelson as a national hero.

However, this success came at a great cost as Nelson was shot and mortally wounded at the Battle, living just long enough to learn that he had been successful.

HMS Victory Today

Today, HMS Victory is located at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where the well-preserved warship now serves as a museum. As you step aboard you are transported back to 1805 where HMS Victory prepares for the Battle of Trafalgar, with a number of decks and cabins open to explore.

8 guns used at the battle remain aboard the ship, alongside an original section of its mast that was shot through by the French ship Redoubtable. Guided tours are available, while elsewhere at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard may be found the HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s favourite ship.

Getting to HMS Victory

HMS Victory is located at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which can be reached via Junction 12 of the M27 by following the brown tourist signs. Portsmouth Harbour Train Station / Hard Interchange coach and bus station is a few minutes walk away, while a park and ride service also runs every 15 minutes and is signposted from the M275.

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