Modern materials fail to protect Nelson's flagship

Restorers have turned to traditional caulking to protect HMS Victory from damp after modern techniques failed to do the job.
A synthetic sealant was tried 15 years ago to stop rain water seeping through the planks of the top deck and rotting the inside of the ship.
But Andrew Baines, curator of HMS Victory, said: ‘The modern material did not cope with the expansion and shrinkage of the wood and allowed water through.

‘The top decks are the most important to seal to prevent the water penetrating the rest of the ship.’
He has now ordered his team of restorers to strip the synthetic sealant from the planks and try caulking instead. They will replace the sealant with hemp, reclaimed from old ropes, before waterproofing it with pitch.

Baines added: ‘The navy spent 300 years maintaining timber hulled-ships, so this is a tried and tested technique. The method was used that long for a reason.’
HMS Victory, in Portsmouth’s historic dockyard, is undergoing a £50m facelift that could take 20 years.

Photo by Karen Roe.