Ship which inspired Nelson's own
The ship which inspired Nelson’s Victory, HMS Victory lost in 1744, has been found, solving one of the greatest mysteries in naval history.
The direct predecessor and inspiration behind Nelson’s flagship, Balchin’s Victory was the mightiest and technically most advanced vessel of her age. She sank during a storm in 1744 with all hands and was the last Royal Navy warship to be lost at sea with a complete complement of bronze cannon. Two of the greatest admirals in English history, Sir John Norris and Sir John Balchin, called her their flagship. Research indicates that Balchin’s Victory sank with a substantial amount of gold and silver specie aboard.
“Finding this shipwreck has solved one of the greatest shipwreck mysteries in history. Having discovered it in deep water far from where history says it was lost has served to exonerate Admiral Balchin and his officers from the accusation of having let the ship run aground on the Casquets due to faulty navigation,” commented Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have worked closely with the MOD on this operation, and anticipate that we will continue the excellent cooperative relationship that we have enjoyed working together on the Sussex project. Fortunately, this shipwreck is not in waters claimed by any other country, so we do not expect any interference in further exploration of the site.”
Odyssey discovered the site nearly 100 km from where the ship was historically believed to have been wrecked on a reef near the Channel Islands. In an operation conducted in cooperation with the MOD, Odyssey has completed an archaeological pre-disturbance survey of the site, conducted limited test trenching, and recovered two bronze cannon to confirm the identity of the shipwreck. The cannon recovered include a 12-pounder featuring the royal arms of George II and a 4 ton, 42-pounder bearing the crest of George I. The huge 42-pounder recovered is the only known example of a gun of this type and size currently in existence on dry land. The only other artifacts recovered to date were two small brick fragments that were brought into U.S. federal court in order to file an admiralty arrest of the site.
During these operations, evidence was discovered of substantial damage to the site from natural deterioration, scouring, extensive fishing trawl net damage and the intrusion of modern trash and debris.
“Rather than staying frozen in time beneath the waves, this unique shipwreck is fading fast,” warns marine archaeologist Dr. Sean Kingsley, Director of Wreck Watch International., “The Victory lies in an area of intensive trawling, and her hull and contents are being ploughed away by these bulldozers of the deep day in, day out. Leaving the Victory’s rich archaeology so vulnerable to the ravages of man is like allowing a motorway to smash straight through a historic site on land without excavating it. The archaeological recovery of the artifacts from the site should begin as soon as possible or the story of England’s most important lost man-of-war may not survive to be told.”
A preliminary archaeological report detailing research and work to date on the site, which identifies the shipwreck as that of HMS Victory is available at www.shipwreck.net/publications.php
Odyssey’s work on the Victory site was all conducted while cameras for Discovery Channel’s “Treasure Quest” were rolling. In the United States, the “Treasure Quest” episode featuring the identification of HMS Victory will air on Thursday, February 5 at 10PM ET/PT. In the United Kingdom, a special presentation of “Treasure Quest” featuring HMS Victory will premiere on Sunday, February 8 at 9:00 PM. “Treasure Quest” is produced by Primetime Emmy Award-winning JWM Productions.