On 7th May 1765 HMS Victory was floated out of the Old Single Dock in Chatham’s Royal Dockyard. In the years to come, over an unusually long service, she would gain renown leading fleets in the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic War. In 1805 she achieved lasting fame as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Nelson in Britain’s greatest naval victory, the defeat of the French and Spanish at the Battle of Trafalgar.
For Victory, however, active service did not end with the loss of Nelson. In 1808 she was recommissioned to lead the fleet in the Baltic, but four years later she was no longer needed in this role, and she was relegated to harbour service – serving as a residence, flagship and tender providing accommodation.
In 1922 she was saved for the nation and placed permanently into dry dock where she remains today, visited by 25 million visitors as a museum of the sailing navy and the oldest commissioned warship in the world.