Andrew Baines, Deputy Executive Director of Museum Operations at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) has been awarded the Victory Medal for his conservation work on HMS Victory. The Society for Nautical Research, which was instrumental in saving HMS Victory in 1922, award the medal to individuals who have shown dedication to the conservation of a vessel.
HMS Victory sits in a dry dock at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, and played an instrumental role in the Battle of Trafalgar where she was Vice-Admiral Nelson’s flagship. The National Museum of the Royal Navy took over responsibility for the conservation of HMS Victory in 2012, and after a detailed analysis it was concluded that the ship was slowly collapsing in on herself. Andrew headed the project to discover why this was happening, how to solve it and to implement the solution.
After taking laser scans of the ship and undertaking structural analysis, it was discovered that the movement was due to Victory’s support system, which had been in place since 1922. Andrew’s team oversaw the installation of 134 new steel props from 2017 to December 2020, to replace the old support system of 22 steel cradles. These steel props will also monitor future changes to the ship’s structure, and even mean the hull can be accessed for the first time by visitors to the site.
The Society for Nautical Research also commended Andrew for his work in establishing a historic ships team that not only cares for HMS Victory, but for multiple ships under the National Museum of the Royal Navy, including HMS Warrior and HMS Trincomalee.
Alistair Roach, Secretary for the Society for Nautical Research said: “Andrew’s commitment, drive and level of input has far exceeded that which might be expected from an individual in his role and, despite the pressure of his increasing workload, he has been praised by all those who have worked closely with him for his ceaseless dedication to the vessels under his care.”
In response to receiving the medal, Andrew said “Working on a project like the conservation of Victory is a genuine privilege, not only due to the ship’s iconic nature, but because of the passion, skill and dedication of the people in the team. It’s an honour to see this project recognised after all the hard work that has gone into its completion, from NMRN’s own Historic Ships Team, to contractors such as BAE and MLUK and our consulting engineers Fenton Holloway. It’s amazingly satisfying to have finished this important project, knowing that it has contributed to keeping the history of Nelson’s flagship alive for future generations.”
Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy commented “Even during such a tough year for the museum, we have worked hard to continue to provide excellent, state of the art, care for our collections, never straying from our mission to conserve the history of the Royal Navy. It is great to see this work recognised for the world class conservation project it is, and we are so grateful to Andrew and the historic ships team for their work.”
In response to the news, the Chairman of the HMS Victory Preservation Company, The Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Boyce, stated “HMS Victory Preservation Company has the responsibility for the preservation and conservation of HMS Victory with the aim of making sure that this iconic warship, National treasure and Nelson’s Flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar will be still be with us for the admiration and education of generations to come. The Company’s task has been unimaginably eased by having our Project under the supervision of Andrew Baines. His untiring and painstaking work, his superlative knowledge of and enthusiasm for his subject and his excellent leadership of his team have been quite extraordinary and created a solid path towards a most successful restoration. There is no-one more deserving of recognition and the award to him of The Victory Medal could not be more fitting.”
The finished project of steel prop supports, complete with a new under-hull walkway of HMS Victory where for the first-time visitors can see the 3600-tonne ship from below will be open to visitors when Portsmouth Historic Dockyard reopens. A new Victory Gallery will also be opening, telling the 260-year-old story of HMS Victory, from acorn to icon.