back to article Navy pays 2x purchase price to keep warship docked for 5 years

A contract has been awarded to keep a Royal Navy warship stored and unready for sea in dock for five years. The amount to be paid is approximately double what the ship cost to purchase in the first place. HMS Victory on display in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard 'Steal in measure,' quo' Brygandyne. 'There's measure in all …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. The Axe

    Fake charity?

    But where does the charitable trust get it's money from to run the HMS Victory? It can't get it all from the public via donations etc. So if it's getting it from the the MoD it's still tax payers money.

    1. Richard 81


      You do have to pay £20 for a ticket into Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which includes only one tour of HMS Victory.

  2. sandman

    "One of the most influential of the King's officers was Robert Brygandine, who was originally appointed Clerk of the King's Ships in 1495 by Henry VII. His position was confirmed by Henry VIII in a warrant of 1509. Throughout his period of office he appears to have been stationed mainly in Portsmouth."

    Stuart Vine

    The History of the Mary Rose

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "£8m in today's money"

    Hmm... you forget that the price of labour has not increased in line with general inflation. To build that ship now from scratch- even assuming you could find the necessary skilled trades- would cost vastly more than £8m because people expect to be paid at least an order of magnitude more in real terms than they did then.

    I suspect their "aircraft carrier" estimate is therefore not as wild as you might imagine, although my guess would be somewhere between the two figures.

    1. Northern Fop

      Yep, and...

      You're also looking after a 250-year-old antique which is exposed to the elements, and is basically a pile of biodegradable material (wood) held together with other biodegradable material (more wood and some hemp ropes).

      Not saying £16m is a *fair* price mind you, but Lewis's obvious dislike of all-things BAE has lead to a pretty biased article.

      1. Jay Zelos

        Thats only about 30 years older than the wooden windows and roof on my parents house, no wonder they cost so many millions to treat each winter...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Because ...

          "Treat" is not the same as "preserve".

      2. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Why don't they move it indoors? sure, it may ruin the experience of standing on the ship and looking out to sea, but it wouldn't need so much work then.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not to mention the nails

  4. Josco

    'Twas ever thus:

    "But I see it is impossible for the King to have things done as cheap as other men"

    1. AdamWill

      thank you, Captain Obvious

      Yes. That's why Lewis included the quotation.

  5. mark 63 Silver badge

    I could do it cheaper!

    thats 3.2m per year

    I've got a paintbrush and a few woodworking tools , you could pay me 1m per year and I'd get 4 mates in to help.... we'd be making a comfy 100k each. minus paint or whatever

    Seriously though, what are they getting for that 16m?

    what does "storage and maintenence" entail?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Some very, very skilled work, I would guess, This is a conservation job.

      Try maintaining a modest-sized wooden yacht for a few years: you might want to revise your estimate on the Victory job!

  6. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Are you suggesting

    they should have put AMERICAN guns on the Victory?

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      That would have been a mite difficult, HMS Victory is older than the United States is.


      1. Anonymous Coward


        /pedant! :)

      2. Ben 42

        I think you mean



      3. JEDIDIAH

        Boston Shipyards

        The United States didn't spring magically into existence in 1776. It was here before then. It was just called something else. The Victory might even still have bits of colonial timber in it.

    2. Richard 81

      Commissioned in 1778

      At that time we were the hated enemy.

      Makes me feel all warm inside.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Just an insignificant little colony in rebellion, hardly a hated enemy. If America had of been a hated enemy then they'd have sent another army after having effectively taken France out of the war. Given Yorktown was really a french victory (french ships, troops and artillery were the decisive factors) another army would have almost certainly put down the revolution. Simply keeping the war going with a force in being and not actually attacking would have bankrupted the US as it did France. Frankly, the most significant thing to come out of the American revolutionary war at the time was actually France going bankrupt which then caused the French revolutionary wars, and the Napoleonic wars.

        Objectively, the 13 colonies weren't really worth the hassle at the time and still would be pretty insignificant had they have kept to those borders. It was only slaughtering the Indians and taking their land (apart from a few relatively minute areas) across the entire continent that made America as powerful as it is, and that didn't happen until much later on.

  7. David Webb

    It's not £16m to keep it maintained, it's a £16m contract to restore the ship over 5 years. The actual cost of maintenance is £1.5m per year, your normal anti-BAE (which is steadily heading towards defamation) is going beyond a joke, we all get it, you hate BAE but at least *try* to be impartial, especially on a story that was on BBC News 6 days ago.

    1. jason 7


      ...why should anyone like BAE?

      That company that gives such great value for money every time.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    And there it was, a dig at the RAF!

    Thought we were doing well with the article for a moment.

  9. S Larti
    Thumb Up

    You have to admire Lewis's persistence...

    but bashing BAe seems to be like bashing Clarkson, the bastards just seem to make more and more money.

  10. tmTM

    These days

    There's no need for a fleet of ships to protect ourselves from the French/Spanish navy.

    The French capitulate at anyone with a stern gaze and the Spanish can't afford to put a canoe to sea these days.

    1. Dave 15


      Maynot be the French and Spanish. I can well imagine Argentina noticing we have no way to defend the oil rich falklands and wanting it back. There are also other threats around - even these pirates off Africa - think how much better we could do if we had sent Ark Royal with a few planes - would be able to respond fast and sink pirate vessels quickly - it would have stopped the problem. Finally, we found out in WW2 and the Falklands that ANY ship is vulnerable to air attack, the only defence against this is aircraft of your own on site, This means having aircraft carrierS, that is plural - one can be damaged relatively easily, if you have only one then your entire mobile airforce is out of action. A huge carrier can be sunk by a single torpedo, its flight deck put out of action by a single lucky missile. At least at the moment we have (sorry had) 3 of them and a helicopter ship which could easily gain a skiramp.

      I'm aftraid the idiots in charge at the treasury have no interest in protecting this country but every interest in sucking up to their banker mates and securing a decent job for themselves. This is then portrayed to gullible and stupid ministers (er.... diffference between a torpedo and tornado... no I don't know you will have to ask someone else) and even more out of touch idiot prime ministers (and all the major parties seem to delight in fielding the most gullible idiots they can to be ministers - most 6 year olds can do better).

      So in a nutshell, we might as well sail Victory to the next conflict as it doesn't matter what ship you take to it the ship will be sunk, the convoys of food we need, amunition we import etc. will all be sunk and we will have no choice but to surrender in approximately 12 hours.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New low in reporting

    In 1760's the GDP per capita (average) was £12. This means the cost of the ship was 5300 the average GDP (or there abouts).

    Today's GDP per capita is around 23k.

    5300x23k= 122M

    A lot more than the 8M in the article. It took 6 years to build. Today 8M would not even cover your stationary over 6 years.

  12. Ben Liddicott

    Depends if you go by inflation or average earnings

    According to

    Current data is only available till 2009. In 2009, £63176 0s 0d from 1759 is worth

    £8,720,000.00 using the retail price index

    £91,300,000.00 using average earnings

    So I guess that means we are ten times richer now than then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's recognised by most historians to be utterly impossible to accurately put prices from 250 years ago in todays terms. With inflation, deflation, changing rates of pay and the different worth of the money when coins were gold and therefore occasionally worth more as metal than they were nominally as coinage it's a nightmare coming up with figures anywhere near accurate. Not to mention that taxing individuals 250 years ago didn't happen until the advent of taxation, so your money went a lot further than it does now. (since you didn't get taxed heavily from the headline amount you were theoretically paid, and then again every single time you bought something)

      The best way of comparing the price would be to see how much she'd cost to build now. The problem is that we simply wouldn't be able to build Victory from scratch now because there is not enough military grade english (slow grown & seasoned) oak on the face of the planet for the wood, let alone the other issues.

  13. The BigYin

    HMS Victory...

    ...should be made ready for active duty. There's no way by 2020 that the RN will be able to afford the diesel to run their single aircraft carrier!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Falkland Islands/Malvinas is kicking off again

      What would it cost to convert Victory to a (very small) carrier?

      If we hire another team of chippies, we might be able to get Marie Rose to float again.

      There, that's a fleet of two.

    2. Mark 65

      Isn't it gas turbine (when it arrives)?

      1. Reg Blank

        Nice straw man you've built, Lewis.

        Gas turbines need to run on more than hopes, tears and fairy dust. What do you think the turbines would burn when warships are also fitted with diesel engines/generators?

        Icon is fed by oxygen and Lewis' troll articles.

    3. Alister

      You'd have to cut off the masts and rigging, and probably the poop as well, and you would still have a more capable ship than the new carriers...

  14. Jedit Silver badge

    We may note Pepys' remark...

    ... but we won't note it as being about the Victory, because Pepys died a century before the keel was laid on Nelson's flagship. Naughty Register, to mislead the public so.

  15. ian 22

    O'Course it's expensive

    Military grade oak is rare as hen's teeth nowadays.

    1. AdamWill

      not necessarily

      there's an informational plaque in Central Park, Burnaby (that's Canada, for those playing along at home) noting that it was first set aside not for recreational purposes but in order to supply wood to the Royal Navy. Still has the same trees it had back then, pretty much. If we're going back to the age of sail, drop me a note and I'll head down there with a chainsaw...

    2. darklord

      It takes over 100 years to grow a mature oak to the required standard i know where i was brought up there are a load which where planted for ship building in the 1700s and never used as the demand disspeared due to the arrival of the iron clads.

      And any trees old enough will be protected by a preservation order so we will be importing from india.

  16. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    What does BAE know about

    about oak and hemp?

    1. JimmyPage

      Hemp ?

      Fantastic wonder crop for so many reasons. Unfortunately it's actually cannabis, so move on, please.

      1. Giles Jones Gold badge

        The hemp they grow has little or no THC content, so it's legal and useless to smoke.

        1. JimmyPage

          Er ......

          THC content has stuff all to do with it. It is an offence to cultivate any plant of the Genus Cannabis, without a home office licence.

  17. Paul Renault

    Is BAE the same company...

    ...that built the four leaky, fire-prone, dented, almost-always-in-drydock Victoria/Upholder Class submarines that you guys pawned off on to us about ten years ago?

    Oh look! It IS the same company!

    1. Dave 15

      not our fault

      not our fault you bought the crap we offered you.... many people buy Chinese toys for their kids every xmas and have thrown the broken remains of the non-functional crap in the bin before new year. Sales is all about selling over priced crap to gullible idiots. There are very few things we are good at :)

  18. Graham Marsden

    I'm surprised...

    ... I expected Lewis to say that we should scrap the Victory, sell it off for firewood and import an historic US ship to put in its place...

    1. Dave 15
      Thumb Down

      What - I thought Victory was American

      After all if you watch Hollywood and listen to our politicians and historians the Americans are the ones that have won every single battle the world has ever seen... so Trafalgar was a win, it must have been by the Americans in American ships manned by good 'ol American boys

    2. The Wegie

      American Ship In Her Place . . .

      We did that! The problem is that the USS Chesapeake got dismantled in 1812 to build the mill up the road from Portsmouth in Wickham (sadly it's now only an antiques shop rather than the flour mill it originally was).

      1. IT veteran

        Funnily enough...

        There were plenty of American sailors at Trafalgar - the Royal Navy tended to impress them as well as British sailors. It was one of the causes of the war of 1812.

  19. Jim 59

    "The fact that military equipment has inflated in price faster than other things is quite well shown by the fact that at the time of Trafalgar Britain had no fewer than 22 triple-decker heavy line-of-battle ships and a further 69 two-deck, seventy-four-gun battleships all on active status - some 91 capital warships ready to fight, then.

    That was just Britain's wealth and sea power over the last 250 years, nothing to do with the relative price of tanks vs tractors. In the 19th century Britain dominated the planet. Not any more.

    Yes contractors rip off governments. It was the same in Nelson's day no doubt, and fortunately for us, it happens in other countries too.

  20. Dabooka

    What's really shocking...

    is the inflation calculator link. When I started working in a pub back in the 90s, we sold cask Boddingtons (lovely pint in a good bar) for £1.32, the chepest pint in the pub. Apparently that should now be just shy of £2, not the £3 you'll find in most boozers.


    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge


      A lot of that is down to increased taxes on alcohol, a lot of extra expenses in running a public house (paperwork, red tape, rates, insurance, etc) and the rises in minimum wage. Pretty much everything you could think of to try to kill off small / independent pubs.

      1. Local Group

        apropos of alcohol

        this reminds me that England's greatest hero was brought back home in a barrel of brandy. My eyes well up when I consider it and I'm not even English.

    2. HipposRule

      The pint I bought in South Wales in 1975 for 14p would now be 87p.....

  21. Tony S

    Nothing new

    During the Napoleonic war, there was a brief period of ceased hostilities; the so-called Truce of Amiens. Almost before the ink was dry on the documents, the fleet was being mothballed, with over half of the ships being put into dock or in deep rivers. The crews were discharged and when hostilities resumed, there were less than a quarter of the ships capable of being worked out back to sea.

    I'm sure that someone in the MoD thinks that Victory is still seaworthy. Talking with a specialist a while ago, he told me that they replaced a lot of the wood some time ago. It's a type of hard wood, but when covered with the paint and tar, it suddenly becomes very soft, unlike the original timber. As a result, the ship will probably just collapse in a pile of dust one day soon.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheap at twice the price

    If new first-rates could really be arranged at 8 million a pop we could almost afford enough to keep our surfeit of admirals distracted (with one each!) and stop them wasting much larger sums. It's a better plan for defence value-for-money than any of Lewis' and they might even turn out to have practical uses once the price of oil really starts to hit the ceiling.

    Preserving a 200 year old ship is much harder, to the point where this price seems fairly reasonable... and where exactly are you going to get another one of so much historical importance? Didn't know BAE were in the preservation business though. I suppose the MOD are incapable of purchasing from anyone else... bit like my company and a certain low quality IT outsourcer... see, there's an IT angle in everything if you try hard enough.

  23. Neil 44

    Lost veteran ship

    Having been at the National Maritime Museum at the weekend I heard about HMS Implacable.

    Another ship that fought at Trafalgar (albeit on the French side from where she was captured at the battle of of Cape Ortegal), wasn't finally sunk (deliberately) by the Navy until 1949 because there wasn't the money to preserve her!

    1. Dave 15

      Naval stupidity

      As normal why sell a ship when you can wastefully blow her to pieces.

      Given the state of the modern 'navy' she would double the navy's useful strength - I can imagine Victory and Implacable sailing off into the sunset to defend Britain - at least they might stand a chance no heat signature and little metal for the enemy missiles to lock on to :)

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        The fact she was 150 years old, rotten to the core (making breaking her up pointless, as you couldn't use the wood for anything) historically insignificant beside Victory even if restored and that the country was broke and couldn't afford to rebuild (not repair) her had something to do with the decision to scuttle her.

  24. OffBeatMammal

    why is Military spending running amok?

    Why, in a world where everyone is having to tighten their belts are military suppliers able to charge an endlessly increasing premium for what often turn out to be failed or faulty services and supplies?

    They seem to be the only ones who benefit from the atmosphere of fear that justifies the inception of many of these projects or initiatives... yet by the time they are delivered the solution is outdated and inappropriate so the cycle begins again

    It appears that there are too many big consolidated suppliers and with no patriots (no matter what flag) looking beyond the next bonus cycle holding the military (and us) hostage with the threat of a bogeyman (who they also supply)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Be Fair ..

      .. fronting that whole conspiracy theory about a few dozen (before we invaded Iraq and got their recruitment drive going) Al Quaeda nutters being about to end the world cost a few bucks and it's not like the military/intel boys could do ALL by themselves ..

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Tel Starr
    Thumb Down

    Victory not cheap

    Using interest to determine costs in the 'aircraft carrier' comparison is a bit lame as it does not take into account actual fiscal resources available.

    Try government expenditure as per

    HMS Victory (1865)

    £63k out of a defense budget of £6mil (total gov spend £12mil) = ~1% (.5%)

    HMS White Elephant + HMS Back Hander (2010 figures)

    £7bn for 2, out of def budget £43bn (gov spend £660bn) = ~8% (.5%) per ship

    When you spead the costs out over design\build time then the difference closes even further.

  27. gooeygooeyworms

    handful of aircraft?

    I admit my hands aren't that big but yours must be huge!

  28. Chuckl

    Between the guided missile destroyers and frigates with no missiles, and aircraft carriers with no aircraft, it's probably our main front line defences at this stage.

    Probably quite useful against Somali pirates, too.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      To be honest, if the somali's saw her then they'd probably assume she's some kind of massive pleasure yaught and try and go for her, like they did for one of the French navies auxiliary ships.

      Hmm. Not actually such a stupid idea. How about we compromise and send Warrior instead? We could be assured that she's wouldn't fall apart on the way over and frankly she probably has all of the capabilities that are actually required for the job in her original spec. Not to mention I think she's probably actually better protected against RPG's than our current front line warships.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BAe Working on RN Stealth Warship

    Given the construction of Victory, any bets on her Radar profile being better than the new stealthy warships?

  30. Peter2 Silver badge


    You missed the chance to repeat the old defense complaint that Victories original great repair was completed late and over budget. When she was only 32 she was old and about to be disposed of, when another First rate was wrecked and a survey revealed she could be repaired and put back into service for £23,500 (a third of the cost of a new ship) in a few months.

    three and a half years and £70,933 later (more than a brand new first rate to a better design would have cost) her refit was completed and she sedately set out to harass the kings enemies. She has frankly been something of a pain in the ass to keep in reasonable condition for at least the past 220 years. . .

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did the Victory ...

    ... have a steam-catapult?

    That's not cordage, no sir, those are arresting-wires.

  32. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Joining the bandwagon

    I normally agree with you Lewis, about the massive waste of cash that is defence procurements. Though, as your quote from Pepys attests, 'twas ever thus...

    I think your inflation and fleet size calculation was utterly ridiculous though. When Victory was built, Britain had an empire, in which slavery was still legal (and rather profitable too). These kind of warships also tended to last a bloody long time, it was quite possible for a ship to be in active service for a century (with the odd refit and period of being laid up). Crewing them wasn't all that expensive either, especially when you could dock their (terrible) pay to cover food, uniforms and the like.

    Back then, if you earned £1,000 a year, you were able to employ large numbers of servants and live the life of the idle rich. Obviously one didn't earn ones money, that was far too common. One had land, or maybe investments...

    Comparisons are tricky things, it was a different world. For example, the going rate for 100,000 troops to fight Napoleon was only £1m per year. That was the British subsidy to anyone who'd fight the French. We even (sort of) borrowed Portugal for £7m a year. The Royal Family buggered off to Brasil, we put a British officer in charge of the army, and sort of used it as a giant depot.

    If you call it £1,000 = £1m in today's money, then you're probably not too far from the mark. In which case I reckon we could build HMS Victory now for well under £50 million. Even at BAe prices... If you were trolling, then I think you failed, due to re-use of your favourite hobby-horse.

    Didn't someone find a flat-pack first-rater at Chatham a few years ago? All the pieces are numbered, so we could always put that one back together. Should be more useful than one of the Type 45 Destroyers at the moment. As someone above has said, it would also be very funny to surprise the Somali pirates.

  33. Eduard Coli

    It's the New Economy

    Pres. Eisenhower had a few things to say about this kind of thing during his farewell address in 1961.

    <snip> "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. . . .Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. . . . In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

    1. JimmyPage

      Eisenhower also said ....

      Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Time for a complete suck-up to Lewis!!

    It's time to put the HMS Victory out to sea again!! Why?

    1) It's deck is large enough to handle Britain's fixed-wing naval aviation for the next 10 years!

    2) It's more heavily armed than that type 45 destroyer that Lewis loves to rant about!!

    3) Wind-powered--in line with current government environmental policies and tre green!!

    4) You know it can put a wupping on the French and Spanish navies!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why not get some friendly travellers to do it for considerably less?

    I had one knock on my door once who luckily noticed my chimney stack was about to collapse, causing my entire house to fall down. Thankfully, he noticed this by chance as he just happened to be passing with his team, a van and all the materials they needed to fix the structural damage immediately, saving my house in the process!

    Initially, he wanted £5000 for the work, but when I said I really couldn't afford it, he managed to bring down the cost to £150 within 4 steps.

    So, what I was thinking was, why not get the same craftsmen to restore the Victory? I'm sure they'll do it for at least under a grand.

  36. Andus McCoatover

    Thinking about it...

    If you had a couple of jobseeking 'hoodies' with chainsaws to clear all that clutter off the top, polish the deck a bit, then we'd find a place to put some of those useless Harriers, before the US gets 'em.

    Propulsion? More Jobcentre work-experience hoodies, with long oars. Even better if we could get another who can rhythmically bang a tom-tom, to keep the other ne'er-do-wells in sync.

    The Welsh would never know what hit 'em.


  37. Matt Hawkins


    Is this story a joke? So BAE is getting paid to look after a ship. Do you expect them to do it for free?

    Maybe we should throw it away and give the money to the US instead. Doesn't matter what we get in return, as long as it keeps Lewis happy.

    Comparing the maintenance cost of Victory to its original purchase cost is the most hilarious attempt I have ever seen to imply BAE is fleecing the tax payer. Why not just write an article saying BAE eats babies and be done with it.

  38. Homer 1

    Should've gone to Stan's Used Ship Emporium

    He'd have looked after it for only 5,000 pieces of eight.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they Launch it now...

    it might be operationally ready to see off the Argies when they invade the falklands... Again!

    next year.

    with any luck they can man it with the ConDemned

    who should go down with it when its Torpedoed and sent to the bottom with all hands....

  40. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    So, tell us then!

    Which American vessel should be bought to replace her?

    1. Local Group

      That's easy

      The Disney Fantasy or the Disney Dream would be superb choices.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    trumped up costs

    At B&Q a good quality wood preserver can be had for £9.99 . Obviously you would need a few more cans but you should have change of £5000 easy. Team of 5 painters at £80 a day on top of that .

  42. Cihatari

    Manpower requirements?

    The other thing which might be worth mentioning are the manpower requirements to operate one of these things. A figure of 8-900 crew members is not untypical.

    If we're to successfully recreate the Nelsonian Royal Navy in its full glory, including all the frigates, sloops and other smaller ships supporting the battle line, we're going to need some blummin' amazing incentives based around rum, sodomy and the lash for recruitment purposes, as the current RN personnel numbers won't nearly cover it.

    Alternatively, press gangs lurking around the nation's job centres might be an interesting thought?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    With the ConDem salami slicing it won't be long before the venerable old lady is called back into service to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa.

  44. Magnus_Pym
    Thumb Up

    Raise Gov' funds old style

    Privatise the navy and send them out to beat the pirates at their own game. They can haul the booty back to Blighty for a chance at a knighthood, position in government or stately home out in the sticks. Governerships of small countries might also be up for grabs. Might even be able to lease out the mothballed ships for extended tours of the Horn of Africa, South China seas, etc. I hear there are high value cargoes traversing the Gulf of Mexico these days.

    If it takes off we might be able get the Victory earning it's keep again. More than a match for a cross channel ferry I'll wager.

    That's how they did it in the old days. No reason it won't work today

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Actually, that's not such a stupid idea. It has been done before.

      When the navy disposed of ships (especially captured foreign warships not meeting RN standards) they were just sold to private bidders, many of whom just obtained a letter of marque and reprisal and went for the enemies shipping.

      There were privateers fitted out specifically to go for pirates. The problem is that we aren't allowed to do that anymore because of the treaty of Paris of 1856. The difference between privateers and pirates at heart is simply having permission from a nation state, and out and out pirates could easily get a letter of marque from *somebody* so they couldn't simply be hung when caught. Hence, privateers were banned, and the navy continued to catch and hang pirates were simply hung until piracy died.

  45. Mr. Chuck

    View from the colonies

    Several interesting aspects to this.

    1. Who else tendered for the contract, and for how much?

    2. How does it compare to past maintenance contracts/annual costs?

    3. Why does Lewis hate BAe so very much?

    As with many media articles, this piece raises more questions than it answers.

    As for the other comments about the modern Royal Navy, well, you chaps have about as much as you need and can afford these days don't you?

  46. trottel

    Keep her!

    This is one of my childhood dreams - one day walk on the deck of that ship and imagine that i am Hornblower fighting that crazy little guy in the movie...

    No money is too much to for that. :)

    1. Local Group
      Thumb Up

      What a snake!

      Good Heavens. If El Supremo had whooped Hornblower, millions of little English school children never would have sung this song:

      "Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:

      "Britons never will be slaves."

  47. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    The shame

    is that the work on HMS Victory used to be done by the dockyard apprentices in their final year of training(supervised by someone who knows what their are doing of course)

    Only cost was the price of the materials

    Now look at us.... getting damned BAE to do the work for even more taxpayers money.

    They really should be doing it free seeing as they rake in billions from the government every year anyway.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BAE = Billions Above Estimate

    This gentle mockery is intended to help, not hurt.

  49. Scopes

    Just couldn't resist it.

    Bloody hell, I know you were a fish-head Lewis, but is there any danger of you ever writing anything about the Navy without having yet another tenuous pop at the crabs?

    Let it go man.

  50. unitron

    You'll never guess the name of the contractor

    Having immediately interpreted "Navy pays..." from my other side of the Atlantic perspective, I had a post planned that would have gone...

    You'll never guess the name of the contractor

    Richard Burton?

    Tim Burton?

    Burton Cummings?

    I'm sure there must be a burton in there somewhere.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Hmm.. Took a second..

      Ah, yep. "Gone for a Burton" in the no. 1 hall...

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only eight million?

    Sounds like a bargain deal. Now you know why the navy're no longer sailing wood. Too cheap.

  52. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Nothing's changed I see!

    "when half the company would have done it as well. But I see it is impossible for the King to have things done as cheap as other men."

    Yep, just replace the word "King" with any company name you like!

  53. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    as Pepys would have observed....

    If you take the time to read his diaries [I have] you will be depressed to note that defence procurement seems to be in as great a disarray as it was in the 1660's. Pepys spent much of his time warding off corrupt procurement [probity being his preserve in his own account] of Navy supplies; observing incompetent [Royalist] captains being placed on ships above competent proven captains from the Roundhead regime and general unreadiness of the Navy for fighting off the Dutch in the mouth of the Thames.

    plus ca change

  54. Kubla Cant

    BAE Systems

    If BAE Systems are handling this work, it presumably means they have extensive expertise working with oak, canvas, hemp, Stockholm tar etc. This is mildly surprising.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Stockholm tar?

      I think the tar for the ship would have come from my city, Oulu. There's still a working tarpit here, mainly for tourists, but....


  55. Steven Jones

    Relative cost...

    I'm dubious over the validity of using measurements of the value of currency over time in calculating relative costs. Given that the vast majority of our current GDP comprises products, technologies and services that either did not exist in 1765, or would be so altered as to be completely unrecognisable, it's not a great measure of the real cost of something like HMS Victory to either the exchequer, or the country as a whole. Also, the country has a vastly higher (inflation corrected) GDP these days.

    A much better way of looking at HMS Victory's cost is to take it as a proportion of the country's GDP, total State Expenditure and defence budget. According to the estimates at, UK GDP was £89.4m in 1765 with £12m state expenditure of which defence was £6.1m. For those that care for such things, the national debt, at £133m, was considerably higher as a proportion of GDP than it is today.

    The £63,176 capital cost was equivalent to a little over 1% of one year's defence budget, just over 0.5% of one year's state expenditure and approximately 0.07% of a year's GDP.

    Current estimates are that a single one of the new carriers will cost approximately £6.2bn (although nobody really believes that will be the final figure). Taking this as a proportion of 2010's GDP, public expenditure and defence budget (£1,453bn, £660,6bn and £43.2bn respectively) this places one carrier at approximately 14.3% of the defence budget, 0.9% of state expenditure and 4.3% of GDP.

    Whatever way you look at it (inflation adjusted, %GDP, %State spending or %defence budget), these new carriers look like expensive naval toys. Even in terms of the country's total output, they are something like 60x more expensive than HMS Victory. I suspect that Victory's 0.07% of GDP might get you a submarine or three frigates.

    Of course the headline is nonsense - £16m is just 0.001% of the GDP, so in terms of national affordability, that 5 year maintenance figure is about 1/70th of the initial capital cost.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Napoleonic quote ...

    On competence in the armed forces ...

    When Wellington saw a list of generals available to fight at Waterloo, he said ..

    "I can only hope the enemy trembles as much as I when they see this list ...."

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like