The ramifications of Monday's Strategic Defence Review became clearer yesterday with the news that HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship in the Battle of Trafalgar, is to be press-ganged back into active service patrolling the high seas.
Making the announcement, Defence Secretary, Liam Fox said, ‘The Victory is still a commissioned naval vessel, and had raised valuable funds in its guise as a tourist attraction; however it's about time she pulled her weight and was redeployed doing the work for which she was designed. I appreciate that the old girl is getting on a bit, but modern restoration techniques should allow us to get another 150 years service out of her. Don't forget the miracles of science have given us Cuprinol.'
The crew quarters are to be upgraded with new hammocks in the sleeping areas and proper toilet facilities to replace the eighteenth century poop deck. It is also understood that the main mast will be unitised to provide after hours pole dancing for the sailors’ entertainment.
Whilst the refurbished Victory will not have the Harrier jet capacity of the Ark Royal, there will be adequate take off and landing space for the crack carrier pigeon squadron that will form the centrepiece of the new communications system with the squadron will residing in the refurbished crows nest.
Defending the move, Dr Fox said ‘OK, the Victory is a little old and past its very best, but the Government has experience of de-mothballing old relics and I must say that Kenneth Clarke is going a magnificent job.'
The Victory will be the first in a planned fleet of naval vessels to be known as the Heritage Fleet. Admiralty Chiefs are known to be considering the addition of HMS Pinafore, still going strong after 120 years, and are believed to have commissioned a feasibility study for the Tudor battleship Mary Rose which is known to have submarine capability.