HMS Victory Gets New CO

Control of the world's oldest commissioned warship HMS Victory has been handed over to its 100th commanding officer

Lieutenant Commander Rod Strathern is now at the helm of Nelson's flagship, famous for its role in the Battle of Trafalgar and for being where the UK's most famous admiral died in 1805.

Lt Cdr Strathern, 46, who has a deep interest in military history, said he was honoured to be selected for the position.

The father of -two from Winchester, Hampshire, said: 

"Command of HMS Victory is a huge privilege for any CO but to be the 100th adds a particular significance and I am conscious that I am following in some very illustrious footsteps.

"HMS Victory is a priceless national treasure and I intend to ensure she is well looked after.''

Saying farewell as CO, and to the Royal Navy, was Lieutenant Commander DJ "Oscar" Whild, 50, who took command of HMS Victory in September 2008.

The father of three from Portsmouth, who is retiring to France, said: ``Being in command of HMS Victory for the past three years has been a great honour for me.

"It is without doubt the best job in the Royal Navy that someone of my rank can undertake and I am very privileged to have served onboard her.

"The ship certainly gets under your skin and although it is time for me to move on, it will still be a wrench to let her go.

"I am also very sad to be saying goodbye to the Navy as this is my last appointment before retirement after just over 30 years' service.''

HMS Victory was launched in 1765 at Chatham Dockyard and was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1778.

Its first commanding officer was Captain John Lindsay. Captain Thomas Hardy, who was at the helm at the time of Nelson's death, was the 18th CO.

HMS Victory is located in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and is the flagship of the Second Sea Lord and Commander in Chief Naval Home Command.

It is undergoing a £16 million five-year refurbishment programme.

The work, being carried out by BAE Systems, includes repairs to the middle gun deck, which has required the removal of the masts, booms and rigging.

The current Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Charles Montgomery, was present at the handover ceremony in the Great Cabin this morning.