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27 October 2013, 11:15 | Updated: 27 October 2013, 11:18
Experts have used 3D laser imaging to get under the skin of Lord Nelson's famous ship HMS Victory and help with its future preservation.
Victory is the world's oldest commissioned warship and was Nelson's flag ship at the Battle of Trafalgar where the Royal Navy beat a combined French and Spanish fleet in 1805.
The 248-year-old vessel is presently undergoing conservation at her home in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard and the new technique is allowing experts to see more clearly how the ship was made and the complexity of the 18th century vessel.
Laser scanning of the ship, which is owned by the National Museum of the Royal Navy, has been used to construct a digital model which contains the details of every piece of timber and iron in its construction. It is made up of approximately 80,000 components.
Each component has its position, dimensions, material, record of replacement and condition embedded to provide a database for the long term conservation of the ship.
This 'intelligent model' developed by BAE Systems represents a major advance in the approach to the management of historic structures.
As further restoration is carried out using the model as a template, a record of the work will be added to it.
Rory Fisher, Managing Director, BAE Systems Maritime Services said: "We are very excited to be using such innovative technology to explore such an incredible piece of our heritage. The laser mapping provides us with an unprecedented level of insight into the construction of HMS Victory and allows our specialist team to identify the best ways to restore this iconic vessel.''
Andrew Baines, Curator and Project Director for HMS Victory, said "At almost 250 years old, HMS Victory's structure is incredibly complex, both in terms of design and the history of repair and conservation.
"This laser mapping and the structural analysis to follow will allow us to plan our programme of conservation and ensure that the ship benefits from the highest possible standards of curatorial care.''
HMS Victory is a 104-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She was laid down in 1759 and launched in 1765.
In 1922 she was moved to a dry dock at Portsmouth and preserved as a museum ship.