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16 August 2011, 13:29
Riggers have removed the main topgallant mast from Nelson's flagship HMS Victory as part of major renovation works.
The fore topgallant yard and fore topsail yards have already been removed from the ship, which is based at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
The work, which is set to last 10 years, is the most extensive restoration since the ship was repaired after the damage sustained at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
The last time Victory was seen without its top masts was in 1944.
The renovation to the world's oldest commissioned warship was ordered by the Ministry of Defence after a survey revealed that the 250-year-old ship, which is still the flagship of the second sea lord, was in urgent need of repair.
John O Sullivan, BAE Systems project manager for HMS Victory, said: "We will remove the upper sections of all three masts and bowsprit, booms, yards and spars, including 26 miles of associated rigging and 768 wooden blocks, some of which are 100 years old.
"We will then catalogue and document everything for future surveying, design and replacement.
"When the rigging is replaced a decision will be made as to whether the wooden rope blocks can be re-used, recycled or replaced.
"Our team will carefully manage this major restoration project, keeping disruption to a minimum.''