Upkeep of Nelson's historic ship might be handed to private players

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London, September 14 : HMS Victory, Lord Nelson's celebrated flagship, is poised to be offloaded by UK's Royal Navy, and plans are to handle its upkeep to private players.

It is a first rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built between 1759 and 1765, most famously known as Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar.

It currently sits in dry dock in Portsmouth, as a museum ship.

According to Pride of Nation, it was revealed that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) want the Navy to end centuries of tradition by abandoning running the celebrated vessel, which lures 500,000 visitors a year to its dry dock in Portsmouth.

The Navy spends 1.5million pounds a year on the ship's upkeep - a responsibility that could be handed to another Government department, a charity or even to a company.

The move raised fears of a private firm using the world's oldest commissioned warship to promote its business.

"It will be an absolute tragedy. This magnificent ship means so much to both naval people and the whole nation. Selling it to a private firm would turn it into a Disneyland and would be its ruin," said Retired Lieutenant Commander Michael Cheshire MBE (Member of the British Empire).

Former First Sea Lord Sir Julian Oswald accused the Government of plotting to "make a mockery" of Britain's naval heritage - just weeks after Admiral Lord Nelson was voted Britian's greatest ever hero.

"Victory is a national treasure. Talk of selling her or anything of that sort is daft," he said.

Meanwhile, the MoD insisted there was no question of Victory being flogged off, but that her future had to be reviewed like any other warship.

According to a spokesman, "We are looking at a range of funding options."

The MoD also pledged the 249-year-old vessel would remain the flagship for the Navy's Commander-in-Chief - her official role since 1889.

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