Portsmouth is one of the biggest military naval harbors historically in England. Today, it is still used in some parts as a naval base and training facility for the naval academy. The HMS Victory was an impressive ship that was built in the late 1700s. It is the oldest ship in continuous military service. The second oldest ship is the USS Constitution. The HMS Victory was the flagship of Vice-Admiral Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar. Nelson is considered one of the best naval officers in British history. Nelson died at the battle of Trafalgar after the battle as he led his flagship the HMS Victory in the lead into the naval action. The HMS Victory barely made it back to port due to the damage it has sustained during the naval action. The battle at Trafalgar was a resounding victory for the Royal Navy (British). The French and Spanish fleet was resoundingly defeated. This battle took place during the Napoleonic Wars. The ship which is on display in Portsmouth Harbor is massive for its time. It had 104 cannons arrayed on its three decks along with a hold at the bottom of the ship. These cannons included 32 pound cannons, 24 pound cannons and an array of long and normal barreled 12 pound cannons. The poundage of a cannon is based upon the weight of shot that is fired from the cannon. This made the HMS Victory a ship of the line which were the main military ships of the Royal navy although as the flagship it was bigger and more heavily armed than most ships of the same classification. In fact, it was a first-rate ship of the line which means it was fitted with the best materials available and purpose built to be an important ship in the royal navy. It was commissioned by Pitt the Elder a famous tactician in British history.
Portsmouth is also home to a World War I ship HMS M.33. This ship was a small bombardment ship meant for coastal duty with two big 6 inch guns that have a range of at least 6 miles which allowed them to cover the amphibious landings on Gallipoli. The ship had 4 siblings all of which were destroyed by enemy artillery fire during the landings. This was due to their ½ inch thin hull which any direct hit by an artillery shell could destroy the ship. HMS M33 became known as the “luck ship” as it was the only one that survived. The ship then saw service in the support of landings in Archangel in north western Russia to cover the White Russians’ retreat. The ship was repurposed in World War II as a mine layer and a floating office for some officers who were never of note. The ship was decommissioned soon after World War II. The ship is one of three remaining ships that served in World War I and the only surviving ship from the Gallipoli campaign. Portsmouth harbor is a fine reflection of some of the history of the Royal Navy’s illustrious history.