Updates from Maritime Film UK’s Rob White, TV producer, reporter and camera operator with 30 years’ experience at the BBC, Channel 4 and ITN


21 April 2023

As National Museum of the Royal Navy shipwrights stripped away the planking of Victory on her starboard side, they soon learned that it was the newer, replacement hull planking that had rotted most. This was at least in part because this was the side of the ship most exposed to wind and weather sweeping down from the Solent and into Portsmouth Harbour. A century of that takes its toll on any wooden ship, and Victory, however mighty, is no exception. But the surprise was what had fared worse was the newest planking – probably just a few decades old. Iroko, often used as a serviceable substitute for teak. Some at least of this had gone to a kind of mulch. Time allowing it could have been bagged up and sold to make a bob or two for the National Museum.


21 April 2023

The Victory visitors see today, in 2023, is much more than two and a half centuries away from the original, built at Chatham and launched in 1765. Warships of that era were worked hard as Britain rose to her mastery of world oceans and trade, culminating unanswerably in the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. That – anti-Empire grievance-mongers please note (as if they will!) benefited all sea- trading nations, whatever Britain’s dominance. But that meant that ships of the Royal Navy needed the kind of rebuild Victory is now getting, every 9 years or so. So not much of what you see of this great – and unique – ship’s external timbers dates back to her birth. Surveys show that what does – for example, the great frames – is in remarkably good, and strong, condition. And the stripping goes on…


21 April 2023

This is Simon Williams, HMS Victory project director. Simon was Assistant Project Director until the untimely death of Stephen Green (see MFUK blogs passim.) Eventually he stepped into Stephen’s shoes and is now in charge of the day-to-day work in what must be the most ambitious maritime conservation project in the world – and the most important, as there is no other 18th century warship in such an excellent state of preservation worldwide. Excellent yes, but needing constant work and checking to keep her so. Simon carries this responsibility calmly, but with an intense focus – always there, always on site, working to overall project leader, Andrew Baines. This latest phase, the renewed hull planking, is a major, multi-year step forward – and it’s one Simon had to take on step up to at literally no notice. And Victory is a global icon.


21 April 2023

Now on to the next phase in the multi-year project to protect and restore HMS Victory. With the ship stabilized with her new supports feeding data second by send on how she is sitting and where stresses can be relieved or supporting pressure gently increased. So now the shipwrights are working towards the much-needed restoration of her hull planking. Much depends on what they and their team of shipwrights find as the shell planking comes off – what state are the ribs are in, and where are the needs for restoration most pressing. Only one way to find out – remove the planking and look. You might think modern electric gadgets would make this easier, but in fact it requires many tools and techniques recognizable to the 18th century shipwrights who built Victory. The prime one: muscle power. The new planking: oak.


02 December 2022

We have sad news. We have lost a guiding light. Anthony Harvey, the Secretary of the Maritime Foundation – for which MFUK was created – has crossed the bar. After a year and more of a fight against cancer, in which he displayed all the courage and good humour that we knew so well in him, he “put off his old clothes”, in that moving phrase, and passed away.

It’s hard to know where to start in summing up Tony’s life’s work in bringing home to our country the vital importance of the sea and seafaring to Britain. From the creation of the Maritime Media Awards; to the founding of the Maritime Volunteer Service, which enables young people to learn about sea time; to the successful ‘Britain and the Sea’ conferences; to his editorship of ‘Maritime’, the blue-chip annual review of the maritime world; to his creation of the Maritime Foundation Memorial Book, for those lost at sea with no known grave – his achievements just go on and on.

But above all, he was a man of great generosity of spirit, of kindness and hospitality – in the words of the gospel, filled with “good will to all men.” Those who knew him will miss him so much. But we are all determined to do all we can to see that his work goes on.

There will be a memorial service for Anthony Harvey at the mariners’ church of All Hallows by the Tower, London EC3R 5BJ, on the 9th of February next year.

Ave atque vale, Tony.


24 October 2022

Briggs Marine’s generous help was critical, putting The Bronington Trust in a good place to save the King’s Ship from final decay and disintegration, after that critical dive survey. Mike McBride (picture) is the Trust’s spokesman. He told us: “We’re getting warm feeling that it’s now feasible to raise HMS ‘Bronington’. Very happy with the results of the Briggs marine dive survey… they went round the whole of the ship, and found a couple of bad areas on the foc’sle, port side, which they’re confident they can plug up…so as far as the Trust are concerned, it was a very successful day! It’s a massive step for us because we can now apply for charitable status, knowing that what we want to do is achievable, and hopefully we can now get the money in to raise and salvage the ‘Bronington’.”


24 October 2022

The Bronington Trust have been given massive help by dive company Briggs Marine,, who cut them a very generous deal to conduct a full dive survey. And this was no small undertaking. Briggs deployed two divers, one on dive, one fully kitted up and on standby; and then conducted a day-long search with fingertip care, all results relayed back to a mobile control room, full TV and sound facilities monitoring the dive, and seeing what their diver saw, continuously. Diving Supervisor Craig Harris oversaw the dive meticulously, along with other Briggs staff. “We were able to see 60 – 70% of the vessel – a lot of the hull was into silt, quite challenging for the diver… zero visibility in places, taking measurements with next to no vis.” So – your verdict? “At this stage everything’s looking quite good. Everybody’s happy!”


24 October 2022

Indeed. Bronington today is the picture of abandonment, listing heavily to starboard, all her essential equipment including her main Bofors gun gone, the water on her Mersey dockside washing over her, leaving her submerged from aft of the foc’sle. It’s a wrench seeing her like this. I remember as a nine-year old accompanying my father Captain Robert White RN to see several trim ‘Tons’ lying alongside in Famagusta, during the Cyprus emergency. He’d been tasked to run all naval operations around the island, to try to stop as many as possible of the arms shipments making their way from Greece from falling into the hands of the terrorist murderers of EOKA. All their bombings and shootings ended up achieving was the invasion of the island, divided ever since, with formerly flourishing Famagusta itself a ghost own. That went well, eh?

About Rob

Rob WhiteRob is a TV producer, reporter and camera operator with 30 years’ experience at the BBC, Channel 4 and ITN, in news, factual and documentary production. He is a four times award winner, whose awards include a coveted Royal Television Society award for his work on Channel 4 News. His association with The Maritime Foundation goes back to 1995, when he won the first Desmond Wettern Maritime Media Award for a series of reports that led to a major documentary on the loss of the bulk carrier Derbyshire.

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