Portsmouth has been a major port for the Royal Navy almost from the time there has been a Royal Navy. The shipyards have made many of the ships that have carried England to victory on the seas. We also met some extended family here.
Portsmouth is on the English Channel.
This is the H.M.S. Victory. The H.M.S. stands for Her/His Majesty's Ship. The Victory was Admiral Nelson's flagship when the British Navy beat the French at Trafalgar. Like the U.S.S. Constitution in Boston is to Americans, the Victory is a symbol of Britain's glorious past. In WWII, the Germans bombed the holy hell out of Portsmouth, trying to cripple British warship production. Bombs took out much of the area around the Victory, but the ship itself was never hit, although a bomb did land mere feet from the ship, splashing into the water.
A shot of the Victory's bow. Lord Nelson was shot and killed during the battle of Trafalgar, but in accordance with his final words ("not over the side."), he was not given a burial at sea as was the custom. So, they had to find a way to keep him from getting too stanky on the 2 month trip back to England. Their solution was to stick the body in a barrel of wine for the trip home. The plan worked, the Admiral was kept at least somewhat fresh and he is buried in St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
This is the H.M.S. Warrior. The Warrior was the first iron hulled warship, but was never called on to fight in battle. The very presence of such a powerful ship often was enough to end a battle by itself. The few times it was sent to a war zone, the other ships just took off running when the Warrior came into the area.
This is Portsmouth harbor at low tide. In high tide, the water would be up to where I'm standing to take this picture. Off to the right (out of the picture), is a Roman road out to the island that is only visible at low tide.
There are several vintage ships on display here, along with all sorts of naval artifacts. One of the more interesting ships that I couldn't take a picture of (they wouldn't let me - afraid the flash would damage the ship. I got this picture from a website I can't remember) is the Mary Rose. The Mary Rose was the pride of Henry VIII's (named after his favorite sister) fleet before she sank in 1545. She was raised from her watery grave in 1982 by a team led by Prince Charles and restorations are underway. They are currently spraying the ship with this substance that will harden the wood and prevent it from drying out and falling apart. The part of the ship that is still around is the part that settled into the bottom of the harbor. For more, check out http://www.maryrose.org/