Look back at raising the
The raising of the Mary Rose in
1982 was one of the most complex
salvage operations ever conduct-
ed, breaking new ground in diving
and conservation techniques. It
was an operation that Barnshaws
Section Benders remember, as the
company’s unrivalled steel fabri-
cation expertise helped bring the
wreck to the surface.
With the lengthy conservation
operation of the Mary Rose com-
plete, visitors to the Mary Rose
Museum can now view what re-
mains of the immense hull in all
its glory, free of obtrusive scaffolding and water pipes.
The Mary Rose, the mightiest ship in King Henry VIII’s
fleet, in many ways embodies the monarch’s rule over
England. A byword for excess in the 16th century, the
Mary Rose weighed in around 700 tons and was armed
with over 70 guns and could carry a combined crew of
The Mary Rose sailed out to meet the French Fleet
in battle on the 19th July 1545, keeled over, and sank
into the Solent.
Over the centuries many salvage attempts had been
made to raise the infamous ship from its clay tomb, but
in 1982 a group of scientists, archaeologists and divers
grouped together to finally raise the battleship.
Barnshaws Section Benders was subsequently con-
tacted by contractor Babcock Power Construction
Division to produce the precision curved steel section
beams to form the cradle, which would raise the wreck
to the surface.
With years of expertise in bending steel, Barnshaws
were able to fabricate the section in-house to accom-
modate the 40 metre long 25 metre high hull of the
ill-fated ship. Barnshaws was able to deliver the sections
on time, to allow the project to continue its ground-break-
The lifting frame was attached to the 570 ton wreck-
age of the ship via steel bolts, and was raised with the
help of cranes, hydraulic jacks and air bags. The hull was
then transported to the Royal Naval Base in Portsmouth.
The ship was placed behind HMS Victory and a facility
built around her to ensure preservation of the archae-
ological wonders within.
The remains have since been sprayed with clean
water for two decades, then soluble wax and finally
completed gradual drying process so that the timbers
can be viewed in the open air.
With restoration now finally complete, visitors can
enjoy the Mary Rose like never before. A technological
wonder of its time, its preservation owes a lot to the
modern engineering expertise Britain has always
•Barnshaws Section Benders
Contractors World International Vol 7 No 5