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Look back at raising the

Mary Rose

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

around 400.

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-

ing work.

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