One of the last acts of former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne before leaving office this week was to allocate more than £2 million of banking fines to excavate the 18th century HMS Invincible shipwreck in the Solent.
The funding comes from fines levied on the banking industry for manipulating the LIBOR rate. In all £14.4 million was allocated, mainly to military charities and the Royal Voluntary Service.
HMS Invincible sank near Portsmouth in 1758 when its design was cutting-edge, partly because it was built using iron as well as wood. The first vessel to carry the name Invincible, it was regarded as one of the Royal Navy’s finest ships of the time.
Today, the wreck is one of the most complete and best-preserved warships of its era, but shifting sands are leaving it exposed to damage.
The excavation project will be run by the Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust (MAST) with the aim of securing artefacts from the wreck, which is known to contain items that can shed light on life aboard Royal Navy ships of the time. The work is expected to fill an important chronological gap between Henry VIII’s Mary Rose and Nelson’s HMS Victory.
“The wreck of the HMS Invincible is an invaluable part of the UK’s proud maritime history and it is important we work to save as much as possible,” said George Osborne. “This hugely worthwhile project will support military veterans, serving personnel and disadvantaged teenagers to learn new skills and put artefacts from the wreck on public display for the first time.”
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