For three decades since it was dramatically raised from the Solent seabed, Henry VII's Tudor warship, the Mary Rose, has been constantly sprayed with millions of litres of a preservative water and wax solution. In a symbolic milestone ahead of the opening of the new £27 million Mary Rose Museum, those jets have now been turned off.
The final air drying phase will last up to five years. Around 100 tons of water need to be removed from the famous hull, but the commencement of the dry-out is an important moment for the ship which lay beneath the sea for 500 years.
© Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
When the new museum opens at the end of May, a “HotBox” chamber, housing the hull, will be at the core of a process described by experts as “highly technical”. Visitors will be able to watch conservation in action through windows into the airtight chamber, echoing an idea previously applied to the Swedish warship, Vasa.
The internal walls will be removed after the drying process in 2017, providing an unobstructed view of the hull. Its timbers were saved from shrinkage by the spray, which involved salt removal through an initial dousing of water, followed by a layer of Polyethlene Glycol – a water-soluble wax.
- The new Mary Rose Museum opens on May 31 2013. Visit maryrose.org for more.
© Mary Rose Trust
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