During 2022 Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust is set to welcome Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744, an exciting maritime archaeological exhibition, which takes the visitor as close to the seabed as possible while staying in dry dock.

Visitors to the new exhibition at The Historic Dockyard Chatham (on loan from the National Museum of the Royal Navy) will be able to tread the seabed virtually and investigate the exciting finds from HMS Invincible, the darling of the Royal Navy that ran aground on a sand bank over 260 years ago, sunk beneath the waves and was preserved for over two centuries on the ocean floor.

While HMS Invincible’s final resting place remains the bottom of the Solent, this fascinating exhibition, collated after an emergency underwater excavation of the famous 18th century battleship, tells the story of Invincible, her capture, the lasting contribution she made to the Royal Navy fleet and her subsequent sinking and rediscovery by a fisherman in 1979.

The exhibition has travelled from Portsmouth to Chatham and has been made possible by a collaboration with the Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust (MAST), Bournemouth University, the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

After a year at its initial site in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the experience is coming to Chatham, where it will be launched on Saturday 12 February 2022.

Nick Ball, Collections, Galleries and Interpretation Manager at Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust said:

“Visitors to The Historic Dockyard Chatham will be able to learn why the Invincible was so special; the captured French ship that became the blueprint for Royal Navy 74-gun ships of the line.”

“Originally, a ‘nippy’ French warship, ‘L’Invincible’, was captured by the Royal Navy and every inch of her hull and form were studied and then replicated to form a new fleet that would go on to defeat the French. She was a game-changer who even influenced the subsequent design of the world’s most famous warship – Admiral Nelson’s HMS Victory, built here at Chatham.”

Visitors can learn the story of how the Invincible was rediscovered in 1979 by Portsmouth fisherman Arthur Mack and how in recent years it became crucial to rescue the artefacts on board before the sandbank migrated away.

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