HMS Victory repair work to begin in Portsmouth
Major restoration work is about to begin on HMS Victory - the warship on which Admiral Lord Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
The ship is on display in a dry dock in Portsmouth as a museum and is one of the area's main tourist attractions.
Recent survey work on HMS Victory revealed that it was leaking, suffering from rot and was being pulled apart by its own weight.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to put a 10-year contract out to tender.
The Royal Navy announced earlier this year that it was committed to maintaining the 18th Century ship, which is the oldest commissioned warship in the world.
One of the first tasks will be the dismantling Victory's three masts. It will be first time the warship has been without its top masts since 1944.
Much of the operation will be carried out by master shipwrights and other specialist staff employed by BAE Systems.
John O'Sullivan, BAE Systems project manager, said: "We will remove the upper sections of all three masts and bowsprit, booms, yards and spars, including 26 miles of associated rigging and 768 wooden blocks, some of which are 100 years old."
Mr O'Sullivan said everything would be catalogued and documented for future surveying, design and replacement and that when the rigging was replaced, a decision would be made as to whether the wooden rope blocks can be re-used, recycled or replaced.
"Our team will carefully manage this major restoration project, keeping disruption to a minimum," he added
About £1.5m a year is spent by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on the maintenance of the vessel.
The Battle of Trafalgar reached its peak on 21 October 1805.