IT famously fought off both the Spanish and French Armadas off the Cadiz coastline during the Battle of Trafalgar.
But despite being where the naval hero Lord Nelson bravely lost his life, Britain’s most famous ship the HMS Victory could be turned into a party boat.
In something of an ignominous fall, the 247-year-old icon could be used to hold parties after the Ministry of Defence admitted it could no longer afford its upkeep.
The historic vessel – currently a museum in Portsmouth – is being donated to the National Museum of the Royal Navy, which admits it might have to hire it out to parties or private functions.
“This is unacceptable,” said a Royal Navy source. “This historic ship should be kept by the Navy and honoured for what it did to this country.
“If Lord Nelson knew what his prized ship was being turned into, he would turn in his grave.”
HMS Victory was a regular visitor to Gibraltar and in 1805 had the sad task of bringing Nelson’s body back to England after he was fatally wounded on its decks off the coast of Vejer at Cape Trafalgar.
His body was kept in a cask of rum or brandy for the voyage home, with sailors said to have drunk from it to instill bravery and leading to the phrase ‘Tapping the Admiral’.
The 104-gun warship was retired in 1812.
Former First Sea Lord, Lord West, insisted the change was justified.
He said: “It is inevitable she will be used for corporate events – but if we have to go down this route to prevent her turning into a wreck, so be it.”