Wooden structures are often affected by different types of fungi and insects that cause irreversible damage to the wood. Lack of knowledge about the fungi and negligence can cost very heavily for home owners, as has been proven in the past. Fungi and wood eating termites do not spare any structure, regardless of their importance. One such fungi that is known to destroy wooden structure is dry rot, a wood eating fungi that weakens the wood from the inside and eventually causes the collapse of the structure, if not treated in time.
The HMS Queen Mary
Wood has been the basic material used for building ships in the past. That has also been the reason for most of the ships, including the royal army’s 104-gun ship, the HMS Queen Mary, went on to rot sooner than later. The HMS Queen Mary was built in 1810 and was a first rate ship on the line used by the Royal Navy. It was built as a replacement to the first Queen Charlotte that was destroyed in an accident.
The pride of the British Navy
Built in 1805, the Queen Charlotte was the pride of the Royal Navy. It had over 100 guns and was a first rate ship, until it was affected by dry rot. The ship was getting damaged so quickly due to the fungi that the navy saw an urgent need to rebuild it even before it set sail for the seas.
The Queen Charlotte wasn’t the only ship that was affected by dry rot. A number of other ships also got affected by this fungi, which is believed to have entered British soil through European ships and cargo that entered the land. The magnitude of damage that this fungus caused at that time, when the HMS Queen Charlotte had to be rebuilt, had popularized the term dry rot.
The HMS Queen Charlotte was also repaired through replacement of infected wood with fresh, uninfected wood. It was repaired a number of times during its life time, and the total costs of its repairs crossed 250,000 GBP by the time she was renamed HMS Excellent, and she was eventually broken up in 1892.
Replacement the only solution
Both wet and dry rot were commonly referred to as dry rot until the 1960s, when boron formulations were being used for treating dry rot, or brown rot. The treatment for dry rot includes exposure to boron and other chemicals that are injected into the wood to retain the remaining structural integrity of the wood. However boron mining in the UK began not until the late 1800s, by which time a number of timber war ships were damaged to rot and destruction.
(Original image source used via Creative Commons License via Wikimedia)