The years 1995 to 2005 have been named Nelson's Decade to mark the naval hero's great battles and achievements 200 years ago.
        For each of his great victories a number of special events and publications have been planned and produced, co-ordinated by the Official Nelson Celebrations Committee. 
       
Set up by the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth and the National Maritime Museum, the committee includes representatives from a number of bodies.
        
From the Royal Navy, the Society for Nautical Research, the 1805 Club, the Nelson Society, Lloyds of London, the Nelson Museum, Monmouth and Flagship Portsmouth, each has had its input.
         The aim of the committee is to ensure that the achievements of Nelson and the Royal Navy of his time are marked in an appropriate way.
         Celebrations started in 1997 to mark the 200th anniversary of the first of Nelson's great battles, the Battle of Cape St Vincent.
        
In Portsmouth a celebration involving senior Royal Navy officers, heritage bosses and descendants of sailors who fought in the battle was held in the historic dockyard under the shadow of Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory.
        
More than 200 children from the Admiral Lord Nelson School staged a recreation of the battle and the band of the Royal Marines played to spectators.
        
In 1998, Nelson fans celebrated again for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of the Nile.
        
One of the most spectacular commemorations was the unveiling of an 80ft image of Lord Nelson next to Victory.
        
Portsmouth City Council and Flagship Portsmouth commissioned artist Chris Biddlecombe to design a collage, which is made up of 2,700 posters of contemporary sailors' tropical uniform - one for each of the French troops killed or wounded.
        
And attached to the posters were 900 labels, one for each of the British casualties, giving information about the battle..




Nelson's Vanguard at the Battle of the Nile, Bay of Abu Qir, 1st August 1798
(reproduced with the artist's permission)

 

         In addition, an oil painting depicting the battle was commissioned by the museum.
        
The painting by artist Francis Smitheman, called Nelson's Vanguard at the Battle of the Nile, Bay of Abu Qir, 1st August 1798, was used to produce a commemorative print for the museum.
        
The original was placed with London auctioneers Christies for an auction of maritime pictures.

 

HMS Somerset visited the bay for a ceremony

         Further from home, the Devonport-based Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset visited Abu Qir Bay - the site of the battle - where her captain, the Hon Michael Cochrane, laid wreaths.
        
It was appropriate that the frigate captain laid wreaths as he was a direct descendant of one of the Royal Navy's most dashing sloop and frigate commanders of the Napoleonic era, Admiral Lord Thomas Cochrane.
        
The next big celebration will be in 2000 in Great Yarmouth where a street fair will commemorate Nelson's homecoming in 1800.
        
Further plans are being laid to commemorate Nelson's third great battle, the Battle of Copenhagen in 2001 when an Anglo-Danish event will be held.
        
The final event of the decade will be the major celebrations heralding the 200th anniversary of Nelson's greatest battle at Trafalgar.
        
In 2005, Portsmouth is expected to play a dominate part in the celebrations with HMS Victory playing a central role.
        
One of the highlights will be a tall ships race across the Atlantic following Nelson's route when he chased the French.
        
But celebrations will begin in Portsmouth with the annual Trafalgar Day service on board Victory and with a variety of events spreading out around the country.

By Adrian Wills, Defence Correspondent