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Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Brief Study of Exploration Age Ships - Vol.1

Exploration Age Ships Overview:

The carrack was the choice high seas beast of burden and has been described as the 'perfected transport ship'.[citation needed]

* It offered the space for crew, provisions and also cargo.
* They were virtually impregnable to attack from small craft, which was often a problem in the East Indies.
* Their ability to carry cargo and provisions made them independent of ports en route, and so they had a longer range using the most efficient route.
* The combination of four sails and advanced rigging allowed for a fair degree of flexibility—the large square sails provided propulsion, but were reduced in size during storms. The smaller sails at bow and stern allowed for maneuvering, and the lateen sails allowed for sailing across the wind.
* The stable deck allowed for placement of guns, thus making the vessel an effective gun platform, as was demonstrated at the Battle of Diu (1509). This fact would greatly assist the Portuguese in convincing non-compliant rulers like the Samoothiri Raja in Asia to trade with them; allowing the Portuguese to break into established trade monopolies. It also gave effective protection against pirates.

However, the large superstructures of these ships made them prone to capsizing in strong winds.

Example Carracks:
Madre de Deus :

A galleon was a large, multi-decked sailing ship used primarily by the nations of Europe from the 16th to 18th centuries. Whether used for war or commerce, they were generally armed with demi-culverin.

Galleons were an evolution in the caravel and carrack (also a nao or nau: Spanish and Portuguese respectively for "vessel"[1][2]), for the new great ocean going voyages. A lowering of the forecastle and elongation of the hull gave an unprecedented level of stability in the water, and reduced wind resistance at the front, leading to a faster, more maneuverable vessel. The galleon differed from the older types primarily by being longer, lower and narrower, with a square tuck stern instead of a round tuck, and by having a snout or head projecting forward from the bows below the level of the forecastle. In Portugal at least, carracks were usually very large ships for their time (often over 1000 tons), while galleons were mostly under 500 tons, although the Manila galleons were to reach up to 2000 tons. Carracks tended to be lightly armed and used for transporting cargo, while galleons were purpose-built warships, and were stronger, more heavily armed, and also cheaper to build (5 galleons could cost around the same as 3 carracks) and were therefore a much better investment for use as warships. There are nationalistic disputes about the origin of the galleon, which are complicated by its evolutionary development, but each Atlantic sea-power developed types suited to their needs, while constantly learning from their rivals.

The galleon was powered entirely by sail, carried three to five masts, with a lateen sail continuing to be used on the last (usually third) mast. They were used in both military and trade applications, most famously in the Spanish treasure fleet, and the Manila Galleons. In fact, galleons were so versatile that a single vessel may have been refitted for wartime and peacetime roles several times during its lifespan. The galleon was the prototype of all square rigged ships with three or more masts for over two and a half centuries, including the later full rigged ship.

The principal warships of the opposing English and Spanish fleets in the 1588 confrontation of the Spanish Armada were galleons, with the modified English "race built" galleons developed by John Hawkins proving decisive, while the capacious Spanish galleons, designed primarily as transports for long ocean voyages, proved incredibly durable in the battles and in the great storm on the voyage home; most survived.


Carronade (gun):
The carronade was a short smoothbore, cast iron cannon, developed for the Royal Navy by the Carron Company, an ironworks in Falkirk, Scotland, UK. It was used from the 1770s to the 1850s. Its main function was to serve as a powerful, short-range anti-ship and anti-crew weapon. While considered very successful early-on, carronades eventually disappeared as long-range naval artillery led to fewer and fewer close-range engagements.

A caravel is a small, highly maneuverable, two- or three-masted lateen-rigged ship, created by the Portuguese and used also by them and by the Spanish for long voyages of exploration from the 15th century. It's derived from the qarib used by Muslim Andalusian explorers in the 13th century.

Man O' War:
The man-of-war (also man of war, man-o'-war or simply man) was the most powerful type of armed ship from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The term often refers to a ship armed with cannon and propelled primarily by sails, as opposed to a galley which is propelled primarily by oars. The man-of-war was developed in the Mediterranean in the 15th century from earlier roundships with the addition of a second mast to form the carrack (a type of ship used by the English in the 1500s). The 16th century saw the carrack evolve into the galleon and then the ship of the line.

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