First-rate


First-rate

First-rate was the designation used by the Royal Navy for its largest ships of the line, those mounting 100 guns or more on three gundecks. [Bennett "The Battle of Trafalgar", p. 19]

First-rate vessels carried over 800 crew and displaced in excess of 2,000 tons.

Rating

In the original rating system from the 1670s, first-rates were ships of exactly 100 guns, but as time passed, ships were built with more guns, and they too were called first-rates.

In addition to the rated number of guns (which were generally the heaviest calibre available), first-rates could mount a number of carronades to augment their short-range firepower.

Although very powerful, first-rates tended to be slow and unhandy. For stability, the lowest gundeck had to be very close to the water, and in anything but calm water the gunports had to be kept closed, rendering the entire deck useless.

Ships of this size were also extremely expensive to operate. As a result, the few first-rates (the Royal Navy had only five in 1794) were typically reserved as commanding admirals' flagships.

These being the most powerful ships of the navy, it was common to compare them with the navies of other nations, and frequently one sees the largest ships of those navies being referred as first-rates, even though only the Royal Navy used the formal six-step rating system.

hips

Only two first-rate ships survive. The most famous (and only fully-restored) first-rate ship is HMS "Victory", Admiral Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar. The hull of the 112-gun HMS "St Lawrence", which was built and operated entirely in fresh water during the War of 1812, survives intact in shallow water near shore in Kingston, Ontario and is a popular diving attraction. Two other famous first rate ships were HMS|Royal Sovereign|1786|6, which was broken up in 1841, and HMS|Britannia|1762|6, which was broken up in 1825. Both these ships had 100 guns. The "Santísima Trinidad" held 120 guns.

References

Notes

Bibliography

* Rodger, N.A.M. "The Command of the Ocean, a Naval History of Britain 1649-1815", London (2004). ISBN 0-713-99411-8
* Bennett, G. "The Battle of Trafalgar", Barnsley (2004). ISBN 1-84415-107-7

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • first-rate — ˌfirst ˈrate adjective excellent or of the very best quality: • Our sales force receive first rate training. • Service at the hotel is first rate, and the rates are very reasonable. * * * first rate UK US /ˌfɜːstˈreɪt/ adjective ► of the highest… …   Financial and business terms

  • First-rate — (f[ e]rst r[=a]t ), a. Of the highest excellence; pre[ e]minent in quality, size, or estimation. [1913 Webster] Our only first rate body of contemporary poetry is the German. M. Arnold. [1913 Webster] Hermocrates . . . a man of first rate ability …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • first-rate — adj. 1. of the highest quality; as, a first rate reporter. Syn: ace, A one, first class, super, tip top, topnotch, tops(predicate). [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • first-rate — adjective of the highest quality: The service is first rate. He s doing a first rate job …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • first-rate — first rate; first rate·ly; first rate·ness; …   English syllables

  • first-rate — first class / first rate [adj] superior, excellent capital, choice, dandy, fine, first string*, fivestar*, in class by itself*, prime*, shipshape, sound, supreme, tiptop*, top, top notch*, very good; concept 574 Ant. bad, inferior, lesser, poor,… …   New thesaurus

  • First-rate — n. (Naut.) A war vessel of the highest grade or the most powerful class. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • first-rate — adj of the very best quality = ↑excellent ▪ He s a first rate surgeon …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • first-rate — first′ rate′ adj. 1) excellent; superb 2) of the highest rank, rate, or class 3) very well • Etymology: 1660–70 …   From formal English to slang

  • first-rate — index best, meritorious, preferential, premium, prime (most valuable), select, superior (excellent) …   Law dictionary