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T2, R1, Prng 35: Dutch Small Warship to 34 Guns vs Spanish Galleon

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  • T2, R1, Prng 35: Dutch Small Warship to 34 Guns vs Spanish Galleon

    In your opinion, which of these two warship types was most significant, influential and/or effective?
    Feel free to apply those criteria as you please, along with any others you think appropriate.
    Note: Suggestions for some additional criteria are at the foot of this post.

    According to the criteria as you see and apply them, please vote for your preferred candidate in the attached poll.
    If your chosen criteria are significantly different from those suggested, telling us what they are and why you used them would be helpful.

    48: Dutch small Warship (up to 34 guns) 1601-1700

    The Dutch built excellent warships, although they typically tended to be a bit smaller than those of many other navies, as well as having less draft with, usually, a somewhat broader beam to compensate. This allowed them to more easily navigate their generally very shallow coastal and estuary waters. A broader beam could also - to some extent at least and for a ship of any given length - make for a more stable gun platform.

    The Dutch fought a number of rival navies during this period; perhaps most notably the English, against whom their principal conflicts were the 1st Anglo-Dutch War 1652-54; the 2nd 1665-67 and the 3rd 1672-74. In a substantial number of the battles of these wars, the Dutch gave as good or better than they got but in the end, it was to little avail. Nevertheless, they had proven themselves as opponents to be greatly respected.

    Raid on the Medway

    By February 1667, a few months before the end of the 2nd Anglo-Dutch War (4 March 1665 - 31 July 1667), the financial situation for the English Crown had become desperate. Simply put, the English at this time lacked the finance to keep their entire fleet in fighting condition. Consequently, it was decided that the majority of their heavier ships - which were the most expensive to maintain - should be "laid up" at Chatham, on the River Medway, just south of the River Thames and not far from London.
    This financial parsimony had followed close on the heels of two major disasters which seriously impacted the English but in particular, the inhabitants of London. The first was the Great Plague of 1665-66; the second was the Great Fire of London, in September 1666. The Dutch raid on Chatham was to be a massive humiliation and a "last straw" for the English. Taking them entirely unprepared over several days starting on 19 June 1667, the Dutch - in a bold and brilliant stroke - brazenly sailed a flotilla of their warships up the Medway and created havoc and destruction in their path.
    The Dutch bombarded and temporarily captured the town of Sheerness, then sailed via the Thames estuary up the River Medway to Chatham and Gillingham. They engaged fortifications with cannon fire, burned or captured thirteen of the most powerful English warships and then captured & towed away the flagship of the English fleet, HMS Royal Charles. This was a disaster for the English and one of the worst defeats ever to be suffered by the Royal Navy. It brought a quick end to the war and a negotiated peace favorable to the Dutch.

    Dutch equivalent to a small corvette.
    Participating in the attack on Chatham, raid on the Medway, June 1667

    Corvette equiv Chatham 1667.jpg

    Dutch equivalent to a small frigate.
    Bombarding a British fort during the Medway raid.

    Sml Frig equiv bombard Brit fort 1667.jpg

    Beside the English, the Dutch inevitably found themselves at war with other naval powers through the 17th century. In particular, they already had difficult and sometimes hostile relations with the Spanish from the mid 16th through to the early 18th century. Spain effectively exercised control over much of what is now the Netherlands during that period. For this and other reasons such as competition for colonial resources and trade, conflict with Spain boiled over on a number of occasions. (The Dutch and the English were far from always being enemies and there were occasions when they were on the same side against the Spanish.)
    I selected the image below because it is of a very fine painting, that seems to capture a "Dutch vs Spanish" action at sea very well:

    Dutch galleon ramming Spanish galleys, English Channel, October 1602

    Sml galleons ram Span galleys Eng Chnl 3 Oct 1602 1.jpg

    87: Spanish Galleon 1601-1700

    In common with the other European maritime powers, the Spanish navy during the 17th century gradually evolved its premier sailing warship fleets from galleon types to recognizable ships of the line. However, it is probably fair to say that to begin with at least, they were not among the leading nations in this regard. Nevertheless, galleons remained useful for a considerable time; especially during the first half of that century. Below, we have three examples for Spain:

    The Neustra Senora de Atocha was built in Havana in 1618, for employment in the Indies. It was relatively small with a displacement around 500 tons and a crew of about 200 men, which included 90 soldiers. Armament was 20 heavy guns, together with up to about a dozen "versos" (swivel guns).
    She was wrecked during a hurricane in September 1622; all 50 or her passengers and all but four of her crew being lost, along with the treasure she was carrying.
    In 1985, the treasure hunter Mel Fisher discovered the wreck, along with that of her consort galleon the Santa Margarita; and this find became one of the most lucrative ever made.

    Neustra Senora de Atocha. "Cut-away" view shows much of the interior.

    Gall Neustra Senora de Atocha 1622 p28D onv96 1.jpg

    The San Felipe was one of six galleons built for the Spanish Crown between 1625 and 1628. She displaced a little over 600 tons and served in the Portuguese squadron of the "Armada del Mar Oceano", to protect maritime trade routes for Spain and Portugal during the war against France. San Felipe also served at the Battle of the Downs in 1639 and survived. This battle was fought between the Spanish and the Dutch, and was a decisive Dutch victory.

    San Felipe can be seen as a very typical "workhorse" of the era. In the picture below, notice the inset showing one of her guns which has the single pair of large wheels as per a land cannon. Well before the end of this century, most navies had transitioned to the smaller-wheeled trucks that became standard for naval guns.

    The 24-gun San Felipe, 1629

    Gall San Felipe 1629 p30E onv96.jpg

    The Santa Teresa, launched in 1621, was considerably larger than the two galleons shown above; displacing about 1,100 tons and being armed with 36 main guns.
    She too served at the Battle of the Downs. With defeat staring them in the face, a number of the Spanish galleons ran aground on the English coast (either accidentally or deliberately) but Santa Teresa found herself being attacked by a number of Dutch ships. With some help from another Spanish ship, Santa Teresa's commander Don Lope de Hoces - who was also the deputy commander of the armada - kept the enemy at bay for most of the morning until the Dutch launched fireship attacks. One of the fireships set Santa Teresa ablaze but the Spaniards, with great courage, kept their cool and stayed at their guns until the last possible moment; but it was costly. Only a relative handful of survivors managed to finally abandon ship. Don Lope and more than 500 out of his crew of about 600 men, had gone down with the Santa Teresa.

    The 36-gun Santa Teresa

    Gall Santa Teresa Battle Downs 1639 p31F onv96.jpg

    Time to decide: Which type deserves to go on to the next round?
    The Dutch small warships or the Spanish galleons?

    Suggested additional criteria you might wish to consider, along with any others you deem appropriate.
    (Note: Some of these could be considered already covered by Significant, Influential and Effective)

    Which warship type ...
    • was the best?
    • was the greatest?
    • was the most widely used?
    • had the greatest longevity in service?
    • was the most versatile?
    • represented the best value for the cost/effort invested ("bang for the buck" in today's language)?
    • was the easiest to operate?
    Any other criteria you have applied (please tell us what they were).
    Dutch Small Warship up to 34 Guns 1601-1700
    Spanish Galleon 1601-1700
    Last edited by panther3485; 29 Aug 18, 18:03.
    "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
    Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

  • #2
    I like the Dutch ship better.
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"


    • #3
      This one was less easy for me to decide. After some deliberation, I voted for the Dutch ships but I nearly went Spanish.
      "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
      Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.


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