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T2, R2, Prng 73: Dutch Ship of the Line vs British Ship of the Line

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  • T2, R2, Prng 73: Dutch Ship of the Line vs British Ship of the Line

    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.

    54: Dutch Ship of the Line 1701-1860

    Relative to other leading European navies, the Dutch reached the peak of their strength during the 1600's. Throughout that century their fleet was one of the top three and arguably the top naval force for a portion of it at least. However, over the course of the following century the French and - as time went by even more so the British fleet - would steadily come to leave them behind in terms of sheer size and power.
    Nevertheless, the Dutch continued to be a naval force to be reckoned with, having a still very substantial fleet and the quality of their warships remained more or less competitive; so they were by no means weak. This was critical if they were to continue to be able to protect their vital trade routes.

    Our first example of a more modern and powerful Dutch ship of the line is Vrijheid, launched in 1782. She was rated for 74 guns (nominal) and was essentially a heavy 2-decker, making maximum use of forecastle and quarter-deck for her lighter guns.
    Vrijheid's early service was no doubt useful but seems to have been relatively uneventful until February 1784 when, as part of a squadron of six warships serving in the Mediterranean, she was caught in a violent storm that lasted for two days. One of the other ships - Drenthe - was so badly damaged that she sank and Vrijheid herself needed extensive repairs.

    Her greatest test came at the Battle of Camperdown, in the North Sea near Camperduin, Holland. By this time, Vrijheid was serving in the Batavian Republic, successor to the previous Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (otherwise known as The Seven Provinces).
    Vrijheid was the flagship carrying Vice-Admiral Jan de Winter. Their opponents were the British North Sea Fleet under Admiral Adam Duncan. aboard the British flagship HMS Venerable (1784).
    This battle was the most significant confrontation between Dutch and British forces in the French Revolutionary War.

    At one stage, Vrijheid was being engaged by four British ships at once; but there was also a confrontation between the two rival flagships. After a valiant fight in which she had taken enormous punishment, the Dutch ship finally struck her colours. She was captured and taken into the Royal Navy as HMS Vryheid.
    Camperdown was a decisive British victory but Vrijheid and her crew had not been found wanting.

    Vrijheid 1782 (left) vs British ship of the line Venerable (centre) at the battle of Camperdown, 1797

    SoL Vrijheid 1782 74gun v Venerable at Camperdown 1797.jpg

    Our second Dutch example is Delft, launched in 1783. She was another 2-decker but not as heavy as Frijheid, carrying 56 guns (nominal). Her displacement/size and gun-power would have made her a fourth-rate and therefore barely viable in the line of battle. Nevertheless, she was a fine and well designed vessel and could be considered a good "all-rounder" for her time. Her distribution of guns was as follows:

    Lower gundeck - 22 x 24pdr
    Upper gundeck - 24 x 12pdr
    Forecastle & Quarterdeck - 6pdr (number varied)

    In common with Frijheid, Delft's early active career was mainly in the Mediterranean. In 1787 she successfully fought Barbary Pirates and made a significant contribution to the security of Dutch traders in that region. Returning to the area in 1793 under the command of Theodorus Frederik van Capellen, Delft was employed to help free 75 Dutch slaves from Algiers.
    Her final major action was in the above-mentioned Battle of Camperdown. In this action, she too was forced to surrender but had likewise fought with stubborn bravery before finally striking.

    Model of Delft 1783, with her guns absent (not yet fitted?)

    SoL Delft 1783 56gun 4rate model.jpg

    Our third example returns us to the heavier Dutch two-deckers; this one - Neptunus, launched in 1825 - being of similar size to our first example (Frijheid) but a little more "modern" in overall appearance and a fair representation for heavier Dutch warships of the early-to-mid 1800s.
    Neptunus was rated for 84 guns (nominal) and could carry up to 94 with some later modification. Her quarterdeck and forecastle were both quite long, leaving a relatively small gap between; so she wasn't all that far from being effectively a 3-decker. Indeed, some sources list this part of her as a third deck for the purpose of armament layout.

    Guns provided shortly after launch were 32 x 36pdr; 35 x 30pdr; 25 x 36pdr carronade and 2 x 12pdr; the details and exact number of guns being varied somewhat over the course of her career as a "first line" warship. In terms of her firepower, she fell between 2nd and 3rd rate equivalent (3rd rate initially with 84 guns; 4th rate not long afterwards with 94).
    In 1844, Neptunus was re-named to Konig der Nederlanden and in 1859 she was modified into a floating gun battery at Vlissingen, her name reverting back to Neptunus. She was stricken in 1876.
    Other than that, I have not as yet been able to find out much more detail regarding her service record.

    My selected image this time is a very nice wooden model of Neptunus' hull in her early days, showing the armament layout with good clarity. I considered this especially important because that aspect was not shown well in either of the first two images. The figurine of Neptune just below the bowsprit caught my attention too!
    (This model does in fact "open up". It's split vertically from stem to stern down the middle and shows the interior hull structure. Perhaps I can show a pic or two later.)

    SoL Neptunus 1825 84 guns model 1.jpg

    61: British Ship of the Line 1701-1800

    Our first British example is HMS Yarmouth, launched in 1745.
    Yarmouth was a 64-gun 3rd-rate ship of the line, with two full gun decks. She displaced about 1,300 tons and had a crew of 480 officers and men. Yarmouth carried 26 x 32pdr guns on her lower deck and 26 x 18pdr on her upper. The additional armament was 9pdr guns on her forecastle and quarterdeck.

    Yarmouth had a successful career spanning more than 60 years; fighting in numerous wars and battles. Her many distinctions include honours and awards in the Second Battle of Cape Finisterre, 1747; the Seven Years' War, 1756-63; the American Revolutionary War, 1775-83 and the Battle of the Saintes, 1782.

    One of Yarmouth's more notable actions was against the American frigate USS Randolph (36 guns) and some smaller American warships, during the American Revolutionary War.
    In February 1778, Randolph - commanded by Captain Nicholas Biddle and accompanied by four smaller American armed ships - was under orders to break the British blockade of Charleston, South Carolina. However, upon sailing out to meet the enemy, no British ships were in sight at that time; so they set sail for the West Indies to raid British commerce. Through late February and into early March, they attacked and overcame a small number of British vessels.
    Things came to a head when lookouts spotted a large warship near Barbados. One account states that Biddle correctly identified the size and type before it came within fighting range; being a ship of the line and an enemy vessel. It was HMS Yarmouth (a 2-decker of 64 guns), commanded by Captain Nicholas Vincent. Another account has Biddle unsure of the exact type of ship until it was close enough to engage. Given that the engagement itself occurred after dark, this seems quite possible.
    In either case, Biddle decided to keep the strongest of the smaller American warships - the 20-gun General Moultrie - with him for much needed support and ordered the others to make good their escape.

    Following some initial maneuvers, the two American ships raised their flags at about 9:00pm and opened fire on Yarmouth. The British ship returned fire and both sides engaged intensively for about 20 minutes. In this initial exchange, Biddle was wounded but continued with the fight. (It is thought that the gunfire he was wounded by actually came from a mistaken volley fired by the General Moultrie.) Randolph in particular, had engaged Yarmouth more closely; and for a while at least the Americans seemed to be holding their own against the British ship, which had also sustained some significant damage.
    However, soon there was an unexpected titanic explosion aboard Randolph, thought to have been sparked in her powder magazine. This effectively ended the fight and the General Moultrie made good her escape. Yarmouth attempted pursuit but due to her extensive damages - much of which had been caused by falling debris from the exploding Randolph - she had to abandon the chase.

    Yarmouth (left) vs Randolph, March 1778, near Barbados

    SoL Yarmouth 1745 vs Randolph p22-23 onv161.jpg

    Our second British example is HMS Bellona, launched in 1760.
    Bellona had a crew of 650 officers and men. She displaced about 1,600 tons and was also a 2-decker, rated for a nominal 74 guns. The usual distribution of her armament was:
    • Lower gundeck - 28 x 32pdr
    • Upper gundeck - 28 x 18pdr
    • Forecastle - 4 x 9pdr
    • Quarterdeck - 14 x 9pdr
    Bellona was effectively a "prototype" for what was to become a very standard and classic British 74-gun 3rd rate ship of the line. With minor variations, more than 40 examples of this basic design were built.
    Bellona saw good service, with some breaks, over a period or more than 50 years until 1814, when she was finally broken up.

    The "brand new" Bellona, performing blockade duty off Brest, April 1760 during the Seven Years' War

    SoL Bellona 1760 blockade duty off Brest by Geoff Hunt.jpg

    For our third British ship of the line, we have HMS Barfleur, launched in 1768. Barfleur was a full 3-decker 2nd-rate of 90 guns nominal. This was usually 98 guns in practice. She displaced about 1,900 tons and had a crew of 750 officers and men. A typical armament composition with 98 guns was:
    • Lower gundeck - 28 x 32pdr
    • Middle gundeck - 30 x 18pdr
    • Upper gundeck - 30 x 12pdr
    • Forecastle - 2 x 9pdr
    • Quarterdeck - 8 x 12 pdr
    Barfleur had a very distinguished career through to the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, spending her last few years "in ordinary" until being broken up in 1819. Her service included action in the following:
    Battle of the Chesapeake; Battle of St. Kitts; Battle of the Saintes; Battle of the Mona Passage; Glorious First of June; Battle of Groix; Battle of Cape St Vincent and Battle of Cape Finisterre.

    Barfleur at the Battle of the Saintes, 1782, off Dominica in the West Indies.
    This painting shows the surrender of the French flagship Ville de Paris and with it, the final capituation of what was left of the French fleet.
    Ville de Paris is close to the right, with Barfleur to her left.

    SoL Barfleur 1768 batt Saintes 1782 surrender Ville de Paris v2.jpg

    Your choice:
    Are you going Dutch or British here?

    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).
    54 - Dutch Ship of the Line
    61 - British Ship of the Line
    Last edited by panther3485; 21 Oct 18, 04:45.
    "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

  • #2
    IMO and by the second half of the 18th century especially, the British ships of the line were becoming more important and influential compared to those of the Dutch.
    "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)


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