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T2, R3, Prng 85: Dutch Great Ship vs English Great Ship

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  • T2, R3, Prng 85: Dutch Great Ship vs English Great Ship

    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.

    50: Dutch Great Ship / early Ship of the Line 1601-1700

    During the 17th Century, the Dutch were very much a naval force to be reckoned with and they gave the English - along with one or two other leading European maritime rivals - a damned good run for their money.
    Eventually, the English (later, the British) would prevail; but during this period and in particular in the Anglo-Dutch wars, the Dutch - despite some strong English victories - dealt them more than one "bloody nose" and at least one very severe humiliation along the way.
    (This humiliation was the very bold Dutch raid on the Medway in 1667, which I have already covered in pairing #34.)
    In short, the Anglo-Dutch wars of 1652-1674 were most certainly very far from being a one-sided affair.

    Below, we can see the Dutch great ship Gouda (1665, 72 guns) taking the surrender of the English great ship Royal Prince (92 guns) at the Four Days Battle 1666, during the 2nd Anglo-Dutch War, 1665-1667.
    This battle is still one of the longest engagements in the history of naval warfare and was a Dutch victory.

    In a straight-out slugging match, one-on-one and broadside-to-broadside, Gouda could not have reasonably expected to prevail against the larger and more heavily armed Royal Prince.
    However, a decisive factor in this particular match was the fact that the English ship had become stuck on a sand bar and was therefore effectively immobilized.
    (Two other English ships - Royal Charles and Royal Katherine - had also become stuck but managed to free themselves. Royal Prince was not so lucky.)
    Given the near hopelessness of their situation and with the Dutch ships already winning the battle and therefore in control of the waters around them, the English crew aboard Royal Prince had little option but to surrender.

    Gouda is to the left and obviously somewhat the smaller of the two ships.


    Closer view of Gouda offering a better view of her firepower assets.
    Gouda mounted her 72 guns across 2 full gun decks, plus a partial third; one full deck less than Royal Prince.
    Medium-to-large sized Dutch warships tended in general to have less draft than their English equivalents; a necessary measure for their relatively shallow home coastal and estuary waters.
    To maintain the required flotation for a given size of ship, less draft was generally compensated with a somewhat broader beam, meaning that Dutch warships would often have a greater "beam to length" ratio.
    As such, and being smaller overall, Gouda was not as heavily armed but had better maneuverability than the English adversary she was dealing with (and might otherwise have had to face in maneuvering condition) here.


    Close-up view of Royal Prince's stern showing Dutch crew members accepting her surrender. She started her career as the 55-gun "Prince Royal", having been launched in 1610.
    Between then and her capture she had a number of rebuilds and upgrades, changing her name to "Resolution" during the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell; then to Royal Prince with Charles II's ascent to the throne upon the Restoration of 1660.


    56: English 3-Decker Great Ship 1601-1700

    In common with the other major naval powers, England was developing "great ships", soon to be known as ships of the line, during the 17th century. The concept was for opposing naval forces to form a parallel line or lines of battle at fairly close range, so they could blaze away at each other until one side or the other was destroyed or gave up.
    Of course, it was often not that simple and in any case, all the major navies of this period were developing and testing ideas not only to make their own lines of battle more effective but also to find ways of breaking or otherwise disrupting - and thereby defeating - the line of their enemy without ending up with too much loss or damage to their own ships.

    The use of fireships was already established but apart from the fact that sufficient "spare" ships and substantial quantities of flammable materials were required, conditions were often not suitable for their use anyway.
    Over the next couple of centuries, improved tactics and methods for defeating an enemy line of battle were gradually refined.
    In any event, the ship of the line would be the ultimate power on the World's seas and oceans for the better part of two centuries.

    We'll start off with HMS Sovereign of the Seas, launched in October 1637. She was re-named Sovereign in 1651 and finally, Royal Sovereign in 1685. As originally conceived, she was a 90-gun 1st rate displacing 1,522 tons. By the time of her launch, this had been upgraded to 102 guns.
    In 1660 she was rebuilt for 100 guns (nominal) and other improvements were made. By this time her official displacement was 1,605 tons. A further rebuild in 1685 was more for overhaul than upgrade as such, so the specifications remained similar. The ship served from 1638 until 1697, when she was destroyed by fire at Chatham, in what appears to have been an accident or perhaps negligence.

    Sovereign of the Seas was not only a very powerful warship but also very richly decorated with extensive gilded carvings. At the time, she cost £65,586 which is equal to more than £10,000,000 in today's money. The gilding alone cost £6,691; the equivalent of over £1,000.000 today.
    After her launch, some effort was made to lighten her to improve handling. Further efforts were made in 1651. After that, she was regarded as handling well for her size.
    Sovereign of the seas fought in the First Anglo-Dutch War, during which Dutch captains were enticed with extra prize money of an additional 3,000 guilders if they managed to "ruin the ship named Sovereign". In the Battle of Kentish Knock during that war, she ran aground. Ferocious fighting ensued, with the Dutch taking her as a prize and then the English re-capturing her. This happened repeatedly and each time, the fighting was merciless. In the end, the English managed to win her back for the final time. She had survived, and went on to serve both in the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch wars, as well as some other engagements, before being laid up at Chatham where she met her end.

    A nice model of Sovereign

    Sovereign 1637 model 2a.jpg

    Next we have HMS Prince, launched in 1670. Prince was a 100-gun 1st rate ship of the line, built at Deptford dockyard. She served as the flagship of The Lord High Admiral the Duke of York (later James II and VII). In the battle of Solebay, 1672, during the 3rd Anglo-Dutch War she was badly damaged by the Dutch flagship De Zeven Provincien. Prince was recoverable but had to be extensively repaired and rebuilt. After the rebuild, she was re-named as HMS Royal William.
    From there, she saw action in 1692 at the Battle of Barfleur against the French, by which time the Dutch were siding with the English. The outcome of the battle was inconclusive. As Royal William, she served in a number of further conflicts and actions, the last of these being during the Seven Years' War, 1756-63. She was not broken up until 1813. Notwithstanding the number or rebuilds that would have been necessary over her lifespan, this is an exceptional length of service.

    Prince 1670 (aka Royal William)

    Prince 1670 (aka Royal William) before the Wind.jpg

    Our final example is HMS St Andrew, launched in 1670. St Andrew displaced about 1300 tons and as originally built was a 96-gun 1st rate. She was comprehensively rebuilt in 1703 as a 100-gun, with a substantial increase in displacement to 1,700 tons. At this point, she was re-named to HMS Royal Anne. In 1707, she served as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir George Byng and saw a limited number of actions, as well as surviving one disaster in which four British ships were lost in a severe storm. She was broken up in 1727.

    St Andrew 1670, 96 guns

    St Andrew 1670 96gun 1rate p17 onv183.jpg

    Whose early ships of the line most deserve to make Round 4?
    The Dutch or the English? You can help to decide!

    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).
    50 - Dutch Great Ship
    56 - English Great Ship
    Last edited by panther3485; 14 Nov 18, 09:10.
    "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
    Ship-to-ship and broadside to broadside, the most powerful English great ships had more firepower than their Dutch equivalents but tended to be somewhat cumbersome by comparison.
    The Dutch great ships offered a better combination of firepower and handling. This finer balance of physical attributes, combined with Dutch tactical acumen in battle gives them the edge for most of the 1600's, in my opinion.
    Dutch for me.
    "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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