The USS Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, is a wooden ship that has three masts and is a heavy frigate of the United States Navy, originally named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution is the oldest commissioned naval vessel in world that is still afloat.
The ship was one of sex frigates that were ordered for construction by the Naval Act of 1794, and the third to be constructed. The ships were designed by Joshua Humphreys to be the young Navy’s capital ships, so the ships were designed to be both larger and more heavily armed than the standard frigates of that period. The ship was built at the Edmund Hartt shipyard, which was situated in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts. The first offical duty of the ship was to provide protection to American ships during the war with France, with the second duty being to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War. Both of which were considered by naval historians to demonstrate the effectiveness of the ship and the viability of building larger ships in order to secure better naval prowess.
The USS Arizona was a Pennsylvania-class battleship that was designed for use by the United States Navy during the early 1900s. The ship was named after the 48th state, Arizona, that had recently been admitted into the union. The ship was one of the two Pennsylvania class of battleships that were described as ‘super-deadnought’.
The ship was originally comissioned in 1916 but saw no action during World War I and remained in the United States. Between World War I and World War II, the ship was primarily used for transporting American officals around the world and for use in training exercises. The ship also saw use as an aid ship during the 1933 earthquake in Long Beach, California.
The ship’s fate was sealed during the attack on Pearl Harbor on the 7th of December 1941, when the ship was hit by a bomb that detonated in a powder magazine, causing the ship to violently explode. In total there was a loss of life totaling 1,177 officers and crewmen. The wreck of the ship still lise at the bottom of Pearl Harbour and has a memorial building built over the top side of the hull.
The Santa Maria, full name: La Santa Maria de la Inmaculada Concepcion, which roughly translates into: The Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception, was the largest of all three ships that were used by Christopher Columbus when he took his first voyage across the Atlantic ocean in 1942, the master and owner of the ship was Juan de la Cosa.
Built in Pontevedra, Galicia, in the North-West of Spain, the ship is theorised to have been a medium-sized carrack, being approximately 18 meters long, with historian Juan Escalante de Mendoza stating in 1575 that the ship weight approximately 100 tons. The other ships that Columbus bought with on his expidetion were smaller caravel-type ships. The voyage was not particularly well funded and all of the ships were at least second-hand, with some speculation by historians that they may even have been third-hand. The ships were not designed properly for exploration and were designed as modestly sized merchant vessels. Unfortunately the exact dimensions of the ships have been lost to time, but some anecdotal accounts from the voyage do remain. Historians have put those accounts together with ship wrecks from the same time period in order to obtain rough dimensions for the ships.
The Santa Maria had three masts, making it the slowest of the three ships during Columbus’ expedition, but this helped it fare well on the Atlantic ocean. The initial crossing went well, but the return crossing was when disaster struck. Columbus had decided to sleep, as he had not done so in at least two days, leaving his steersman in charge of the ship. Given that the night’s weather happened to be particularly calm, the steersman decided to allow a cabin boy to steer the ship, a practice that Columbus would never have allowed had he been awake. The cabin boy’s lack of experience at the helm, the ship ultimately was carried onto a sandbank and ran aground on a site near Haiti. The ship proved to be unrepairable and sank the next day, with Columbus ordering the ship stripped of timber in order for a fort to be built. The exact wreckage for the ship has never been fround, although a number of dive teams have attempted to do so. The closest that any team has come so far was on the 13th of May in 2014, when underwater archaeological explorer Barry Clifford claimed that his team had found the original wreck of the Santa Maria. The claim was studied in great detail by UNCESCO, but in the following October, UNESCO published a report stating that the ship cannot have belonged to Columbus. This was due to fastenings that had been used in the hull of that particular ship which dated back to the 17th or 18th century.
The Mayflower was an English ship that has become a common part of modern day Americana folklore. The ship was transporting English Puritans, who are known in the modern day as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth, England, to the ‘New World’, with the ship departing in 1620. In total there were 102 pilgrims on board the ship, with an estimated 30 members of crew, although the exact number was either never recorded or the records have been lost. When the Pilgrims left England they signed the Mayflower Compact with the intention of establishing Plymouth Colony. The colony was designed as a rudimentary form of democracy and was an early precursor to socialism, with each member of the colony supposed to contribute towards the welfare of everyone in the community. There were other ships also named Mayflower that made the journey between London and Plymouth, Massachusetts several times.
The Mayflower was a square rig with a beakhead bow as well as castle-like structures situated on the fore and aft of the vessel in order to protect the ship’s crew and main deck from bad weather at sea. This design was common amongst English merchant vessels during the early 17th century. The design of the ship made it particularly bad at sailing against the wind and unable to sell well against the westerly winds that are prevalent in the North Atlantic. The entire voyage took a little over two months as a result of this. The return voyage was shortened to over half that time, with the strong winds acting in the ship’s favour.
The exact measurements of the ship are unknown as accurate records from that time have not managed to survive through to the modern day, but historians believe that the ship was approximately 30 metres in length and roughly 7.6 meters at the widest point. With the full load of passengers and cargo it is thought that the bottom of the keel would be just under 4 metres below the waterline. The Mayflower was also a heavily armed ship, as piracy was not uncommon at that time. The largest gun on The Mayflower was a minion cannon, weighing in at approximately 550 kg, which could shoot a 1.5 kg cannonball over a kilometer.
The HMS Victory was a Royal Navy ship that was ordered in 1758 and finally launched in 1765. The ship was a first-rate warship, having 104 guns and designed as a flagship for the admiralty of the day. The ship is perhaps best known for being the flagship of Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar on the 21st of October 1805. After the battle the ship went on to serve as Keppel’s flagship at Ushand, Jervis’ flagship at Cape St Vincent, and Howe’s flagship at Cape Spartel. By this time the ship had served her time and was relagated to the role of harbour ship.
Not completely finished and having played an important role in British naval history, the ship was moved to a dry dock at Pourtsmouth, England, in 1922 where it was preserved as a museum ship. The ship is still technically in service and has been the flagship of the First Sea Lord since October 2012, making it the oldest naval ship in the world to still be in commission, having been in service for 241 years as of 2019.
HMS Victory was one of 12 ships that were ordered by Pitt the Elder as part of his hole as head of the British government. Victory was one of ten first-rate ships that had been comissioned. The architect that was chosen to design the ship was Sir Thomas Slade who was serving as the Surveyor of the Navy at that time. In total, the ship required around 6,000 trees for construction, alongside 150 workmen who were assigned to construct the frame, 90% of which was made from oak, with elm, pine, and fir used when required.