Sloop-of-war

In the 18th century and most of the 19th, a sloop-of-war in the Royal Navy was a warship with a single gun deck that carried up to eighteen guns. The rating system covered all vessels with 20 guns and above; thus, the term sloop-of-war encompassed all the unrated combat vessels, including the very small gun-brigs and cutters. In technical terms, even the more specialised bomb vessels and fireships were classed as sloops-of-war, and in practice these were employed in the sloop role when not carrying out their specialized functions.

In World War I and World War II, the Royal Navy reused the term "sloop" for specialized convoy-defence vessels, including the Flower class of World War I and the highly successful Black Swan class of World War II, with anti-aircraft and anti-submarine capability.

USS Constellation 1.jpeg
The 1854 USS Constellation, a later United States Navy sloop-of-war named after the original frigate

Rigging

A sloop-of-war was quite different from a civilian or mercantile sloop, which was a general term for a single-masted vessel rigged in a way that would today be called a gaff cutter (but usually without the square topsails then carried by cutter-rigged vessels), though some sloops of that type did serve in the 18th century British Royal Navy, particularly on the Great Lakes of North America.

In the first half of the 18th century, most naval sloops were two-masted vessels, usually carrying a ketch or a snow rig. A ketch had main and mizzen masts but no foremast, while a snow had a foremast, a main mast and a [1]mizzen immediately abaft the lower main mast.

Ship sloop

The first three-masted (i.e. "ship rigged") sloops appeared during the 1740s, and from the mid-1750s most new sloops were built with a three-masted (ship) rig. The third sail afforded the sloop greater mobility and the ability to back sail.

Brig sloop

Brig3
Configuration of typical brig-sloop

In the 1770s, the two-masted sloop re-appeared in a new guise as the brig sloop, the successor to the former snow sloops. Brig sloops had two masts, while ship sloops continued to have three (since a brig is a two-masted, square-rigged vessel, and a ship is a square-rigger with three or more masts, though never more than three in that period).

In the Napoleonic period, Britain built huge numbers of brig sloops of the Cruizer class (18 guns) and the Cherokee class (10 guns). The brig rig was economical of manpower (important given Britain's chronic shortfall in trained seamen relative to the demands of the wartime fleet) and, when armed with carronades (32-pounders in the Cruizers, 18-pounders in the Cherokees), they had the highest ratio of firepower to tonnage of any ships in the Royal Navy (albeit within the short range of the carronade). The carronades also used much less manpower than the long guns normally used to arm frigates. Consequently, the Cruizer class were often used as cheaper and more economical substitutes for frigates, in situations where the frigates' high cruising endurance was not essential. A carronade-armed brig, however, would be at the mercy of a frigate armed with long guns, so long as the frigate manoeuvered to exploit its superiority of range. The other limitation of brig sloops as opposed to post ships and frigates was their relatively restricted stowage for water and provisions, which made them less suitable for long-range cruising. However, their shallower draught made them excellent raiders against coastal shipping and shore installations.

Bermuda sloop

Royal Navy - Bermuda Sloop2.jpeg
1831 painting of a three-masted Bermuda sloop of the Royal Navy, entering a West Indies port.

The Royal Navy also made extensive use of the Bermuda sloop, both as a cruiser against French privateers, slavers, and smugglers, and also as its standard advice vessels, carrying communications, vital persons and materials, and performing reconnaissance duties for the fleets.

Bermuda sloops were found with gaff rig, mixtures of gaff and square rig, or a Bermuda rig. They were built with up to three masts. The single masted ships, with their huge sails, and the tremendous wind energy they harnessed, were demanding to sail, and required large, experienced crews. The Royal Navy favoured multi-masted versions as it was perennially short of sailors, at the end of the 18th century, and such personnel as it had, particularly in the Western Atlantic (priority being given to the continuing wars with France for control of Europe), received insufficient training. The longer decks of the multi-masted vessels also had the advantage of allowing more guns to be carried.

Classification

Originally a sloop-of-war was smaller than a sailing frigate and was (by virtue of having too few guns) outside the rating system. In general, a sloop-of-war would be under the command of a master and commander rather than a post captain, although in day-to-day use at sea the commanding officer of any naval vessels would be addressed as "captain".

A ship sloop was generally the equivalent of the smaller corvette of the French Navy (although the French term also covered ships up to 24 guns, which were classed as post ships within the sixth rate of the British Navy). The name corvette was subsequently also applied to British vessels, but not until the 1830s.

American usage, while similar to British terminology into the beginning of the 19th century, gradually diverged. By about 1825 the United States Navy used "sloop-of-war" to designate a flush-deck ship-rigged warship with all armament on the gundeck; these could be rated as high as 26 guns and thus overlapped "third-class frigates," the equivalent of British post-ships. The Americans also occasionally used the French term corvette.[2]

History

In the Royal Navy, the sloop evolved into an unrated vessel with a single gun deck and three masts, two square rigged and the aftermost fore-and-aft rigged (corvettes had three masts, all of which were square-rigged). Steam sloops had a transverse division of their lateral coal bunkers[3] in order that the lower division could be emptied first, to maintain a level of protection afforded by the coal in the upper bunker division along the waterline.

During the War of 1812 sloops of war in the service of the United States Navy performed well against their Royal Navy equivalents. The American ships had the advantage of being ship-rigged rather that brig-rigged, a distinction that increased their maneuverability. They were also larger and better armed. Cruzier-class brig-sloops in particular were vulnerable in one-on-one engagements with American sloops of war.[4]

Decline

In the second half of the 19th century, successive generations of naval guns became larger and with the advent of steam-powered sloops, both paddle and screw, by the 1880s even the most powerful warships had fewer than a dozen large calibre guns, and were therefore technically sloops. Since the rating system was no longer a reliable indicator of a ship's combat power, it was abolished together with it the classifications of sloops, corvettes, and frigates. Instead a classification based on the intended role of the ship became common, such as cruiser and battleship.

Revival

During the First World War, the sloop rating was revived by the British Royal Navy for small warships not intended for fleet deployments. Examples include the Flower classes of "convoy sloops", those designed for convoy escort, and the Hunt class of "minesweeping sloops", those intended for minesweeping duty.

The Royal Navy continued to build vessels rated as sloops during the interwar years. These sloops were small warships intended for colonial "gunboat diplomacy" deployments, surveying duties, and acting during wartime as convoy escorts. As they were not intended to deploy with the fleet, sloops had a maximum speed of less than 20 knots (37 km/h). A number of such sloops, for example the Grimsby and Kingfisher classes, were built in the interwar years. Fleet minesweepers such as the Algerine class were rated as "minesweeping sloops". The Royal Navy officially dropped the term "sloop" in 1937, although the term remained in widespread and general use.

HQS-Wellington-Crossthames
The Grimsby-class HMS Wellington. Launched in 1934, the vessel is now berthed on the Thames

World War II

During the Second World War, 37 ships of the Black Swan class were built for convoy escort duties. However, the warship-standards construction and sophisticated armaments of the sloop of that time did not lend themselves to mass production, and the sloop was supplanted by the corvette, and later the frigate, as the primary escort vessel of the Royal Navy. Built to mercantile standards and with (initially) simple armaments, these vessels, notably the Flower and River classes, were produced in large numbers for the Battle of the Atlantic. In 1948 the Royal Navy reclassified its remaining sloops and corvettes as frigates (even though the term sloop had been officially defunct for nine years).

2010s

The Royal Navy has proposed a concept, known as the "Future Black Swan-class Sloop-of-war",[5] as an alternative to the Global Corvette of the Global Combat Ship programme.

Notable sloops

Capture of the El Gamo
HMS Speedy captures a Spanish warship in 1801.
HMS Amethyst WWII IWM A 30156
HMS Amethyst, a British Black Swan-class sloop became famous in the "Yangtse Incident" in 1949.

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Underhill, Harold, A. (1955). Sailing Ships Rigs and Rigging (2nd ed.). Brown Son & Fergusson. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-85174-176-5.
  2. ^ USS John Adams, for example, was built in 1799 as a 28-gun frigate; in 1807–09 her fo'c'sle and quarterdeck were razeed off and her spar-deck guns removed, and she was re-rated as (depending on the source) either a corvette or a sloop; she later had a new quarterdeck built and became a 24-gun "jackass" frigate.
  3. ^ War-Ships. A Text-Book on The Construction, Protection, Stability, Turning, etc., of War Vessels, E. L. Attwood M.Inst.N.A, Longmans Green and Co., 1910
  4. ^ Gardiner, Robert (1996). The Naval War of 1812. Caxton pictorial history. ISBN 1-84067-360-5. pg 122
  5. ^ Future Black Swan-class Sloop-of-war: A Group System (MoD Concept Note), gov.uk, Retrieved 2012

Bibliography

  • Rodger, N.A.M. The Command of the Ocean, a Naval History of Britain 1649–1815, London (2004). ISBN 0-7139-9411-8
  • Bennett, G. The Battle of Trafalgar, Barnsley (2004). ISBN 1-84415-107-7
  • Lavery, Brian Nelson's Navy: Ships, Men and Organization, 1793–1815 Conway Maritime Press Ltd (31 Mar 1999). ISBN 0-85177-521-7
  • Winfield, Rif.
    • British Warships in the Age of Sail: 1603–1714, Barnsley (2009). ISBN 978-1-84832-040-6
    • British Warships in the Age of Sail: 1714–1792, Barnsley (2007). ISBN 978-1-84415-700-6
    • British Warships in the Age of Sail: 1793–1817, (2nd edition) Barnsley (2008). ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4.
    • British Warships in the Age of Sail: 1817–1863, Barnsley (2014). ISBN 978-1-84832-169-4

External links

  • Royal Navy Sloops from battleships-cruisers.co.uk – history and pictures from 1873 to 1943.
  • Michael Phillips' Ships of the Old Navy [1]
Battle of Nam Quan

The Battle of Nam Quan was fought in 1853 as part of a British anti-piracy operation in China. A Royal Navy sloop-of-war encountered eight pirate ships near Nam Quan and defeated them in a decisive action with help from armed Chinese civilians on land.

Blockade of Veracruz

The Blockade of Veracruz was a conflict during the Mexican–American War. The blockade of Veracruz was extremely important in the Mexican-American War in stopping the trade of contraband.Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft instructed Commodore Conner's Home Squadron to "exercise all the rights that belong to you as commander-in-chief of a belligerent squadron." On 14 May 1846, Conner proclaimed Veracruz, Alvarado, Tampico and Matamoros under blockade. Conner sent the sloop-of-war St. Mary's to Tampico, the paddle frigate Mississippi to Veracruz, and the sloop-of-war Falmouth to Alvarado.

Boston Navy Yard

The Boston Navy Yard, originally called the Charlestown Navy Yard and later Boston Naval Shipyard, was one of the oldest shipbuilding facilities in the United States Navy. It was established in 1801 as part of the recent establishment of the new U.S. Department of the Navy in 1798. After 175 years of military service, it was decommissioned as a naval installation on 1 July 1974.

The 30-acre (12 ha) property is administered by the National Park Service, becoming part of Boston National Historical Park. Enough of the yard remains in operation to support the moored USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") of 1797, built as one of the original six heavy frigates for the revived American navy, and the oldest warship still commissioned in the United States Navy. USS Cassin Young (DD-793), a 1943 World War II-era Fletcher-class destroyer serving as a museum ship, is also berthed here. The museum area includes a dock which is a stop on the MBTA Boat water transport system. Among local people in the area and the National Park Service, it is still known as the Charlestown Navy Yard.The South Boston Naval Annex was located along the waterfront in South Boston.

CSS McRae

CSS McRae was a Confederate gunboat that saw service during the American Civil War. Displacing around 680 tons, she was armed with one 9-inch (229-mm) smoothbore and six 32-pounder smoothbore cannon.Originally operating as a rebel ship under the Mexican flag with the name Marqués de la Havana, the wooden sloop was captured as a pirate ship by the United States Navy sloop-of-war USS Saratoga during the Battle of Anton Lizardo on 6 March 1860. A construction plan authorizing the building of ten fast gunboats was funded by the Congress of the Confederate States on 15 March 1861. Recognizing that no yard could turn out the vessels fast enough, Confederate States Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory sent a commission to New Orleans, Louisiana, to convert existing steamers to commerce raiders. The Confederate States Navy purchased Marqués de la Havana at New Orleans on 17 March 1861, and duly fitted her out as CSS McRae as part of this plan. Extensive engine repairs prevented McRae from going to sea before the arrival of the Union blockading force.Placed under the command of Lieutenant Thomas B. Huger, McRae served as part of Flag Officer George N. Hollins' defense of the lower reaches of the Mississippi River, and provided cover for blockade runners. This led to McRae seeing combat with the Union blockading force on 12 October 1861. McRae took part in the Battle of the Head of Passes as part of Hollins′ "mosquito fleet," driving the Union blockading forces from the Head of Passes in the Mississippi Delta.

McRae again saw action on 24 April 1862 as the Union fleet attempted to pass Fort Jackson and Fort Saint Philip and reach New Orleans. In the resulting Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, McRae suffered little damage in the beginning due to her resemblance to the Union Unadilla-class gunboats. The leading Union ships passed by her without firing. The sloop-of-war USS Iroquois was an exception, and replied to McRae′s gunfire with an 11-inch (279-mm) shell that set fire to McRae's sail room and threatened her magazines. The officers and crew fought hard in this latter engagement but suffered severe casualties (Huger being amongst those mortally wounded), and McRae herself was severely damaged. She was run against the shore to put out her fires, and remained there till dawn, after which she returned to the forts. Loaded with wounded from the forts, McRae was allowed to return to New Orleans on 27 April 1862 under a flag of truce. After landing the wounded at the city, her crew scuttled and abandoned her at Algiers, Louisiana (now a neighborhood of New Orleans), after cutting all her steam pipes.

Capture of the Veloz Passagera

The Capture of Veloz Passagera was a single ship action that occurred during the British Royal Navy's anti-slavery blockade of Africa in the early and mid 19th century. The sloop-of-war HMS Primrose, of 18 guns, under Captain William Broughton, captured the 20-gun Cuban slave ship Veloz Passagera, Jozé Antonio de la Vega, master.

Capture of the sloop William

The Capture of the sloop William refers to a small single ship action fought between Calico Jack's pirate ship and a British sloop-of-war from Port Royal, Jamaica. The battle was fought in Dry Harbor Bay, and ended with the capture of the famed pirate and his small crew of which several were hanged later on as a warning to other brigands.

Corvette

A corvette is a small warship. It is traditionally the smallest class of vessel considered to be a proper (or "rated") warship. The warship class above the corvette is that of the frigate, while the class below was historically that of the sloop-of-war. The modern types of ship below a corvette are coastal patrol craft, missile boat and fast attack craft. In modern terms, a corvette is typically between 500 tons and 2,000 tons although recent designs may approach 3,000 tons, which might instead be considered a small frigate.

The word "corvette" is first found in Middle French, a diminutive of the Dutch word corf, meaning a small ship, from the Latin corbis, meaning "basket".The rank "corvette captain", equivalent in many navies to "lieutenant commander", derives from the name of this type of ship. The rank is the most junior of three "captain" ranks in several European (e.g., France, Spain, Italy, Croatia) and South American (e.g., Argentina, Chile) navies, because a corvette, as the smallest class of rated warship, was traditionally the smallest class of vessel entitled to a commander of a "captain" rank.

HMS Blossom (1806)

HMS Blossom was an 18-gun Cormorant-class sloop-of-war. She was built in 1806 and is best known for the 1825–1828 expedition under Captain Beechey to the Pacific Ocean. She explored as far north as Point Barrow, Alaska, the furthest point into the Arctic any non-Inuit had been at the time. She was finally broken up in 1848.

Historic Ships in Baltimore

Historic Ships in Baltimore, created as a result of the merger of the USS Constellation Museum and the Baltimore Maritime Museum, is a maritime museum located in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, Maryland in the United States.

The museum's collection includes four historic museum ships and one lighthouse:

USS Constellation, a sloop-of-war

USCGC Taney (WHEC-37), a Coast Guard cutter

USS Torsk (SS-423), a World War II-era submarine

Chesapeake (LV-116), a lightship

Seven Foot Knoll Light, a screw-pile lighthouseAll are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The three ships are also National Historic Landmarks.The Liberty ship SS John W. Brown is also homeported out of Baltimore.

Historic Ships in Baltimore is an affiliate of the Living Classrooms Foundation.

List of ship launches in 1859

The list of ship launches in 1859 includes a chronological list of some ships launched in 1859.

List of ship launches in 1862

The list of ship launches in 1862 includes a chronological list of some ships launched in 1862.

Mirny (sloop-of-war)

Mirny was a 20-gun sloop-of-war of the Imperial Russian Navy, the second ship of the First Russian Antarctic Expedition in 1819–1821, during which Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (commander of the lead ship Vostok) and Mikhail Lazarev (commanding Mirny) circumnavigated the globe, discovered the continent of Antarctica and twice circumnavigated it, and discovered a number of islands and archipelagos in the Southern Ocean and the Pacific.

Screw sloop

A screw sloop is a propeller-driven sloop-of-war. In the 19th century, during the introduction of the steam engine, ships driven by propellers were differentiated from those driven by paddle-wheels by referring to the ship's screws (propellers). Other propeller-driven warships included screw frigates and screw corvettes.

Sinking of HMS Avon

The Sinking of HMS Avon was a single ship action fought during the War of 1812, and took place on 1 September 1814. In the battle, the ship-rigged sloop of war USS Wasp forced the Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Avon to surrender. The Americans could not take possession of the prize as other British brig-sloops appeared and prepared to engage. Avon sank shortly after the battle.

Sloop

A sloop is a sailing boat with a single mast typically meaning one headsail in front of the mast, and one mainsail aft of (behind) the mast. This is called a fore-and-aft rig, and can be rigged as a Bermuda rig with triangular sails fore and aft, or as a gaff-rig with triangular foresails and a gaff rigged mainsail. Sailboats can be classified according to type of rig, and so a sailboat may be a sloop, catboat, cutter, ketch, yawl, or schooner. A sloop usually has only one headsail, although an exception is the Friendship sloop, which is usually gaff-rigged with a bowsprit and multiple headsails. If the vessel has two or more headsails, the term cutter may be used, especially if the mast is stepped further towards the back of the boat.

The name originates from the Dutch sloep, which is related to the Old English slūpan, to glide. In naval terminology a sloop-of-war refers to the purpose of the craft, rather than to the specific size or sail-plan.

After the cat rig which has only a single sail, the Bermuda rig is the simplest sailing rig configurations. It is the most popular yacht rigging because it is easier to sail with a smaller crew or even single-handed, it is cheaper since it has less hardware than more complex rigs, and it sails well into the wind. A limitation is that when a boat gets over 45 feet in length, the sails become so large that they are difficult to handle, although modern technology is helping with this.

The headsail can be masthead-rigged or fractional-rigged. On a masthead-rigged sloop, the forestay (on which the headsail is carried) attaches at the top of the mast. On a fractional-rigged sloop, the forestay attaches to the mast at a point below the top. A sloop may use a bowsprit, a spar that projects forward from the bow.

Stone frigate

Informally, a stone frigate is a naval establishment on land. The term has its origin in Britain's Royal Navy after its use of Diamond Rock, off Martinique, as a 'sloop of war' to harass the French. (The British Navy was prohibited from ruling over land, so the land was called a boat.) The command of this first stone frigate was given to Commodore Hood's first lieutenant, James Wilkes Maurice, who, with cannon taken off the Commodore's ship, manned it with a crew of 120 until its capture by the French in the Battle of Diamond Rock in 1805.

Until the late 19th century, the Royal Navy housed training and other support facilities in hulks—old wooden ships of the line—moored in ports as receiving ships, depot ships, or floating barracks. The Admiralty regarded shore accommodation as expensive and liable to lead to indiscipline. These floating establishments kept their names while the actual vessels housing them changed. For example, the gunnery training school at Portsmouth occupied three ships between its foundation in 1830 and its move ashore in 1891 but all were named (or renamed) HMS Excellent.

As ships began to use increasingly complex technology during the late 19th century, these facilities became too large to continue afloat and were moved to shore establishments while keeping their names. An early "stone frigate" was the engineering training college HMS Marlborough, moved ashore to Portsmouth in 1880. The gunnery school continued to be named HMS Excellent after its move ashore to Whale Island in 1891. By World War I there were about 25 "stone frigates" in the United Kingdom.

Under section 87 of the Naval Discipline Act 1866, the provisions of the act only applied to officers and men of the Royal Navy borne on the books of a warship. When shore establishments began to become more common it was necessary to allocate the title of the establishment to an actual vessel which became the nominal depot ship for the men allocated to the establishment and thus ensured they were subject to the provisions of the Act.The use of stone frigates continues in the Royal Navy and some other navies of the Commonwealth of Nations, including the Royal Canadian Navy, the Indian Navy, the Royal Australian Navy, and the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Texan sloop-of-war Austin

The Texan sloop-of-war Austin was the flagship of the Second Texas Navy from 1840 to 1846. Commanded by Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, she led a flotilla in the capture of Villahermosa in 1840. After a period of inaction in port, Austin participated in the Naval Battle of Campeche in 1843. Austin was transferred to the United States Navy when Texas joined the United States in 1845, but was run aground and broken up in 1848.

USS Constellation (1854)

USS Constellation is a sloop-of-war, the last sail-only warship designed and built by the United States Navy. She was built in 1854, using a small amount of material salvaged from the frigate USS Constellation, which had been disassembled the year before. Despite being a single-gundeck "sloop," she is actually larger than her namesake frigate, and more powerfully armed with fewer but much more potent shell-firing guns.

The sloop was launched on 26 August 1854 and commissioned on 28 July 1855 with Captain Charles H. Bell in command. She remained in service for close to a century before finally being retired in 1954. She is now preserved as a museum ship in Baltimore, Maryland, and is a National Historic Landmark.

Vostok (sloop-of-war)

Vostok was a 28-gun sloop-of-war of the Imperial Russian Navy, the lead ship of the First Russian Antarctic Expedition in 1819–1821, during which Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (commander of the ship) and Mikhail Lazarev (commanding Mirny, the second ship) circumnavigated the globe, discovered the continent of Antarctica and twice circumnavigated it, and discovered a number of islands and archipelagos in the Southern Ocean and the Pacific.

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