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Ships Of The World
An Historical Encyclopedia
by Lincoln P. Paine

Ships Of The World
Ships have always played a critical role in shaping human destiny. They are also a source of endless fascination for historians, amateur and professional, for readers of popular fiction titles about sailing ships, and for land-locked romantics of all kinds. Ships of the World is an invaluable resource for this vast audience. It is a comprehensive, readable encyclopedia covering more than 1,000 of the world's best-known and most significant vessels of every size and type.

Each ship is described in a vivid short essay that captures its personality as well as its physical characteristics, construction and history from the drawing board to the scrap yard or museum. Even fictional ships and boats, such as the African Queen, are included.

Two hundred illustrations show the grandeur and grace of oceangoing vessels; maps help the reader follow the courses of great seafarers and naval campaigns, and chronologies offer a perspective on underwater archaeological sites, naval warfare, maritime technology, exploration and disasters at sea.

The author, Lincoln Paine, is formerly editor of Sea History magazine and director of the Schooners Foundation. He is a member of the national advisory board of the American Sail Training Association.

Key Features:

• Coverage of more than 1,000 ships
• Portraits of famous literary ships
• Each ship's entry includes details such as size, year built, designer and other key details
• Bibliographic suggestions for further reading
• Histories of warships include brief descriptions of naval battles
• Invaluable guide for lovers of sailing as well as history buffs

Technical Specs:

Available Electronic

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Ships of the World

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4.5 MB



Sample Entry:

USS Constitution

Frigate (3m). L/B/D: 175' x 43.5' x 22.5' (53.3m x 13.3m; x 6.9m). Tons: 2,200 tons. Hull: wood. Comp: 450. Arm: 32 x 24 pdr, 20 x 32 pdr, 2 x 24 pdr. Des.: Joshua Humphreys, Josiah Fox, William Doughty.

Built: Edmund Hartt, Boston: 1797.

One of the U.S. Navy's six original frigates, authorized by Congress specifically as a counter to the Barbary corsairs in the Mediterranean, USS Constitution was launched in 1797. Though all six were fast, heavily built frigates with a flush spar deck above the gundeck, United States, Constitution, and President were nominally rated as 44s, but mounted thirty 24-replaced bypdr and twenty to twenty-two 12-pdr long guns (later short-range 42-pdr. carronades). The slightly smaller Constellation, Chesapeake, and Congress, rated as 38's, carried 28 long guns and 18 to 20 carronades. In the words of James Henderson, an authority on British frigates, "Class for class, they had no superior."

A temporary peace with the Barbary States was achieved before she was finished, but Constitution was commissioned in time for the Quasi-War with France, during which she captured a number of smaller ships and privateers in the West Indies. Returning to the Charlestown Navy Yard in 1801, she was placed in ordinary. The United States' next foreign entanglement was with the deys of Algiers, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli. In 1803, Constitution sailed as flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron maintaining a tight blockade on Tripoli, which was bombarded in August and September 1804, and finally forced the deys of Algiers and Tunis to sign treaties exempting American ships from tribute payments. While the Barbary Wars produced few opportunities for decisive ship-to-ship engagements, the Americans were much admired, and Lord Nelson observed that "there is in the handling of those transatlantic ships a nucleus of trouble for the navy of Great Britain."

Following repairs at New York, in 1809 Constitution joined Commodore John Rodgers's North Atlantic Squadron, and the following year Isaac Hull, her most illustrious captain, assumed command. The start of the War of 1812 found her at Annapolis, Maryland, and she put to sea on July 5. By July 17, Constitution was off the New Jersey coast when she spotted ships that all assumed to be Rodgers's squadron. It soon transpired that they were in fact HMS Africa (64 guns), the frigates Shannon, Guerriere (38s), Belvedira (36), and Aeolus (32), and the recently captured U.S. brig, Nautilus (12), under command of Captain Sir Philip Broke. In a remarkable 66-hour chase that began in light airs, Constitution kept out of range of the British ships by kedging ahead with her anchors, by towing with the ship's boats, and, when the wind finally came up, by what Broke described as "very superior sailing.

On August 19, Constitution was cruising the Grand Banks south of Newfoundland when she encountered Guerriere in position 41 degrees 42 minutes North, 55 degrees 48 minutes West. Captain James Dacres was a willing combatant and had only recently invited Rogers to meet "U. States frigate President... or any other American frigate of equal force for the purpose; of having a few minutes tête-à-tête." At 1700, Guerriere opened fire at long range; Hull closed the range until 1805 when at a distance of half a pistol shot he gave the order to fire. The first broadside smashed into Guerriere and Hull exclaimed, "by heaven, that ship is ours!" Twenty-five minutes later, the dismasted Guerriere was wallowing in the heavy seas. Constitution's casualties were seven dead and seven wounded; Guerriere had 78 dead and wounded, and was so shattered that Hull ordered her blown up the next day. It was during this battle that Constitution earned the nickname "Old Ironsides," after shot was seen bouncing off her hull. Constitution returned to a Boston--and a nation--thrilled with the stunning victory. As the London Times observed, "It is not merely that an English frigate has been taken,... but that it has been taken by a new enemy, an enemy unaccustomed to such triumphs, and likely to be rendered insolent and confident by them."

Family affairs compelled Hull to hand over command to the much maligned William Bainbridge, who had lost USS Philadelphia at Tripoli in 1803. En route to join USS Essex and Hornet in the South Pacific, on December 29, 1812, Constitution was off the coast of Brazil in 13 minutes six minutes South, 31 degrees West, when she encountered HMS Java (38 guns) under Captain Henry Lambert. Battle was joined at about 1400, and Constitution opened fire at about half a mile. Java had the better of it at first, but by 1725 Constitution's overwhelming firepower and superior gunnery had reduced Java to a mastless hulk, with 124 of her crew killed or wounded, including Captain Lambert. Constitution's casualties were 34 (or 52, according to British estimates) dead and wounded. Java was so riddled with shot she had to be blown up. Dramatic though the victory was, damage to the Constitution prevented Bainbridge from continuing his cruise against British shipping.

Constitution put back to Boston where the wounded Bainbridge was replaced by Captain Charles Stewart. After a brief cruise to the Caribbean in early 1814, she put back to Boston where she remained until December 1814 when she again slipped the British blockade. On February 20, 1815--a week after the war was formally ended--she sailed into action against HMS Cyane (22) and Levant (20) off Madeira. She forced both ships to strike and both ships were taken as prizes, though Levant was recaptured by a British squadron on March 11. Constitution arrived at New York on May 15, the most celebrated ship in the U.S. Navy.

Out of commission for the next six years, she returned to the Mediterranean between 1821 and 1828. Two years later she was saved from the scrapyard after a public outcry sparked by the publication of a poetic encomium by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Constitution emerged from her rebuilding in 1835 and thereafter sailed on a number of diverse assignments, including the Mediterranean and Home Squadron, and on the South Pacific stations and, in 1844-46, a 29-month circumnavigation of the world. During the Civil War she saw duty as a navy training ship. Rebuilt in the 1870s, she sailed again as a training ship until 1881, after which she was used as a receiving ship in New Hampshire. In 1897, she was brought to Boston for preservation. She made an extended goodwill voyage in 1931-34, when she was towed to 76 ports along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts. Maintained as a museum ship at Boston, USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. To ensure equal weathering on both sides of her hull, she leaves her dock for a turnaround cruise in Boston Harbor on every July 4th.