Ship of the Line

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Ship of the Line

SHIP OF THE LINE. A "ship of the line" was a warship that was sufficiently large and well-armed so that it could lie in line of battle, where its guns, mounted in broadside, could bear on the enemy. A system of six "rates" was introduced by Lord George Anson, first lord of the Admiralty in the early 1750s, that grouped warships according to how many guns they carried. Only the first three rates were considered to be ships of the line. A "first-rate" carried upwards of one hundred guns, a "second-rate" from eighty-four to one hundred guns, and a "third-rate" from seventy to eighty-four guns. During the War for American Independence, a third-rate of seventy-four guns was the most common type.

SEE ALSO Line.

                         revised by Harold E. Selesky

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