Renamed From: Naval Tactics




  • Machine Tool
  • Ocean Faring



  • Ship of the line


Naval combat and navigation took a giant step forward with the development of the Chronometer. The Ship of the line is the culmination of advances in Joinery Navigation, and Precision Construction that allowed ships to safely carry and utilize multiple Cannons in battle.


The Renaissance saw an absolute jumble of warship types as men struggled to find the best way to combine increasingly effective cannon with sails or oars. The English were the first to emphasize long range (a relative term, few smoothbore cannon were accurate at more than 1000 yards) cannon fire over small arms and boarding tactics. Henry VIIIs, ship, "Henry Grace a Dieu", launched in 1514, and mounted 21 cannon firing balls up to 60 lbs weight. Over a century later England also built the first Frigate warship in 1649, characterized by three masts and a continuous gundeck from stem to stern. By 1750 the Royal Navy had standardized on 6 classes or "rates" of warships based on the numbers of guns carried: only 1st, 2nd, and 3rd ’Rates’, with 64 to 100+ cannon each, were fit to take their place in the Line of Battle, and were, therefore, referred to as Ships of the Line. Aside from the numbers and weight of guns, these vessels were all similar: three masts, 2 to 4 gun decks, a crew of 800 to 2000 men. These warships represented the culmination of advances in gun making, rigging, organization of labor and industry, and, not least by any means, celestial navigation.

The last step in a long process of finding ones way at sea with no land about was the invention of the chronometer. The magnetic compass allowed ships to locate north and sail with reference to a direction. The sextant allowed precise measurement of the distance of a given star or the sun above the horizon. Without precise measurement of time, however, this measurement could not be converted into a ship’s location on an east-west axis: longitude. As early as 1598 both the King of Spain and the Dutch Staats-General were offering cash prizes for anyone who solved the problem of determining longitude. In 1714 the Royal Navy’s Board of Longitude also offered a prize for any method of determining longitude. Between 1727 and 1736 John Harrison, a carpenter, perfected a spring-driven timepiece that could tell time even on a pitching sailing ship to an accuracy of one tenth of a second a day. By 1761 Harrison had further refined his chronometer, reducing it from a fragile 66-pound device to a 5-inch diameter watch. The combination of accurate open-ocean navigation, sophisticated sails and rigging, and powerful cannon armament allowed the ship of the line to dominate naval warfare for the next century.