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J.Rudder

Lower gun deck water clearance on early American ships of the line

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It seems that whenever an American ships of the line is brought up, the immediate response is almost always something in reference to the low distance between the lower gun deck and the water. While this is certainly a valid argument, I couldn't help but notice that the clearance of the USS Franklin, which is 4ft above the water, doesn't seem to be that much worse than that of the HMS Victory herself, who clears at 4ft 6in. While the USS Independence is undeniably worse off, at only 3ft, is the 6in difference between Victory and Franklin really THAT much of a game changer, and if not why is that never discussed when listing it as a negative for an American SoL? 

Anyways, just something I was curious about, any responses/corrections are welcome, thanks.

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USS Franklin is technically a two-decker, since her spar deck armament is all carronades. While pure three-deckers always had low freeboard for the main battery, two-decker 74s and 80s were expected to have over 6 feet of freeboard, enabling to fight in rough weather.

So the criticism is that Franklin is a Third Rate that is as vulnerable to heavy seas as a First Rate. Of course, she also mounted the same weight of guns on the upper deck as the main deck, which really mitigates this weakness.

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6 hours ago, maturin said:

USS Franklin is technically a two-decker, since her spar deck armament is all carronades. While pure three-deckers always had low freeboard for the main battery, two-decker 74s and 80s were expected to have over 6 feet of freeboard, enabling to fight in rough weather.

So the criticism is that Franklin is a Third Rate that is as vulnerable to heavy seas as a First Rate. Of course, she also mounted the same weight of guns on the upper deck as the main deck, which really mitigates this weakness.

I see, thank you for the clarification.

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For comparison, the French standard SoL of the 74-guns (by Mr Sané, 1782) at a height of 5' 4" (du Roy), so 1.73 m.

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