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 Dardanelles 
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Post Dardanelles


From The Times of February 17, 1791::

" ..... Seamen differ much in opinion with respect to the navigation of the Dardanelles; some insist that only frigates can pass with safety into the Black Sea; other contend, that fifty gun ships can sail with ease, and even sixty-fours. Much must depend on this, if a fleet should be sent to assist the Turks in that quarter. ..."

The only thing I know about RN and the Dardanelles, is that involving Gallipoli, but has anyone any knowledge, or comments, about the vessels and navigation through the straits in 1791, say?

For info: Dardnelles Campaign


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Fri Oct 31, 2008 5:22 pm
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The Dardanelles (Hellespontus) strait runs from the Aegean Sea north east into the Sea of Marmara (Propontis). There are no rocks or hidden dangers, apart from the occasional mud bank, and depths up to 60 fathoms. It varies in width between seven cables (1400 yds) at the Narrows at Chanak (Canakkale), near ancient Sestos and Abydos, to about three nautical miles in its broader reaches.

The problem with navigation of this passage under sail is that the current runs out of the Sea of Marmara south west into the Aegean at speeds that can exceed 3 knots so that to proceed north east through the Dardanelles a good favourable wind is essential and very hard to find between June and October because of the prevailing northerly “Etesian Winds” – also known as the Meltem or Meltemi.

Ships, usually frigates, of the RN passed through the Dardanelles on numerous occasions in connection with the Embassy at Constantinople.

In respect of ships of the line, a Russian squadron of six Third Rates and some frigates passed through the Dardanelles from the Black Sea in 1798 when Russia was in alliance with Turkey and Sir Sidney Smith had the TIGRE 74 at Constantinople in 1799. In November, 1806 Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Louis proceeded in the CANOPUS 80 through the Dardanelles to Constantinople on a reconnaissance. The RN later sent a squadron in an opposed transit of the Dardanelles in February, 1807 under Vice Admiral Sir John Duckworth with Rear Admirals Sir Thomas Louis and Sir Sidney Smith. This squadron consisted of the ROYAL GEORGE 100, WINDSOR CASTLE 98, CANOPUS 80, four 74s, two frigates and two bomb vessels. As far as I am aware, this was the first occasion on which a First Rate had sailed through the passage and it may well have been the only occasion without the assistance of steam.

The above examples are not exhaustive but suffice to demonstrate that there was no impediment to the unopposed movement of large ships and squadrons through the Dardanelles subject to a favourable wind.


Sat Nov 01, 2008 12:12 am
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Thanks, Peter - as always - for your input and vast knowledge.

I have Pocock's SSS bio to get on and read one day; perhaps I should hasten it up the list. :)

Have you sailed those waters? I've never got to that part yet, but mention of the Dardanelles have always conjured up images in my mind.

Is there any further reading AoS-wise of the area, do you - or anyone else, of course - know of?


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Sat Nov 01, 2008 9:38 am
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