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 Collision 
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Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 9:08 pm
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Post Collision
I saw 1 short thread on ramming, but that asked about films.
I am a new member, presently interested in factual accounts of frigate or SotL collisions, especially ramming.

1. Did ramming occur, was it considered bad form, would it have brought a courts-marshall?
2. can anyone give me references to severe collisions, what were the speeds and damage, were their any sinkings.

thanks for any help


Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:02 am
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The bowsprit of a sailing vessel was a vital and vulnerable part of the rig. Ramming was therefore likely to do more harm to the rammer than the rammee. In addition, the structural features of these ships were such that the bows (and stern) were weak points.


Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:33 pm
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IONIA wrote:
The bowsprit of a sailing vessel was a vital and vulnerable part of the rig. Ramming was therefore likely to do more harm to the rammer than the rammee. In addition, the structural features of these ships were such that the bows (and stern) were weak points.

I agree with IONIA's comment completely. Every incident that I have read where an AoS ship had "accidentally" damaged its bow resulted in a serious condition hampering the proper handling of that ship.

If you examine the designs of ancient Roman ships (that were designed to ram other ships), you will notice that the underwater "rammer" that extended from the bow was reinforced with metal which allowed easy penetration of the wooden sides of the enemy ships. Since such Roman ships could be powered by oars and had no sails attached to the bow (at least in the drawings I have seen), handling was not affected. A ramming ship would, like the Roman galley, have to have a very strong bow designed specifically for ramming which does not match AoS designs.

Also consider the fact that a warship approaching the side of an enemy ship would be directly in the path of a full broadside and would be only be able to respond with a few chasers (assuming it had any at all).

Seems improbable that "intentional" ramming ever happened in the period from 1650-1850 due to lack of proper design, tactical considerations, and the critical handling aspects of the bow.

I did find an article on-line that said the earliest "modern" ramming ship was a French ship built in 1863. Of course, this iron hulled ship had steam power so it had a very simple (and strong) bow that was designed for ramming.

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Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:25 am
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Post Re: Collision
Don is right about the age of sail. Only galleys had the speed and stength to penetrate their victims.

In the third quarter of the 19th century however, warships were built with huge underwater rams that were dsigned to be used. The most important example of a 'ramming' battle was Lissa in 1866 when the Austrians fought the Italians, though the tactic had limited success with only the Italian flagship 'Re D'Italia' being sunk by this means.

The best known British case was an accident off the Lebanon in 1893 when the Mediterranean Fleet, sailing in two columns was inexplicably ordered to turn inwards. The 'Camperdown', heading one column rammed and sunk the flagship 'Victoria' leading the other with the loss of 358 out of 650 men including Admiral Tryon whose order had caused it all and who did not live to explain what he was trying to do.

Brian Vale


Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:03 am
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Post down with the ship
thanks so much for your replies.
Do we assume the 1866 Victoria was a metal ship?

I would also be interested if anyone could direct me to any authoritive descriptions of collisions between wooden ships of anykind at speed or minor in battle. It seems in boarding, the ships generally came away with minimal damage.

I have recently discovered and play an age of sail war game under development that has a minimal penalty for collisions. Some players have begun to use collision as a tactic. I have not been able to convince the developer that the effects he has do not work; to minor for full sail collision, to severe for bumping the paint work.


Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:45 am
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Post Re: down with the ship
vernon coffee wrote:
thanks so much for your replies.
Do we assume the 1866 Victoria was a metal ship?

I would also be interested if anyone could direct me to any authoritive descriptions of collisions between wooden ships of anykind at speed or minor in battle. It seems in boarding, the ships generally came away with minimal damage.

I have recently discovered and play an age of sail war game under development that has a minimal penalty for collisions. Some players have begun to use collision as a tactic. I have not been able to convince the developer that the effects he has do not work; to minor for full sail collision, to severe for bumping the paint work.


It is important to remember that the rig of a sailing ship was a carefully balanced affair and, if thrown out of balance by damage, could lead to a loss of manoeuvrability.

On the 18th January, 1797, when a British fleet was making its way out of the Tagus the ST.GEORGE 98 ran foul of a Portuguese frigate carrying away the latter’s jib-boom and fore topgallantmast and herself running aground sustaining severe damage which required her to return to Lisbon for repairs.

On the 12th February of the same year, prior to the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, the CULLODEN and COLOSSUS (both 74s) ran foul of each other. Damage to the COLUSSUS was relatively minor – staving in of some of her upperworks and the loss of her fore topgallantmast. CULLODEN was seriously injured – the knee and cheeks of her head, the head-rails, larboard cat-head, bowsprit-cap, bumpkins, jib-boom, and fore topgallantmast were entirely carried away and the bowsprit badly sprung. This scale of damage would normally be enough to merit a return to port for repairs but the CULLODEN, having a very determined captain and an expert crew, managed to make herself fit to lie in the line after about 12 hours hard work. Any ship whose ability to manoeuvre was restricted was a danger to herself and others when sailing in close formation in a fleet.

In the presence of an enemy, collisions could have very unfortunate results. In 1795 off Genoa a French fleet was in sight of a British fleet of slightly superior force when, in the French fleet, the CA-IRA 80 ran foul of the VICTOIRE 80 with the former loosing her fore and main topmasts. The end result of the CA-IRA’s disablement was her capture by the British (together with a 74 gun ship ordered to tow her).

Descriptions of these actions can be found in William James' "The Naval History of Great Britain" (Vols 1 and 2).
This is on line at:
http://www.pbenyon.plus.com/Naval_History/Index.html

The collision between the CAMPERDOWN and VICTORIA occurred off the coast of Syria in 1893. Both were steel ships under power alone.

The 1866 Battle of Lissa saw eight ramming attempts which made contact but the only ship sunk as a direct result was the RE D'ITALIA, a masted broadside ironclad (her hull was of wood overlaid with armour), which was almost motionless when struck. The ramming ship, the Austrian ERZHERZOG FERDINAND MAX, was also a broadside ironclad.


Thu Jul 24, 2008 5:44 am
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Hi Vernon,

I'm a bit late to the party, but I wanted to welcome you to the SN Forum.

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Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:14 pm
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Account of RN ship colliding with HEIC ship Marquis Wellesley in Feb 1802:

"About sundown H.M. frigate Egyptienne was coming in to an anchor, when in shortening sail [she] left not sufficient way to shoot ahead clear of us. She fell broadside into our hawse; although the boatswain did all in his power to cut the cable, it did not prevent a terrible collision. The frigate tore away our cutwater and bowsprit, which brought down the fore topmast; in fact, made a clean sweep forward, with only one anchor down and one spare (sheet) at the bows."

(From the Journals of Thomas Addison in The Naval Miscellany (Volume I) published by the Navy Records Society)

The frigate sent over men to help repair the damage. However, I was wondering if the navy or the captain (Charles Ogle, it seems) was liable for monetary damages?

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Thu Dec 18, 2008 6:41 am
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susan wrote:
However, I was wondering if the navy or the captain (Charles Ogle, it seems) was liable for monetary damages?




.... aptly named! I bet his superiors had some comment on his "ogling" or lack of it..... :lol:


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Thu Dec 18, 2008 6:59 am
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Mil Goose wrote:
I bet his superiors had some comment on his "ogling" or lack of it..... :lol:

:D

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Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:36 pm
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The Times, December 27th, 1796:

" ... Lord Bridport was to sail yesterday morning from St Helen's; but we are sorry to say that, in going from Portsmouth, the Prince man of war ran foul of the Sans-pareil, and damaged her so much, that she was obliged to return to Portsmouth. ....."


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Sun Apr 26, 2009 8:53 am
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Post Re: Collision
The Times, January 31st, 1805:


"..... The Diadem, of 64 guns, has been repaired in consequence of a Prussian vessel running foul of her, off Northfleet, and will sail in a few days for the Downs. ....."

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Sat Jul 16, 2011 10:47 am
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