molasses

Cruizer-class Brig-Sloops of the Royal Navy

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Thanks for the enlargement, Charlie! Lyon's pic is small. Is that the fashion piece shown on the body plan? It's very feint, but it looks like something is there. I'm leaning the other way now too. But why would an oak ship need one? Only six of the hundred or so brigs were built of fir ... The Scout's framing plan would be more decisive.

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Well, Beef W's log on his Snake model shows the Gannett's framing plan, and that shows the square tuck frame, so I'm guessing now that they all had them? (But why?)

 

The answer to your question Charlie is, I don't know of any specifically. I just assumed that small oak ships were built according to the same rules of the larger ones. Why didn't the Swan/Pegasus Class Sloops have had them, since they were even smaller?

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Ship sloops such as the Swans were, I believe, slightly larger vessels. 

 

Large ships, if built of fir, had square sterns. All small vessels such as the Cruizer class, seem to have been built with square sterns regardless of timber species.

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Totally meant to post this earlier with the discussion about sparing. I found this table in a 19th century book on rigging (I have to go back and look it up again to see which one. I realized that the measurements listed for hull length were that of the Cruizer and Cherokee.

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Surprisingly, while both were about 100 feet on the gun-deck, the Swans were just  300 tons, where as the Cruisers were just a tad under 400 tons! It seems counterintuitive, since the Swans were ships, built like miniature frigates, while the Cruisers were just flush-decked brigs.

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Hah! Interesting observation, Frolick, and you are quite correct: Swans were about 300 tons and 96' 7" between perpendiculars.

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I think that it is now safe to conclude that all Cruisers had the square-tuck stern. This was probably done because nearly all (if not all) were built in private yards, where the standards were much lower than naval yards, using every dwindling bit of available oak timber, under emergency conditions, so it was thought that the stern, a potential weak point, would have to be built as strong as possible, even if that meant using a strong, tried and true, and ancient method of framing. I suspect that the earlier Swans had a much stouter frame.

 

One of the editions of Steele's Shipbuilders Repository, c.1805, includes folded plans of the Cruisers, so I wonder if he mentions their unusual stern frames?

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This was probably done because nearly all (if not all) were built in private yards, where the standards were much lower than naval yards, using every dwindling bit of available oak timber, under emergency conditions, so it was thought that the stern, a potential weak point, would have to be built as strong as possible, even if that meant using a strong, tried and true, and ancient method of framing. I suspect that the earlier Swans had a much stouter frame.

 

Frolick, this does feel a little like conjecture.  I know I'm going to sound argumentative, but think its important that opinions don't get confused with facts.  There is a bigger picture here to understand here and its important to understand the broader strategic direction as well as just ship construction techniques.  I'm not a professional historian, just a interested amateur whos done lots of reading from various sources.  And yes, I have a sweet spot for the Cruizers....  :D 

  1. Many significant, successful ships of wide array of rates, before and after, were built in private yards.  Its not appropriate to conclude that private yards equated to lower quality/lower skill levels
  2. Timber availability was a concern, and had been before and was to continue to be after this period.  Your interpretation reads a little like the 'tired empire on its last legs and the cruiser design was the best it could do' story, which clearly was not the case when you look at the size of the fleet and individual ships of the post war battlefleet right until end of sail.  Ship design and the compromise with available funds had been a factor in the RN for centuries.
  3. There is a need to recognize how ships were designed and approved.  It was very often Royal Naval policy to adopt, rescale and shamelessly copy successful designs.  It is apparent from looking at draughts and models that the Cruizers owe a lot to cutter design, including the square tuck and significant rake of the keel.  These ships were selected after building prototypes and letting the "best ship win", I don't think its an appropriate conclusion to reach that square tucks, despite being anachronistic, were necessarily compromises.
  4. The need for economy was driven more from manpower usage and the need to project naval power on far flung strategic stations with the dwindling number of sailors needed given the escalating threat.  Therefor the cruisers provided an excellent balance of firepower, long range cruising ability and crew minimization (which is apparent when comparing the Swan to Cruiser classes, different ships for different roles).  Now living in the States, it never ceases to amaze me that there is little understanding of the context of the US revolutionary war against the broader, and larger global war Britain was engaged in against Napoleonic France and Spain.
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Surprisingly, while both were about 100 feet on the gun-deck, the Swans were just  300 tons, where as the Cruisers were just a tad under 400 tons! It seems counterintuitive, since the Swans were ships, built like miniature frigates, while the Cruisers were just flush-decked brigs.

 

Almost four feet shorter (96'7" versus 100 feet) /and/ 26'9" versus 30'6" wide Cruizers. Judging by the plans for Swan in the RMG, she looks shallower too despite having nearly the same rated draft. So it really doesn't surprise me that they would be nearly a hundred tons apart using Builder's Old Measurement, where a shift in beam can cause a large shift in size.

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Frolick, this does feel a little like conjecture.  I know I'm going to sound argumentative, but think its important that opinions don't get confused with facts.  There is a bigger picture here to understand here and its important to understand the broader strategic direction as well as just ship construction techniques.  I'm not a professional historian, just a interested amateur whos done lots of reading from various sources.  And yes, I have a sweet spot for the Cruizers....  :D

  1. Many significant, successful ships of wide array of rates, before and after, were built in private yards.  Its not appropriate to conclude that private yards equated to lower quality/lower skill levels
  2. Timber availability was a concern, and had been before and was to continue to be after this period.  Your interpretation reads a little like the 'tired empire on its last legs and the cruiser design was the best it could do' story, which clearly was not the case when you look at the size of the fleet and individual ships of the post war battlefleet right until end of sail.  Ship design and the compromise with available funds had been a factor in the RN for centuries.
  3. There is a need to recognize how ships were designed and approved.  It was very often Royal Naval policy to adopt, rescale and shamelessly copy successful designs.  It is apparent from looking at draughts and models that the Cruizers owe a lot to cutter design, including the square tuck and significant rake of the keel.  These ships were selected after building prototypes and letting the "best ship win", I don't think its an appropriate conclusion to reach that square tucks, despite being anachronistic, were necessarily compromises.
  4. The need for economy was driven more from manpower usage and the need to project naval power on far flung strategic stations with the dwindling number of sailors needed given the escalating threat.  Therefor the cruisers provided an excellent balance of firepower, long range cruising ability and crew minimization (which is apparent when comparing the Swan to Cruiser classes, different ships for different roles).  Now living in the States, it never ceases to amaze me that there is little understanding of the context of the US revolutionary war against the broader, and larger global war Britain was engaged in against Napoleonic France and Spain.

 

 

I agree with this. Some comments on the points:

 

  1. The initial Cruizer and Snake prototypes were ordered in 1796 and completed in 1798 under Earl Spencer’s board. One of the other projects Spencer did was give eight different 74-gun 3rd Rate contracts to various private yards. No more Cruizers were ordered until 1801 when they needed them.
  2. A concern, but the UK running out of oak is an exaggerated myth. The real problem was supplies were getting harder to procure at a price the admiralty wanted to pay, and they let the reserves dwindle and for a few years their supplies were tight. By the end of the war they had plenty again though prices were still above pre-war levels. The more acute shortages were in difficult pieces, like knees.
  3. The Cruizer and Snake were designed before there was any wartime production crunch, so they were hardly austere designs. Fully worked-out designs to all naval standards, designed for global operations anywhere the Royal Navy was and they took their time with it. They really were in a sweet spot between capability and economy, as were the Cherokees after them. Incidentally, the part that screams cutter to me the most is that little sheer by the bow, which doesn’t match the deck line. Nothing wrong with being inspired by cutter designs. Those were the UK’s most notoriously seaworthy small craft, coastal vessels designed for channel work and the like.
  4. This, not a timber shortage, was the real problem. So few ships were sailing at their proper, rated complements all the time, most had larger proportions of pressed landsmen and long overseas deployments and brutal blockade periods both wore down what crews they did scrounge together. Cruizer’s crew size was typical of both ship and brig sloops of her size. Even HMS Peacock (ex-USS Wasp) had an identically rated crew of 121 in British service and Swan only had four extra men under older crew regulations, and 121 after 1794. Between the 32-pounder carronades (which were also added to small post ships like Cyane) giving a heavier armament for their size, while still being large enough for proper ocean sailing and deployment, they were very versatile craft. They weren’t particularly designed for economy so much as being a standard and modern design in an economical size class (compared to all the older quarterdeck sloops based on designs dating back decades).

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http://www.modelsailingships.com/text/grass_text.html

 

Hey guys according to this link the ships of 1811/1812 did not have a square tuck stern. So the first Grasshopper probably had one while the second did not. Also says the Epervier did not. Assuming we can trust this one source but that's my opinion that the tuck was probably something removed after 1810 but still not considered obsolete circa 1804. There is a 4/5 year gap in builds for the Cruizer class after 1807 so probability a chance for the plans to be revised a bit.

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http://www.modelsailingships.com/text/grass_text.html

 

Hey guys according to this link the ships of 1811/1812 did not have a square tuck stern. So the first Grasshopper probably had one while the second did not. Also says the Epervier did not. Assuming we can trust this one source but that's my opinion that the tuck was probably something removed after 1810 but still not considered obsolete circa 1804. There is a 4/5 year gap in builds for the Cruizer class after 1807 so probability a chance for the plans to be revised a bit.

Moin from Germany.

 

Sorry, but the plans of the Epervier say something different
Square Tuck!
 
Source: NMM

post-2155-0-42236500-1477202791.jpg

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Totally meant to post this earlier with the discussion about sparing. I found this table in a 19th century book on rigging (I have to go back and look it up again to see which one. I realized that the measurements listed for hull length were that of the Cruizer and Cherokee.

 

Would be quite interested in your source for this table - based solely on the terminology used, this appears to be a late 19th century analysis rather than a contemporary description.  Also, given the long history of the class, as well as the number constructed, there was quite probably a difference between the early rig dimensions and the latter members of the class.

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I agree with this. Some comments on the points:

 

  1. The initial Cruizer and Snake prototypes were ordered in 1796 and completed in 1798 under Earl Spencer’s board. One of the other projects Spencer did was give eight different 74-gun 3rd Rate contracts to various private yards. No more Cruizers were ordered until 1801 when they needed them.
  2. A concern, but the UK running out of oak is an exaggerated myth. The real problem was supplies were getting harder to procure at a price the admiralty wanted to pay, and they let the reserves dwindle and for a few years their supplies were tight. By the end of the war they had plenty again though prices were still above pre-war levels. The more acute shortages were in difficult pieces, like knees.
  3. The Cruizer and Snake were designed before there was any wartime production crunch, so they were hardly austere designs. Fully worked-out designs to all naval standards, designed for global operations anywhere the Royal Navy was and they took their time with it. They really were in a sweet spot between capability and economy, as were the Cherokees after them. Incidentally, the part that screams cutter to me the most is that little sheer by the bow, which doesn’t match the deck line. Nothing wrong with being inspired by cutter designs. Those were the UK’s most notoriously seaworthy small craft, coastal vessels designed for channel work and the like.
  4. This, not a timber shortage, was the real problem. So few ships were sailing at their proper, rated complements all the time, most had larger proportions of pressed landsmen and long overseas deployments and brutal blockade periods both wore down what crews they did scrounge together. Cruizer’s crew size was typical of both ship and brig sloops of her size. Even HMS Peacock (ex-USS Wasp) had an identically rated crew of 121 in British service and Swan only had four extra men under older crew regulations, and 121 after 1794. Between the 32-pounder carronades (which were also added to small post ships like Cyane) giving a heavier armament for their size, while still being large enough for proper ocean sailing and deployment, they were very versatile craft. They weren’t particularly designed for economy so much as being a standard and modern design in an economical size class (compared to all the older quarterdeck sloops based on designs dating back decades).

 

 

Concerning point 2 - the Crown OWNED the Oak growing in Britain.  HOWEVER - quality Oak, in the quantities needed, was becoming more scarce.  See, among other research, the following:

 

Albion, R.G. 1926. Forests and Sea Power: The Timber Problem of the Royal Navy, 1652-1862. Harvard University Press. http://archive.org/details/ForestsAndSeaPower.

Knight, R. 1986. New England Forest and British Seapower: Albion Revisited. The American Neptune XLVI, no. 4: 221–229.

Layman, W. 1813. Precursor to an Exposé on Forest Trees and Timber ... as Connected with the Maritime Strength ... of the United Kingdom. https://books.google.com/books?id=KNxbAAAAQAAJ.

Loewen, B. 2000. Forestry Practices and Hull Design, Ca. 1400-1700. In Fernando Oliveira E O Seu Tempo. Humanismo E Arte de Navegar No Renascimento Europeu (1450-1650), ed. F.C. Domingues, 143–151. Patrimonia. https://www.academia.edu/5766940/Forestry_practices_and_hull_design_ca._1400-1700.

 

An additional consideration, particularly at this time, is that the theory and science of Naval Architecture was undergoing a sometime vicious shift in the paradigm of design.  This was the period of the Reverend Inman and George Atwood.  We also saw the influence of the Society for the Improvement of Naval Architecture and Fredrik Henrik Chapman on the field.  The changes, while sometimes slow, were incremental and evident.  They were not accomplished via simple edicts from the Surveyor of the Navy and Admiralty (history showed how poorly that approach had worked over many decades - too many of the ship yards were passive-aggressive on implementing those orders). 

 

Steel, as a case study, perhaps, is in a unique category.  There has been, since long before our life time, speculation concerning the source for his Naval Architecture.  The timing of the publication implies that there was some connection to the attempt to incorporate scientific theory into ship design - and, indeed, some of the narrative in Steel's Vade Mecum seem to advocate for such a path.  Steel was a publisher and former barrister with the Admiralty, but not a ship builder nor rigger.  What he was, however, was well connected - as evidence by his ship lists &.c. published over many years.

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Would be quite interested in your source for this table - based solely on the terminology used, this appears to be a late 19th century analysis rather than a contemporary description.  Also, given the long history of the class, as well as the number constructed, there was quite probably a difference between the early rig dimensions and the latter members of the class.

 

Looked it up, it was Fincham's Treatise on Masting Ships. My specific source I used was the 2nd edition of 1843 as found on Google Books.

 

https://books.google.com/books?id=z4QhGFh-7ZwC&dq=Fincham's%20Treatise%20on%20Masting%20Ships&pg=PA88#v=onepage&q&f=falsePage 88, the first and second examples, which match the length and beam of Cruizer and Cherokee brigs.

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Looked it up, it was Fincham's Treatise on Masting Ships. My specific source I used was the 2nd edition of 1843 as found on Google Books.

 

That makes sense - Fincham was a major part of the School f Naval Architecture with Inman.  His success may, perhaps, be best described by the death notice in The Times (1859):

 

The death of this gentleman [John Fincham] took place at his residence at Highland Lodge, near Portsmouth, yesterday morning, in his 75th year. The deceased gentleman will be best remembered by the general public as for many years master shipwright of Portsmouth Dockyard, and more especially as the builder of the celebrated Arrogant, the first screw frigate possessed by this country, and still looked on as one of the finest of her class. Much of his time and study was devoted to the introduction of the screw propeller into the British navy. For a long period he was superintendent of the School of Naval Architecture at Portsmouth. His History of Naval Architecture, Outlines of Shipbuilding, a Treatise on Laying-off Ships, and on Masting Ships, are unequalled in the English language for the amount of research and professional knowledge they contain.

 

His 1843 work was at the tail end of Symonds tenure as Surveyor of the Navy, and reflects one of the 3 major views in that prolonged period of discord (Symonds' "empirical" school of shipbuilding came into conflict both with the "scientific" school led by the new class of professional naval architects and the first School of Naval Architecture (such as Fincham, Morgan, Creuze, Pearse &c.), and the "traditional" school led by Master Shipwrights from the Royal Dockyards.  Quite an interesting period of time for the British Navy that period from about 1790 through 1850.

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That makes sense - Fincham was a major part of the School f Naval Architecture with Inman.  His success may, perhaps, be best described by the death notice in The Times (1859):

 

The death of this gentleman [John Fincham] took place at his residence at Highland Lodge, near Portsmouth, yesterday morning, in his 75th year. The deceased gentleman will be best remembered by the general public as for many years master shipwright of Portsmouth Dockyard, and more especially as the builder of the celebrated Arrogant, the first screw frigate possessed by this country, and still looked on as one of the finest of her class. Much of his time and study was devoted to the introduction of the screw propeller into the British navy. For a long period he was superintendent of the School of Naval Architecture at Portsmouth. His History of Naval Architecture, Outlines of Shipbuilding, a Treatise on Laying-off Ships, and on Masting Ships, are unequalled in the English language for the amount of research and professional knowledge they contain.

 

His 1843 work was at the tail end of Symonds tenure as Surveyor of the Navy, and reflects one of the 3 major views in that prolonged period of discord (Symonds' "empirical" school of shipbuilding came into conflict both with the "scientific" school led by the new class of professional naval architects and the first School of Naval Architecture (such as Fincham, Morgan, Creuze, Pearse &c.), and the "traditional" school led by Master Shipwrights from the Royal Dockyards.  Quite an interesting period of time for the British Navy that period from about 1790 through 1850.

 

His forward-looking school certainly explains why it looked late 19th century. The first edition of that book dates back to 1829, back when he was Superindentent of the School of Naval Architecture and three years before it closed in 1832.

 

That whole era is interesting to me too. D.K. Brown's Before the Ironclad, which covers the post-Napoelonic War part of that era got me into it, and also had me looking at the earlier part during the wars, with people like Bentham. Brown talks a lot about Seppings and Symonds though, though he isn't (and I agree) a big fan of Symonds.

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Wasn't quite sure where to put these pics, but here seemed as good a place as any (Sorry these aren't exactly professional quality).  One of the interesting models in the Rogers collection at the Annapolis Naval Museum is this the following model of a Cruizer Class sloop.  I curse myself because I forgot to take picture of the plate, so if anyone else has that info then please share.  I'm not going to analyze, but the following jumped out at me.  I wonder how much of this was reflective of reality and how much was model makers whimsy....

 

  1. Dare I say, the square tuck.... :P
  2. The presence of a Spritsail Topsail Yard
  3. Figurehead which are not shown on any plans
  4. Cannons rather than carronades, and the inclusion of 2 additional stern chasers
  5. Stern deck houses appear consistent with those shown on many plans
  6. Presence of fore platform, and bucklers on the foremost gun port
  7. Capstan placement consistent with plans and more logically located toward stern
  8. Aft davits which were RN anathema

post-891-0-75771700-1483494118_thumb.jpgpost-891-0-96011100-1483494163_thumb.jpgpost-891-0-88647300-1483494422_thumb.jpgpost-891-0-36436000-1483494478_thumb.jpgpost-891-0-19793100-1483494685_thumb.jpg

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Is this the model that has its t'gallent sails set and nothing else? There is a model on display I recall, with that very odd configuration. One I do not think is ever seen in actual practice.

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Thanks for the article, Chuck.  Mr. Rogers collected ship models and had them repaired/restored as needed.  Sometimes the records are a bit scanty, especially as there were 200 years between their origin and his acquisition, then repairs he instigated.

Fair American was assumed to be period work, until the almost chance discovery of a letter detailing the work done on her in the 20th century at Rogers' behest.

We must be careful and thorough.

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Thanks Chuck for sharing, a very interesting read.  There are couple of topics that I think I would have expected to be commented on or explored more but weren't.  The similarity of the model to existing original plans is not really explored, nor the fact that these workhorse brigs probably changed significantly over the course of their commissioning for those that lasted, there were at least a couple of these that switched from brig to ship rigged and back in the course of their lifetime, so additions of stern deckhouses doesn't seem too much of a stretch, and again, this is a feature identified on original plans.  Although not really on point, the model in the NMM is least like any of the available plans so reliance on comparison to that is probably a sticky wicket.

 

I suspect that the figurehead is a later addition to appease some owner's ideal that a "ship model should have one", but no evidence to back that up other than other documentary evidence to the contrary in surviving plans.  Of course any captain or owner of the actual ship could have added a figurehead....

 

Bottom line, its a beautiful model.

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Some great reading here, thanks BW and all contributors.

 

cheers

 

Pat

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Thanks for the photos Jason. The brig model had been acquired, but wasn't displayed yet the lest time I visited the USNA museum. I found that article awhile back in my research of the class. Interesting read and really shows the lack of hard information, as well as the changes that occurred over time in such a large class of ships. 

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