In the rating system of the Royal Navy used to categorise sailing warships, a fifth rate was the second-smallest class of warships in a hierarchical system of six "ratings" based on size and firepower.
The rating system in the Royal Navy as originally devised had just four rates, but early in the reign of Charles I, the original fourth rate (derived from the "Small Ships" category under his father, James I) was divided into new classifications of fourth, fifth, and sixth rates. While a fourth-rate ship was defined as a ship of the line, fifth and the smaller sixth-rate ships were never included among ships-of-the-line. Nevertheless, during the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century, fifth rates often found themselves involved among the battle fleet in major actions. Structurally, these were two-deckers, with a complete battery on the lower deck, and fewer guns on the upper deck (below the forecastle and quarter decks, usually with no guns in the waist on this deck).
The fifth rates at the start of the 18th century were small two-deckers, generally either 40-gun ships with a full battery on two decks, or "demi-batterie" ships, carrying a few heavy guns on their lower deck (which often used the rest of the lower deck for row ports) and a full battery of lesser guns on the upper deck. The latter were gradually phased out, though, as the low freeboard (the height of the lower deck gunport sills above the waterline) meant that opening the lower deck gunports in rough weather was often impossible. The 40-gun (or later 44-gun) fifth rates continued to be built until the latter half of the 18th century (a large number were built during the American Revolutionary War). From mid-century, a new fifth-rate type was introduced - the classic frigate, with no gun ports on the lower deck, and the main battery of from 26 to 30 guns disposed solely on the upper deck, although smaller guns were mounted on the quarterdeck and forecastle.
Fifth-rate ships served as fast scouts or independent cruisers, and included a variety of gun arrangements. The fifth rates of the 1750s generally carried a main battery of twenty-six 12-pounders on the upper deck, with six 6-pounders on the quarterdeck and forecastle (a few carried extra 6-pounders on the quarterdeck) to give a total rating of 32 guns. Larger fifth rates introduced during the late 1770s carried a main battery of twenty-six or twenty-eight 18-pounders, also with smaller guns (6-pounders or 9-pounders) on the quarterdeck and forecastle. Displacement ranged from 700 to 1450 tons, with crews of 215 to 294 men.
To be posted aboard a fifth-rate ship was considered an attractive assignment. Fifth rates were often assigned to interdict enemy shipping, offering the prospect of prize money for the crew.
Fifth-rate frigates were considered useful for their combination of manoeuvrability and firepower, which, in theory, would allow them to outmanoeuvre an enemy of greater force and run down one of lesser force. For this reason, frigates of this sort were commonly used in patrol and to disrupt enemy shipping lanes much as heavy cruisers would later in history.
In the rating system of the Royal Navy, a third rate was a ship of the line which from the 1720s mounted between 64 and 80 guns, typically built with two gun decks. Years of experience proved that the third rate ships embodied the best compromise between sailing ability, firepower, and cost. So, while first-rates and second-rates were both larger and more powerful, third-rate ships were the optimal configuration.
In the rating system of the British Royal Navy used to categorise sailing warships, a first rate was the designation for the largest ships of the line. Originating in the Jacobean era with the designation of Ships Royal capable of carrying at least 400 men, the size and establishment of first-rates evolved over the following 250 years to eventually denote ships of the line carrying at least 80 guns across three gundecks. By the end of the eighteenth century, a first-rate carried no fewer than 100 guns and more than 850 crew, and had a measurement (burthen) tonnage of some 2,000 tons.
In 1603 all English warships with a compliment of fewer than 160 men were known as 'small ships'. In 1625/26 to establish pay rates for officers a six tier naval ship rating system was introduced. These small ships were divided into three tiers, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth rates. Up to the end of the 17th century the number of guns and the compliment size was adjusted until the rating system was actually clarified. A 'Fourth Rate' was nominally a ship of over thirty guns with a complement of 140 men.
In the 18th century and most of the 19th, a sloop-of-war in the Royal Navy was a warship with a single gun deck that carried up to eighteen guns. The rating system covered all vessels with 20 guns and above; thus, the term sloop-of-war encompassed all the unrated combat vessels, including the very small gun-brigs and cutters. In technical terms, even the more specialised bomb vessels and fireships were classed as sloops-of-war, and in practice these were employed in the sloop role when not carrying out their specialised functions.
In the rating system of the Royal Navy used to categorise sailing warships, a second-rate was a ship of the line which by the start of the 18th century mounted 90 to 98 guns on three gun decks; earlier 17th-century second rates had fewer guns and were originally two-deckers or had only partially armed third gun decks. A "second rate" was the second largest class of warships in a hierarchical system of six "ratings" based on size and firepower.
In the rating system of the Royal Navy used to categorise sailing warships, a sixth-rate was the designation for small warships mounting between 20 and 28 carriage-mounted guns on a single deck, sometimes with smaller guns on the upper works and sometimes without. It thus encompassed ships with up to 30 guns in all. In the first half of the 18th century the main battery guns were 6-pounders, but by mid-century these were supplanted by 9-pounders. 28-gun sixth rates were classed as frigates, those smaller as 'post ships', indicating that they were still commanded by a full ('post') captain, as opposed to sloops of 18 guns and less under commanders.
The rating system of the Royal Navy and its predecessors was used by the Royal Navy between the beginning of the 17th century and the middle of the 19th century to categorise sailing warships, initially classing them according to their assigned complement of men, and later according to the number of their carriage-mounted guns. The rating system of the Royal Navy formally came to an end in the late 19th century by declaration of the Admiralty. The main cause behind this declaration focused on new types of gun, the introduction of steam propulsion and the use of iron and steel armour which made rating ships by the number of guns obsolete.
HMS Cornwall was an 80-gun, third rate, ship of the line built for the Royal Navy in the 1690s. She served in the War of the Grand Alliance, and in her first year took part in the Battle of Barfleur and the action at La Hougue.
HMS Cornwall was a 74-gun third-rate Vengeur-class ship of the line built for the Royal Navy in the 1810s. She spent most of her service in reserve and was converted into a reformatory and a school ship in her later years. The ship was broken up in 1875.
HMS Falmouth was a 50-gun fourth-rate ship of the line built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 18th century. The ship participated in several battles during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–15) and the War of Jenkins' Ear (1739–48).
The 1745 Establishment was the third and final formal establishment of dimensions for ships to be built for the Royal Navy. It completely superseded the previous 1719 Establishment, which had subsequently been modified in 1733 and again in 1741. Although partially intended to correct the problems of the ships built to the earlier Establishments, the ships of the 1745 Establishment proved just as unsatisfactory, and important changes in the make-up of the Admiralty and Navy Boards finally led to the end of the establishment era by around 1751.
The Adventure-class ship was a class of eight 44-gun sailing two-decker warships of the Royal Navy, classed as a fifth rate like a frigate, but carrying two complete decks of guns, a lower battery of 18-pounders and an upper battery of 12-pounders. This enabled the vessel to deliver a broadside of 318 pounds.
Post ship was a designation used in the Royal Navy during the second half of the 18th century and the Napoleonic Wars to describe a ship of the sixth rate that was smaller than a frigate, but by virtue of being a rated ship, had to have as its captain a post captain rather than a lieutenant or commander. Thus ships with 20 to 26 guns were post ships, though this situation changed after 1817.
The 18-pounder long gun was an intermediary calibre piece of naval artillery mounted on warships of the Age of Sail. They were used as main guns on the most typical frigates of the early 19th century, on the second deck of third-rate ships of the line, and even on the third deck of late first-rate ships of the line.
A gunport is an opening in the side of the hull of a ship, above the waterline, which allows the muzzle of artillery pieces mounted on the gun deck to fire outside. The origin of this technology is not precisely known, but can be traced back to the late 15th century, with the appearance of artillery in naval warfare. Ships featuring gunports were said to be pierced, since the ports were cut through the hull after the construction.
Rostislav was an 84-gun third-rate ship of the line built for the Black Sea Fleet of the Imperial Russian Navy in the 1840s as part of a naval expansion program to strengthen the fleet during a period of increased tension with Britain and France. Rostislav carried a battery primarily consisting of traditional shot-firing guns, but she also carried eight new shell-firing guns. The ship saw combat during the Crimean War at the Battle of Sinop in 1853, where the Russian shell guns proved to be decisive. She repaired in Sevastopol in 1854 and was scuttled during the Siege of Sevastopol in 1855.
Chesma was an 84-gun ship of the line built for the Black Sea Fleet of the Imperial Russian Navy in the 1840s. Rostislav carried a battery primarily consisting of tradition shot-firing guns, but she also carried four new shell-firing guns. The ship saw combat during the Crimean War at the Battle of Sinop against an Ottoman squadron in 1853, where the Russian shell guns proved to be decisive. The battle prompted Britain and France to intervene to support the Ottomans, leading the Russian fleet to withdraw to Sevastopol to avoid a battle with an Anglo-French fleet. Chesma helped to defend Sevastopol, supporting Russian ground forces during a battle in February 1855 before being disarmed to strengthen the city's defenses and then scuttled to block the harbor entrance to the Anglo-French fleet in August.
Khrabryi was the lead ship of the Khrabryi class of ships of the line built for the Black Sea Fleet of the Imperial Russian Navy in the 1840s. She saw limited service during the Crimean War in 1853–1854; storm damage prevented her from participating in the Battle of Sinop, and the Russian fleet thereafter avoided battle with the British and French fleets that intervened on behalf of the Ottoman Empire. Disarmed during the Siege of Sevastopol, she was later scuttled there to block the harbor entrance in 1855.
HMS Cato was a 50-gun Grampus-class fourth rate ship of the Royal Navy. One of a class of ships constructed for service in the American Revolutionary War, Cato was commissioned in 1782. She became the flagship of Sir Hyde Parker, and sailed with him to the East Indies Station later in the year. After stopping at Rio De Janeiro on 12 December, the ship sailed for the Cape of Good Hope and was never seen again. Theories on her disappearance include her being shipwrecked in locations such as the Malabar Coast and the Maldives, and the crew being murdered by natives. Sir John Knox Laughton argues that it is more likely that Cato caught fire and blew up at sea.
Aigle-class frigates were 36-gun sailing frigates of the fifth rate designed by Surveyor of the Navy, Sir John Henslow for the Royal Navy. Only two were built: HMS Aigle and HMS Resistance. Aigle was ordered first on 15 September 1798 but a 16-month delay during her construction meant that Resistance was completed and launched first on 29 April 1801.