Forecastle

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Replica of the Victoria, the only one of Magellan's five ships to return to Spain in 1522, showing both a forecastle (left) and quarterdeck (right). Nao Victoria.jpg
Replica of the Victoria, the only one of Magellan's five ships to return to Spain in 1522, showing both a forecastle (left) and quarterdeck (right).

The forecastle ( /ˈfksəl/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) FOHK-səl; contracted as fo'c'sle or fo'c's'le) [1] [2] is the upper deck of a sailing ship forward of the foremast, or, historically, the forward part of a ship with the sailors' living quarters. Related to the latter meaning is the phrase "before the mast" which denotes anything related to ordinary sailors, as opposed to a ship's officers.

Contents

History and design

The forecastle of RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 QE2 bow.jpg
The forecastle of RMS Queen Elizabeth 2

In medieval shipbuilding, a ship of war was usually equipped with a tall, multi-deck castle-like structure in the bow of the ship. It served as a platform for archers to shoot down on enemy ships, or as a defensive stronghold if the ship were boarded. A similar but usually much larger structure, called the aftcastle, was at the aft end of the ship, often stretching all the way from the main mast to the stern.

Having such tall upper works on the ship was detrimental to sailing performance. As cannons were introduced and gunfire replaced boarding as the primary means of naval combat during the 16th century, the medieval forecastle was no longer needed, and later ships such as the galleon had only a low, one-deck high forecastle. Sailors stationed on the forecastle, or "forecastle men", were responsible for handling the headsails and the anchors. In the Royal Navy of the 17th and 18th centuries, these roles were reserved for older seamen who lacked the agility to go aloft or take other more strenuous duties aboard. [3]

Foredeck of Severn-class lifeboat No. 17-31 at quay in Poole Harbour, Dorset, England. Lifeboat.bows.17-31.arp.jpg
Foredeck of Severn-class lifeboat No. 17–31 at quay in Poole Harbour, Dorset, England.

By the end of the 19th century, a raised forecastle had become a typical feature on warships again, in an attempt to keep forward gun positions from getting unacceptably wet on heavy seas. In addition the forecastle may provide additional crew's quarters as in the past, and may contain essential machinery such as the anchor windlass. A disadvantage of such a design is the structural weakness at the forecastle 'break' (the rear end of the forecastle with the main deck behind and below) relative to a flush deck structure.

Some sailing ships and many modern non-sail ships have no forecastle as such at all but the name is still used to indicate the foremost part of the upper deck – although often called the foredeck – and for any crew's quarters in the bow of the ship, even if below the main deck.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Ship of the line Warship of 17th–19th centuries

A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed during the Age of Sail from the 17th century to the mid-19th century. The ship of the line was designed for the naval tactic known as the line of battle, which depended on the two columns of opposing warships maneuvering to volley fire with the cannons along their broadsides. In conflicts where opposing ships were both able to fire from their broadsides, the opponent with more cannons firing – and therefore more firepower – typically had an advantage. Since these engagements were almost invariably won by the heaviest ships carrying more of the most powerful guns, the natural progression was to build sailing vessels that were the largest and most powerful of their time.

Galleon Large and multi-decked sailing ships

Galleons were large, multi-decked sailing ships first used as armed cargo carriers by European states from the 16th to 18th centuries during the age of sail and were the principal vessels drafted for use as warships until the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the mid-1600s. Galleons generally carried three or more masts with a lateen fore-and-aft rig on the rear masts, were carvel built with a prominent squared off raised stern, and used square-rigged sail plans on their fore-mast and main-masts.

Sloop-of-war Type of warship

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.

Steam frigate Type of steam-powered warship

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Fifth-rate Historical category for Royal Navy vessels, based on number of guns

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Mast (sailing) Pole used in rigging of a sailing vessel

The mast of a sailing vessel is a tall spar, or arrangement of spars, erected more or less vertically on the centre-line of a ship or boat. Its purposes include carrying sails, spars, and derricks, and giving necessary height to a navigation light, look-out position, signal yard, control position, radio aerial or signal lamp. Large ships have several masts, with the size and configuration depending on the style of ship. Nearly all sailing masts are guyed.

Deck (ship) Part of a ship or boat

A deck is a permanent covering over a compartment or a hull of a ship. On a boat or ship, the primary or upper deck is the horizontal structure that forms the "roof" of the hull, strengthening it and serving as the primary working surface. Vessels often have more than one level both within the hull and in the superstructure above the primary deck, similar to the floors of a multi-storey building, that are also referred to as decks, as are certain compartments and decks built over specific areas of the superstructure. Decks for some purposes have specific names.

This is a glossary of nautical terms; some remain current, while many date from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Quarterdeck Raised deck behind the main mast of a sailing ship

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Galley Ship mainly propelled by oars

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The capture of USS Chesapeake, also known as the Battle of Boston Harbor, was fought on 1 June 1813, between the Royal Navy frigate HMS Shannon and the United States Navy frigate USS Chesapeake, as part of the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom. The Chesapeake was captured in a brief but intense action in which 71 men were killed. This was the only frigate action of the war in which there was no preponderance of force on either side.

<i>Lene Marie</i>

Lene Marie was a ketch-rigged tall ship, of 106 feet (32 m) overall and 200 tons displacement. She was built in Denmark in 1910 as a Baltic trader just before World War I. During the Second World War the Lene Marie sank in the Baltic Sea during a storm. She was raised by the Americans as part of their efforts to rebuild Denmark after the war.

<i>Preussen</i> (ship) German steel-hulled five-masted ship-rigged windjammer sunk in Crab Bay after a collision

Preussen (PROY-sin) was a German steel-hulled, five-masted, ship-rigged sailing ship built in 1902 for the F. Laeisz shipping company and named after the German state and kingdom of Prussia. It was the world's only ship of this class with five masts carrying six square sails on each mast.

Well deck

In traditional nautical use, well decks were decks lower than decks fore and aft, usually at the main deck level, so that breaks appear in the main deck profile, as opposed to a flush deck profile. The term goes back to the days of sail. Late-20th-century commercial and military amphibious ships have applied the term to an entirely different type of hangar-like structure, evolving from exaggerated deep "well decks" of World War II amphibious vessels, that can be flooded for lighters or landing craft.

The Prestonian-class ocean anti-submarine escort frigate was a class of 21 frigates that served with the Royal Canadian Navy from 1953–1967 and with the Royal Norwegian Navy from 1956–1977.

<i>Jadran</i> (training ship) Sailing ship for basic naval training

Jadran is a sailing ship for basic naval training built for the Yugoslav Royal Navy and currently in Montenegrin Navy service. A three-mast topsail schooner or barquentine with an auxiliary engine, Jadran was built in Hamburg, Germany between 1930 and 1933, and commissioned on 19 August 1933. Prior to World War II she completed seven long training cruises with trainees from the Yugoslav Naval Academy, including one to North America. As Yugoslavia was neutral at the outbreak of World War II, Jadran was able to conduct short cruises in the Adriatic Sea. In April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis powers, and Jadran was captured and renamed Marco Polo by the Italian Navy. She continued to be used as a training ship in the Adriatic, operating out of the Istrian port of Pola, and was featured in an Italian propaganda film.

<i>Comus</i>-class corvette

The Comus class was a class of Royal Navy steam corvettes, re-classified as third-class cruisers in 1888. All were built between 1878 and 1881. The class exemplifies the transitional nature of the late Victorian navy. In design, materials, armament, and propulsion the class members resemble their wooden sailing antecedents, but blended with characteristics of the all-metal mastless steam cruisers which followed.

Square-rigged caravel

The square-rigged caravel, was a sailing ship created by the Portuguese in the second half of the fifteenth century. A much larger version of the caravel, its use was most notorious beginning in the end of that century. The square-rigged caravel held a notable role in the Portuguese expansion during the age of discovery, especially in the first half of the sixteenth century, for its exceptional maneuverability and combat capabilities. This ship was also sometimes adopted by other European powers. The hull was galleon-shaped, and some experts consider this vessel a forerunner of the fighting galleon, by the name of caravela de armada.

This is a list of nautical terms starting with the letters M to Z.

References

Notes

  1. Oxford dictionary search, retrieved 2013-08-22, gives "fo'c'sle"
  2. Collins dictionary search, retrieved 2013-08-22, gives "fo'c's'le or fo'c'sle"
  3. Rodger, N. A. M. (1986). The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. p. 27. ISBN   0870219871.