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'Strictures upon Naval Departments... by a Sailor'

Date: 1785
Overall: 206 x 125 x 10 mm, 0.1 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00028969
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This book 'Strictures upon Naval Departments' was written by an unknown sailor in 1785. The publication makes recommendations to abolish the coppering of ships' bottoms, and to discontinue the caulking of the king's ships "with rotten, water-soaked oakum". The author argues that while external appearances were being taken care of, British Royal Navy Ships were rotting from within.

    The author also suggests the establishment of a register of seamen, for quick recruitment in war time, and for the appropriation of the Royal Academy in Portsmouth Dock-Yard.
    SignificanceThis book highlights the attempts of the British Royal Navy in the 18th century in protecting ship's hulls from fouling in the 18th century. For over 2,000 years shipbuilders have tried a variety of methods to protect ship's hulls from attack and fouling by marine organisms. Up until the 18th century the most common sheathing materials for wooden vessels were either lead, wood or 'graving' the painting or application of a toxic or protective coating to the hull of the ship.
    HistoryIn 1708, a Charles Parry approached the British Royal Navy with a method of sheathing a vessel in copper. In 1761 the 32 gun frigate ALARM was sheathed with copper and despatched to the West Indies for two years, upon its return the hull was examined and a report prepared on the advantages and disadvantages of coppering.

    The report states that the copper prevented fouling of the hull and toredo worm damage to the wooden plankings, however it accelerated the corrosion of the iron bolts and other iron fittings. The trials continued with attempts to solve the problem by replacing iron fastenings and fittings with copper alloys.

    The real impetus to introduce copper sheathing came with the series of wars with France, Spain and the colonies in America in the 1770s. British ships were coppered to allow them to stay longer at sea before returning to dock for careening. Unfortunately the decision to copper the fleet was made prior to an effective solution to the corrosion of iron fastenings and fittings had been found.

    In September 1782, the 97 gun first-rate RAMILLIES and the second-rate CENTEUR foundered off Newfoundland as a result of the copper sheathing having corroded the iron bolts to such an extent that the planks came loose and the seams opened up.

    This booklet was published three years after the loss of those two vessels, during the period of debate between the Admiralty and the Navy Board in regards to the coppering of ships. Although its author remains unknown, it is the work of a literate British Navy seaman or shipwright concerned over the loss of the two vessels.

    Other topics mentioned include the use of rotten caulking, the impressment of seaman and the formation of a Register of British Seamen.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Strictures upon Naval Departments... by a Sailor

    Web title: 'Strictures upon Naval Departments... by a Sailor'

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