By Dean King
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Extra resources for A Sea of Words, Third Edition: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian
The rank below Captain was Commander. The institution of this rank in 1794 caused some confusion, since up to that point, any commanding officer was properly the commander of his vessel, regardless of his rank, and was called captain. From 1794 onward, those promoted to Captain came only from among those who held the rank of Commander. Officers holding the rank of Commander commanded sloops of war, vessels smaller than rated ships but larger than the cutters and gunboats commanded by Lieutenants.
At home, the largest concentration of these dockyards was in southern England, at Deptford, Woolwich, Chatham, Portsmouth, and Plymouth, but there were also a number strategically located around the world, the largest being at Malta in the Mediterranean, Halifax in the North Atlantic, Jamaica and Antigua in the Caribbean, and at the East India Company outposts at Bombay in the Indian Ocean. In 1814, they employed a total of 17,374 civilian yard officers and laborers. During the two wars, they built 119 ships (supplementing those built by commercial dockyards) and repaired and outfitted many more.
In 1807, they carried a total complement of about 837 naval officers and men, plus 170 Royal Marines (a special corps of soldiers who served on naval vessels and were called the Royal Marines from 1802). S. Caledonia, launched in 1808. S. Victory, was among the biggest ships when it was launched in 1765. In addition to being fighting ships, these large ships had additional naval roles, often carrying an Admiral and his staff either at sea or in port and serving as symbols of naval power and diplomatic prestige.
A Sea of Words, Third Edition: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian by Dean King