The role of the 20-gun Sixth Rate in the Royal Navy during the early part of the eighteenth century is somewhat overshadowed by the great fleet actions of the period. However, although the names of these small vessels do not often come to the notice of history, their presence was essential to the integrity of the fleet and the wellbeing of merchant shipping.
These ships carried out the rather mundane tasks of convoy escort to merchant ships, of dispatch vessels, fleet scouts and fire-support for amphibious assaults. The general layout of the Blandford type, with a row of oarports below the gundeck, can be traced back to the early seventeenth century. The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich holds a drawing of a vessel of 96 feet on the keel, 32 feet breadth and 12 feet draught (368 tons) that has been dated to about 1625. Evidence suggests that no ship was built to this plan, but the galley-frigate arrangement with a separate rowing deck is evident.
Author: Peter Goodwin
Title: The 20-Gun Ship Blandford
Series: Anatomy of the Ship
First Published by: Conway Maritime Press
Date: 21 Jan 1988