1806 - State of British navy


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Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
William James
1806 British and French Fleets 183

IN the abstract which we have now to introduce,* is to be found the greatest number of British ships of war that ever was, or that perhaps ever will be ordered to be built within a single year. Considering what gigantic efforts, until the close of the year 1805, had been making by Buonaparte for the invasion of Great Britain, no surprise need be created, that efforts, corresponding in magnitude, should be made by the latter to frustrate the attempt. The extraordinary increase of 21 ships in the commissioned line-of-battle column, while the total of the sea-service ships of the same rank exhibits an increase of only four, proves that effectual means had been taken for a present, as well as for a future, augmentation of force.

A reference to No. 13 abstract shows that, at the commencement of the year 1805, there were 33 ships of the line in ordinary, either repairing or to be repaired for sea-service. The greater part of these ships were in want of what is termed a thorough repair ; that is, a repair that would have cost nearly as much money, and have occupied nearly as much time, as a rebuild. To obviate this, a measure was resorted to, which, since the year 1797, had been recommended to the admiralty by Mr. Gabriel Snodgrass, surveyor to the East India company. It was that of strengthening some ships by diagonal braces, doubling or sheathing others with plank, and, where the ships were in a still worse state, both bracing and doubling them. By this method 22 sail of the line, five 18-pounder frigates, and seven of a smaller class, were brought forward into active service. Every one of these ships, except the Ganges, was at sea in the year 1805 ; several of the line-of-battle ships took an active part in the different engagements which occurred in that eventful year ;

*  See Appendix, Annual Abstract No. 14.

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