Second-rate

From Academic Kids

This is one of six ratings (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th) in the rating system of the Royal Navy.

In the British Royal Navy, a second-rate was a ship of the line mounting 90 to 98 guns, typically built with three gun decks.

The second-rate three-decker was an essentially British type of ship, it was not built by other European navies to any great degree. It was unhandy even for a three-decker, and it terms of sheer firepower it was matched or more than matched by the 80-gun two-decker the French and Spanish navies used in its stead. The additional deck gave the second-rate an advantage in close combat however, and it also had the further tactical advantage of sometimes being mistaken by the enemy for a first-rate which could make enemy commanders reluctant to attack where they otherwise should have.

Second-rate vessels displaced about 2000 tons, carrying a crew of 750. Being smaller than first-rate vessels, lighter guns were carried on their middle and upper decks.

Powerful and able to fight in the centre of a line of battle, second-rates were sometimes criticised for being slow and hard to manoeuvre. Where a first-rate vessel was considered too expensive or vulnerable to risk, a second-rate often served as a flagship.




The term second-rate has passed into general usage as an adjective used to mean suboptimal quality, or being an unacceptable replacement of something that is first-rate.

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