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111 votes
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Why did the British scuttle the u-boats surrendered after WWII?

SHORT ANSWER The short answer is that this was considered by the British to be the simplest and most economical way of disposing of the German U-boat fleet. The decision to sink the U-boats rather ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
72 votes
Accepted

Were ancient ships named?

Xenophon in his Hellenica (an account of the last yearsof the Peloponessian War and its aftermath) mentions several named ships, for example, "Paralus" and "Salaminia". Thus, we can infer that at ...
Danila Smirnov's user avatar
60 votes

How did passengers keep warm on sail ships?

Long ago, in 16 century they used open fire in fair weather (with all possible precautions) on the deck to cook (ref. Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea). When the sea was rough, only cold food could ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 38.8k
59 votes

Were ancient ships named?

The autobiography of Ahmose, son of Abana, a Egyptian soldier in the early Eighteenth Dynasty (1550-1600 BC), mentions the names of a few the ships he was on. "Wild Bull", "Northern" and "Rising in ...
pboss3010's user avatar
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51 votes
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When did humans develop the ability to sail any direction regardless of wind direction?

From lateen sail history we note that the first known type of fore-and-aft rig capable of working upwind is the spritsail: The earliest fore-and-aft rig was the spritsail, appearing in the 2nd ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
50 votes
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Why could Phoenicians sail past Cape Bojador but later Europeans could not until 1434?

Everyone could sail past Cape Bojador. The actual problem is getting back home. Whether Hanno really went as much south as maximalist interpretations allege is really irrelevant to some extent, as the ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
47 votes

What ship is this and which military campaign?

Postcards produced on Kodak Professional AZO paper had 'AZO stamp boxes' on the reverse. The style of these boxes varied over time. In this case, we have four triangles in the corners of the stamp ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
44 votes

Were ancient ships named?

The idea of naming ships goes back several thousand years but, unsurprisingly, there is very little evidence from the earliest days of sailing. EGYPT Possibly the earliest evidence of an individual ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
43 votes
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What were the logistics of whaling in the 1800s?

In the Heart of the Sea is primarily based on a famous historical ship, which also was part of the inspiration for Herman Melville's Moby Dick. That ship was named Essex. Launched at Nantucket in 1799,...
Brian Z's user avatar
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41 votes
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When did Britain learn about the American Declaration of Independence?

The news reached London on the 10th of August. It was, of course, known by British officials in the colonies much earlier, but It is astonishing how casually the Declaration was first reported to ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
39 votes
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How long was a sea journey from England to East Africa 1868-1877?

We can find record of Thomas Wakefield's 1870 trip in the 1904 publication Thomas Wakefield : missionary and geographical pioneer in East Equatorial Africa at archive.org. The ships and trips start is ...
justCal's user avatar
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35 votes
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Did galley captains put corks in the mouths of slave rowers to keep them quiet?

Yes, this does seem to have happened on some galleys but evidence for the widespread use of this practice is lacking. Concerning conditions in general on galleys (rations, clothing, treatment etc.), ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
33 votes
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Did viking longboats in fact have shields on the side of the ships?

Yes, archaeological evidence strongly suggest that at least some warships did but, considering the vast numbers of ships that were built during the Viking age - and in many different locations - we ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
30 votes
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Did the Americans trade destroyers in the "destroyer deal" that they would later need themselves?

No. It is true the US Coastal Command found itself with a lack of ASW assets in Dec 1941. According to uboat.net the Eastern Sea Frontier had... 4 Yard Patrol Boats 4 Subchasers 1 Coast Guard Cutter ...
Schwern's user avatar
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26 votes

How did the helmsman know what he was sailing towards with a big mast in his face?

The person at the wheel or tiller did not decide how to steer the ship. The person holding the steering device was usually of low rank and would steer the way the officer in charge at the moment told ...
MAGolding's user avatar
  • 19.3k
26 votes

When did Britain learn about the American Declaration of Independence?

Not repeating info in the other answer(s), but it should be realized that by the time the Declaration of Independence was written, the Battles of Lexington and Concord were already more than a year ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
26 votes
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If a merchant ship captain joined the Royal Navy during the age of sail, would they be put in command?

As has been remarked in the comments, the main impediment to a merchant captain gaining command of a Royal Navy vessel (and I'm assuming we're talking the English/British Royal Navy) is that he would ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
  • 19.8k
22 votes

Why did the British scuttle the u-boats surrendered after WWII?

An anecdotal addition to the excellent points in the existing answer: At the end of WWII, my mother was discharged from the ATS before my father was discharged from the army, so she got a job as ...
Patricia Shanahan's user avatar
21 votes
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Why did the Germans build battle cruisers with a different profile than the British?

Renown was a true battlecruiser in the Jackie Fisher sense. It was built during World War 1, and intended to fight other similarly armed battleships and battlecruisers of the German High Seas Fleet. ...
Jon Custer's user avatar
  • 2,645
20 votes

Are there any documented examples of wooden ships which were in active service for 100 years or more? If not, what is the longest?

HMS Victory was laid down in 1759, launched in 1765, converted to a troopship in about 1811, decommissioned militarily in 1824 into a harbour ship, and converted into a floating museum in 1924. Her ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
20 votes

How much did a ship cost in Ancient Greece?

Two talents may confidently be assumed, [...] as a moderate estimate of the cost of both hull and rigging of a trireme. (p. 364) Source: Frank Egleston Robbins, The Cost to Athens of Her Second ...
Felix Goldberg's user avatar
19 votes

How did passengers keep warm on sail ships?

There were several ways to stay warm. Not that any of them were exactly great. First winter travel was rare. Next is the fact that passengers (not crew) would not really go above deck much. They ...
coteyr's user avatar
  • 774
18 votes

Did the treasure ship Cortes first sent from Mexico ever arrive in Spain?

Did it, after all, arrive in Spain and deliver its treasure to King Charles? Yes, but... It wasn't exactly a treasure ship. Not like the treasure ships that would come later. It was more of a down-...
Schwern's user avatar
  • 55.1k
18 votes
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Why was the ship "Palmyra" so named?

It's hard to say for sure, but I strongly suspect it was named for the historic Palmyra in Syria. Most of the American settlements were only established (or renamed) after 1802 - skimming the WP ...
Andrew is gone's user avatar
17 votes

Why could Phoenicians sail past Cape Bojador but later Europeans could not until 1434?

Cape Bojador remained quite dangerous well into modern times: This is also believed to be the site where Captain James Riley and the crew of the U.S. brig Commerce, sailing at the time from Gibraltar ...
16 votes
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Are there any documented examples of wooden ships which were in active service for 100 years or more? If not, what is the longest?

Addressing the broader question of how long wooden ships could stay in active service is a tricky one because of the nature of the beast. Until the nineteenth century, all ships were built with bio-...
Steve Bird's user avatar
  • 19.8k
15 votes

Was mortality higher on French slave ships and if so, why?

French slave trading practices were more abusive than comparable American practices for several reasons. The French sent out more and larger ships than the Anglo Americans. Conditions were much worse ...
Tom Au's user avatar
  • 104k
15 votes
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Couldn't Japan have solved the problem of drifting at sea?

I believe this is somewhat overstating the risks and well as the severity of the disasters. A sengokubune (千石船) refers to a ship that can carry 1000 koku of rice (sen = 1000). The actual ship design ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
15 votes

How many people worked to build one Liberty ship?

Looking at one specific ship yard, the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company: Nine shipways were constructed, producing 126 Liberty's and 117 larger ships between Dec. 6, 1941 and the end of the war. ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
15 votes

How did passengers keep warm on sail ships?

Trans-Atlantic passenger travel was not very popular until the advent of the steamer, and yet men and women crossed the ocean periodically, including the affluent. Trans-Atlantic passenger travel ...
Jos's user avatar
  • 21.9k

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