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This article is about Royal Navy ships of the line. For the adjective meaning that something is of inferior quality, see wikt:third-rate.
A model of a third-rate ship of the line of the Order of Saint John from the late 18th century.

In the British Royal Navy, a third rate was a ship of the line which from the 1720s mounted between 64 and 80 guns, typically built with two gun decks (thus the related term two-decker). Years of experience proved that the third rate ships embodied the best compromise between sailing ability (speed, handling), firepower, and cost. So, while first rates and second rates were both larger and more powerful, the third-rate ships were in a real sense the optimal configuration.


When the rating system was first established in the 1620s, the third rate was defined as those ships having at least 200 but not more than 300 men; previous to this, the type had been classified as "middling ships". By the 1660s, the means of classification had shifted from the number of men to the number of carriage-mounted guns, and third rates at that time mounted between 48 and 60 guns. By the turn of the century, the criteria had grown and third rate carried more than 60 guns, with second rates having between 90 and 98 guns, while first rates had 100 guns or more, and fourth rates between 48 and 60 guns. By the latter half of the 18th century, they carried between 500 and 720 men.

This designation became especially common because it included the seventy-four gun ship, which eventually came to be the most popular size of large ship for navies of several different nations. It was an easier ship to handle than a first- or second-rate ship, but still possessed enough firepower to potentially destroy any single opponent other than a three-decker. It was also cheaper to operate.

Although this rating system was only used by the Royal Navy, British authors might still use "third rate" to speak of a French 74 (although the French Navy had its own system of five rates or rangs). By the end of the 18th century, ships of the line were usually characterized directly by their number of guns, the numbers even being used as the name of the type, as in "a squadron of three 74s". However, the rating system, although modified in 1817, continued until the end of the Age of Sail.


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-rate — Please support Wikipedia.
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546 news items

Tue, 09 Sep 2014 08:43:23 -0700

Britain will become a "third-rate nation", a mere tourist site and a "history museum" if Scotland votes for independence, according to the Chinese state-owned media. The Beijing News roundly mocked the idea of a divided Britain, saying that the country ...


Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:26:47 -0700

If this merciless, roiling cauldron of third-rate fantasy poppycock doesn't finish you off, then Mitchell's ordinary, mortal characters responding to the existence of this baroque spirit world are on hand to tip you over the edge: 'This is deranged ...


Tue, 16 Sep 2014 01:48:45 -0700

None of the assembled press looked thrilled at the prospect of having to sit around listening to any number of third-rate UKIP hacks all evening until Farage showed up. But with UKIP assuring us that Farage would be the most important intervention in ...
Sun, 14 Sep 2014 23:56:15 -0700

The Beijing News wrote last week that if Scotland became independent then Britain would be reduced to the level of a "third-rate country", especially if a couple of years down the line it left the European Union. "It will simply slip into being a ...
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Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:52:30 -0700

But German medical care is far better than the third-rate medicine that was found in the old communist German Democratic Republic. The Baltimore Sun reported in 1990, the year after the Berlin Wall fell, that the East German "medical system was ...
Mon, 15 Sep 2014 07:58:47 -0700

Richard Nixon's lying about “a third-rate burglary,” was another inescapable mess. The nation's discourse centered on these acts. The media kept pounding, public opinion coalesced, and eventually Congress listened. Nixon resigned without even an ...
Mon, 15 Sep 2014 04:02:50 -0700

After the third rate cut last month on Aug 31, petrol sells at Rs.68.51 a litre in Delhi, Rs.76.41 in Mumbai, Rs.76.14 in Kolkata and Rs.71.55 in Chennai. What is fuelling expectations of further rapid petrol rate cuts is that the country is on the ...
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Mon, 15 Sep 2014 05:00:00 -0700

The country should take advantage of international oil prices, that have fallen rapidly below the $100 per barrel-mark, to deregulate diesel prices, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan said Monday. "Lower crude oil prices are helping ...

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