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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.

Rating[edit]

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.

Bibliography[edit]


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

 
Telegraph.co.uk
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 ...

Spectator.co.uk

Spectator.co.uk
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 ...
 
The Oregonian - OregonLive.com
Wed, 01 Oct 2014 05:45:00 -0700

Like third-rate Tom Petty," Newman said by phone from his home in Woodstock, New York, enjoying some family time between promotional duties for the new record and preparing for the Pornographers' fall tour, which stops at Portland's Crystal Ballroom on ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Wed, 01 Oct 2014 08:22:30 -0700

And when that failed efforts were made to have me removed with trumped-up ethics charges, involving a nighttime third-rate burglary of my computer and other violations of my constitutional rights. My most important contribution to the cause? My ...

Dallas Observer (blog)

Dallas Observer (blog)
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:54:06 -0700

I have a column that hasn't quite been published yet that I would like to withdraw in advance. Well, not withdraw. More like re-draw. I don't think it's possible to correct something you haven't said yet, is it? So let's think of this more in the vein ...

Comicbook.com

Comic Book Resources
Wed, 01 Oct 2014 09:52:30 -0700

But when you strip away the poetic/symmetric visuals and get to the heart of his ultimate goal, Sergei Kravinoff — a third-rate supervillain, a guy who dresses like a lion and throws monkeys at New York's more colorful superheroes — is exceptionally ...
 
NASDAQ
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:18:45 -0700

It is typically the third rate rise that causes the market to change path (remember the "three steps and a stumble" rule). So my advice is to stay long equities but hedge that exposure and increase weightings to tactical ETF strategies. I believe Japan ...

The New Indian Express

The New Indian Express
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 17:22:30 -0700

“If we go in for reservation on communal and caste basis, we swamp the bright and able people and remain second-rate or third rate. I am grieved to learn of how far this business of reservation has gone based on communal considerations…''.
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