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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.

A painting of HMS Melville (1817) a British third-rate

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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Irish Independent
Sat, 07 Mar 2015 03:56:23 -0800

SINN Fein will introduce a third rate of tax on income above €100,000 and a wealth tax if voted into Government. Ads by Google. Share. Facebook · Twitter · Google · Email. Go To. Comments. Speaking at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Derry, the party's ...

The Australian

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Sun, 08 Mar 2015 17:56:15 -0700

ANZ's chief economist has flagged the potential for a third rate cut in 2015, while unveiling a ninth consecutive month of rising job advertisements. According to the ANZ survey, job advertisements rose 0.9 per cent in February, have trended higher for ...

The Guardian

Morning Star Online
Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:00:00 -0800

But Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood immediately hit back describing the plans as “third-rate” devolution. The new package of powers for the Welsh Assembly which has been negotiated between politicians in London and Cardiff includes funding reforms ...

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Sun, 29 Mar 2015 08:00:00 -0700

In short, where once we had to drive hours to meet our brethren in third-rate expo centers once a year, cons are now everywhere. And they're very big business. In order to fuel a machine that big, you need a lot of people working. That's where the ...

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Sun, 29 Mar 2015 12:30:00 -0700

Yet to confound comprehension even further, this wasn't some third rate airline from a third world country. Germanwings is owned by Lufthansa, the largest airline in Europe from the most powerful, well-resourced and technologically advanced country in ...
 
Eagle Radio
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 05:00:39 -0700

He told Sky News' Murnaghan programme he feels "very angry" about the "shoddy, third-rate sting". "The good news is there's a parliamentary inquiry," he said. "They will look at the actual transcript of what was said. I'm cooperating very closely with ...

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Sun, 29 Mar 2015 04:26:15 -0700

But I had a vision of turning Tower Semiconductor from a second- or third-rate manufacturing subcontractor arguing over pricing in order to get deals into a value-generating specialty company. In order to do this successfully, the first thing I had to ...
 
Washington Post
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:10:19 -0700

His next-door neighbor, Augie Poole, wants the magazine to buy his cartoons, but Augie can't draw very well — he's “a third-rate artist in whom a first-rate gagman was trying to claw his way out.” To make matters more uncomfortable, the Pooles want to ...
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