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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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The Guardian

The Guardian
Fri, 27 Feb 2015 05:44:48 -0800

A Westminster proposal to give Wales more control of energy policy – including over fracking and onshore windfarms – and clearing the way for 16-year-olds to vote has been dismissed as “third-rate” and “disappointing” in comparison to Scottish devolution.

yourMortgage.com.au (blog)

The Australian
Mon, 09 Feb 2015 16:31:58 -0800

But the group brought forward its previously forecast August rate cut to May, with a 30 per cent chance of a third rate cut in the pipeline. "Fundamentally, we still see the need for another cut to counter lower commodity prices and other domestic ...

shropshirestar.com (blog)

shropshirestar.com (blog)
Fri, 13 Feb 2015 04:00:00 -0800

Dream on. What we have actually seen is an enormously expensive third-rate pantomime which makes a mockery of democracy. In the Palace of Westminster we see the fate of good, well-considered legislation being selected by something like a WI tombola.
 
Christian Science Monitor
Mon, 02 Mar 2015 05:52:30 -0800

Tadpole, who once thought his future lay in a mid-ranking post in a third-rate Army division, has become a mid-list writer. He's moved to Beijing and back, married more than once. His daughter is barely discussed; her absence casts into relief how much ...
 
Washington Post
Sun, 01 Mar 2015 13:26:34 -0800

Watergate was a third-rate burglary, called forth by a paranoid president and executed by clowns. Here Grady confronts us with post-Patriot Act patriots who are blessed with a miraculous ability to transform illegality — torture, warrantless ...
 
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Mon, 02 Mar 2015 13:22:30 -0800

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PoliticusUSA
Sun, 01 Mar 2015 18:10:43 -0800

Rudy Gonzales: It will take a grass-roots, boots-on-the-ground all out assault on the Gerrymandered states to oust ... Paul I. Jacobs: Perhaps we could find a third-rate airport, preferably in the South, to re-name after the former may... Clinton ...

blogTO (blog)

blogTO (blog)
Sun, 01 Mar 2015 21:24:37 -0800

*tired of third-rate crap... GTA Tripping: Exotic Meat Roundup hi!,I like your writing so so much! share we keep up a correspondence extra about your post on AOL? I require an expert on this space to unravel my problem. Maybe... The Best Poutine in ...
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