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The Gun Deck

 

The gun deck carried the heaviest guns on the ship, the 32 pounders.  These guns could penetrate 2 1/2 feet of oak at 1000 yards.  In most cases the guns were not aimed at the hull but rather aimed at the rigging and masts or where maximum damage could be caused to the rigging and crew.  The objective was to disable the ship, not to sink it, so it could then become a ship of the capturing navy after repairs were made.

The gun deck was the only deck on the ship that had no bulkheads or other obstructions that prevented use of the guns.  All other decks had cabins that had to be emptied and sent down to the hold before all guns could be used in battle.  This is the source of the term "Clear the decks"

The gun crews lived next to their guns. Tables were placed between the guns to be used for meals and time not working.  They slept in hammocks which were suspended from the deck beams.  Each man had a space 18 inches wide for his hammock.

There were four chain pumps on the ship and two elm tree pumps.  They were used to remove water from the bilges that had seeped in through the hull, came down from above or that which may have come in due to damage suffered in battle. The two aft chain pumps can be seen here.  The forward pair of pumps is in shadow next to the bulkhead under the deck beam.  There was a pair of cranks which extended fore and aft of the pumps were used to power the port and starboard sets of pumps.  The cranks aft of the pumps are seen in this picture.  The handle of the gun deck elm tree pump is visible between the chain pumps.  The second elm tree pump is on the upper deck.

Simulated oil lanterns are installed throughout each deck so the interior might be viewed.  The wires to supply power to these lights is seen on the bottom of the picture.  Prior to installing the deck above, these wires are recessed into the deck beams and carlings to hide them.

The guns had a heavy breaching line which went through a loop at the back of the gun and was fastened to the side of the hull.  This line took the recoil when the gun was fired.  Each gun had rigging used to pull it out into firing position.

The anchor cables can be seen on the right of the picture going down through the grating into the cable tier where they were stored.  The light coloured rope was the messenger rope used to pull the anchor cable in.

The anchor cable and messenger rope and seen here again.  The heavy bitts in the center of this picture were used to make fast the anchor cable.

Shot racks like those in the lower left were used to store shot near the guns.  Powder for the guns was stored in a magazine below the gun deck and, to avoid the risk of fire, was only brought up as required .  Tools used to load the guns are seen on brackets on the deck beam to the right.

 

This picture shows the main capstan which was used to move the messenger rope.  It was connected to another capstan immediately above it on the middle deck.  14 stout poles would be inserted into holes around the top of the capstan and ten men on each pole.  280 men could then be employed to turned the capstan.

The beams and carlings supporting the middle deck are shown to the left.   The sheaves in the X shaped beams were used to guide the tiller rope as it came down from the wheel and then over to the side of the ship, along the tiller sweep which also supported the tiller, and made fast to the rear of the tiller.  The wheel on the model moves the rudder as it did on the actual ship.

The end of the chain pump cranks are seen on the right.  The ladder is one of the means to get between the middle and gun decks.

 

 

                           The Model                                                                                                The Ship

 

This image of the gun deck on the left was taken through the rear gun port in the completed model using a bore scope.  The image on the right is the gun deck seen from near the Mizzen mast on the actual ship.   Note the tools, for cleaning and loading the guns, hanging on brackets in the overhead deck beams.  You can also see the main capstan to the left of the image and the messenger rope running forward.