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Exploration ship classes

Most of the XVIII-XIXth century exploration ships are modified cargo ships : stable barges, barks, barques longues, fluyts… Indeed, for long distances, cargo space is needed for storage of supply, medicine, scientific equipment, collected items… Besides, few were designed and built for exploration from the start (HMS Discovery).

Stable barges with their strong structure, such as le Gros Ventre (1766), will provide significant resistance to the unleashed elements of the wildest oceans while small barques longues with shallow draught such as La Belle (1680) will sail in shallows and explore up rivers and lakes and along rocky coasts. Both are manoeuvrable and small enough to enter an estuary.

Exploration ships are often lightly armed, whether they’re escorted or not. Ten to sixteen guns are enough to protect oneself against unpleasant lightly armed encounters and to fire during official ceremonies. Moreover, explorers avoid high traffic maritime routes… However, the modern french Corvette La Favorite (1829) with her 24 guns rivals 20+ gun-war corvettes build for naval combat. Here are some ship in the list below:

Le Gros Ventre, French stable barge (1766)

HMS Bounty, British merchant vessel (1784)

Descubierta & Atrevida, Spanish corvettes (1789)

La Belle, French barque longue (1680)

HMS Endeavour, British bark (1764)

La Favorite, French corvette (1829)

L’Astrolabe, French corvette (1811/25)

La Recherche, French stable barge (1787)

HMS Discovery, British survey ship (1789)

HMS Beagle, British brig (1820)

Vostok, Russian Sloop-of War (1818)

Mirny, Russian Sloop-of-War (1819)

HMS Carcass, British refitted bomb vessel (1759)

– La Boudeuse, French frigate (1766)

(By LeBoiteux )

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