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Title: Three-decker  
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Subject: HMS Royal Albert (1854), Order of battle at the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Vanguard, French ship Valmy, Third-rate
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Three-decker Britannia in Portsmouth Harbour, 1835
Batteries of the 118-gun Océan

A three-decker is a sail warship which carried her guns on three fully armed decks. Usually additional guns were carried on the upper works (forecastle and quarterdeck), but this was not a continuous battery and so did not count. Three-deckers were usually "ships of the line", i.e. of sufficient strength to participate in the line of battle, and in the rating system of the Royal Navy were generally classed as first or second rate, although from the mid-1690s until the 1750s the larger third rates were also three-deckers.

Respect of a patriotic community

Three-deckers held special respect among the local community and the troops who farewelled these ships when they left the harbour. Such patriotism was expressed when HMS Britannia left Portsmouth bound for active service in the Mediterranean, in October 1840:


  1. ^ The Times, London, article CS33976147, dated 19 Oct 1840, retrieved 30 Apr 2004.

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