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Portuguese Navy

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:01 pm
by Renville

I am currently looking for plans and any shipbuilding treatise on the Portuguese Navy in the period between 1760 and 1830. I've done some research on and off over the last year, but it appears that despite having a sizable Navy for its influence in the time period, there's truly little I've been able to glean concerning plans and written works. Aside from the Rainha de Portugal, and possibly one or two other ships, there's nothing else I can find for drafts. Especially of interest to me are the squadron that ferried the Royal Court to Brazil. I've gone so far as to reach out to the Naval Museum in Rio to see if any records were kept after the war of Independence, and am tempted to reach out to the one in Lisbon as well, but seeing as how I'm merely an amateur researcher and not one with any academics to fall back on, I'm not sure I'll be able to find what I desire. Any assistance would be welcome!

Re: Portuguese Navy

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:35 pm
by Navclio
The Portuguese navy maintained a high “operational tempo” for the time, with half of its dozen or so ships of the line in service even in peacetime. The Portuguese were especially active in patrolling outside the Strait of Gibraltar to keep North African raiders penned inside the Mediterranean and thus away from Portuguese ships coming in from Brazil and the East Indies. In peacetime, Portuguese ships of the line were sent on trading voyages to the East Indies. It’s quite possible that plans from before 1755 were destroyed in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of that year, which burned down the city. Swedish political scientist and naval historian Jan Glete, who studied the shipbuilding programs of all of the European powers extensively as an indicator of national strategy, was not able to find out as much about the Portuguese and Ottoman navies as he was about other European navies. (Jan Glete, Navies and Nations: Warships, Navies and State Building in Europe and America, 1500–1860, 2 vols., Stockholm [but in English], 1993).

The most complete published source for information about Portuguese warships is António Marques Esparteiro, Três séculos no mar (1640–1910). This massive work, possibly 30 volumes (per Glete’s bibliography, but I haven’t been able to confirm) published between 1974 and 1987, is organized in a very confusing manner, with parts divided into volumes, but also “numbers” in a “Colecção Estudos” series). For instance, Part II, “Naus e Navetas” [ships of the line], Volume 2, = No. 5. The work consists mostly of operational histories, some of them quite extensive. There are no detailed (or even superficial) plans, but dimensions are given for some ships. The fact that they are not given for all suggests that plans probably do not exist. Some articles on individual ships (I didn’t check all of the ones I have) include a bibliography, including documents in the Arquivo Geral de Marinha. The bibliography for Rainha de Portugal does not include plans explicitly, but perhaps Esparteiro was not interested in those.

Três séculos is not easy to find in a library; I don’t think it was widely acquired, and WorldCat (, the international union catalog of most European and North American national and research libraries, has only a scattering of holding listings, often just of individual volumes. You didn’t say where you are. The Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague has 17 volumes. The U.S. Library of Congress in Washington seems to have everything except vols. 1–2 of Part I (“Caravelas e galeões”). Glete, a university professor in Sweden, evidently travelled extensively to review plans, and might have accessed Três séculos in Lisbon. Glete wanted to use displacement tonnage as a common measure of the size of navies; he often reviewed ship plans, either to obtain designer estimates of that or to make his own. The fact that he thought he could make only very rough estimates of the total displacement of the Portuguese navy (as for the Ottoman navy) suggests that he was not successful in finding Portuguese plans.

If you absolutely must have original plans—because you want to build historically accurate models of the ships, e,g,—you might contact the Portuguese Navy Cultural Commission as well as the organizations you have already cited. I suspect that they will be delighted to help anyone with an interest in their naval history, even if you’re not a Ph.D. holding an endowed chair at a famous university. In 2001 they provided me with copies of some of the individual ship articles when I could not find them at the Library of Congress due to a cataloguing anomaly. I think I was probably referred to the Cultural Commission by the naval attache at the Portuguese Embassy in Washington. So I would encourage you to pursue possible sources in Portugal.

Re: Portuguese Navy

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:15 pm
by Renville
Thank you for the extensive reply and additional leads to follow up on, I too have sought leads on the Ottomans, but the last reply I got from the Naval Museum in Istanbul was that what I was seeking was under the jurisdiction of the Turkish Naval Forces. I don't know about you but that smacks of a dead end right there. As for the Portuguese, it's something to work with that I didn't have before. That aside, it does make me curious if the Portuguese did not care as much as their Spanish neighbors or English allies for preserving data on their naval designs, which I would find rather odd given their range of operations. Granted their influence was much diminished from centuries past, but they still had a global presence. Since the period I'm specifically looking for dates after the Earthquake, it makes me wonder what could possibly be the reason such documents are hard to come by.

Slightly off-topic, you wouldn't happen to have more to offer on the Italian dockyards in the same period would you? I know someone who covered Venice rather nicely, but there's not much else to find of the other small city-states and the various ships they launched or navies floated, except in brief texts. If you do, I'd welcome it in a different topic or PM.

Re: Portuguese Navy

Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:09 pm
by AvM
I have
Tres Seculos no Mar (1640-1910) - 32 volumes
Setenta e Cinco Anos no Mar (1910-1985) 17 volumes
and some other.

There are plans in Lissabon as I was informed from a friend building large models.
Undofrtunately there are no possibility to make any plans.
My friend, already retired , have to pay 500 EURO to access without coping perrmission.

Note that there were published a few albums with some paintings of ships done recently.
It seems that the authors have no access to any original drawings.

I saw nearly no plans in "Tres Seculos no Mar" eventually copiesf of paintings
and photos of models.

Re: Portuguese Navy

Posted: Sat Sep 14, 2019 5:06 am
by Navclio
OTTOMAN NAVY: A few years ago (or perhaps several years ago by now), there was a project under way to compile a directory of Ottoman sailing warships comparable to the volumes already issued by Seaforth Publishing under the general title <Nationality> Warships in the Age of Sail, including three volumes for the British navy by Rif Winfield, two on the French navy by Wlinfield and Steven Roberts, and one on the Russian navy by John Tredrea and Eduard Sozaev, with a volume on the Spanish by Winfield, Tredrea, and Enrique Garcia-Torralba Pérez currently under development. However, the project, which was able to combine Russian intelligence reports uncovered by Sozaev with access to Ottman archives, seems to have foundered. The best contact for Ottoman ship data that I can provide is Emer Yener. Perhaps I should not post his e-mail address here, but if you contact me at navclio (at) cox (dot) net, I can provide it. There were other people involved, apparently, but they might not have had as good English. I think the project might have been disrupted by the political changes in Turkey after the supposed attempted coup in 2016, but I did hear from Emir in 2018. The most extensive study of the Ottoman navy in a language other than Turkish might be Daniel Panzac, La marine ottoman: De l’apogée à la chute de l’Empire (1572–1923), 2009. I think there is a translation into English. There is also Tuncay Zorlu, Innovation and Empire in Turkey: Sultan Selim III and the Modernization of the Ottoman Navy, 2008, but this would only cover his reign (1789–1807). Yener published “Ottoman Seapower and Naval Technology during Catherine II’s Turkish Wars, 1768–1792” in International Naval Journal, 19:1 (2016). None of these have any ship plans. I’m not certain that the Ottoman navy even drew up the kind of plans that Western European navies did, at least until the French sent them a naval architect in, IIRC, the 1790s. Yener would know.

ITALIAN NAVIES. The modern Italian navy has an active historical office, Ufficio storico della marina militare (hereafter, USMM), that has published a series of works organized by state or period. Some of them are included below. None of these works have plans, AFAIK; the most you can get along those lines are dimensions.
•Sante Romiti, Le marine militari italiane nel Risorgimento (1748–1861), 1950 (a USMM publication)
•Lamberto Radogna, Cronistoria delle unita’ da guerra delle marine preunitarie, 1981 (USMM).
Kingdoms of Naples and the Two Sicilies.
Antonio Formicola and Claudio Romano, La fabbrica delle navi: Storia della cantieristica nel Nezzogiorno d’Italia, 1990.
•Formicola and Romano, Storia della marina da guerra dei Borbone di Napoli. I have some material afrom vol. 1, “1734–1767,” published in 2005.
•Lamberto Radogna, Storia della marina militare delle Due Sicilie (1734–1860), 1978.
•Guido Ercolo, Vascelli e fregate della Serneissima: navi di linea della marina veneziana, 1652–1797, 2011. This might have plans, if Venetian plans survived.
•Cesare Augusto Levi, Navi da guerra costruite nell’ arsenale di Venizia dal 1664 al 1896,, 1896.
Mario Nani-Mocenigo, Storia della marina veneiziana de Lepanto alla caduta della Repubblica, 1935 (US della Regio Marina)
•I don’t think Alethea Wiel, The Navy of Venice, 1910, would be of much use for your purposes.
Genoa’s navy in the 18th century was much smaller than the navies of Venice or Naples and I don’t know of a good history of it. I wish it were otherwise. Early in the 18th century, the Spanish bought ships of the line from Genoese shipyards. By 1740 the navy consisted entirely of galleys, which were put in service during the War of the Austrian Succession, at least after Genoa declared war on the Kingdom of Sardinia (which included Savoy and Piedmont) in 1746 and was then considered a belligerent by Sardinia’s ally, Great Britain (and by “Austria,” i.e., Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, etc., but she didn’t have a navy).
If you consider the Knights Hospitalers of St. John of Malta to be an “Italian” state:
•Anton Quintano, The Maltese-Hospitaller Sailing Ship Squadron, 1701–1798, San Gwann, Malta, 2003.
Ubaldino Mori Ubaldini, La marina del Sovrano Militare Ordine di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme di Rode e di Malta, Rome 1971.
•Joe M. Wismayer, Fleet of the Order of St. John, 1530–1798, Valletta, 1997.
•Robert L. Dauber, La marina del Sovrano militare ordine di Malta; The navy of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Brescia, 1992; in Italian and English; possibly a bilingual translation of Dauber, Die Marine des Johanniter-Malteser-Ritter-Ordens: 500 Jahre Seekrieg zur Verteidigung Europas, Graz, Austria, 1989.

PORTUGUESE SHIP PLANS. Perhaps what needs explaining is not why sailing warship plans seem to be lacking for the Portuguese navy but why they are available for other navies. Even after a ship had been broken up, the plans might have been useful for designing future ships. But once warships became iron-hulled steamships, there was no obvious utility for old plans. They seem to have been kept by inertia in other navies, but perhaps something happened in Portugal or the Portuguese navy that caused them to be discarded. The 1910 revolution that ended the monarchy wasn’t particularly violent, and it’s not obvious that the civil wars of 1823–34 would have led to a deliberate destruction of existing records. A fire more recent than the great Lisbon earthquake is a possibility; one in the Netherlands in the 1840s wiped out a lot of Dutch naval records.

Re: Portuguese Navy

Posted: Sat Sep 14, 2019 7:28 am
by AvM
I was informed that some plans of the Portuguese Navy ships exists.

Please note actual sitation in

ENGLAND . Since David Lyon died, only a few plans could you find in books. NMM makes prices practically too expensive for publications.

FRANCE. Plans exist, biut prices of plans are also very expensive, especially for publication. Roberts/Winfledd used well common plans
form Atlas du Genie Maritime.

RUSSIA. Plans exist, but Tredera/Sozaev used only plans whiche were formerly published. Perhaps the same reason. $$$$.

Re: Portuguese Navy

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:03 am
by JohnH
An additional source on the Portuguese Navy is João Brás de Oliveira, Modelos de Navios existentes na Escola Naval (Lisbon 1896). It does not include plans but has full-page photographs of models from the 18th and early 19th centuries. Many of these were unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1916. has a digital copy at ... co/page/n6 Details in the text accompanying the photographs, however, are not always reliable and should be checked against other sources.

There are a number of plans for Ottoman sailing ships in Russian archives. They include Peleng-i Bahri, a two-decker built at Sinop in 1777, which was captured by the Russians at Tendra in 1790 and renamed Ioann Predtecha. A redrawn version was published in Emir Yener’s article “Ottoman Seapower and Naval Technology during Catherine II’s Turkish Wars, 1768–1792” in International Naval Journal, 19:1 (2016), p. 6. Turkish scholars have not yet found such ship plans in their own archives but Ottoman shipbuilders used plans from the 1780s onwards. They were introduced by Jean-Jacques Sébastien Le Roy who headed a team of French shipwrights employed at the Istanbul Dockyard from 1784. Prior to that Ottoman ships appear to have been built by eye.

The UK National Maritime Museum has a plan of the Egyptian frigate Surayya launched at Alexandria in 1819 and sent to London to be coppered at Deptford. Hence the existence of a British plan. Its object ID is ZAZ2340 and it is labelled “Diana (extant 1821)”. Although the plan calls it a Turkish frigate it can only be Egyptian Surayya.

Re: Portuguese Navy

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:37 am
by JohnH
One comment on the plan of Peleng-i Bahri in Emir Yener’s article. The ship’s keel is shown as arched. The same feature appears in the original plan made after the ship’s capture by the Russians. As the actual ship cannot have had an arched keel (for structural reasons) this seems to have been a device which allowed the draughtsman to fit a half-breadth plan onto the same sheet of paper as the profile view.