The Santísima Trinidad

Beez Neez
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Thu 24 May 2012 22:35
The Santísima Trinidad
Santisima Trinidad
The Santísima Trinidad by Royal Order on the 12th of March 1768, nicknamed La Real was a Spanish first-rate ship of the line armed with 112 guns, which was increased in 1795–96 to 130 guns by closing in the spar deck between the quarterdeck and forecastle, and around 1802 to 140 guns, thus creating what was in effect a continuous fourth gundeck, although the extra guns added were actually relatively small. She was the heaviest-armed ship in the world when rebuilt, and bore the most guns of any ship of the line outfitted in the Age of Sail.
BB Cuba Bus and Fort 171
I saw this enormous model of the Santísima Trinidad in the fort and was fascinated, I pressed all the buttons and found English
BB Cuba Bus and Fort 174  BB Cuba Bus and Fort 176
I pressed buttons and found the model lit up and I could read about the various bits
BB Cuba Bus and Fort 175  BB Cuba Bus and Fort 173
There was loads of information, medical support, domestic arrangements, and even pig keeping
BB Cuba Bus and Fort 178  BB Cuba Bus and Fort 177
The back end of the model. On the wall was a tiny picture of Admiral Nelson and a ginormous one of the big girls captain, he was an ugly soul.


Design & construction: She was built in Havana, to a design by Irish naval architect Matthew Mullan (domiciled in Spain under the name Mateo Mullán) and launched in on the 3rd of March 1769 as an 112-gun three-decker. She was considerably larger than her British contemporary Victory and somewhat bigger than the French Bretagne.



Santissima Trinidad


Schematics of the layout of the Santísima Trinidad



There is no complete plan of the ship in existence, but there are of the 112-gun ship from 1765, from which the original dimensions of the ship may be found. Her units of length were in the Spanish Burgos foot (27.86 cm) after conversion to old money her length was roughly 195 feet 7 inches; keel 166 feet 10 inches; beam 53 feet and her draught was 26 feet 6 inches.


In 1795, her forecastle was joined to her quarterdeck to create a fourth deck containing a battery of eight pounder guns, giving her a total of 140 guns. Her armament seems to have been quickly reduced to 130 from 136 guns, but she still carried more guns than any other ship of her time. As the only ship with four gun decks, she was reputed to be the largest warship in the world, for which she was nicknamed El Escorial de los mares by the Spanish, until surpassed in sheer size by the new type French 120-gun ships such as the Océan (1790) and Orient (1791).

The weight of the additional guns, so high above her waterline, made her sail poorly, leading to her nickname, El Ponderoso. It was even suggested by some naval officers that she should be restricted to the defense of the Bay of Cádiz.

Santísima Trinidad remains famous as one of the few four-decker ships of the line ever built. The U.S. Navy constructed the four-deck, 136-gun Pennsylvania and the French - Valmy (both with similar flush deck arrangement), and the Royal Navy planned - but did not actually build - the proper four-deck Duke of Kent.


Service: In July 1779, Spain declared war on Great Britain, joining France in support of the American colonists in the American War of Independence. Santísima Trinidad became the flagship of the Spanish fleet, taking part in the Franco-Spanish operations in the English Channel in the late summer of that year.

In August 1780 she took part in the capture of 55 ships from a British convoy of 63, escorted by the ship of the line HMS Ramillies and three frigates. In 1782 she was incorporated into the Mediterranean Squadron, participating in the second siege of Gibraltar and she fought in the brief and indecisive Battle of Cape Spartel. In 1795, she was modified by the addition of extra 8-pounder guns on a new deck between her forecastle and quarterdeck.





Pelayo go to rescue Santisima Trinidad at Battle of Cape St Vincent on the 14th of February 1797



In 1797, she was the flagship of Teniente General José de Córdoba, the Spanish commander, at Battle of Cape St Vincent on the 14th of February 1797, where she was badly damaged and nearly captured by the British fleet. She was first in action with the British ship Captain (74), commanded by Commodore Nelson, and Culloden (74). She was then attacked by the Blenheim (90), Orion (74), Irresistible (74) and Excellent (74). By now she was severely damaged, having lost all her masts and with half of her crew killed or wounded. She struck her colours, but the British failed to take possession and she was saved by the Pelayo (74) and Príncipe de Asturias (112). Several days later, Santísima Trinidad was spotted, still damaged, making her way back to Spain, and engaged by the 32-gun frigate HMS Terpsichore under Captain Richard Bowen, but she escaped. She eventually returned to Cadiz for repairs.

Eight years later, commanded by Francisco Javier Uriarte and Rear Admiral Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros, she took part in the Battle of Trafalgar on the 21st of October 1805, as part of the combined Franco-Spanish fleet. Due to her great bulk, her helm was unresponsive in the light winds of the day, contributing to her ineffective service of the combined fleet's cause. Her great size and position immediately ahead of the fleet flagship Bucentaure made her a target for the British fleet, and she came under concentrated attack by several ships. She lost her mast and eventually surrendered to the Neptune, commanded by Captain Thomas Fremantle. She was taken in tow by the Prince, but sank in a storm the day after the battle having been scuttled by her British captors.