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[Tutorial] Sailing ships interior


31 replies to this topic  – Started by Horry , May 10 2011 04:23 PM

#1 Horry

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 04:23 PM

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There are many questions floating around the forum regarding the interior of sailing ships. So I decided to start a tutorial regarding the location, design and equipment of sailing ships.
This tutorial will be focused on European sailing ships of the 18th and 19th century.

The tutorial consists of three parts:

I Location and equipment of onboard areas on a frigate
II internal structures and functions
III crews, officers and soldiers (design and equipment)



I’d love to hear questions and comments about the tutorial!


PART I Location and equipment of onboard areas on a frigate.

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Orientation von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

A frigate in terms of this tutorial is a fully rigged vessel with a single gun-deck, build for speed and maneuverability. It has up to 30 guns on the gun-deck and can carry additional guns on the main deck, including carronades and swivel guns. The crew compliment can vary from 100 up to 250 sailors. There are no “typical” frigates as most of the vessels of that type received various upgrades and repairs after almost every mission. They can remain on sea for several months, depending on how much fresh water and food there is on the ship. The locations and equipment shown in part I are not entirely fixed and vary in every single ship but are somewhat representative.
NOTE: In most European navies, the captain of the ship and the respective fleet commander had a certain influence on the uniforms, the colours used to paint the vessel and the equipment used. If they could afford it, captains often gave their ships a unique design and equipment to their liking.

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Oven von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

The galley is a very important area of a ship. It has at least one oven where the warm meals are cooked and it is the only source of hot water. When the decks are to be cleared the galley has to be closed immediately in order to avoid the danger of setting fire to the ship if a cannon shot would destroy the galley. Thus, it is customary to declare lunch time before beginning a battle as it takes a long time to fire up the oven again.

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lamps von HMSCentaur auf Flickr
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Table von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

The tables and the lamps of a vessel are normally hanging from the ceiling of a deck in order to compensate for the undulations of the ship.

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sick bay von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

There is no such thing as a real sickbay on most frigates. If all decks are cleared, the surgical area will be nothing more than a plank on sea-chests, a barrel filled with sand to avoid slipping on the blood-stained ground and the equipment of the ship’s surgeon placed on stable tripods.

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Signal flags von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

On deck, there is the signaling equipment for a fleet, consisting of coloured flags for daylights and rockets for storms or nighttime. Each fleet has a unique signaling code that is often changed for security reasons.

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Bilge pumps von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

Bilge pumps are on every ship in order to pump water out of the deck.

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sea-chest sailor von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

The sea-chest of a sailor includes mostly personal things and clothing, often including a letter that is to be brought to his family in the event of his death. If a sailor dies, the sea-chest often is auctioned off among the crew in order to send the money to the family.

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Sea-Chest soldier von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

The sea-chest of a sea-soldier includes equipment and personal things. Here, a powder hose is represented by the light sabre-grip.

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Sea-Chest Captain von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

The sea-Chest of the captain includes personal things, a better uniform for dinners, binoculars, the ceremonial sword, his personal seasonings and his beloved “lucky goblet”

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Gun powder hold von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

Gunpowder is an important but dangerous substance, especially on a wooden ship. It is normally stored in white crates in order to be able to identify leaks more easily. The broom is there in order to clean away powder residues during and after combat in order to avoid explosions. The stick with a sponge is there for wiping out the cannons after every shot. Powder residues in cannons could cause an explosion of the cannon or a deflagration if it would be used the next time.

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Carpenter von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

The equipment of the ship’s carpenter consists of his tools and a hold of tar, used to caulk the ship.
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#2 Sebeus I

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 06:54 PM

Very interesting, I'll remember this tutoral when I build a new ship

#3 Horry

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 07:46 PM

PART II internal structures and functions

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Cross Section von HMSCentaur auf Flickr
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Capstan von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

Our frigate is built around the keel. It runs from the stern to the bow and acts as the “spine” if the vessel. From there, the frame is constructed, forming the “rips” of the ship. The planks are then placed upon the frame and make up the outer hull of the frigate. The decks are within the frame. In order to make them impervious to water, the gaps in-between the planks are filled with tar; that is called caulking.
Under the orlop deck, the lowest deck used, there is the bilge. It is the coolest part of the ship and filled with bilge water that comes through small leaks and/or seeps down from upper decks. It must be pumped out by the bilge pumps. Sometimes, there are hefts in the bilge in order to balance the ship’s posture in the water.
The orlop deck normally is under water and has various functions. Normally, there are cargo holds and quarters as well as the galley. It can be reached via ladderways.
The gun deck is the deck that contains most of the weapons. It is mostly fully walk through and has gun ports that are opened when the ship is made ready for combat (“beat to quarters”, “general quarters” or “clearing the decks”). If the decks are cleared, the walls that compartmentalize the captain’s quarters and/or the officers’ quarters are normally removed in order to gain access to the guns that are stored in those compartments.
The gun deck is also the area where sailors would spend most of their watch below. Typically, you can find lowerable tables and hammocks in-between the cannons and many sea-chests there. The part of the gun deck that is uncovered is called the well deck. This is the main loading access of the ship and can be covered with blankets or cover panels.
The masts go all the way through the ship and are placed on the keel.
There are dozens of kilometers of running and standing rigging running through the entire ship. Running rigging is often moved by capstans. Capstans are vertically rotating drums or barrels, mounted on wooden or iron axles or are part of a mast. The ropes are put around or into the capstan and can be coiled on or off the capstan by the sailors. The grips that are put into the capstan can be removed in order to improve safety or to lock the mechanism inside. They can be found on the main deck and on the lower decks. A capstan usually is used to cast an anchor.
The equipment, the cannons and the cargo of a sailing ship has to be carefully aligned through the ship in order to make it well balanced. The better the frigate is balanced, the better are her sailing characteristics and her combat performance. If a ship is overloaded or unbalanced, the ship could keel over or behave badly while under sails. While loading a vessel, the quartermaster and the first officer are usually responsible for taking care of the right positions of the goods.
There are no toilets on frigates of that size. Normally, the crew uses the beakhead behind the figurehead for a toilet.

Edited by Horry, 11 May 2011 - 02:49 PM.

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#4 mobricki

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 11:26 PM

This is really well done I hope to see more of this.

#5 Horry

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 02:51 PM

PART III Crews, officers and soldiers (design and equipment)


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folks von HMSCentaur auf Flickr

A frigate as a 5th or 6th rate vessel (classification taken from the Royal Navy rating system from the 18th and 19th century) would have a crew complement between 180 and 300 men. Some of them would be as young as twelve and some of them could be around 50 years of age.
On a frigate of that size would normally be commanded by a post-captain (that term coming from the United Kingdom: An officer whose promotion had been posted in the “Naval Gazette”). He would have at least one first officer (a lieutenant) and three ensigns. Then, there would be special positions given to specialists and providing them with certain rights such as the ship’s carpenter, the master-at-arms, the helmsman and the surgeon (they normally would be non-commissioned officers or officers). There would be a number of non-commissioned officers (called licensed mariners) and unlicensed mariners. The rest would be enlisted crew, often impressed.
The dress-code and the necessary equipment to be carried by each member of the crew were given by the naval code of conduct and the continuous orders of the commanding officer and/or the flag officer commanding the fleet.
The officers are usually wearing the uniforms of the navy and can be easily distinguished from the rest of the crew. Their weapons of choice are sabres, pistols and cutlasses.
The licensed seamen often have their own type of uniform. Their weaponry usually consists of pistols, cutlasses and grapnels.
The unlicensed seamen usually are somewhat individually clothed. They rarely wear shoes and they usually are given the same kind of trousers and/or a single type of coat if the captain or the fleet commander issues an order of that kind. They are armed with everything that is in the vessel’s armoury.
There often is a small contingent of sea soldiers on board a frigate. They are the ship’s boarding party, the security force and the anti-boarding unit at the same time. In the event of a broadside battle their snipers would enter up the crow’s nest in order to be able to aim at the officers more easily.
If a captain can afford it, there is also a group of musicians with instruments. They would be used to accentuate ceremonies such as the greeting of a passing ship or the inspection by a flag officers or the welcoming ceremony of a senior officer. At the very least there would be a drummer on board.


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Nogo von HMSCentaur auf Flickr
  • A sea soldier would not wear any armour that could make it too difficult to board enemy ships.
  • The tricorn, although popular, was rarely used among European navies after 1750 and was almost not used at all in the armies of Europe after 1780. However, pirates and civilians continued to use it well into the 19th century.
  • Breastplates became obsolete after the invention of better guns and would be considered a danger if falling off the ship.
  • The morion is a fashionable helmet but became obsolete at the beginning of the 18th century.
  • The conquistadors could only be met on ships en route to America until the beginning of the 17th century.

Edited by Horry, 11 May 2011 - 02:52 PM.

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#6 Admiral Croissant

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 02:59 PM

It's already an excellent and detailed tutorial :thumbup:
I've put it in the index on the promise that you'll keep working on it (and perhaps make tutorials for other ships as well) :pir-classic:
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#7 Horry

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 03:02 PM

View PostAdmiral Croissant, on 11 May 2011 - 02:59 PM, said:

It's already an excellent and detailed tutorial :thumbup:
I've put it in the index on the promise that you'll keep working on it (and perhaps make tutorials for other ships as well) :pir-classic:


Thank you very much! This is a promise I am happy to give as I am far too intrigued by the whole thing. I plan on adding two sub-parts and extending the existing and I am thinking about making another two tutorials about ships-of-the-line and the history of sailing ships.
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#8 Capt.JohnPaul

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 01:45 PM

Very nice tutorial! I learned a lot such as the white crates for gunpowder.

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What? No morions??  :pir-hmpf_bad:  You just try one on and wear it all day!  :pir-tongue:  You feel quite cool.  :pir-grin:

Anyways, thanks for the tutorial again.  :pir-sweet:
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#9 Commander Laquiet

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 02:38 AM

What a great tutorial! Loads of useful information in there. Particularly nice part about the hanging tables, and I really like the design of the interior pieces - simple, but really nice.

Thanks for this great tutorial. :thumbup:
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#10 Captain Blackmoor

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 10:25 AM

An excellent tutorial, very interesting and helpful. Thanks for sharing! :thumbup:

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#11 dr_spock

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 05:43 AM

Excellent tutorial.  Lots of good information.  Quite fascinating.  :pir-classic:

#12 Cinco Llagas

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 08:30 PM

thank you for your tutorial(s) - they are very informative. I am looking forward to the next one.

#13 legolooney

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 02:34 PM

Brilliant, i'm quite a keen historian when it come to this era of naval warfare. Good to see someone doing it justice in a tutorial. Really like this.

Keep it up and thanks!

#14 Commander Red Hat

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 05:35 PM

This is a promising start to a great tutorial.
I really like all the small LDD models you've made to describe things.
Thank you for sharing and carry on the good work!  :thumbup:
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#15 Darth CJ

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 08:31 PM

Thanks thats real helpful!
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Enjoy
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#16 Dockmaster Brickington

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 03:23 PM

Perfect! I am building a frigate right now so thank you! :thumbup:

#17 Rolli

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 10:38 AM

Perfect tutorial. Thx for updating my general knowledge as well as my next moc ;)

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#18 ThEGoDFaThEr

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 03:10 AM

Brilliant tutorial! Thanks a lot.
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#19 DucadiYork

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 08:43 PM

thanks for the great ideas

#20 Chief Justice Lego

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 06:36 AM

This is awesome! Really hope to see more!

#21 CaptainBermuda

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 12:43 AM

What version of LDD do you use? the one i have does not have access to a lot of those colors and pieces (which includes hulls)
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#22 Horry

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 12:13 PM

View PostCaptainBermuda, on 04 December 2011 - 12:43 AM, said:

What version of LDD do you use? the one i have does not have access to a lot of those colors and pieces (which includes hulls)

Could this be because you have not yet unlocked extended mode? There is a great and simple tutorial on how to unlock most additional bricks and colours by EB-LDD-crack Superkalle over at the LDD-Forum: here

But beware: models using bricks / colours from extended mode cannot be ordered via LDD-orders.
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#23 Foremast Jack

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 08:46 PM

View PostHorry, on 10 May 2011 - 04:23 PM, said:

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I love your tutorials Horry!

Whilst I doubt it is anything other than the limitations of LDD, from my understanding the inboard end of the table was secured to the overhead with rope (not chain) and the outboard end secured to the inner bulkhead by iron rings. Let me know if you've seen otherwise.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Found a couple pictures showing what I mean:

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From the HMS Victory

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From the HMS Surprise

Edited by Foremast Jack, 10 December 2011 - 09:32 AM.

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They'll think you weak; despise you in the end."
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#24 Horry

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 11:14 AM

of course you are right. But I was aiming at a visually viable representation for the tables. The MOC would become quite compartmentalized if every table would have their own fixation rings. And yes, the chains were due to LDD limitations. It's theoretically possible to do this with other LDD-flexibles but it will cost you sanity  :pir-classic:

Edited by Horry, 10 December 2011 - 11:16 AM.

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#25 Foremast Jack

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 04:45 PM

View PostHorry, on 10 December 2011 - 11:14 AM, said:

It's theoretically possible to do this with other LDD-flexibles but it will cost you sanity  :pir-classic:

I know EXACTLY what you mean. I nearly lost mine getting all those damn tubes in order on my first capstan entry.  :pir-cry_sad:

Edited by Foremast Jack, 13 January 2012 - 11:31 PM.

"You don't make friends with the foremast jacks, lad.
They'll think you weak; despise you in the end."
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