* - A Guide to Famous Pirate Ships.

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  • Queen Anne's Revenge was the largest pirate ships to ever sail the Spanish Main. No ship played a more dramatic role in the history of piracy in the Americas. Blackbeard used Queen Anne's Revenge as his prime weapon during the height of his reign of terror. During the 7 months in Blackbeard's command, Queen Anne's Revenge took a whooping 18 ships.

    Another versatile ship the Brigantine was more of a captain's ship for a pirate. This was generally a 150 ton, 80 foot vessel that could carry around 100 pirates mounting over 10 cannons with a cargo space about twice as big as the sloop. She had two masts. Her main sail could be fitted with either square sails that were best in quartering wind, or fore-and-aft sails for sailing windward. This larger ship was the clear choice for battle or combat rather than the quick, hit and run type piracy tactics that were practiced with the smaller sloops and schooners. It was also rugged enough to cross the Atlantic ocean, and faired better in harsh sea conditions. Also keep in mind that pirates could not build a ship to order like the merchants and military did. They had to be opportunists and having looted a ship, the pirates would either burn the vessel, let it go on it's way, set it adrift, or take the ship over for their own use. Most pirate ships were no more then captured vessels taken as prizes and then altered to suit the pirates needs.

  • The Barbary corsairs of the Mediterranean mainly used oar powered galleys rowed by slaves. These were long rather slender craft which were renowned for their speed, and sailing ships traveling in the calm winds of the Mediterranean were at their mercy. Their oars made them very quick, enabling them to maneuver quite easily and to come alongside an intended victim. When the winds picked up the corsairs hoisted a large lateen sail on a single mast amidships. The galleys were armed with one or more big guns at the bow, and several swivel guns were also mounted along the side rails. But like with most pirate ships their main weapon was in their fighting crews, who could number over one hundred men on a large galley. These men would quickly swarm aboard a ship and sweep aside all opposition. These corsairs were not generally involved in piracy for gold or silver. They were trying to capture people, who they could hold for ransom, use as oarsmen on their galleys, or just sell as slaves.

    When pirates got a new ship, by stealing one or by swapping their existing ship out for a better one belonging to their victims, they usually made some changes. They would mount as many cannons on the new ship as they could without significantly slowing her down: six cannons or so was the minimum that pirates liked to have on board. The pirates usually changed the rigging or ship’s structure so that the ship would sail faster, and cargo spaces were converted into living or sleeping quarters, as pirate ships usually had more men (and less cargo) on board than merchant vessels.


    • Facts and information about Famous Pirate ships and their captains
    • The Sloop style of Pirate Ships
    • The Brigantine style of Pirate Ships
    • The Schooner style of Pirate Ships
    • The Frigate or the "Man-O-War" ships

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    Famous Pirate Ships

    Pirate ships were heavily armed to intimidate other vessels into surrendering, or to subdue them. Cannon were prized booty, for they represented the deadly power that pirates had over their quarry. Queen Anne’s Revenge was believed to have carried 44 cannon.

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Thirty to sixty feet long with a top speed of over 10 knots, a crew of 20 to 70 men could easily work this father of the modern sailing yacht for lightning-swift attacks, avoiding broadsides, and outrunning pursuit. In spite of weighing as much as 100 tons and having perhaps 15 cannons, its draft was amazingly shallow at eight feet. This allowed it to find safety in shallower waters far beyond any warship's range. A shallow draft was also was the reason that those entrusted to pursue pirate ships often favored the sloop to get access to their hiding spots.