Shipboard Life

The complement of the Rose consisted of Officers, Warrant Officers, Marines, seamen (Landsmen, Ordinary and Able Bodied) and boys totaling in war time up to 160 men. The majority of men were seamen and they lived on a berthing deck directly below the gun deck. Every night each man slung his hammock from hooks in the overhead. Fourteen to eighteen inches were allotted per man per hammock. The crowding only became a great problem in port where no night watch was kept. At sea at least half of the men would be on deck for their watch, which consisted of four hours on and four hours off. The seamen slung their hammocks in the forward part of the berthing deck with the Marines aft of them. In this way any seaman trying to make his way aft to the Ward Room would have to thread his way through the Marine's hammocks. In the morning the boatswain's mates would pipe "up hammocks" and the men would roll up their hammocks and stow them in netting along the top of the rails or bulwarks. In battle these hammocks afforded the men on deck a little protection from small arms fire.

In addition to their watches the men did ships work from sun up to sun down. Besides maintenance on the ship the crews were drilled in gunnery and sail handling. Twice a day the boatswain's mates piped, "Up spirits," and the men were issued their daily grog rations.

At least half of the men who served aboard the Rose would have been impressed or conscripted. Press gangs from individual ships or from the Impress Service took men off of the streets to man His Majesty's ships. In theory they were only to press experienced seamen, but this was not always the case. Pressed men could usually be counted on to desert if the opportunity presented itself, so they were rarely let off the ship for the duration of their service, which was often the duration of a war. Despite this fact, and despite the harsh life on ship board at the time, it is erroneous to assume that the crew of a ship was in constant misery and always ready to mutiny. Under a fair captain (and most were) the crew would quickly settle into a steady routine and form themselves into an efficient and contented group. The men on shipboard were more likely to be fed and less likely to die of disease than their borthers in teh army, and the punishments on shipboard were no worse than in the army or, for that matter, in civilian life.


Well, that's the end of the tour. But trust us, there's nothing like seeing the real thing. So keep an eye on the schedule to see when Rose is in your port, or come join us as a trainee.

Meanwhile, for those of you interested in more details, you can also find here the history of the ship, her specifications, and a collection of our favorite photos of her.

 

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Last Updated: Sat, Mar 3, 2001

All photos and text copyright © 1996-1998 HMS Rose Foundation. Used with permission only.