Fascination and mystique have always surrounded piracy in spite of the carnage and theft it ensued. The hooliganism that the pirates possessed made them an immediate attraction whether it be the classic eye-patch, peg leg or the hook hand. Their fury on the sea was indomitable and thus they had managed to cast an aura of fear and power throughout the sea. They sailed with enigma and were armed with requisites of an open sea war but they also had an outstanding mode of travel plus weaponry – pirate ship.
These massive rulers of the sea determined the wrath that shall be unleashed for a triumphant outcome. Built with large mast for swift sail and often armed with cannons that protruded from the sides, pirate ships were not to be messed with. Moreover, they provided a certain security against the raging waters of storms. These ships have proved to be efficient and lethal at the same time. Their presence made huge impact and are also one of the most interesting factor of piracy and cannot be overlooked. They made pirates, a force to be reckoned with caution and thus here are top 10 famous pirate ships that daunted the oceans:
10. Adventure Galley
Adventure Galley was initially offered to a Scottish man named William Kidd to capture the pirates and acquire the booty announced on their heads and later redistribute it among the vessel’s investors. It was equipped with 32 cannons and 150 men. It weighed around 284 tons and had an unusual and unique design considering its time, a combination of sails and oars which enabled it to row against the winds or hasten its speed in case of calm winds. Soon after setting for sail, many of the crew members were enlisted in navy and later some more left due to lack of captives. Kidd was forced to embrace piracy and an argument broke out between him and the gunner in which the latter was killed. This event led to making Kidd a plunderer across the Malabar coast of India and after an attack on Quedah Merchant, a ship captained by an Englishman, Kidd was now announced a wanted pirate. 5 cases of piracy were reported to be executed using it. Over time, the infamous ship became dilapidated. Its last voyage brought her to St. Mary’s Island, a popular pirate base. Its fate is rather disputed as to whether it was burned down and rests under the island’s bay or failed to be repaired and hence was left behind to sink without a single picture to its memory and as for William Kidd, he was executed in 1701 after being pronounced guilty of piracy and murder.
One of the most powerful and sturdy pirate ship, Fancy started its life with the name of Charles II after a ruler of the same name for carrying out Spanish services under the captaincy of Captain Gibson. After a successful mutiny on May 7, 1694 being carried out by Henry Every, who once served under the Royal Navy, Charles II was seized and renamed as Fancy, an octane pirate ship with 46-gun arsenal machinery. Every careened Fancy, made necessary repairs. Fancy maintained its fear on the Indian Ocean and looted ships like Ganj-I-Sawai, a Mughal ship. Every used his wealth as a bribe to seek shelter in Bahamas. Fancy had its share of incidents as in the explosion of a cannon that claimed lives of many of its gunners. It is believed that after Every’s return to Nassau, ending his career as a pirate, Fancy was given as bribe to the governor of Nassau.
8. Whydah Gally
Built as a ship to carry out businesses, it also carried slaves and passengers until it was captured by pirate Captain Samuel Bellamy in February 1717. After its capture, several of its crew members joined the pirate and stayed with their ship. Bellamy installed 10 additional cannons and manned it with 150 crew members, making it Bellamy’s flagship. Whydah was heavily damaged after being caught in a storm along the eastern coastlines of American colonies. Patch-ups and repairs were made and 30 additional cannons were also added. Once while sailing aground modern day’s Marconi Beach, it hit the sandbar leading to the main mast snapping, the ship broke apart. Around 4.1 tonnes of gold and silver, more than 60 cannons and 144 people were plummeted into the waters. Its wrecks were discovered by Barry Clifford, an underwater archaeologist, in 1984. Selected artifacts are put on display in Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth Massachusetts.
7. Golden Fleece
Golden Fleece started its journey as a trade ship carrying goods and profits under its captain, Joseph Bannister between London and Jamaica but soon overwhelmed with deep avarice, Joseph finally fled with 30-40 guns and around 100 men and turned into a pirate changing the entire fate of the Golden Fleece. Bannister robbed a Spanish ship and increased the strength of his crew too which led to the governor of Jamaica ordering a chase after him. After being caught, Joseph faced a trial and was scheduled for another one before which he successfully escaped. Bannister later fought two navy ships while careening the Golden Fleece until they retreated after running out of ammunition. In 1687, Joseph was caught and hanged without a trial bringing his and the Golden Fleece’s journey to an end. The infamous ship was discovered in Dominican Republic at Samana Bay in 2009.
Captained by Henry Morgan, the name behind the infamous rum, Satisfaction was a part of one of the most interesting pirate stories in history. Jamaica hired pirates for the simple reason that the Royal Navy was not strong enough and it was under a threat of attack by the Spanish which led to hiring Capt. Morgan as an admiral. He defeated the Spanish but refused to rest. Soon, he decided to loosen the Spanish hold in Caribbean but his greed made him overlook the Lajas Reef and Satisfaction ran aground near the mouth of the Chagres river along with few other ships. The men survived and so did Henry at the cost of losing a strong armed ship that once defeated Spanish armies. Henry died due to liver failure after his over inebriation.
Captained by Major Stede Bonnet, an unlikely man for a pirate, Revenge’s tale automatically became interesting. Stede Bonnet was a wealthy and reputed man who had inherited his father’s legacy. But the fate eventually changed when Bonnet’s wife nagged him to such level that he finally decided to turn into a pirate despite his well put off background and hence he’s also called “The Gentleman pirate”. Pursuing his call, he bought a small ship and used his wealth to equip it with 10 guns and went on his journey of piracy without any knowledge or skill of sailing. He was still able to plunder ships but he realized that he needed a guidance and met the notorious Blackbeard in Carolina. They agreed to partner together and started their journey. Blackbeard noticed soon that Bonnet wasn’t an experienced seaman and thus seizing the opportunity he offered Bonnet a guest’s life on Blackbeard’s ship while one of his men sailed Revenge. They agreed to demand pardon in Carolina. Even after being pardoned, Stede didn’t quit piracy and continued haunting the seas after being betrayed by Blackbeard who had looted all his plunder. Stede renamed Revenge to Royal James and decided to become a legal privateer against Spain but not for long and returned to piracy again under the name of Captain Thomas. Outraged by the growing piracy, the Council of South Carolina decided to put a stop on it and sent huge warships to battle them which ultimately defeated Revenge too near Cape Fear River. All captured pirates were put on trial in Charleston in 1718. Bonnet was not pardoned this time and was sentenced to death. He was hanged at White Point Garden, Charleston in November 1718. The fate of Revenge (or Royal James) is unknown and lost in antiquity but a figurehead was recovered on an island, Santa Lucia.
4. Black Prince
Ben Franklin during the time he served as an ambassador to France, commissioned a small ship and manned it with Portuguese sailors but appointed an American captain, Luke Ryan. The ship was painted jet black to make it almost invisible at night and hence was named Black Prince by Franklin himself. They were ordered to inflict severe damage on the British ships even in their home ports. It inculcated enormous wealth which was utilised in America’s War of Independence. Black prince was an immensely powerful asset and its victories brought a huge influence until the day Ryan was caught and Franklin ceased commissioning it. Black Prince met with a catastrophe on the shore rocks of Berck, France around 1780. The crew after safely rowing to the shores returned to the sinking Black Prince to gather the arms and necessary equipments until it finally gave in and sunk deep in the clutches of the sea.
3. Rising Sun
Rising Sun had a chaotic history and that too occured internally. It was earlier named “Resolution” until captured by the pirates. The ship was incredibly fierce and had 36 guns along with 130 men to function it. It was captained by pirate William Moody, aimed at looting ships around the St. Christophers. The captain earlier worked under Black Bart but soon successfully captured his own vessel. Rising Sun’s power was a result of immense unity among its men and its operation alongside other ships during 1718 but it soon changed its destiny after few sailors attempted a mutiny which after being caught led to Moody putting them ashore and refusing to share the plunder. This behavior displeased other members and Captain Moody was also set adrift along with few others in a small boat. Rising Sun. Such was the terror of the Rising Sun that Jamaican Governor Archibald Hamilton asked for stronger naval ships from England which included a 40-gun warship to protect their territories near St. Christophers and Santa Croix. The Rising Sun’s ultimate outcome has faded somewhere in history.
2. The William
It was captained by Calico Jack and was reportedly the last ship he ever sailed before he was hanged. The William holds a special place due to the fact it held two female pirates- Mary Read and Anne Bonny, former being a disguised male and latter being Calico’s love interest. William was a small 12-ton sloop but was fast. The incidents on the ship during the night of October 20 1720 made it famous. Snow-Tyger, heavily armed with several guns, was sent to capture Calico along with Mary Anne under the orders of Jamaican Governor, Nicholas Lawes. Snow-Tyger’s sailors made attempts to attack the ship and later boarded the ship. The two women pirate, Mary and Anne Bonny along with another pirate put up a fight against the capturers while the others cowardly ran for their cabins. They finally surrendered. The captives were tried and were hanged in Port Royal. Calico’s corpse was hung as a tool to instill fear in the hearts of potential criminals along with the dead bodies of other pirates. Mary Read and Anne Bonny escaped hanging by claiming pregnancy. Mary died several months later before her scheduled execution and Anne was never heard from again. She might’ve resumed piracy or might’ve lived a retired life in North America. The attack had also severely damaged William, unworthy of further sailing.
1. Queen Anne’s Revenge
This massively famous ship was built in Great Britain in 1710 and named “Concord” intended to be used a merchant ship. After a year, it fell into the hands of French and was renamed to “La Concorde de Nantes”. It was used a slave ship with a more space for cells. In 1717, a pirate Edward Teach or most notably called “Blackbeard” captured it and thus began history’s most famous pirate ship’s journey. He renamed the ship armed with 44-guns to Queen Anne’s Revenge. He sailed the ship from Africa’s west coastal area to the Caribbean attacking giant merchant ships like those of British, Portuguese and Dutch. After blockading Charleston harbor in 1718, Blackbeard refused Governor’s pardon and ran Queen Anne’s Revenge aground near the Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. He left his crew on an island and escaped with supplies in a sloop, Adventure. Blackbeard accepted pardon but still returned to piracy later and was killed in a combat in November 1718. Queen Anne’s Revenge still lies in the waters of Atlantic Beach and about 1/3 of the wreck has been excavated as of 2007’s end.
Their reign on the sea might be over now but their wrath from those times still lives to this day. Their massive strength and fearlessness are equally haunting and interesting.