One of the most powerful ships built during the "Age of Sail", the three-masted "Nuestra Senora de la Santisima Trinidad" (translating to "Our Lady of the Holy Trinity") was ordered on March 12th, 1768 and constructed by the shipbuilders of Mateo Mullan (the Irish architect Matthew Mullanthen living in Spain) in Havana, Cuba for the Spanish Navy. She was launched on March 3rd, 1769 from her holdings and homeported from Cadiz, Spain during her career. The warship is noted for her many-gunned, four-deck design that was matched only by a few such ships during this period.
The vessel, classified as a "First-Rate, Ship-of-the-Line", displaced 4,950 tons and was given a running length of 201 feet, a beam of 53 feet, and a draught down to 26.3 feet. Aboard was an operating crew of 950 to 1,050 personnel tasked with various jobs about her decks. In addition to this, the ship housed 140 infantry for boarding actions, security, and general defense.
However, the heart of this sailing ship was its impressive armament configuration which numbered 112 guns when first launched. This included 30 x 36-pdr cannons at the lower deck, 32 x 24-pdr cannons at the middle deck, 32 x 12-pdr cannons at the upper deck, and 18 x 8-pdr cannons at the forecastle and quarterdeck. From 1795 to 1796, she was refitted to carry as many as 130 cannon which involved reworking the spar deck. By 1802, her full battery consisted of 140 guns in all - making her unmatched against contemporaries in sheer firepower alone.
Of course all this came at a price - the warship proved slow and hard to maneuver in a fight, making her something of a liability in the turning battles of the Age of Sail. Her ocean-going qualities were poor to boot, adding to her value as a psychological tool more than a tactical or strategic one for the Spanish fleet. Nevertheless, the investment was made and the ship was promoted as a grand addition to Spanish prowess and power projection.
When Spain joined France and declared war on Great Britain in mid-1779 during the American Revolutionary War, she served as the Spanish flagship in operations along the English Channel. August 1780 saw her haul in fifty-five of sixty-three ships from a single British convoy. She took part in the Great Siege of Gibraltar during 1782, resulting in a British victory, and did not add much to the inconclusive actions of the Battle of Cape Spartel on October 20th in the same year. In February of 1797, she lost another engagement with the British in what became the Battle of Cape St Vincent (Portugal), suffering considerable damage in the process but avoiding capture nonetheless. In the retreat back to Spanish waters, the British frigate HMS Terpsichore attempted to take the crippled vessel but also failed.
Back in safe waters, the ship was repaired in full and sailed again into the next decade. This took her into the famous Battle of Trafalgar on October 21st, 1805, which saw a joint force of Spanish and French ships take on Horatio Nelson and the heart of the Royal Navy. The result was the classic British victory in which Nuestra Senora de la Santisima Trinidad could do little to change the outcome - mainly due to her size and immobile nature. After the lost of her mast, she was surrendered by her captain and scuttled by her British captors outside of Cadiz - bringing about an end to her sailing days.
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