When ships were powered by sail, a system of classifying the different types of warship was developed.

Naval ships varied from massive constructions nearly 182 metres (200 feet) long and mounting 120 guns down to tiny, fast ships with a handful of guns. Each was designed for a specific task, but the pride of the fleet was the battleships. These were divided into six types or rates. The largest were known as the first rates. They had three decks and carried over a hundred cannon. They were the most powerful of all warships and had a devastating effect in battle.

The Victory, now kept at Portsmouth, is a first rate ship.

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