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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Forum Resources > Armchair Attacks! > Warships Campaign 2017-2018

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Warships Campaign 2017-2018 Debate the Great Ships of Naval History

View Poll Results: Which of these two warship types had the greatest merit?
8. Greek Trireme, Salamis 480BC 17 50.00%
16. Byzantine Dromon 7th - 11th Centuries AD 17 50.00%
Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 30 Sep 17, 10:06
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T1, R4, Prng 29: Greek Trireme, Salamis vs Byzantine Dromon

In your opinion, which of these two warship types was most significant, influential and/or effective?
Feel free to apply those criteria as you please, along with any others you think appropriate.
Note: Suggestions for some additional criteria are at the foot of this post.


According to the criteria as you see and apply them, please vote for your preferred candidate in the attached poll.
If your chosen criteria are significantly different from those suggested, telling us what they are and why you used them would be helpful.






8. Greek Trireme, Battle of Salamis 480BC


Triremes were widely used and well established in all the major navies by this time and represented what might be called the "mainstream peak" of galley development in the ancient period.
They were so named both for the 3 banks (or tiers) of oars on each side, as well as for the fact that in their basic form there was one oarsman to each oar; hence, 3 men to each vertical file.
As we might expect, there was quite a lot of further development on this general theme but usually, for practical reasons it did not result in more than 3 banks of oars.
Instead and especially as these warships grew larger, the number of men to each oar was increased. These variations of the trireme were given designations based purely on the total number of oarsmen to each file.
For example, there was the quinquereme; so named because there were five oarsmen per file: Two each on the upper and middle oars and one on the lowest oar (which did not have to reach so far).

This first picture shows a Greek trireme ramming a Persian (Phoenician) trireme at the battle of Salamis, which ended in a Greek victory.





This photo shows a full modern day restoration of a typical ancient Greek trireme.
It is both a public museum exhibit and a working sailing ship, which occasionally has been taken out on to the sea to be sailed and rowed.
Both the building and the sailing/rowing of this vessel yielded considerable information on what it must have been like to operate one. .. (Without the fighting, of course.)





The same Greek trireme restoration, being taken out for a short voyage.








16. Byzantine Dromon, 7th-11th Centuries


The Byzantine ships shown here are those of the Byzantine Empire, also sometimes referred to as the "Eastern Roman Empire".
(It was a continuation of the Roman Empire in the East, following the fall of the "main" or Western Roman Empire in the late 5th Century AD.)
The Byzantine capital was Constantinople (today's Istanbul); originally founded as Byzantium, a Greek colony; around 657BC.
The Byzantine Empire lasted until it eventually fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
For most of its existence, it was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in the region.

The illustration below shows an early, medium-to-large sized Byzantine Dromon, of a bireme type but with a single mast and one large lateen sail.
It has a "crows nest" atop the mast and a small fighting platform in the bow behind the stem post.
The pointed spur sat just above the waterline and was designed to help the galley ride up and over the oars of an opposing ship.





The next picture shows how the "Greek Fire" weapon is believed to have worked.
The possession of this weapon was a significant advantage to the Byzantines for most of this period; being a carefully guarded secret.
Eventually as inevitably happens, the Arabs did get their hands on it but not until about the mid 9th Century.

Key:
1. Sealed tank containing incendiary liquid.
2. Brazier for heating the liquid.
3. Bellows (for boosting brazier heat output).
4. Two-handed pump, for pressurization of the heated liquid.
5. Release valve.
6. Hand-bar for aiming/adjusting direction of fire.
7. Wick lamp (to ignite liquid upon release).
8. Siphon nozzle.




This drawing shows a later and (again) larger Byzantine Dromon from around the late 9th Century.








Well then, my friends ... what's it going to be?
Which of these warship types is most deserving in your opinion?


Suggested additional criteria you might wish to consider, along with any others you deem appropriate.
(Note: Some of these could be considered already covered by Significant, Influential and Effective)

Which warship type ...
  • was the best?
  • was the greatest?
  • was the most widely used?
  • had the greatest longevity in service?
  • was the most versatile?
  • represented the best value for the cost/effort invested ("bang for the buck" in today's language)?
  • was the easiest to operate?
Any other criteria you have applied (please tell us what they were).
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Last edited by panther3485; 30 Sep 17 at 10:28..
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  #2  
Old 01 Oct 17, 15:59
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I have to vote for sail power if only for its practical value on a primarily rowing vessel.
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Old 01 Oct 17, 17:39
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I can't argue with an armament of Greek Fire.

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Old 02 Oct 17, 11:09
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
I can't argue with an armament of Greek Fire.
Greek fire was a devastating weapon, but in terms of warship design was the Dromon that much of an advance over the Greek Trireme despite the passing of 1200 years?
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Old 02 Oct 17, 18:22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skoblin View Post
Greek fire was a devastating weapon, but in terms of warship design was the Dromon that much of an advance over the Greek Trireme despite the passing of 1200 years?
Yes, much less reliant on the oar which was only useful for shortish spurts. The Dromon had strategic value as its improved sail system meant it could get places, the Trireme was a tactical weapon.
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Old 02 Oct 17, 19:42
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Have to go with the trireme. Without it there is no Greek civilization. Without the Greeks there is no Greek fire.
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Old 03 Oct 17, 05:13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warmoviebuff View Post
Have to go with the trireme. Without it there is no Greek civilization. Without the Greeks there is no Greek fire.
There would still have been a Greek civilisation, under the suzerainty of the Persians no doubt but it would still have been there and just as the conquered Greeks gradually infiltrated the Roman Empire from within they might well have done the same to the Persians. The Byzantines were Greeks after all.
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Old 05 Oct 17, 07:31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
Yes, much less reliant on the oar which was only useful for shortish spurts. The Dromon had strategic value as its improved sail system meant it could get places, the Trireme was a tactical weapon.
Hi Mark, I do think though that a ' shortish spurt' and a quick change of direction could be directed more rapidly with oars than with sails. OK, where's those Ancient Mariners?? lcm1
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Old 05 Oct 17, 08:08
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcm1 View Post
Hi Mark, I do think though that a ' shortish spurt' and a quick change of direction could be directed more rapidly with oars than with sails. OK, where's those Ancient Mariners?? lcm1
Which is why the dromon was superior given that it had a flexible sail system and oars
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Old 08 Oct 17, 06:44
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This was by no means the easiest decision but I decided to vote for the Dromon.
Obviously, it depends to no small degree on the criteria one chooses.
In this case, I asked myself which of the two types best represented a forward step in the evolution of warships.
(I intend to apply this same question as my primary criterion to the other poll in this round.)

Anyway, for the time at which each of these basic types came into regular use, IMO, the Byzantine Dromon arguably represents the greater forward step.
This is on account of its combination of oars and a very efficient sail plan; the benefits of which have been covered by another member already.
The weaponry carried is very important too but it's not part of the ship itself; so it played a much lesser part in my reckoning here.
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Old 14 Oct 17, 19:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
This was by no means the easiest decision but I decided to vote for the Dromon.
Obviously, it depends to no small degree on the criteria one chooses.
In this case, I asked myself which of the two types best represented a forward step in the evolution of warships.
(I intend to apply this same question as my primary criterion to the other poll in this round.)

Anyway, for the time at which each of these basic types came into regular use, IMO, the Byzantine Dromon arguably represents the greater forward step.
This is on account of its combination of oars and a very efficient sail plan; the benefits of which have been covered by another member already.
The weaponry carried is very important too but it's not part of the ship itself; so it played a much lesser part in my reckoning here.
I voted blind and tied it again...
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