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Mary Rose 1511

The sinking of the Mary Rose (Royal Naval Museum)
The sinking of the Mary Rose (Royal Naval Museum)

Mary Rose Mary Rose One of Henry VIII's 'great ships', Mary Rose was named after the king's favourite sister Mary and the Tudor emblem the Rose. Typical of the larger sailing ships of the fleet with high castles at the bow and stern, she was one of the first ships with gun ports cut out along the side of the hull for the firing of heavy guns.

Mary Rose had a long career and was frequently in battle against the French. On 10 August 1512 she was part of an English force that attacked the French fleet at Brest. Mary Rose crippled the enemy flagship, bringing down her mast and causing 300 casualties. This was possibly the first battle in the Channel when ships fired their heavy guns through gun ports.

The sinking of the Mary Rose is the event for which the ship is best known. On 19 July 1545 Mary Rose was part of an English fleet that sailed out of Portsmouth to engage the French. She fired a broadside at the enemy and was turning to fire the other broadside when water flooded into her open gun ports and the ship suddenly capsized in full view of Henry VIII watching from the shore. It is not certain what caused Mary Rose to capsize; she was overloaded with extra soldiers and may have been caught by a gust of wind, which made the ship heel over.

The wreck of the Mary Rose was rediscovered in 1968 and before her recovery divers carried out much preparation work. On 11 October 1982 the hull was lifted off the seabed and placed on a cradle before being raised by a giant floating crane. It was then towed back into Portsmouth harbour from where the ship had left on her last fateful journey 437 years before. Today the Mary Rose is preserved in No.3 dock in Portsmouth.

Further reading: Non-RN Mary Rose HMS Website

Mary Rose Statistics (1545)
Period in service: 1511 - 1545
Displacement: 700 tons
Length: 38.5m / 126.3ft
Beam: 4.6m / 15.09ft
Complement: 700
Armament: 20 heavy guns 60 light guns