Command and Discipline

HMS often reenacts aspects of Royal Naval life aboard existing C18th ships such as HMS Trincomalee and HMS Victory - and also our own launch

We give a taste of what life was like for serving men on a vessel, the orders and evolutions of drill for pulling (rowing) the launch, gunnery and other tasks.

Men knew their place and their respective duties and, although there was a need for discipline, Nelson's Navy could never have been run on a wholly tyrannical basis.

The reputed sadism of Bligh and heroicism of Fletcher Christian are myths perpetuated by Hollywood.

HMS ratings and non-commissioned officers

The Bosun

A ‘swain’ is an old English country word for a lover or suitor so boatswain means' boat lover'.

The standard of discipline in the Georgian Royal Navy is often unfairly portrayed as being wantonly cruel. It should however be set in the context of the times as life ashore was often harsh, for if you had no income you could starve or be hanged for stealing bread.

Tight discipline was very neccessary in a warship, well drilled hands performing their duties, without hesitation, made for an efficient fighting ship, able to react quickly to unfolding events in a sea action.

Captains were the supreme authority onboard as well as being the ships battle computer and the lower deck sailors regarded them as having absolute knowledge.

To the crew, a

HMS officers

strong agressive fighting captain would bring success in battle and therefore good prize money. Ordinary seamen usually had little or no direct contact with their captains, receiving most of their orders from Lieutenants or from young Midship via either Able Seaman or Warrant officers or their Mates.

The crew of a 38 gun frigate


3 x Lieutenants

Royal Marine officer


6 x Warrant officers

6 x Midshipmen

7 x Petty officers

11 x Mates

38 x Royal Marines

Royal Marine drummer

40 x Able seamen

40 x Ordinary seamen

40 x Landsmen