The HMS Victory was a first-rate three-decker, carrying 110 guns, and was accounted the finest ship in the service. In 1744, she was the flagship of Admiral Sir J. Balchen, a venerable officer of 75 years of age, who had been called from the honourable retirement of Greenwich Hospital to command a fleet destined to relieve Sir Charles Hardy, then blockaded in Lisbon by a superior French force, under the Count de Rochambault. On returning from the successful performance of this service, the fleet was dispersed in the chops of the Channel by a tremendous gale, on October 4th. The rest of the ships, though much shattered, gained the anchorage of Spithead in safety, but the Victory was never more heard of, though from the evidence of fishermen of the island of Alderney, she was believed to have run on to the Caskets, some dangerous rocks lying off that island, where her gallant crew of about a thousand perished to a man
Construction of the vessel began in 1795 at Hartt Shipyard in Boston following the design of Joshua Humphrey from Philadelphia. The CONSTITUTION was launched in October 1797 and was completed in 1798. She was armed with 44 cannons, including 30 long-barrelled 24-pounders.
In the war between England and France (1812-1814) the CONSTITUTION led a successful engagement against the frigates GUERRIERE (with 38 cannons) and JAVA. Her last wartime voyage was in February 1815.
In 1869 John Willis, a shipowner and ship’s captain from London, commissioned the building of the clipper CUTTY SARK in order to beat the THERMOPYLAE (built one year before) in the “tea race”. The name CUTTY SARK is of Scottish origin and means “short shirt”. The figurehead is a witch called Nannie.
Under 1877 the full-rig ship sailed almost exclusively as a tea dipper on the China route and she frequently achieved speeds of up to 17 knots. Then from 1877 onwards the CUTTY SARK served mainly in the Australian wool trade