Ark Royal

Mar 03, 2015, 7:00AM EST
Ark Royal
Flagship of the nascent Navy Royal

 The galleon eventually known as Ark Royal was ordered by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1586 as the Ark.  Under the prevailing convention of the time, it was referred to by the owner’s name – thus Ark Raleigh.  It was built by R. Chapman of Deptford with two gun decks, a double forecastle, a quarterdeck, and a poop ‘right aft’.  The construction of such a formidable ship did not go unnoticed.  In January 1587, exercising her royal prerogative, Queen Elizabeth purchased the ship for £5,000, a significant sum in those days, but considered ‘money well given’.  Actually, Raleigh did not receive any monies.  Rather, his debt to the Crown was reduced commensurately.  The ship was incorporated into the small Navy Royal as the flagship, renamed Ark Royal, and armed with 38 demi-culverin cannons.  The Lord High Admiral of England, Charles Howard, First Earl of Nottingham, Lord Howard of Effingham, was designated as her commander.  Ark Royal served as flagship of the Navy Royal defending against the attack by the Spanish Armada in 1588.  After the running battle through the English Channel, Ark Royal led the chase of the Spanish fleet through the North Sea as far as the Firth of Forth.  In June and July, 1596, Ark Royal served as the flagship of the combined English-Dutch fleet that attacked, captured, and sacked Cadiz, Spain.  In 1599, when Spain threatened a retaliatory attack on England, Ark Royal was again the Navy Royal’s flagship.  After King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England in 1603, Ark Royal was renamed Anne Royal, after his consort, Queen Anne.  In 1608, the vessel, now showing its age, was rebuilt at the Woolwich Dockyard by Phineas Pett I as a 42-gun ship of the line.  Anne Royal led the ill-fated 1625 raid on Cadiz, but later saw no more active combat.  In April 1636, while being refitted to serve as flagship for Sir John Penington, she anchored in shallow water of the River Medway.  In the shifting tide and high wind, she struck and was holed by her own anchor, quickly settling on the river bottom.  When refloated, it was determined that Anne Royal had been damaged beyond repair.  She was stricken from the rolls and broken up in 1638.

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