Henry Van Dyke is quoted as having said, “Of all the things that man has made, no is so full of interest and charm, none possesses so distinct a life and character of its own, as a ship.”
Here are four great ships that have left an indelible mark on history that you can add to your maritime repertoire.
The Santa Maria
Nicknamed La Gallega, after the province of Galicia where she was built, the Santa Maria is the historical version of the little engine that could.
She was not built for exploration but along with two other ships, she was tasked with the formidable feat of ferrying Christopher Columbus on his first expedition to the 'new world' which she did successfully.
She was unable to make the return voyage after running aground and sinking on Christmas Day. She did, however, gift her voyagers with wood to build a fort which they aptly named La Navidad.
The Bismarck was the Goliath of the seas by way of German ingenuity. Billed as a state-of-the-art battleship, it was straddled with the hopes of reigniting German maritime prowess.
The Germans wanted to take back control of the ocean routes between Germany and the Atlantic Ocean that were currently being guarded by the British. The Bismarck was tasked with disrupting the status quo.
When the British, realized its intentions, they unleashed the majority of their Home Fleet to counter its attempts. It was a hard fought battle that saw the Bismarck severely hobbled but able to escape. The escape was short-lived as it was leaking fuel. It was spotted shortly thereafter and sent off to its final resting place.
The Yamato was a Japanese super battleship. It was built under a veil of secrecy seemingly under the mandate of bigger and better after Japan withdrew from the Washington Naval Treaty. A treaty was aimed at limiting tonnage, armament size and expansion of naval facilities.
The Yamato though intimidating in stature was a gas guzzling lumbering behemoth. Visions of longevity were not in its future. In 1945 she was sent off on Operation Ten-Go. A suicide mission demanded by the Emperor as a last attempt to defend Okinawa.
The Japanese fleet lacked air cover for this mission and the fate of the Yamato was sealed by American fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo planes.
The HMS Victory was the largest wooden ship of her time. She was launched in 1765 by the Royal Navy and is best remembered for being the flagship of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar, Britain's greatest naval victory.
The HMS Victory is now a living museum. Her journey to this status began in 1922 when she was dry docked for repairs after having been damaged by HMS Neptune.
She was First opened to the public in 1928 and 2012 saw her custodianship transferred to the National Museum of the Royal Navy who have continued to repair and renovate her as needed.