A cumbersomely slow trading ship with a huge cargo hold. Although she has sturdy armor and a large compliment of guns, unwieldy handling makes her extremely vulnerable when traveling without an escort.
Other variants of the San Mateo:
When one thinks of galleons, Spain immediately comes to mind. Perhaps Spain is so closely linked with the galleon simply because Spain wholeheartedly adopted the galleon as her primary design for blue water cargo ships and for ships of war from the mid 1500s until the end of the 1600s. But when we think of Spain and galleons we of course think of the treasure fleets, for the thought of Spanish galleons filled with the treasures of the new world excite the imagination and stir the soul. These treasure fleets were called flotas. The flotas were an integral part of an economic system that had developed early in the three centuries of Spanish rule in the New World.
The typical fleet consisted of several types of ships. Heavily armed galleons served as protection for the bulk of the fleet, merchant naos. The only difference between the nao and the galleon was the amount of armament carried. Several pataches, small reconnaissance vessels, also accompanied the fleet, as well as resfuerzos, which were supply ships. The fleet was led by the Capitana, or flagship, and the Almiranta, or vice-flagship.
The fleet would leave Spain loaded with manufactured goods needed by the Spanish colonies in the new world, departing first from Seville and later from Cadiz. They would sail down the coast of Africa until they reached the Cape Verde Islands. From here they sailed west with the prevailing tradewinds until they entered the Caribbean. At that point the ships split into two separate fleets, the Nueva España flota and the Tierra Firme flota (after 1648 this was called Los Galeones). The first fleet sailed to Mexico (Nueva España) where it dropped anchor at the port of Vera Cruz, while the second fleet visited the South American mainland ports of Cartagena, Nombre de Dios, and Porto Bello. In these ports, the ships traded for the wealth of the Indies: gold, silver, emeralds and other gemstones, hides, exotic woods, copper, tobacco, sugar, cochineal, indigo, and many more valuables. In addition to these goods, another Spanish fleet called the Manila Galleons crossed the Pacific and sent treasures from the Orient to Acapulco and Panama. Then the cargoes were escorted overland to the Caribbean flotas. These commodities included such materials as ginger, cowrie shells, porcelains, silks, velvets, damasks, drugs, pearls, and ivory.
After a month or so of trading with the colonies, the fleets prepared for the return voyage. The two flotas rendezvoused at Havana for the voyage home to Spain. The ships were refitted and replenished and then the combined fleet departed Cuba, sailing north to the Straits of Florida. When they reached the Gulf Stream, the ships were propelled past the Bahamas and eventually would set a course for the Azores and Spain. These treasure fleets returning to Spain regularly carried between five to ten million "pieces of eight," or roughly 60 - 120 million U.S. dollars in today's currency.
Spanish galleons were incredibly tough. The San Mateo, a Portuguese built medium galleon of 750 tons and 34 guns, sailed as part of the Spanish Armada. On board she carried 350 marines meant to be a part of the invasion forces. When the Armada met the Elizabethan Navy in 1588, the San Martin (1000 tons, 48 guns), flagship of the Duke of Medina, was badly damaged, having taken 107 direct hits. The San Mateo, having survived the successive broadsides of an entire English firing line and her sails and rigging already in shreds, was taking on water but doggedly limped in to save the San Martin. The San Mateo was immediately surrounded and pounded by seventeen English ships of the line. The English, seeing the shambles on her deck, attempted to board her. Even after suffering such a murderous hail of shot, three successive times the San Mateo managed to repel the boarders with withering musket fire from the surviving marines before finally being forced to withdraw. Due to the San Mateo's valiant actions, the San Martin was able to make a successful escape.
Strategy and Use
Although the era of galleons as warships has come and gone by the time period of Pirates of the Burning Sea, even now they are formidable as armed traders. Their design is centuries old: they're not going to win any speed contests and their rigs lack the refinements and optimizations of newer vessels, which means they require larger crews than more modern ships.
Despite the critiques of modern shipwrights, galleons ruled the seas for 150 years -- and for good reason. This medium galleon's length to beam ratio is 2.65:1, much less than the typical 3:1 or more of modern vessels. Some might go so far as to call the medium galleon's hull "pudgy", but wise traders have made huge profits off those hulls for centuries. The little bit of extra width translates to a huge increase in cargo capacity. The medium galleon's hull design allows it to carry some 500 tons of cargo, which is 30% more than narrower ships of similar length.
While it is true that the medium galleon is somewhat slower than similarly sized vessels, few large cargo ships are fast enough to run from marauders anyway. With that in mind, many of the supposed drawbacks of the galleon's antiquated design end up being benefits. It has space for up to fourteen light and medium weight civilian guns, and its 'inefficient' oak timbers mean that it can take a significant beating. The guns are also quite high above the water, which makes sweeping the decks of low pirate vessels with canister fire an excellent tactic.
Most merchant captains don't want the expense of hiring the extra crew to put working guns behind all their gunports. Here is where the other disadvantage of the medium galleon can be seen in a positive light: since the galleon's rig requires more men than normal, those extra men mean the galleon can mount and fight more guns than normal as well.
With 500 tons of cargo capacity, a strong hull, and an ample number of guns, the medium galleon is an excellent choice for blue-water merchantmen that want or need the extra security guns and men provide.
Descended from an era when there was little distinction between warship and trader, the medium galleon makes an excellent fighting merchantman. Captains in command of a medium galleon should take advantage of the medium galleon's capabilities by hiring a large crew. This will let them use the full set of guns that they should equip, and will also help repel foolhardy boarders.
The medium galleon is very tall, and although that makes it roll more than lower ships, it gives it a significant height advantage over smaller vessels, and a wise captain will make good use of this advantage. When in combat, a medium galleon's captain should quickly close the distance in order to maximize the height advantage. From close range, the medium galleon's guns and swivels will be able to fire down on their enemies, denying them the protection of their topdeck walls and railings.
Its height also makes it difficult for smaller vessels to sweep the galleon's decks with grape or canister fire. In addition, half the medium galleon's guns are inside the structure of the ship, which helps protect their crews from anti-personnel fire. A galleon with a large crew is a very hard target to board.
Galleons are slow, however, and this makes them vulnerable to groups of smaller, faster vessels. To guard against this, all large cargo vessels are advised to sail with escorts, or in convoys. A lone merchantman plodding along under the weight of its riches is the dream of every privateer and pirate.
The flute's design stems from the galleon, so the two have many similarities. The galleon is the older design than the flute, so its rig is far less efficient, but it's got a much more robust hull. Captains interested in the medium galleon's cargo capacity but who want more efficiency and expect to be in safe waters should investigate the flute.
Modern warships evolved from the galleons of old, so older warship designs also tend to share a lot of similarities with galleons. For instance, many older sloops-of-war strongly resemble the medium galleon. Those who enjoy the medium galleon but want even more combat ability should seek out retired naval sloops-of-war.
- Requires somewhat larger crew than comparable merchant ships due to antiquated rig design.
- Ship rig with sails as high as topsail.
- Open air balconies on the stern.
- Tall hull and high decks.
- It has a forecastle, a feature not present in later ship designs.
- Ample armament and sound hull construction.
- Larger than normal cargo capacity due to the wide hull.
- Changed Sailing and Range Stats
- Changed Capacity