Charles Sheldon’s Special Service Vessels 1696-1736
Charles Sheldon (1665-1739) was Chief Shipwright of the Stockholm shipyard from 1692 until his death. In 1703, Sheldon visited England, France and Holland studying developments in shipbuilding and dockyards. On his return, he proposed the building of a dry dock at the Karlskrona dockyard. This was accepted and construction began in 1716. Construction was disrupted due to political unrest and difficulties with contractors between 1718 and 1720, when Sheldon regained control of the project. This dry dock, the first to operate in Baltic waters, opened in 1724. During his long tenure as chief shipwright for the Crown of Sweden, Charles Sheldon was required to design various vessels for special services. The need was based on intelligence reports of Danish and Russian naval activities and aggression against Sweden. These special service watercraft included bomb vessels of which few were built as result of financial challenges. Sheldon designed floating blockhouses, galleys, a frigate for operations on Lake Ladoga and armed barges intended to support the galley fleet. The variety of different watercraft that Sheldon was able to design for the Swedish crown demonstrates his versatility as a shipbuilder.