Reply To: Duties of the Gunner in a naval ship “In Ordinary”?

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Chris Donnithorne

    The larger ships in Ordinary were valuable assets, there was a need for ship-keepers to look after such vessels and, in their wisdom, their Lordships had decided that certain Warrant Officers could fulfil this function. It was an important position. Certainly for the first half of the C18th, formal watch-keeping was required (usually amounting to a one in three [and sometimes shorter] roster), the whole being overseen by the Master Attendant who was expected to be afloat in one of the ships in his port every night to ensure the Standing Officers were doing their duty. Three Standing Officers had to be onboard every night (of which two shared the watches), and the Cook was only allowed to keep certain daytime watches – what an existence.

    In the circumstances, little maintenance was demanded of the Standing Officers in their professional capacity. For senior Gunners, there was an expectation that they would be involved in the training and examination of new people. For most ships, a small amount of powder and shot was usually kept onboard and care of this would naturally fall to the Gunner. But as to blacksmithing duties, I have seen no evidence to support such an idea, nor any evidence that any inferior warrant Officers served onboard in these conditions.. I hesitate to say it never happened, having found exceptions to virtually every rule, but I think it extremely unlikely.