A Razee or Rasee is a sailing ship with one deck removed ("razeed"). The word was used both as a verb and as a noun and was originally derived from the French "raser" (German: to cut off).
Typically, ships that had become obsolete due to the advancement of shipbuilding and weapon technology were adapted to new requirements by breaking off a deck or superstructure. "Razees" are therefore characteristic of such transition phases.
In the second half of the 17th century, the towering superstructures of the aft deck and bow were removed from galleons . This made the ships lighter, more agile, less top-heavy and easier to sail without losing their firepower.
The classic Razees were ships of the line that were converted into frigates by removing a deck in the late 18th century or early 19th century . Often it was 64-gun double-decker ships of the line, which were replaced by the larger and more heavily armed 74-gun ships at this time. Although some of the old 64s were still used (one example is Nelson's HMS Agamemnon ), in other cases they were retired or made into razees. These ships had the advantage that they were heavier and more robust than the usual frigates and could carry a comparatively heavy armament. The disadvantage, however, was that the remaining lower gun deck was lower than that of a frigate built as a monoplane, which made it impossible to use weapons in the event of steep heels or higher seas. A famous example of a successful razee of this type in the Royal Navy is HMS Indefatigable (1784), Sir Edward Pellew's ship . In some cases, 74s were made Razees as well, e.g. B. if they could or should no longer be used as ships of the line due to combat or other damage and defects or for other reasons. An example of this is HMS Majestic , a 74-gun ship of the line that carried 54 guns as a Razee and was involved in the capture of the US frigate USS President in 1815 .
Another generation of Razees emerged in the 1850s when some of the last of the sailing frigates were converted into large sloops by removing a deck . In the background was the further development of ship artillery during these years, which allowed warships to be equipped with large-caliber guns. In this way, a former frigate missed a heavier broadside than before after its conversion into a 20-gun sloop and at the same time managed with a much smaller crew. In addition, the hull construction and sails gave these sloops excellent sailing properties.
- Kemp, Peter (Ed.): The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea . 1st edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1976, ISBN 0-19-211553-7 .