Greek Triremes were 120 feet long and were powered by 170 rowers sitting in three rows. The triremes were built low to the ground so the bottom row was 18 inches above the water! They were also very narrow because they were not built for the rough ocean.
The rowers were chained to their seats so that they could not run away in the heat of battle. The rough sea would make short work of a trireme because it had such a small weight. The triremes were built for short fights in close quarters.
The triremes were very fast and manoeuvrable which gave them a huge advantage over other ships. They had a huge, bronze ram at the front for very close fights to sink ships quickly.
The triremes were made for the battle of Salamis, against the Persians. They made a huge difference and won the battle.
Before gunpowder was invented, the attack of ships was limited to setting ships alight and sinking them by ramming them under the level of the water. Unless the attacking ship reached the speed of 10 knots at the moment of impact, it would crumple, leaving the defending ship almost undamaged.
Before the invention of Triremes, the war ship was called a Pentekonter, which was a single banked war ship that had 50 rowers with 25 rowers on each side. These ships were sunken by the Persians and were not successful at all.Return to index