Sink the Dreadnought, June 1667

Captain Bogaert's 4th Rate Delft with 40 guns sails south into the Medway

Inspired by discussions with fellow enthusiast Peter A of this parish, my  love of the period and of naval warfare in general, I took the plunge at Partizan buying two starter fleets in 1/2400 from Tumbling Dice. So far have completed 24 vessels large and small for my Dutch/English/French fleets 1660 - 1700.

Thanks to wonderful help from Neil Fox and inspired by Simon McDowall's Sole Bay re fight of a couple of years back, here is my first venture into gaming and modelling the ships of our period... look out for Swedish and Danish vessels in the future too.

I thought it best to introduce the project with a played out scenario set during the very successful Dutch Raid on the Medway in 1667. The rules are Neil's with some scenario specific tweaking by me. The game took less than an hour and was very enjoyable.


It is 1667 and the Restoration monarchy is hard up. Plague and the great fire of the previous year has denuded the King's coffers forcing him to mothball much of his beloved battle fleet in anchorages along the Medway estuary. Stripped down to avoid damage and manned only with skeleton crews, the proud English Fleet is somewhat impoverished, ill served and disgruntled.

A daring raid on the the estuary by the a large Dutch fleet has been underway for two days already. Captain Bogaerts of the 4th Rate, 50 gun DELFT has slipped past English forts at Sheerness and upriver. His mission is to find the English 3rd Rate DREADNOUGHT lying at anchor off the east bank of the river below the dockyards at Chatham and sink her. With the wind in the east the going is good and Bogaerts hopes for an in and out mission knowing the larger English ship has no sails and  her masts partially dismantled - de facto, Dreadnought is a sitting duck with a skeleton crew aboard. It is likely if the mission takes too long, other ships from up river so far uncommitted by the timid English commanders may arrive to cause trouble.

The Delft hugs the western bank to avoid English shore batteries
DELFT - 4th Rate, 50 guns, Elite crew, Speed - Medium

HMS Dreadnought - 3rd Rate, 70 guns but partially decommissioned and moored.

DREADNOUGHT - 3rd Rate, 70 guns, Regular crew (skeleton). At anchor with no sails and upper masts.

Delft heads up the channel to leeward of the target.

On Turn 1 the Dutch are given the initiative and Delft approaches Dreadnought from the north. The English vessel is lying just off the shore and is on a semi permanent mooring. When her crew and dock workers spot the approaching Dutchman they use boats and ropes to try and re-position Dreadnought to be able to bring her guns to bear. The mechanism for this is to throw a D6 per turn and on a score of 4+ Dreadnought can be pulled and nudged 45 degrees in any direction at her anchorage.

By Turn 4 Delft had manoeuvred to open fire on Dreadnought.

Between Turns 2 and 4 the Dutch won most of the initiative rolls and used this to advantage however, the English ship was able to alter position enough to begin to offer a broadside to an attack despite having no power to move.

Despite the range and angle the first broadside was not decisive.

By Turn 5 Delft opened fire off the starboard quarter at close range but landed only three hits despite  the quality of her crew. Dreadnought simply absorbed the punishment. Delft held position for a turn scoring further hits but by Turn 7 was forced to manoeuvre upriver and attempt to turn about to try another run whilst the English desperately attempted to re-position Dreadnought manually.

Delft comes about upstream for another pass at Dreadnought.

Word had travelled and by Turn 8 help was coming down river from Chatham in the shape of the 5th Rate DARTMOUTH and the armed yacht SWAN.

Alarm! HMS Dartmouth and the yacht Swan make haste from Chatham.

DARTMOUTH - 5th Rate, 30 guns, Regular crew, Speed - Medium.

SWAN - Yacht, 8 guns, Regular crew, Speed - Medium.

Delft pummels Dreadnought but things are going to get more difficult now.

By now Delft had come about and was again inflicting heavy damage on the stricken Dreadnought which had not been able to get off a single shot because of the rapid manoeuvring of Captain Bogaert's ship. Now however, the Dutch captain was going to be under some pressure as the two fresh English ships raced down river and it appeared that finally, Dreadnought's guns would be able to fire!

Finally Dreadnought is able to return fire after taking several broadsides.

On T9 Dreadnought traded broadsides with Delft at close range. Despite being on fire, she was able to inflict significant damage on the Dutchman. On T10 Swan moved toward the east bank and Dartmouth with full sail, raced down the west bank whilst Bogaert's brought Delft close in trying to hold position and sink the badly damaged Dreadnought.

Bogaert's blunder! He grounds Delft and is pummelled by the little Swan.

T11 saw Captain Bogaerts make his first mistake. In trying to bring  Delft between the east bank and the Dreadnought the Dutch ship hit the shallows and grounded! Swan got between the Dreadnought and Delft whilst Darmouth spotted her chance to rake the stern of the stranded enemy ship.

A devastating close range exchange between Swan and Delft saw the tiny yacht score four hits from four whilst taking three hits in return which almost sunk her. By this time the Dreadnought was burning fiercely and still tethered to its mooring.

Swan is crippled but Delft is now badly mauled and slowing down,

Miraculously on T12 the Dutch got the initiative and Delft's veteran crew re-floated their vessel sailing in the shallows between the east bank and the flaming English 3rd Rate. Swan continued to fire on Delft whilst Darmouth finally opened fire with a disappointing broadside which caused only slight damage to the enemy vessel.

The coup de grace.. Dreadnought explodes and sinks.

Delft steering up stream once more, raked the crippled Dreadnought from close range. The two larger combatant ships now faced each other over the sunken wreck of Dreadnought. Delft was significantly damaged by this point and moving more slowly with several guns out of action.

Dartmouth squares up to Delft in a broadside exchange. The sunken Dreadnought is in view.

Bogaerts now decided it was time to run for the open water of the Thames estuary but had he left it too late? His ship was dangerously close to sinking and was faced with a fresh and powerful enemy vessel and a lurking, damaged but still dangerous yacht whose fire had already proved deadly.

By T14 Delft's fire was very weak as she limped to hug the west bank of the river and run for safety however, the gallant Swan had one last card to play.

Whilst the two larger ships slug it out, the gallant Swan limps to block the way.

On T15 the English had the initiative and the crippled Swan sacrificially steered right across the path of Delft. On T16 with nothing left to do and a single strength point left on both ships, Bogaerts ordered his ship to ram Swan. Both vessels were already critically damaged and the crunching collision did for each.

Bogaert's rams Swan and both ships sink in the shallows.

 As each quickly sank in the shallows barely twenty yards from shore, Darmouth sailed around and picked up survivors.

Dartmouth picks up survivors

Dreadnought was sunk but Bogaert's ship was also lost and he was captured.

I really enjoyed this introductory game and will share a Bantry Bay scenario next. I''ll also do some features on building and painting the ships which has been a diverting and very rewarding project.