Today, few pirate ships sail the seven seas, but once upon a time, many amazing pirate ships did, and they left plenty of destruction in their wake. During the Golden Age of Piracy from the 17th and early 18th century, pirates had access to some amazing ships. From sloops to man-of-wars, their massive arsenals were capable of going toe-to-toe with the most powerful nations’ naval fleets. Often, pirates would raid even powerful ships, capture them, fix them up, change their names, and make them their new flagship to increase their power. Ready to find out which ships among them were the most impressive? Here are 25 Most Amazing Pirate Ships To Ever Sail The Seas.
Charles Vane was an infamous pirate that terrorized French and English ships, pillaging for gold and treasure, torturing sailors for information, and generally taking any ship that was better than his. Each time he took a ship, he named it the Ranger. The first Ranger, however, was a Spanish brig he captured in 1718.
Like Vane, Bartholomew Roberts loved to name all his captured ships the same name; in his case, the Royal Fortune. First, in 1720, he renamed a French brigantine the Good Fortune and armed it with 26 cannons before going to the Caribbean. There, he had it repaired and renamed the Royal Fortune. He captured two more ships after that and renamed each the Royal Fortune. The last he captured in West Africa; it eventually sank on February 10, 1722 due to an attack by the British ship HMS Swallow.
Captained by William Moody, this pirate ship was originally named the Resolution before it was changed to Rising Sun. It was primarily active in the Caribbean with 36 guns and 150 men aboard. Typically, they burned, stranded, and looted the ships they captured.
In 1699, Captain George Booth captured a 45-ton Indian slave ship with 50 guns named the Speaker. It was his most precious prize and ended up having a long career as a pirate ship, later under the command of John Bowen. It ran aground in 1701 near the coast of Madagascar.
Though a smaller ship, Captain Henry Fowler was able to use it to his advantage and gain several other ships in his command. This ship particularly had a modest 16 cannons and 50 men aboard. Fowler was known, however, for using the tactic of ramming his ships against others while his men invaded.
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Originally named The Caroline, its name quickly changed after John Gow and others staged a mutiny and murdered anyone who got in their way, including the captain. Gow took over as captain and renamed the ship the Revenge. Using it up and down the European coast, he, his crew, and the ship were famed for their many acts of piracy.
A 40 cannon ship captained by both John Cook and Edward Davis in 1684, this pirate ship was captured by them in West Africa and raided plenty of Spanish towns and ships across South America.
Originally named the Elizabeth, it turned into the notorious pirate ship Fame’s Revenge after William Fly convinced the other sailors to mutiny and kill the Captain and First Mate. Things didn’t last too long. Authorities hunted them down, and they were captured after three months.
After Christopher Condent became a pirate and wreaked havoc across the Atlantic, he came upon a Dutch ship, captured it, and named it the The Flying Dragon. This ship brought Condent even more success, allowing him to capture other ships and treasure along the way.
A small but fast twelve-ton sloop, it carried only four-guns and carried around thirteen crewmen. It was captured and captained by the infamous pirate Anne Bonny, also known as “Toothless Annie.” At the helm of the William, Toothless Annie was a true terror in the Caribbean.
Built in 1715 as a 300-ton slave ship, it eventually was captured by the pirate Samuel “Black Sam” Belamy. He used it to pirate other ships up and down America’s eastern coast. In 1717, when he sailed up to Massachusetts to meet his lover, Maria Hallet, he never reached his destination. Legend states that the sailors were drunk and they, unfortunately, hit a storm with winds up to 70 miles-per-hour. Only two of the 146 men survived and it wasn’t seen again until 1984 when explorer Barry Clifford found it 30 feet deep.
Calling the CSS Alabama a “pirate” ship might be stretching it depending on who you ask, but its importance and impact can’t be overstated. Secretly built by Great Britain during the American Civil War and given to the Confederates, it caused a deep rift between Great Britain and the United States. The CSS Alabama did a great deal of damage and pillaged and plundered the United States’ trade ships.
John “Calico Jack” Rackham was a crew member on the Ranger under Captain Vane until he took control of the Ranger and eventually got his hands on the very large Jamaican vessel called the Kingston. Using this as his flagship, he and his crew were able to avoid capture for some time.
At the helm of this ship was Captain Morgan, the same pirate we know today on bottles of Captain Morgan rum. The Satisfaction was his flagship. In the 17th century, he was a privateer for England. With the Satisfaction, he was very successful staving off and defeating Spanish fleets. However, ultimately, it was no match against powerful storms and shallow reefs.
Captained by the ruthless Edward Low, this 6-gun Libertine ship was given to him by Captain George Lowther. With the Rebecca, Low was able to expand his piracy expeditions and have significant success across the seas before he eventually swapped out the Rebecca for a larger fishing ship.
The Golden Hind
Famously sailed by Sir Francis Drake, the English pirate, this ship was originally named the Pelican. Drake renamed it The Golden Hind while on his voyage circumnavigating the globe. He was knighted on board the ship in 1581 in front of Queen Elizabeth I. (She wanted to keep a relative distance from a man seen as a pirate.) This ship was fast, highly maneuverable in battle and capable of docking at small ports.
Captured by the ruthless and bloody pirate Henry Every, this ship was the prize of the Indian fleet. Not only the biggest ship in India, it had dozens of cannons and 400 riflemen to defend it. Still, Every’s bold and lucky plan allowed him and his men to capture, pillage, and plunder the ship. The gold on the ship was worth about 600,000 British pounds, roughly tens of millions today.
Built in 1695 and captained by William Kidd, this vessel could go up to 14 knots with the sails full and was armed with 32 guns. It initially was used as a privateer vessel to hunt down pirates until Kidd became a pirate himself.
After infamous pirate Dirk Chivers signed on to the 28-gun ship called the Resolution, he eventually took it over, renamed it Soldado and made it a pirate ship. Both Chivers and the Soldado saw a significant amount of success, capturing many high-value ships, including two East India Trading Company ships.
A Russian Man of War with 70 men, it was captured by the pirate John Derdrake on the coast of Norway. Derdrake, at the time, had a much smaller ship, but he somehow found a way to capture the Man of War. He renamed it Sudden Death.
Starting out as Charles II, the notorious pirate Henry Every captured it and changed the name to the Fancy in 1694. It was armed with 46 guns, which made it quite a looting ship at the time. Every improved on the ship, making it faster and more notorious across the Indian Ocean.
Captained by Edward England, this ship was originally called the Pearl, but after England had it refitted he also renamed it. On board, he and his crew set sail for West Africa. There, they inflicted a tremendous amount of damage and secured pirating success by looting ten ships.
This was the favorite vessel of Jean Laffite, a notorious Louisana war hero, pirate, privateer, spy, and governor. He did most of his business on the Pride and also made it his home. When the United States government started catching on to his pirating ways, he burned down his colony and headed south with his favorite vessel, pirating along the South American cost.
Captured by the pirate Captain Howell Davis, this 26-gun ship was the feather in his cap after he raided Maio Island. This ship was a turning point in his pirating career; he became an admiral over two other pirate captains and captured four large English and Dutch ships loaded with ivory and gold.
Queen Anne's Revenge
Captained by the notorious and infamous pirate Blackbeard, this vessel is almost as famous as its captain. It was originally a French slave ship Blackbeard transformed into his own pirate vessel, armed to the teeth with 40 guns and plenty of men to raid and plunder on the high seas. Rather than engaging in costly battles, Blackbeard intimidated his prey, and it often worked. It sank in 1718 and was rediscovered off the coast of North Carolina in 1996.