a fleet composed of warships propelled by means of oars. Sails were used as an auxiliary means of locomotion. The origin of rowing fleets dates back to remote antiquity. The rowing ships of the ancient world (Greece, Carthage, Rome, and Phoenicia) were called uniremes (with one row of oars), biremes (with two rows of oars), triremes (with three rows of oars), and so on. In tactics, they used boarding, ramming, and throwing machines—ballistas and catapults—that launched rocks and arrows and later, incendiary projectiles.
In the seventh century the Venetians created an improved type of rowing ship, the galley, and the fleet of rowing ships came to be called the galley fleet. With the transition of most countries to sailboat fleets (16th to the middle of the 17th century), only individual countries retained galley fleets (for example, Russia and Sweden) and used them for action along coastal regions. In Russia the galley fleet was introduced as part of the regular navy by Peter I. During the Northern War (1700–21) the Russian galley fleet won victories over the Swedes at Hango (1714) and at Grönhamn (1720). In the middle of the 18th century galleys in Russia began to be gradually replaced by xebecs, rowing frigates (vessels having large draft and hulls of increased sturdiness that could carry artillery of high caliber and did not require a large crew), bombardier ships, gunboats, brigantines. and so on, which varied in size, number of artillery pieces and their caliber, and number of masts. The Russian galley fleet was used for the last time in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29.
N. P. V’IUNENKO