The latest project off my painting table is GHQ's 1:1200 model of the famous Santissima Trinidad, the great lumbering Spanish behemoth that perished in the aftermath of Trafalgar.
Once again I have copied the National Maritime Museum's (Greenwich) excerpt from Dr. Colin White's (no relation to myself) 'The Nelson Encyclopedia.'
The most famous Spanish warship of her day, the Santissima Trinidad played a central role in two of Nelson's battles. With her four gundecks mounting a total of 136 guns, she was reputed to be the largest ship in the world, a claim often repeated subsequently by historians. In fact she was appreciably smaller than the French three-deckers launched just before the war.
Built in Havana in 1769 to the designs of the Irish naval architect Matthew Mullan, the Trinidad was originally a standard three-decked battleship, mounting 116 guns. In 1795 her forecastle was joined to her quarterdeck, and a light battery of eight pounder guns mounted, thus creating her distinctive 'four-decker' appearance. But although this change made her look most impressive, it also considerably worsened her sailing qualities and her stability. So she tended to be a liability in battle, rather than an advantage.
Trinidad was also an obvious 'trophy' and the British made very determined attempts to capture her. At the Battle of Cape St Vincent, 14 February 1797, where she was the flagship of the Spanish commander in chief, Teniente General José de Córdoba, she came under attack from at least five British battleships including briefly, Commodore Nelson in HMS Captain. After a heroic defence in which she was totally dismasted and suffered over three hundred casualties, she surrendered. But before the British could take possession of her, the commander-in-chief Admiral Sir John Jervis was forced by the arrival of fresh Spanish ships to break off the action. The Trinidad's crew managed to rig jury masts and bring their battered ship safely into Cádiz harbour, despite a gallant attempt to recapture her by the British frigate HMS Terpischore under Captain Richard Bowen.
Eight years later however, Trinidad was less fortunate. At the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral Don Baltazar de Cisneros, she was once again set upon by a concentration of British ships and eventually surrendered to HMS Neptune, commanded by Nelson's close friend Captain Thomas Fremantle. HMS Prince took her in tow, but she had been so badly damaged that she sank in the great storm that followed.
For the sake of size comparison, here is a shot of Santissima Trinidad between HMS San Josef (116 guns) and HMS Centurion (50 guns). San Josef's main mast is the same size as ST's fore mast.
And here is a hypothetical scenario depicting a fight between Santissima Trinidad and George Washington, though the two never actually met in battle.