As an early adopter of copper sheathing during the Age of Sail, the Royal Navy enjoyed a considerable tactical advantage over its main opponents for several decades. Because copper made the hulls less hospitable to weed growth, its ships were both faster and more maneuverable than those of Britain’s enemies, at least until the practice was adopted by other countries. But that was not the prime motivation behind the innovation. Copper sheathing was the final chapter in a long-running battle between the world’s navies and one of their most persistent foes—the dreaded shipworm.
Copper-Bottoming the Royal Navy
By Philip K. Allan