- "She comes starboard."
- ―Hector Barbossa
The Essex was a British Royal Navy warship captained by Lieutenant John Scarfield. In 1751 she served as the main British patrol and defensive vessel in the waters around the island of Saint Martin in the Lesser Antilles. She was crushed into pieces by the ghost ship the Silent Mary during a failed attempt at destroying the pirate vessel the Black Pearl, taking her crew to the depths.
It's unknown when or where the Essex was built, but by 1751 she was under the command of Lieutenant John Scarfield, the commanding officer of the British forces on the island of Saint Martin in the Lesser Antilles.
Following the escape of the infamous pirate Jack Sparrow, the alleged witch Carina Smyth, and the Royal Navy deserter Henry Turner, from Saint Martin, Scarfield and his crew set sail on the Essex to find the outlaws and bring them to justice. However, the ultimate goal of Scarfield's pursuit was the legendary Trident of Poseidon, with which he intended to conquer the seas for the British Empire.
After a few days, the Essex caught up with the Dying Gull, an old pirate sloop in which the pirates escaped from Saint Martin. However, when Scarfield's men captured the Gull, the three fugitives were not onboard anymore. The imprisoned pirates were locked in the ship's brig but they managed to escape the same day when the night fell.
That night the Essex managed to intercept the Black Pearl, a pirate ship whose crew was trying to find the Trident. The crew of the Essex quickly took their battle stations, preparing to annihilate the pirate vessel with their superior firepower. However, as their attention was focused on the Pearl, the British didn't notice another threat behind them. The Silent Mary, the ghost ship of the undead Spanish pirate hunter Armando Salazar, emerged from the darkness, shocking Scarfield when he saw the Spanish vessel bending its bow high in the air. Controlled by Salazar's supernatural powers, the Mary came crashing down on the Essex, causing an explosion that cut the British vessel in half, sending her to the bottom of the sea with her entire crew.
Design and appearance
The Essex was a three-masted warship, built for battle and fast enough to chase the pirate ships on the high seas. Its rigging consisted of three masts: the fore, the mizzen, and the main. The foremast was rigged with a fore course, a fore topsail, and a fore topgallant sail, the mainmast with a main course, a main topsail, and a main topgallant sail, and the mizzenmast with a mizzen course, a mizzen topsail, and a mizzen topgallant sail. Every sail except the mizzen course was decorated with Saint George's Cross, the symbol of England. The figurehead of the Essex showed a king holding a sword in his hands. The large Union Jack proudly flew from the stern flagstaff, surrounded with two golden statues of Britannia, proclaiming the ship's allegiance to the Kingdom of Great Britain.
A second-rate ship of the line, the Essex was heavily armed to protect the interests of the British Empire. She carried eighty-eight cannons, twenty-eight on the gun deck, twenty-eight on the middle deck and twenty-four on the main deck (ten below the quarterdeck, ten between the quarterdeck and the forecastle, and four below the forecastle). She also carried four 36-pounders on the quarterdeck and two 36-pounders on the forecastle, one on the port side and one on the starboard side. Two more 36-pounders were mounted on the forecastle to serve as bow chasers.
The Essex was nearly identical in design to another British warship which operated in the Caribbean at the same time, the Monarch of Captain Toms. The only notable differences between the two ships were their figureheads, their quarter galleries, and the lack of decorations on the sails of the Monarch.
Behind the scenes
- In Dead Men Tell No Tales, the Essex was portrayed by the same prop vessel that portrayed the Monarch and the uncursed version of the Silent Mary. The filming took place at Helensvale, Australia.
- The ship was identified as Essex in the film's novelization, comic book adaptation, the prequel novel The Brightest Star in the North: The Adventures of Carina Smyth, and Jeremy Love's concept artwork. However, the ship's name was never mentioned in the film.
- In Jeff Nathanson's 2013 early draft of the Dead Men Tell No Tales script two different ships are named the Essex, possibly by mistake. One is a pirate shallop captained by Pig Kelly, the other is a Royal Navy warship commanded by Admiral Scarfield. Following Jack Sparrow and Carina Smyth's escape from Port Royal the pirate ship chased the Dying Gull and attacked her, but Sparrow's crew managed to repel the attackers. The Navy warship chased and attacked the Queen Anne's Revenge close to the borders of the Devil's Triangle where both ships were destroyed by the ghostly Captain John Brand and the crew of the Silent Mary.
- The portrayal of the Essex and her crew contains several historical inaccuracies.
- As a warship of the British Royal Navy, the Essex should be called the HMS Essex. However, the prefix HMS (His Majesty's Ship) was never mentioned in Dead Men Tell No Tales or any related material.
- The Essex is commanded by John Scarfield, an officer with the rank of lieutenant. In real-world history, the biggest ships the Royal Navy lieutenants could command were smaller vessels like sloops and brigs. A lieutenant could command a warship like the Essex only if the ship's captain was absent, indisposed or was killed in action. However, given this fact, it may be possible that the captain of the Essex could have been killed prior the events of the film, allowing Scarfield to take command of the warship.
- The Essex flies a large Union Jack from the stern flagstaff. In real-world history, in 1751, the time in which the film is set, the Royal Navy vessels were required to fly the Union Jack from the jackstaff at the head of the bowsprit.
- Historically, all the Royal Navy ships that patrolled the Caribbean and the North Atlantic were part of the red squadron, which used the Red Ensign as its symbol. The Essex does not fly any ensign.
- Gunlocks are visible on the cannons on the Essex's main deck as an officer cocked them during a scene in the film. In real-world history, gunlocks were rare since they only could be adapted to new guns, and only became a standard issue in the British Royal Navy around the 1800s, almost fifty years after the events of Dead Men Tell No Tales.
- Historically, the Royal Navy had a warship named the HMS Essex in 1751, a year in which Dead Men Tell No Tales is set. Unlike the POTC ship, the real Essex was wrecked off the coast of France in 1759, after the battle of Quiberon Bay.
- The Brightest Star in the North: The Adventures of Carina Smyth (First appearance)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Notes and references
- Disney Pirates: The Definitive Collector's Anthology, p116.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Novelization, p208.
- Forty-three cannons can be seen on the starboard side of the Essex on Jeremy Love's conceptual artwork. With the same number of cannons on the port side the Essex should be armed with eighty-six cannons. Two more bow chasers can be seen on the Essex's forecastle in Dead Men Tell No Tales during the destruction of the ship which makes the total number of her guns eighty-eight.
- As evidenced by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: Movie Graphic Novel, the events of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales are set in 1751.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
- Disney Pirates: The Definitive Collector's Anthology, p122.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Novelization, p211.
- The Brightest Star in the North: The Adventures of Carina Smyth, p208.
- artstation.com Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Men Tell No Tales - Gallery 2
- Dead Men Tell No Tales script by Jeff Nathanson, second draft, 5/6/2013
|British Royal Navy ships in Pirates of the Caribbean|