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[The Rattlesnake]


The Original 1780 Privateer


The Revolutionary War privateer RATTLESNAKE was designed in 1779-80 by John Peck, a Boston naval architect.

The original RATTLESNAKE was built in Plymouth Massachusetts, and in style resembled a miniature frigate, which had a separate quarter deck and forecastle. These features are rather unusual for a privateer. She carried up to 20 guns, (Probably six and nine pounders) and had a usual complement of 85 men.

Little is known of her career except that it was brief. Late in 1781, she was captured by the British frigate ASSURANCE (44 guns) and taken into the Royal Navy as the COMMORANT (14 guns). Sometime around 1784 she was renamed RATTLESNAKE and soon afterwards sold out of the British Navy.

The vessel was unusually fast, and her hull lines were recorded by the British Admiralty after her capture and have come down to us today.

Present Privateer

  • Rattlesnake Particulars
  • L.O.A.: 81" 6'
  • BREADTH: 17.3 FEET
  • DEPTH: 9.6 FEET
  • GROSS TONS: 51.57

How many times have you wondered how to provide yourself or your children with the opportunity to expand their horizons to learn about the importance of team work and self reliance? Have you ever wondered how we can teach our children that history and the future are interrelated? All of this is possible through HMF ship Rattlesnake.

Seafaring is no longer in our national blood as it once was even though our national economy is as dependent on seaborne commerce as it has ever been. Still we seem to recognize that the sailing ships of the last century represented a pinnacle of some sort of human ingenuity, resourcefulness and courage in the face of implacable and relentless forces.

The relentless effort of modern society to eliminate risk and uncertainty, not only in seafaring but in all aspects of life has bred a generation of citizens who have had little opportunity to experience real risk and adversity and thus little opportunity to develop the courage, self-confidence, and skills that mariners had to have to survive.

It is our purpose to develop self-reliance teamwork and responsibility and leadership. Participants will take part in programs which will develop technical skills in safety and seamanship in a naturally challenging environment.

Our program is an educational and character building experience for all people, especially the young. Our program fosters greater awareness of and appreciation for the values of our maritime tradition.

Our expectation is that participants in these museum programs may enhance the quality of their own lives and develop a deeper appreciation for others for our environment, for our maritime heritage, and for their interrelationship with the wider world.

Programs sponsored by the museum ship Rattlesnake provide international goodwill training in seamanship and nautical skills, oceanographic research and maritime preservation.

These objectives are accomplished through practical applications, marine science, maritime history, music, art, and literature. Subjects to be taught and experienced include seamanship, navigation, sailing instruction, oceanography, maritime literature, history, geography, natural science, and mathematics. Environmental stewardship is a natural response to exposure to the maritime environment. Anticipated programs will be demonstrated, both aboard ship and on the shore.

Programs sponsored by the foundation will provide opportunities for participants to demonstrate their accomplishments in shipboard and competitions designed to specifically promote and develop individual and teamwork skills and to foster increased personal responsibility.

Experience through these activities makes the most impact in the growth of character, through the challenges met and the self discipline developed and the teamwork required. The effect on participants can be lifelong.

Here our interests transcend politics, race, and religion in very personal and tangible ways. We envision the day when the awareness of these things is not unusual but the norm.


The Maritime Heritage Foundation is a Florida not-for-profit corporation located in Jacksonville, Florida. It is dedicated to the preservation of our maritime heritage while providing an educational program presenting the importance of our maritime heritage to school children and the public. The Foundation is currently developing programs to teach basic seamanship, nautical skills, and maritime preservation through the refitting of the


A volunteer organization consisting of several hundred individuals with differing skill levels is involved in the restoration. Some of this work must be completed aboard ship. Some is being completed in an off-ship environment. Other skills such as marlin spikemanship is being taught and work completed in a classroom atmosphere. Other volunteers are maintaining Living History Programs with period costumes. Another group is exploring the expansion of the existing education program.

The Foundation is the sponsor of a Sea Explorer Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America aboard the RATTLESNAKE.

The Foundation is currently planning expansion of its existing programs to include a sailing school, navigation, oceanography, and marine science programs while emphasizing the importance of environmental stewardship in a maritime environment. The RATTLESNAKE is currently moored in the St. Johns River of Jacksonville, which provides a perfect on sight location to enhance its programs.

In order to accomplish our short-term objective of completing the refitting of the RATTLESNAKE, and to continue planning for the long-term, we need your support. Please, send us your donation today.

Maritime Heritage Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 806
Jacksonville, Florida 32201-0806

(904) 387-4669 - 1-800-332-1072

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