Greek Trireme, c 4th century BC.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model. No contemporary and reasonably complete sculpture or drawing of a Greek trireme has yet been found. A Greek trireme usually pulled 170 oars, arranged in three banks. The upper side contained 31 oars a side while the middle and lower banks had 27 oars a side. It appears that a trireme must have been about 150 ft long with a breadth of 19 ft over the outriggers and 16 ft breadth of hull. The conjectural model of this galley shows the smaller of the two sails that were carried. The mast was lowered during action. The trireme's main weapon was the battering ram on the bow, designed to hole an enemy ship beneath the water line, a tactic used to great effect in the Greek victory over a larger Persian fleet at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC.