Ships of the Line were mostly used by the navies of the European powers, such as Great Britain, Spain, France, (and the United States from the 1790's onwards) and the United Provinces (The Netherlands) from the 17th Century to the early to mid 19th Century. The reason of the name was the time-honored tradition of a line battle. There is only one left in existance the HMS Victory, the flagship of the famous Horatio Nelson. Fictional varients of this type of ship are the HMS Dauntless and the HMS Endeavour.
The Ships of the Line were the pride of each navy, such as the British Royal Navy, the French Navy, and the Spanish Navy. They were rarely sunk, but more often captured. The last known ship of the line to be destroyed is the HMS Implacable. She was scuttled by the Royal Navy on the 2nd of December, 1949. The last ship of the line to be destroyed in combat is the HMS Wellesley, in 1940, and the only to do so during a air-raid.
The British Royal Navy put the rating system as follows ;
First Rate : Kings of the Seas. The largest ships of the line, ranging from 104 guns to 122 guns, and in one case, 140. Pain to maneveur.
Second Rate : Queens of the Seas. Second largest, ranging from 94 guns to 102 guns. Still a pain to maneveur.
Third Rate : Princes of the Seas. Third largest, ranging from 84 guns to 90 guns. Medium difficulty to maneveur.
Fourth Rate : Princesses of the Seas. About equal with the third rate. 64 to 72 guns. Easy to maneveur.
( The ratings of the Kings, Queens, etc were of the First Sea Lord in 1799. )
HMS Victory is a 104-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, laid down in 1759 and launched in 1765. She is most famous as Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. She was also Keppel's flagship at Ushant, Howe's flagship at Cape Spartel and Jervis's flagship at Cape St Vincent. After 1824 she served as a harbour ship. In 1922 she was moved to a dry dock at Portsmouth, England, and preserved as a museum ship. She is the flagship of the First Sea Lord and is the oldest naval ship still in commission.