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The Most Notorious Pirate Ships of All Time

Picture a pirate: a long, dark beard, peg-leg, and a chatty parrot perched upon his shoulder. While iconic, nothing represents a pirate by reputation, prestige, and infamy better than their ship. The infamous pirate ship, feared the world over, propels pirates and fuels adventure. The most notorious pirate ships may even surpass their captain in notoriety. These are the most famous pirate ships to have ever sailed the seven seas.

Queen Anne’s Revenge

Of all the pirates to have plundered the Caribbean and along the North American coast, Edward “Blackbeard” Teach may be the most noteworthy. At the helm of one of the most notorious pirate ships of all time, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Teach outfitted the former French slave ship with 40 guns. At its prime, the ship employed 280 crew members.

Teach ruled the Caribbean aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge through notable infamy. After besting a British Navy Man-o-War, Teach earned a reputation that would follow him through his albeit short piracy career. Between 1716 and 1718, Blackbeard nurtured rumors of his mercilessness. When the Queen Anne’s Revenge appeared on the horizon, crews chose surrender over battling the dreaded pirate.

Blackbeard’s rule aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge came to an abrupt end. In an early case of insurance fraud, Blackbeard ran his ship aground along the North Carolina coast. With most of his oblivious crew marooned, Teach pocketed the ship’s bounty and laughed all the way to the bank.

Blackbeard’s luck soon ran out. Cornered on Ocracoke Island off the North Carolina coast, Teach lost his head, literally. Though his reign of terror had ended, his legacy as Captain of one of the most notorious pirate ships of all time lingers in pirate lore.

Royal Fortune

Captain Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts lived a life of cruelty. Aboard several vessels he dubbed Royal Fortune – not having a bagful of pirate ship names that he liked – Black Bart’s reputation for cruelty preceded him. The most infamous and largest pirate ship in his collection of Royal Fortunes was a former French vessel that Black Bart chose as his flagship. While all others he chose to scuttle, this Royal Fortune became the darling of the fleet.

Aboard the Royal Fortune, Black Bart acquired wealth and success. To this day, Black Bart’s known riches surpass all other pirates’ haul. Accomplishing this feat required Roberts to mount 42 cannons aboard the Royal Fortune. Over 150 men were under his command. Thus, Roberts sailed from the coast of Brazil up through the Caribbean, traveling as far northward as Newfoundland.

Not content with pillaging villages in and around the Spanish Main, Roberts traveled across the Atlantic where he would meet his fate. Pressing his luck, Black Bart challenged a Royal Navy Patrol off the African coast and kissed a cannonball, thus ending his reign of terror. The Royal Fortune’s infamy lives on as one of the most historic pirate ships to have ever sailed the seas. Roberts’ death signaled the coming end of the Golden Age of Piracy.

The Golden Hind

Some may refer to Sir Frances Drake as something other than a pirate, but his plundering ways aboard The Golden Hind place him in the conversation. As the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, Drake visited all corners of the world. Off the coast of South America, Drake’s Golden Hind earned its reputation as one of history’s most notorious pirate ships.

Given a license to plunder by Queen Elizabeth I, Drake held the rather civilized title of privateer rather than pirate. Drake put his license to use, plundering Spanish settlements along the Pacific in South America in the late 1500s. Following his stint in the Atlantic, Drake traversed the Strait of Magellan. There, aboard The Golden Hind, he commanded the capture of a Spanish ship loaded with gold bullion.

Following his circumnavigation of the globe, The Golden Hind docked in the Thames and became a museum dedicated to his feats. As far as pirate ship names go, The Golden Hind stood out as unique in a sea of larger-than-life vessels. More than just a pirate ship, The Golden Hind is a symbol of conquest and English exploration.


Many types of pirate ships began life as vessels used to transport slaves, and the Wydah Gally was no exception. While returning from its maiden voyage, infamous pirate Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy captured and converted the ship.

Henceforth, the Wydah terrorized colonial America. Black Sam captured ships and plundered settlements along his way north. In April of 1717, the Wydah fell mercy to a violent storm off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where it wrecked. Of all the crew members aboard, only two survived.

In 1984, shipwreck explorers discovered the Wydah under 14 feet of water and five feet of sand. With the discovery of the ship’s bell inscribed with “The Wydah Gally 1716,” the Wydah’s final resting place was confirmed.

History comes to life aboard the Pirate Ship at John’s Pass. Learn more about notorious pirate ships aboard the legendary Royal Conquest, departing daily from St. Petersburg, Florida. For more information, visit

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