The galley was the main type of ship used by the Roman Empire. Over the years it changed little though there were variations of size. These ships were off shoots of the Greek style vessels called Trireme. These Greek ships were very big galleys that required around 250 personnel. There were rows of oarsman and two masts. Because they were so big, Ancient Greece could not afford to make many.
When the Roman Empire came about, they took the idea of the Greek Trireme but reduced its size. This allowed them to make more and get a better overall output concerning logistics for overseas cargo and military capabilities.
The smaller Roman versions of what we now call galley ships were built on a large scale to service the growing Empire. One of the biggest Roman military ships was called a Quinquereme. Some historians call this a fiver due to the arrangement of decks and rowers. This ship was still not as big as the Ancient Greek Trireme, but was formidable as part of a fleet fighting pirates. These big vessels were used throughout the sea lanes of Rome's vast empire.
|Reconstruction of a small Galley that patrolled the River Rhine in Germany|