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A Carrack was a three- or four-masted sailing ship developed in 15th century Western Europe for use in the Atlantic Ocean. It had a high rounded stern with large aftcastle,forecastle and bowsprit at the stem. It was first used by the Portuguese and Spanish to explore and map the world. It was usually square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast and lateen-rigged on the mizzenmast.Carracks were ocean-going ships: large enough to be stable in heavy seas, and roomy enough to carry provisions for long voyages. This made carracks suitable as "floating command centre"/supply depot for faster but smaller caravelas. Similar ships would be used by explorers as their flagships in the New World: the Santa María, which brought Columbus to America, was a carrack; it was also thought that la Dauphine, de Verrazano's ship which reached the Atlantic coast of North America, was a carrack.

Carracks, however, had teething problems related to their architecture. While they were good in blue-water environments, they weren't as flexible as galleys in littoral theatres when they were becalmed. It is true that Portuguese carracks smashed Venetian-style galleys off the Indian coast in 1509, yet in 1538 Ottoman galleys succeeded in driving off a larger Christian armada, headed by 50 galleons (a modified version of the carrack) off Preveza in present-day Greece. Additionally, carracks faced issues concerning their size and stability: Mary Rose, an English carrack, was lost during a battle with French galleys, when she accidentally started taking on water; another ship, Great Michael, nearly bankrupted the Scottish crown with her exorbitant upkeep cost and price. Carracks thus were used alongside galleys until more sophisticated sailing vessels became available to replace both in line duty.

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