Quinqueremes were the most powerful warships the Republic could field.
Senatores! Neptune has blessed us! He wrecked a huge (Carthaginian - latin name should be here) ship upon our shores. It will be carried to our docks, where the Republic's shipwrights will copy and enhance its design. Now our fleets will be able to carry our invincible milites to distant lands in defense of the Republic. Although Hellenes claim their Syracusan Rex Dionisos had quinqueremes in year 355 ab Urbe condita our courage will surely win against their skill.
There have been numerous attempts to reconstruct the quinquereme. Some scientists believe that it had 2 rows of oars manned (from the deck) Three-2, others state that 3 rows of oars are more probable manned either 1-2-2 or 2-2-1, while some even suggest a single level with 5 oarsmen. The three-level theory seems the most probable as we have information that the "5" was much higher than a "4". A single source mentions that it was possible to build a quinquereme on the hull designed for a Tetrere. This is the main argument for single manned, probably open third level on outriggers - just as it was on Triere. Available information also suggests that "5"s were about the same length and width as "4"s - 37x6m. The crew consisted of 300 oarsmen operating 184 oars (in a 3 row scheme). The ship carried 120 marines and legionares, as it had a full deck. These ships were armed with ballistae of various sizes, but the ram was still the main weapon. During the first Punic war, Romans equipped their ships with the Corvus – a kind of boarding "bridge" attached to a small mast. It allowed them to assault enemy ships with ease, but was too heavy – making ships unstable in choppy seas - so this equipment was eventually abandoned. Smaller ones were later designed and used in combination with harapax throwers. The harapax was a big piece of wood studded with nails and spikes, and tied to a long line. In battle, the harapax was shot by ballistae-like thrower towards enemy ships thus tying them to the throwing ship. Quinqueremes were equipped with sails that were used during longer voyages.