Here are a few citations from Helen Nicholson’s The Knights Templar, A New History
, relative to the Templar fleet, with interpolations from other texts as noted.http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/templars.html
"The Templars did have ships to carry personnel, pilgrims and supplies across the Mediterranean between the West and East and back, but if the Hospital after 1312 is any guide they did not have more than four galleys (warships) and few other ships, and if they needed more they hired them. They certainly could not spare ships to indulge in world exploration — in any case, their ships were not sturdy enough to cross an ocean and could not carry enough water for more than a few days.
The Order had vast resources in land, but was always very short of liquid capitol, which was needed to invest in fortifications and personnel in the east." [p. 12.] [The Falcon and the Templar Rose are mentioned by name in Malcolm Barber’s The New Knighthood. Piers Paul Read, in The Templars p. 271, claims eighteen galleys, without citation.]
"When the Templars had made their money in the West, they had to get it out to the East. There has been some debate among scholars as to whether any actual transfer of coin took place, but the latest view is that coin was actually carried from the West to the East. This meant that the Templars needed ships to carry their coin, as well as agricultural produce, horses and personnel for the east. They also provided a secure carrying service for pilgrims — safer and cheaper than hiring a commercial carrier. These would have been heavy transport vessels rather than warships. Much of the surviving evidence for Templar shipping comes from the relevant port records or royal records giving permission for the export of produce. At La Rochelle on the west coast of France during the twelfth century the Templars were given several vinyards and produced wine for their own consumption and for export; although the cartulary of their house is lost, the records of the port of La Rochelle show that the Templars were exporting wine by ship. This was not a fleet in any modern sense: again, those would have been transport vessels rather than warships, and the Templars probably hired them as they needed them, rather than buying their own.
"The hierarchial statutes attached to the Templars' Rule, dating from the twelfth century before 1187, refer to the Order’s ships at Acre (Sectin 119), but do not state how many ships the Order owned. After 1312 the Hospital of St. John was mainly involved in sea-based warfare and had an admiral in command of its marine operations, but only had four galleys (warships), with other vessels. It is unlikely that the Templars had any more galleys than the Hospitallers. The ships would have been very small by modern standards, too shallow in draught and sailing too low in the water to be able to withstand the heavy waves and winds of the open Atlantic, and suited for use only in the relatively shallow waters of the continental shelf. What was more, they could not carry enough water to be at sea for long periods."
"[Pope] Nicholas IV also ordered the Masters of the Temple and Hospital to build up a fleet, and in January 1292 he authorized them to use their ships to assist the Armenians. In 1293 the Templars and Venetians equipped six galleys in Venice to help protect Cyprus against the Muslims: there were four Venetian and two Templar ships. On the basis that this was the maximum number of ships that the Templars could find for this important project, a fleet of two is hardly impressive."
"The Templar pilgrim fleet was based at Marseilles. In 1233 they were granted the right to dock their ships there and carry pilgrims to the Holy Land, but after protests by local ship owners this was restricted to two ships a year, leaving for Easter and in August. They were allowed to carry 1,500 pilgrims in these, and to keep one ship in the port for their own use." Supplying the Crusader states, Barber
. p. 322]
"Their main fleet was at La Rochelle, and it was this fleet, berthed away from the theatre of war, that was part of the maritime network linking the Order in the British Isles with the continent. We know the class and names of at least two of the ships plying between La Rochelle and the south coast. In 1230 Henry III issued a licence to the Templars' ship La Templere from La Rochelle to land, bringing wine and victuals for the brothers. A little later another licence was given to the Master and the brothers of the Temple for the vessel called La Buzzard to come into port. (Calender of Patent Rolls, 1225-1232). The Knights Templar in Britain, Evelyn Lord, p. 120.]
So it would appear, from Nicholson's research findings, that the Templar fleet based out of La Rochelle was comprised of a small number of commercial vessels engaged in wine trade with England and the Continent.
(And as for your dismissive tone about the rotten Cahorsin wine, Mr. Roger, I'll have you know that my umpteenth-great-grandfather Arnaud Duèze made a killing trading it to the Hanse in Bruges and in London, so nyeh