A frigate (pronounced /ˈfrɪɡɨt/) is a warship. The term has been used for warships of many sizes and roles over the past few centuries.
In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built". These could be warships carrying their principal battery of carriage-mounted guns on a single deck or on two decks (with further smaller carriage-mounted guns usually carried on the forecastle and quarterdeck of the vessel). The term was generally used for ships too small to stand in the line of battle, although early line-of-battle ships were frequently referred to as frigates when they were built for speed.
In the 18th century, the term referred to ships which were usually as long as a ship-of-the-linesquare-rigged on all three masts (full rigged), but were faster and with lighter armament, used for patrolling and escort. In the definition adopted by the British Admiralty, they were Rated ships of at least 28 guns, carrying their principal armament upon a single continuous deck - the upper deck, while ships-of-the-line possessed two or more continuous decks bearing batteries of guns. Frigates did not carry any guns (or have any gunports) on their lower decks; confusingly, the lower deck was often referred to as the "gun deck" in the British Navy (in the American Navy, it was usually called the "berth deck"), even for frigates, where it did not carry any guns or have gunports. Both types could (and usually did) additionally carry smaller carriage-mounted guns on their quarter decks and forecastles (the superstructures above the upper deck). Technically, rated ships with fewer than 28 guns could not be classed as frigates but as "post ships"; however, in common parlance most post ships were often described as 'frigates', the same casual misuse of the term being extended to smaller two-decked ships that were too small to stand in the line of battle. and were
In the late 19th century (beginning about 1858 with the construction of prototypes by the British and French navies), the armoured frigate was a type of ironclad warship and for a time was the most powerful type of vessel afloat. The term 'frigate' was used because such ships still mounted their principal armament on a single continuous upper deck. The later 19th century battleshipship of the line. thus developed from the frigate rather than from the
In modern navies, frigates are used to protect other warships and merchant-marine ships, especially as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups, and merchant convoys. But ship classes dubbed "frigates" have also more closely resembled corvettes, destroyers, cruisers and even battleships.
The rank Frigate Captain derives from the name of this type of ship.

Age of sail
The term "frigate" (Italian: fregata; Spanish/alan/Portuguese/Sicilian: fragata; Dutch: "fregat") originated in the Mediterranean in the late 15th century, referring to a lighter galleass type ship with oars, sails and a light armament, built for speed and maneuverability.[1]
In 1583, during the Eighty Years' War, Habsburg Spain recovered the Southern Netherlands from the rebellious Dutch. This soon led to the occupied ports being used as bases for privateers, the Dunkirkers, to attack the shipping of the Dutch and their allies. To achieve this they developed small, maneuverable, sail-only vessels that came to be referred to as frigates. Because most regular navies required ships of greater endurance than the Dunkirker frigates could provide, the useful term 'frigate' was soon applied less exclusively to any relatively fast and elegant sail-only ship, such that much later even the mighty English Sovereign of the Seas was described as 'a delicate frigate' after modifications in 1651[citation needed].
The navy of the Dutch Republic was the first regular navy to build the larger ocean-going frigates. The Dutch navy had three principal tasks in the struggle against Spain: to protect Dutch merchant ships at sea, to blockade the ports of Spanish-held Flanders to damage trade and halt enemy privateering, and to fight the Spanish fleet and prevent troop landings. The first two tasks required speed, shallowness of draft for the shallow waters around the Netherlands, and the ability to carry sufficient supplies to maintain a blockade. The third task required heavy armament, sufficient to fight against the Spanish fleet. The first of these larger battle-capable frigates were built around 1600 at Hoorn in Holland.[2] By the later stages of the Eighty Years War the Dutch had switched entirely from the heavier ships still used by the English and Spanish to the lighter frigates, carrying around 40 guns and weighing around 300 tons.
The effectiveness of the Dutch frigates became most visible in the Battle of the Downs in 1639, triggering most other navies, especially the English, to adopt similar innovations.
The fleets built by the Commonwealth of England in the 1650s generally consisted of ships described as 'frigates', the largest of which were two-decker 'great frigates' of the third rate. Carrying 60 guns, these vessels were as big and capable as 'great ships' of the time; however, most other frigates at the time were used as 'cruisers': independent fast ships. The term 'frigate' implied a long hull design, which relates directly to speed (see hull speed) and also, in turn, helped the development of the broadside tactic in naval warfare.
At this time a further design evolved, reintroducing oars to create the galley frigate such as the Charles Galley of 1676 which was rated as a 32 gun fifth rate but also had a bank of 40 oars set below the upper deck which could be used to propel the ship in the absence of a favourable wind.
In French, the term 'frigate' became a verb, meaning 'to build long and low', and an adjective, adding further confusion. [3]
Under the rating system of the Royal Navy, by the middle of the 18th century, the term 'frigate' was technically restricted to single-decked ships of the fifth rate, though small 28-gun frigates were classed as sixth rate.[1]
Classic design
The classic sailing frigate, well-known today for its role in the Napoleonic wars, can be traced back to French developments in the second quarter of the 18th century. The French-built MédéeAction of 13 January 1797, for an example when this was decisive). Like the larger 74 which was developed at the same time, the new frigates sailed very well and were good fighting vessels due to a combination of long hulls and low upperworks compared to vessels of comparable size and firepower. of 1740 is often regarded as the first example of this type. These ships were square-rigged and carried all their main guns on a single continuous upper deck. The lower deck, known as the "gun deck", now carried no armament, and functioned as a "berth deck" where the crew lived, and was in fact placed below the waterline of the new frigates. The new sailing frigates were able to fight with all their guns when the seas were so rough that comparable two-deckers had to close the gun-ports on their lower decks (see the
The Royal Navy captured a handful of the new French frigates during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748) and were impressed by them, particularly for their inshore handling capabilities. They soon built copies and started to adapt the type to their own needs, setting the standard for other frigates as a superpower. The first British frigates carried 28 guns including an upper deck battery of twenty-four 9-pounder guns (the remaining four smaller guns were carried on the quarter deck) but soon developed into Fifth Rates ships of 32 or 36 guns including an upper deck battery of twenty-six 12-pounder guns (with the remaining six or ten smaller guns carried on the quarter deck and forecastle). From around 1778, a larger "heavy" frigate was developed with a main battery of twenty-six or twenty-eight 18-pounder guns (again with the remaining ten smaller guns carried on the quarter deck and forecastle).
Royal Navy frigates of the late 18th century included the 1780-vintage Perseverance class, which measured around 900 tons burthen and carried 36 guns; this successful class was followed by numerous other classes that measured over 1,000 tons burthen and carried 38 guns.
In 1797, three of the US Navy's first six major ships were 44-gun frigates (or "super-frigates"), which actually carried fifty-six to sixty 24-pounder long guns and 36-pounder or 48-pounder carronades on two decks, and were exceptionally powerful and tough. These ships were so well-armed that they were often seen as equal to smaller ships of the line and, after a series of losses at the outbreak of the War of 1812, Royal Navy fighting instructions ordered British frigates (usually of 38 guns or less) to never engage American frigates at any less than a 2:1 advantage. USS Constitution, preserved as a museum ship by the US Navy, is the oldest commissioned frigate afloat, and is a surviving example of a frigate from the Age of Sail. Constitution and her two sister ships (USS President and USS United States) were created in a response to deal with the Barbary Coast pirates and in conjunction with the Naval Act of 1794. The three big frigates, when built, had a distinctive building pattern which minimized "hogging" (in which the centre of the keel rises while both ends drop) and improves hydrodynamic efficiency.[4] The hull was designed so that all the weight from the guns was upon the keel itself. Joshua Humphreys proposed that only live oak, a tree that grew only in America, should be used to build these ships. The method was to use diagonal riders, eight on each side that sat a 45 degree angle. These beams of live oak were about two feet wide and around a foot thick and helped to maintain the shape of the hull, serving also to reduce flexibility and to minimize impacts.[5] These ideas were considered revolutionary in the late 18th and early 19th century. A three-layer method was used in which the planks along the sides of the hull were laid horizontally across the ribs, making a crossing or checker board pattern. The sides of the ship could be as thick as 25 inches, and were able to absorb substantial damage. The strength of this braced construction earned USS Constitution the nickname "Old Ironsides".
Frigates were perhaps the hardest-worked of warship types during the Age of Sail. While smaller than a ship-of-the-line, they were formidable opponents for the large numbers of sloops and gunboats, not to mention privateers or merchantmen. Able to carry six months' stores, they had very long range; and vessels larger than frigates were considered too valuable to operate independently.
Frigates scouted for the fleet, went on commerce-raiding missions and patrols, conveyed messages and dignitaries. Usually frigates would fight in small numbers or singly against other frigates. They would avoid contact with ships-of-the-line; even in the midst of a fleet engagement it was bad etiquette for a ship of the line to fire on an enemy frigate which had not fired first.[citation needed]
For officers in the Royal Navy a frigate was a desirable posting. Frigates often saw action, which meant a greater chance of glory, promotion, and prize money.
Unlike larger ships that were placed in ordinary, frigates were kept in service in peacetime as a cost-saving measure and to provide experience to frigate captains and officers which would be useful in wartime. Frigates could also carry marines for boarding enemy ships or for operations on shore.
Frigate armament ranged from 22 guns on one deck to 60 guns on two decks. Common armament was 32 to 44 long guns, from 8- to 24-pounders (3.6 to 11 kg), plus a few carronades (large bore short-range guns).

The fictitious, but representative, ironclad frigate USS Abraham Lincoln, from Jules Verne's the novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Frigates remained a crucial element of navies until the mid-19th century. The first ironclads were classified as 'frigates' because of the number of guns they carried. However, terminology changed as iron and steam became the norm, and the role of the frigate was assumed first by the protected cruiser and then by the light cruiser.
Frigates are often the vessel of choice in historical naval novels due to their relative freedom compared to ships of the line (kept for fleet actions) and smaller vessels (generally assigned to a home port and less widely ranging). For example the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey–Maturin series, C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series and Alexander Kent's Richard Bolitho series. The motion picture Master and Commander features a reconstructed historic frigate, HMS Rose, to depict Aubrey's frigate HMS Surprise.

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