Ships Of The Comparative Series
One of the oldest and constantly used classifications for surface warships is the Frigate, and it goes all the way back to the Age of Sail. However, the name “Frigate” is often confused and contextual based on the period of time in discussion. The Age of Sail Frigates and the Post-WWII Frigates are different entirely. This traditional classification of naval warships has also made out in to the ranks of combat starships seen in works like Mass Effect, Old Man’s War, and Star Trek. Here, within the next installment of Ships of the Line, FWS will breakdown the Frigate of recent, present, and future.
What the Hell is the “Frigate” Anyways? The word “Frigate” is one of the very most historical and longest used in surface warships heading all the way back again to the 15th century; it is also one of the most confusing conditions as well. Originally, the term “Frigate” was primarily used to describe an easy warship in the days of sails and broadsides of cannons. The foundation of the true name is unfamiliar and may be a bastardization of Latin or Greek naval terminology. These early Frigates were constructed for the purpose of speed and maneuverability, not for massive exchanges of cannon fire.
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One of the matters not helping the misunderstandings over the use of the terminology of this naval classification is that not all ships holding the name Frigate are true Frigates in the same sense as others. The first types of the warships were developed by Dunkirker Privateers around the early 16th century, who had been utilized by the Spanish authorities to raid Dutch delivery. With the success of the Dunkirkers and their ships, the Dutch constructed their own fast warships to counter the risk posed by the Dunkirkers.
These fast, sail-only warships impacted naval design. The Dutch became one of the key naval power to use the Frigate extensively by the 17th hundred years. By the time of the Napoleonic Wars, the Royal British Navy was building and fielding Frigates improved from captured French designs, in peacetime to safeguard its global holdings. This made the Frigates of the Royal Navy the boats that noticed the most action, therefore, that they had the most experienced crews. Assignment to an Frigate was seen as a fast track to promotion in the Royal Navy.
The Frigates of the era were greatly romanticized and desired, as observed in the Master & Commander group of books and the 2003 film. Frigates were seen by the British and the French Naval commanders in an effort to field warships which were very effective general warships, while conserving metal and real wood resources.
One of the greater famous Frigates from the Age of Sail is the “Super-Frigate” USS Constitution. These American heavy or very Frigates were fitted with 44 cannons, and caused panic in European naval circles. The Age of Sail Frigates were the most popular of sailing warships due to their mission flexibility, less taxing on resources and manpower, long-range, able to operate independently, and were often manned by the best of the navies. When the world of naval seapower switched locomotion from sail to steam in the 19th century, the Frigates were a few of the first iron warships to be fielded and developed, and where called “Armored Frigates”.
However, by late the 19th century, the term “Frigate” on the way out, replaced by the cruiser and the battleship. As is the case with lots of the warships we discuss here on Ships of the Line, the 2nd World War altered the functions and classifications of the surface warships.