Endymion class frigate

Endymion class frigate

The Endymion-class was a class of six Royal Navy 40-gun fifth-rate frigates, with the prototype launched in 1797 and five slightly amended versions built of fir launched from 1813 to 1814.


In 1794, a frigate-squadron under the command of Captain Sir John Borlase Warren captured the French 40-gun frigate "Pomone". Surprisingly to her captors, the ship was armed with 26 x 24-pounder long guns, a main-armament that was relatively uncommon for frigates in the 18th century. Furthermore, the "Pomone" impressed the British with outstanding sailing-qualities in every variation of the wind, and being capable of sailing more than 13 knots.

On 30 April 1795, the Admiralty ordered three frigate - with 36 guns, 38 guns and 40 guns, with each one built to the lines of the captured French frigate and the second to a new design by the Surveyors (the ship-designers of the Royal Navy). The 40-gun French design was copied from the "Pomone", and in November 1795 the keel was laid down at the Rotherhithe shipyard of John Randall & Company for the new ship, which on 14 November 1795 was named as the "Endymion". She was launched on 29 March 1797 and towed to Deptford Dockyard, where she was commissioned in April 1797 and completed on 12 June 1797.

The "Endymion" was not an exact copy of the "Pomone", being built to British design-standards with stronger construction. Surprisingly, "Endymion" sailed even better than "Pomone", reaching 14.4 knots, the highest recorded speed during the Age of Sail. Reclassified as a 48-gun fourth-rate frigate in February 1817, then as 50-gun, and finally as 44-gun in February 1839, "Endymion"'s fine qualities were such that she continued to be praised for nearly half a century. She was finally broken up at Plymouth Dockyard in June 1868.

The 1812 Programme

Early in 1812, war with the United States seemed inevitable. To cope with the heavy American 24-pounder frigates of the "Constitution-type", the Admiralty decided to build a batch of new 24-pounder frigates. During the long war with France, the standard British frigate was of about 1000 tons and armed with a main-battery of only 28 x 18-pounders, no match for the big US-Ships. The only proven design for a suitable 24-pounder frigate was that of "Endymion", and in May 1812 two ships were ordered from the Blackwall shipyard of Wigram, Wells & Green, who were to construct all five ships eventually built. They differed from the prototype by being constructed of "fir" (actually, pitch pine) rather than oak, and mounted an extra (fourteenth) pair of 24-pounder guns on the upper deck forward. All would be reclassified as 50-gun fourth-rate frigates in February 1817; however, the use of softwood in their construction was such that they were only intended for a short lifetime, and indeed all five were taken to pieces after a few years' service.

The first pair were originally ordered on 4 May 1812 as the "Tagus" and "Eridanus" of the 18-pounder armed "Leda" class, but were renamed on 7 January 1813 as the "Severn" and the "Liffey". The War broke out in June, and on 26 December two further ships were ordered, becoming the "Glasgow" and "Liverpool". The final ship was the "Forth", ordered on 7 January 1813. These five new ships were of a slightly modified design, having ports for 28 instead of 26 24-pounders and were built of softwood, to speed up the construction. The ships were launched from June 1813 to February 1814.

Principal characteristics

(there were small variations in the dimensions of the different ships)
*Length on gundeck: 159 ft 2.375 in
*Beam: 41 ft 11.375in
*Tonnage: 1246 to 1277 tons
*Established armament: 28 ("Endymion" 26) x 24 pounders, 20 x 32-pounder carronades, 2 x 9 pounder chase guns
*Complement: 340 men
*Rated: 40-gun fifth-rates, rerated as 50-gun fourth-rates in 1817.

List of ships

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.