List of frigate classes of the Royal Navy


List of frigate classes of the Royal Navy
RN Ensign
Ships of the Royal Navy

A – B – C – D – E – F – G
H – I – J – K – L – M – N
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early English ships • early Scots ships

This is a list of frigate classes of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom (and the individual ships composed within those classes) in chronological order from 1690. Where the word 'class' or 'group' is not shown, the vessel was a 'one-off' design with just that vessel completed to the design. The list excludes vessels captured from other navies and added to the Royal Navy.

Contents

The frigate before 1690

The initial meaning of frigate in English/British naval service was a fast sailing warship, usually with a relatively low superstructure and a high length:breadth ratio - as distinct from the heavily-armed but slow "great ships" with high fore- and after-castles. The name originated at the end of the 16th century, the first "frigats" being generally small, fast-sailing craft, in particular those employed by Flemish privateers based on Dunkirk and Flushing. Subsequently the term was applied to any vessel with these characteristics, even to a third-rate or fourth-rate ship of the line. In this list, the term is restricted to fifth rates and sixth rates which did not form part of the battlefleet (i.e. were not ships of the line); many of the earliest ships described as English frigates, such as the Constant Warwick of 1645, were fourth rates and thus are not listed below.

The sixth rates from 1690 to 1750

Before the "true" sail frigate come into being in the 1740s, the equivalent was the single-deck cruising vessel of the sixth rate, armed with either 20, 22 or 24 guns, which established itself in the 1690s and lasted until the arrival of the new "true" frigates. Before 1714, many small sixth rates carried fewer than 20 guns, and these have been excluded from this list. For over half a century from the 1690s, the main armament of this type was the 6-pounder gun, until it was replaced by 9-pounder guns just prior to being superseded by the 28-gun sixth-rate frigate.

For ships before the 1745 Establishment, the term 'class' is inappropriate as individual design was left up to the master shipwright in each Royal dockyard - the term 'group' is used as more applicable for ships built to similar specifications.

  • 1719 Establishment group 20-gun sixth rates 1720-1728
    • Modified 1719 Establishment group 20-gun sixth rates 1732
      • 1733 Establishment group 20-gun sixth rates 1734-1742
        • Modified 1733 Establishment group 20-gun sixth rates 1741
          • 1741 Establishment group 20-gun sixth rates 1742-1746
            • Modified 1741 Establishment group 20-gun sixth rates 1746. Note that these two ships had no lower deck gunports, and were thus forerunners of the 'true' frigates like the Lyme and Unicorn of 1748.
              • 1745 Establishment group 24-gun sixth rates 1746-1751
                • Modified 1745 Establishment group 24-gun sixth rate 1748
                  • edit] Sail frigates from 1750 – by class

                    Following the success of the Lyme and Unicorn in 1748, the mid-century period saw the simultaneous introduction in 1756 both of sixth-rate frigates of 28 guns (with a main battery of twenty-four 9-pounder guns, plus four lesser guns mounted on the quarterdeck and/or forecastle) and of fifth-rate frigates of 32 or 36 guns (with a main battery of twenty-six 12-pounder guns, plus six or ten lesser guns mounted on the quarterdeck and/or forecastle).

                    The American Revolution saw the emergence of new fifth rates of 36 or 38 guns which carried a main battery of 18-pounder guns, and were thus known as "heavy" frigates, while the French Revolutionary War brought about the introduction of a few 24-pounder gun armed frigates. In the 1830s, new types emerged with a main battery of 32-pounder guns.

                    9-pounder armed frigates (from 1750)

                    12-pounder armed frigates

                    Almost all of the following were 32-gun type (armed with 26 x 12-pounder guns on the upper deck and 6 smaller guns on the quarter-deck and forecastle); one class (the Venus class of 1757-58) had 36 guns (with 26 x 12-pounder guns on the upper deck and 10 smaller guns on the quarter-deck and forecastle).

                    • Southampton class 32-gun fifth rates 1757
                    • Richmond class 32-gun fifth rates 1757-58 (batch 1), 1762-63 (batch 2)
                    • Venus class 36-gun fifth rates 1757-58
                    • Niger class 32-gun fifth rates 1758-66
                      • HMS Stag 1758
                      • HMS Alarm 1758
                      • edit] 18-pounder armed frigates

                        In general, the following were either 36-gun type (armed with 26 x 18-pounder guns on the upper deck and 10 smaller guns on the quarter-deck and forecastle) or 38-gun type (with 28 x 18-pounder guns on the upper deck and 10 smaller guns on the quarter-deck and forecastle); however, some classes of smaller ships had just 32 guns (with 26 x 18-pounder guns on the upper deck and just 6 smaller guns on the quarter-deck and forecastle).

                        • edit] 24-pounder armed frigates
                          • 1794 razees 44-gun (converted from 64-gun ships of the line in 1794)
                          • Endymion class 40-gun fifth rate 1797
                            • HMS Endymion 1797
                            • HMS Severn 1813
                            • edit] 32-pounder armed frigates
                              • HMS Castor 36-gun fifth rate 1832
                              • edit] Early steam frigates – by class

                                During the 1840s, the introduction of steam propulsion was to radically change the nature of the frigate. Initial trials were with paddle-driven vessels, but these had numerous disadvantages, not least that the paddle wheels restricted the numbers of guns that could be mounted on the broadside. So the application of the screw propellor meant that a full broadside could still be carried, and a number of sail frigates were adapted, while during the 1850s the first frigates designed from the start to have screw propulsion were ordered. It is important to remember that all these early steam vessels still carried a full rig of masts and sails, and that steam power remained a means of assistance to these vessels.

                                In 1887 all frigates and corvettes in the British Navy were re-categorised as 'cruisers', and the term 'frigate' was abolished, not to re-emerge until the Second World War, at which time it was resurrected to describe a totally different type of escort vessel.

                                • edit] Modern frigates – by class

                                  Note that, unlike the previous sections, no lists of the individual ships comprising each class are shown below; they are to be found in the articles on the separate classes.

                                  Sail frigates - alphabeticaly

                                  Note that frigate names were routinely re-used, so that there were often many vessels which re-used the same names over the course of nearly two centuries.

                                  • Actaeon - sold 1766
                                  • Africaine 38 - captured by France
                                  • Aigle (ex-French Aigle, captured 1782)
                                  • Amphitrite 38 (1816)
                                  • Andromache (1829)
                                  • Arethusa
                                  • Boadicea 38
                                  • Bombay 40 (c.1793) - renamed Ceylon
                                  • Bon-Acquis (ex-French Bon-Acquis, captured 1757)
                                  • Boreas - sold 1770
                                  • Brilliant 36
                                  • Caroline (ex-French Caroline, captured September 1809)
                                  • Constant Warwick 26 (c.1646)
                                  • Cornwallis 56 (c.1800) - renamed Akbar
                                  • Coventry 28 1757
                                  • Danae (ex-French Danae, captured 1759)
                                  • Diamond 32 (1774)
                                  • Diana (1757) - sold 1793
                                  • Endymion 40 (1797) - captured by USS President 1815
                                  • Flora 36 (1780) - wrecked in 1809
                                  • Freya (ex-Danish Freya, captured 25 July 1800)
                                  • Hebe 40 (ex-French Hebe, captured 1782) - broken up 1811
                                  • Hussar - name used by several ships in this period
                                  • Indefatigable 44 (build 1784 as a 64 gun ship of the line, razeed)
                                  • Iphigenia - captured by France in 1810
                                  • Java 38 (launched 1808, captured from French 1811) - captured by USS Constitution in 1813
                                  • Latona 38 (1779), sold in 1816
                                  • Laurel 38 (ex-French La Fidèle, captured 16 August 1809 at the surrender of Flushing)
                                  • Lively 38 (1804), wrecked off Malta in 1810
                                  • Lutine 38 (launched in 1779, transferred from French Navy in 1793) - wrecked in 1799 off Holland
                                  • Lyme 18 (1748), wrecked 1760
                                  • Macedonian 38 (1810), captured by USS United States in 1812, broken up 1828
                                  • Madagascar 46 (1822)
                                  • Melampe (ex-French Melampe, captured 1758)
                                  • Minerva 38 (1780) - broken up in 1803
                                  • Nereide 38, captured 1797, sold 1816.
                                  • Newcastle - name used by several ships in this period
                                  • Orpheus 32 (1773)
                                  • Pallas - name used by several ships in this period
                                  • Phaeton 38 (1782)
                                  • Pitt 36 (1805)
                                  • Pomone 44 (ex-French Pomone, captured 1794) - broken up in 1802
                                  • Rainbow 44 (1747) - sold in 1802
                                  • Resistance 44, sank 24 July 1798
                                  • Saldanha - shipwrecked in Lough Swilly, Donegal, 4 December 1811
                                  • Salsette 36 (1807)
                                  • Santa Leocadia 34 (ex-Spanish Santa Leocadia, captured 1781)
                                  • Santa Margarita 34 (ex-Spanish Santa Margarita, captured 1779)
                                  • Shannon 28 (1757) - broken up in 1765
                                  • Shannon 38 (1806) - broken up 1859
                                  • Sirius 36 (1797) - scuttled during the Mauritius campaign of 1810
                                  • Southampton 32 (1757) - wrecked off the Bahamas in 1812
                                  • Surprise 28 (1796) - ex-French L'Unité captured 1796, sold in 1802
                                  • Thetis 38 (1782)
                                  • Trent 28 (1757) - sold in 1764
                                  • Trent 36 (1796) - broken up in 1823
                                  • Trincomalee 38 (1817) - preserved afloat in Hartlepool, UK
                                  • Unicorn 28 (1748) - broken up 1771
                                  • Unicorn 46 (1824) - preserved in Scotland
                                  • Venus (ex-French Venus, captured 17 September 1809)
                                  • Venus 36

                                  Reference sources

                                  • Robert Gardiner, The First Frigates (Conway Maritime, 1992); The Heavy Frigate (Conway Maritime, 1994); Warships of the Napoleonic Era (Chatham Publishing, 1999); Frigates of the Napoleonic Wars (Chatham Publishing, 2000)
                                  • Rif Winfield, The Sail and Steam Navy List, 1815-1889 (co-author David Lyon, Chatham Publishing, 2004) ISBN 1-86176-032-9;
                                    British Warships in the Age of Sail: 1793-1817 (2nd edition, Seaforth Publishing, 2008) ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4;
                                    British Warships in the Age of Sail: 1714-1792 (Seaforth Publishing, 2007) ISBN 978-1-84415-700-6;
                                    British Warships in the Age of Sail: 1603-1714 (Seaforth Publishing, 2009) ISBN 978-1-84832-040-6.

                                  See also


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