Adventure, Exploration, French Navy, Frigate, History, Napoleonic, Research, Royal Navy, Sea, Warship, Writing
Welcome, as ever.
In this post, we want to add a bit more about the ship used by our European protagonists and antagonists, in the Doubtful Sea series, the frigate.
For a brief but convenient history of the vessel, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frigate, but, in short, as you can see, a frigate is a three-masted warship.
Unlike the bigger ships, those used in the large-scale fleet actions
like HMS Victory
or its French counterparts
their armament was much lighter, ranging in number of guns from the upper twenties to the low forties. Here, for example, is a French forty-gun ship.
And a comparable English one.
These ships were designed to be fast and maneuverable, acting as scouts for fleets of the bigger ships, but also as warships on their own, in blockades and in actions against enemy ships of about their own class.
After the American Revolution, the United States Navy began with six of these frigates, including the USS Constitution.
(For a useful article on these, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_six_Frigates_of_the _United_States_Navy. On these ships and others, see Mark Lardas, American Light and Medium Frigates, 1794-1836 and American Heavy Frigates, 1794-1826, For US frigates from their inception through the War of 1812, see Henry E. Gruppe, The Frigates.)
First in fighting the Barbary pirates off the North African coast and then against the British Royal Navy in the War of 1812, these ships and their captains and crews earned the new navy a reputation for seamanship, gunnery, and their sound design and construction.
(For the US Navy in the wars against the Barbary pirates, see Gregory Fremont-Barnes, The Wars of the Barbary Pirates, Richard Zacks, The Pirate Coast, Mark Lardas, Decatur’s Bold and Daring Act, and Frederick C. Leiner, The End of Barbary Terror. A recent popular history of the US Navy in the War of 1812 on the high seas is Stephen Budiansky, Perilous Fight.)
As far as we know, there is only one of the larger ships which survives: HMS Victory, in Portsmouth harbor, on the south coast of England.
There is one original US frigate, the USS Constitution, which is located in Boston harbor. It is still in commission, being the oldest ship in the US Navy. See the website: www.history.mil/ussconstitution/index.html for further information.
In the UK, there are two frigates, HMS Trincomalee,
which may be visited at Hartlepool. See the website at: www.hms-trincomalee.co.uk.
And HMS Unicorn, its sister-ship. The Unicorn is unusual in that, unlike the Trincomalee, is has not been restored as an active warship. Instead, it has been brought back to its state when it was out of commission and stored (said to be “in ordinary” in naval language) to be used as a store ship—or even a prison ship, like these, in Portsmouth harbor.
Here’s the Unicorn—
You can find out more about it at its website: www.frigateunicorn.org
There is one more frigate, one we have mentioned briefly in an earlier post. It is not an original, but a very impressive reproduction, the French frigate L’Hermione.
For an English-language website on this very impressive ship, see: www.hermione2015.com.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this post. Within the next week or so, we expect to have the first novel in our series, Across the Doubtful Sea published on Amazon/Kindle. If you find our posts interesting, we hope that you find our novel even more so!
As always, thanks for reading.
I love looking through an article that can make people think.
Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!
John Marin said:
Excellent museum like tour de force of naval happenings.
Thank you, John! If you’re interested in naval affairs in an alternate 18th century, you might check out our novel, Across the Doubtful Sea