frigate


frigate
/frig"it/, n.
1. a fast naval vessel of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, generally having a lofty ship rig and heavily armed on one or two decks.
2. any of various types of modern naval vessels ranging in size from a destroyer escort to a cruiser, frequently armed with guided missiles and used for aircraft carrier escort duty, shore bombardment, and miscellaneous combat functions.
[1575-85; < MF frégate < It fregata, Sicilian fragata ( > Sp, Catalan, Pg); of obscure orig.]

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Either of two different types of warships, of the 17th–19th centuries and of World War II and after.

The sailing ship known as a frigate was a three-masted, fully rigged vessel, often carrying 30–40 guns in all. Smaller and faster than ships of the line, frigates served as scouts or as escorts protecting merchant convoys; they also cruised the seas as merchant raiders themselves. With the transition to steam, the term gradually gave way to cruiser. In World War II, Britain revived the term frigate to describe escort ships equipped with sonar and depth charges and used to guard convoys from submarines. In the postwar decades frigates also adopted an antiaircraft role, adding radar and surface-to-air missiles. Modern frigates may displace more than 3,000 tons (2,700 metric tons), sail at a speed of 30 knots, and carry a crew of 200.

Battle between the frigates HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake off Boston during the War ...

The National Maritime Museum, London

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▪ naval vessel
 either of two different types of warships, of the 17th through the 19th centuries (see photograph—>) and of World War II and after.

 The Seven Years' War (1756–63) marked the definite adoption of the term frigate for a class of vessel that was smaller than the three-decked ship but was still capable of considerable firepower. A frigate was a three-masted, fully rigged vessel, with its armament carried on a single gun deck and with additional guns on the poop and forecastle. The number of guns varied between 24 and 56, but 30 to 40 guns were common. Frigates could not stand up to ships of the line in fleet engagements, but, sailing at greater speed, they served as scouts or as escorts protecting merchant convoys from privateers and enemy raiders; they also cruised the seas as merchant raiders themselves. With the transition from sail to steam the term frigate gradually gave way to cruiser.

      During World War II, Great Britain revived the name frigate by assigning it to a small escort ship used to guard convoys (convoy) from submarines. This vessel displaced about 1,500 tons, was capable of 20 knots, and was equipped with asdic, or sonar, and depth charges. In the postwar decades, the frigate also adopted an antiaircraft role, adding radar and surface-to-air missiles to its antisubmarine gear. Many frigates now carry helicopters to aid in submarine hunting. Such a vessel displaces upward of 3,000 tons, has a top speed of 30 knots or more and carries a crew of about 200.

      For three decades after World War II, the U.S. Navy applied the term frigate to a type of escort ship that was somewhat larger than a destroyer. In 1975 these ships were reclassified as cruisers and destroyers, and the United States then used frigate in the same sense as most other navies.

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Universalium. 2010.

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