n 1977, the United States Navy launched the Oliver Hazard Perry, the lead vessel in a class of frigates. American shipyards built 51 for the US Navy and 16 more for friendly nations, including Australia and Taiwan. These support vessels carried American will across the globe for nearly 40 years. The USS Stark, which was attacked by Iraq in 1987, was among the Perry-class frigates.
Now the last Perry-class frigate, the Kauffman, begins its final patrol from its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia. After a 6-month cruise off the coast of Central America, it will be decommissioned. There will be no more frigates in the US Navy inventory.
Except, as Kat Callahan of Foxtrot Alpha points out, the USS Constitution. This vessel, launched in 1797 and named by President George Washignton is an active vessel commanded by a naval officer.
The Neatorama post is here.
In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being “frigate-built”. These could be warships carrying their principal battery of carriage-mountedguns on a single deck or on two decks (with further smaller carriage-mounted guns usually carried on the forecastle and quarterdeck of the vessel). The term was generally used for ships too small to stand in the line of battle, although early line-of-battle ships were frequently referred to as frigates when they were built for speed.
In the 18th century, the term referred to ships which were usually as long as a ship-of-the-line and weresquare-rigged on all three masts (full rigged), but were faster and with lighter armament, used for patrolling and escort. In the definition adopted by the British Admiralty, they were rated ships of at least 28 guns, carrying their principal armament upon a single continuous deck—the upper deck, while ships-of-the-line possessed two or more continuous decks bearing batteries of guns.
In the late 19th century (beginning about 1858 with the construction of prototypes by the British and French navies), the armoured frigate was a type of ironclad warship which for a time was the most powerful type of vessel afloat. The term “frigate” was used because such ships still mounted their principal armament on a single continuous upper deck. The later 19th century battleship thus developed from the frigate rather than from the ship of the line.
In modern navies, frigates are used to protect other warships and merchant-marine ships, especially as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups, and merchant convoys. Ship classes dubbed “frigates” have also more closely resembled corvettes,destroyers, cruisers and even battleships. The rank “frigate captain” derives from the name of this type of ship.