“OAK FRIGATES”

The war for the independence of the United States have clearly shown that it is essential the people of the state of their own Navy. The American revolution pushed many outstanding personalities, including such outstanding military leaders as Admiral John Paul Jones. Especially remarkable was the victory in a single battle between his flagship, the “Bonhomme Richard” and the British frigate “Serapis” on 23 September 1779, which ended in favour of the former colonists. However, such bright scenes could not hide the picture of complete domination of the powerful British Navy. The British almost completely suppressed trade and freely maneuvered his troops and transport them along the coast. In fact, only the intervention of France in the war at sea tipped the scales in favor of the “rebels”.

 

After the war, the Americans proceeded to build ships of war, and only cruising type. This strategy had its meaning: to create a line fleet had neither the time nor the money, and frigates and corvettes could quite possible to protect their trade and to threaten the enemy. Given the location of the USA on the other side of the Atlantic towards the “old Europe” of their warships had to have a real transoceanic qualities. All these factors have led to the creation of a special type of frigate; and accelerated the process of the event, at first glance not related to the Western hemisphere…
 
Four “Berber” States of North Africa — Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Tripoli (today’s Libya) — was a continuous threat to navigation in the Mediterranean sea for several centuries. The pirates of these countries seized the court, demanding ransom for the crews and passengers, and in case of refusal people were sold into slavery. The rulers did the same gangster “business”, extorting at the state level tribute for the right of free passage for foreign commercial vessels. Surprisingly, but even such a powerful country as England and France, preferred from time to time to sign a humiliating agreement on the payment of tribute, to save face alternating with sending detachments of warships.
 
Before 1783 the merchant fleet of the North American States was under the powerful umbrella of the great British Empire, gaining independence, Americans had to solve problems independently. Because of the remoteness of their political and military structures from the Mediterranean merchant ships under the flag of the new state were in a particularly vulnerable position. So, in 1793 only three months 11 overseas vessels fell into the hands of pirates. The ransom of sailors and goods was required for a giant of the eighteenth century the amount of one million dollars. The U.S. government, these funds were not, and he had to turn to loan sharks! In 1799, the Americans agreed to pay for the security of the ruler of Tripoli 56 thousand dollars annually by signing a relevant agreement. Similar treaties have been concluded with Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. However, the appetite of the Eastern rulers is always difficult to predict. The new Pasha of Tripoli, Yussef Karamanli decided to raise the tribute several times and sent the corresponding request to the President and the Congress of the United States.
 
Brazen claims have caused a storm of anger on the American continent. Slogan: “Better a million on defence than one cent for tribute!” was met with warm approval in the country. “Berber danger” led US to a rapid and adequate response.
 
In 1794, Congress voted for the construction of six powerful new frigates, four 44-gun and two 38 gun. It was assumed that the construction will not take more than a year and a half. Congress generously allocated 100 thousand dollars for each ship. Large sums voluntarily, so the citizens of the city Salem in Massachusetts collected nearly 80 thousand, in which were built the famous “Essex”. However, the actual costs far exceeded and this is very considerable for those times the sum. In the end, each of the frigates cost the citizens of the States as much as the British 74-gun battleship.
 
The same thing happened with terms instead of one and a half years, the program took almost a decade. In 1795 was followed by a temporary truce with Berber pirates, and the construction of frigates for a long time frozen. Only two years later, Congress was allowed to finish the “United States”, “Constitution” and “Constellar” because of dramatically deteriorated relations with France, privately which began increasingly to attack the merchant ships of overseas power. However, all that managed to build, thrown into battle with the Mediterranean pirates.
 
Berber campaign became the first war that United States fought outside its borders. In 1801 across the ocean went cruising squadron composed of the frigates “President,” “Philadelphia”, “Essex” and the sloop “enterprise” under the command of Commodore Richard Dale. First in August of the same year joined the battle the enterprise. The 12-gun sloop Lieutenant Andrew Sterett after a three-hour Boch and boarded seized the ship Pasha — 14-cannon of Tripoli, killing almost his entire team and contriving to not lose a single man killed or wounded. However, such good start was not properly continue.
 
On the last day of October, 1803, the 32-gun frigate “Philadelphia” in pursuit of the small vessels of the corsairs jumped out on the reef in the wrong place — almost next to the entrance to the port of Tripoli. Although his commander William Bainbridge was ordered to throw overboard half the guns and cut down the mast to remove the ship off the rocks failed. Numerous sabaki surrounded the frigate, and Bainbridge chose to surrender. For the greater shame two days later, the oncoming squall freed the brig with stones, and the Libyans triumphantly led a former military ship to his capital.
 
The new commander of the American squadron, Commodore Edward Preble least wanted a cannon, “Philadelphia” started to fire on their own. Besides, not the least important was the preservation of prestige after such a “loss of face”. Therefore, a detachment of volunteers under the leadership of Lieutenant Stephen Decator 4 Feb 1804, went in a desperate RAID on the pirates seized the little boat (renamed “Intrepid”), in order to destroy the captured frigate. Although the three-politycy found the attackers, the Americans after a fierce battle, managed to seize and burn the “Philadelphia.” Dicator during this battle he received the rank of captain, becoming the 25 years the youngest officer at this rank. The RAID caused the highest rating from Horatio Nelson, also suffered from a lack of courage. British Admiral called it “the bravest deed the centuries.
 
The war managed to finish only in 1805 — “draw.” Only then did the Americans finally the team returned to Philadelphia, and the United States pledged to continue to pay the annual 60-thousand tribute.
 
In England the appearance of American warships in European waters special meaning attached. In the early nineteenth century the British Royal Navy was considered to be the first in the world. It consisted of 191 ships of the line, 245 frigates with 50 or more guns and 860 vessels of a smaller size. For 20 years prior, the British consistently put on the knees of the fleets of France, Spain and Denmark. Numerical superiority was complemented by good preparation: over the years the British were involved in 200 one-on-one fights, of which lost only 5! 170 opponents lowered the flags, including 96 French, 39 “Danes” and 18 “Spanish”. But this series of almost continuous naval victories unexpectedly ended at the same time with the sunset as the brilliant career of Napoleon Bonaparte on land. And the reason for that was again a former British colony — the United States of America.
 
 
7. The frigate “Essex”, USA, 1800
 
Built at the shipyard in Salema. A displacement of 860 tonnes, length of 46.7 m, width at the deck is 12.1 m, draught 5.5 m. Armament: twenty-six 12-pounder guns and sixteen 24-pounder karnad. Built on the donations of the citizens of the city and donated to the U.S. government. The artillery was repeatedly changed. So, in 1810, instead of 12-fotovac mounted twenty-four 32-pounders of coronada. In the war with Britain in 1812 — 1813. under the command of David porter seized a large number of English whaling and trading vessels in the South Pacific. In a canadian newspaper reported: “the American frigate brought the British Empire more harm than the rest of the American fleet!” In early 1814, after a three-hour battle “Essex” captured by two British frigates. Since 1833 it is a floating prison in Kingston, Jamaica. Sold for scrapping in 1837
 
8. The frigate USS Constitution, United States, 1798
 
A displacement of 1700 m. the Length of 52.7 metres,the width of the deck is 13.4 m, draft 6,9 m. Armament: thirty 24-pounder guns on battery deck twenty-two 32-pound karondi. Built at the shipyard in Boston. Participated in the undeclared war with France, captured 2 privateers in 1799 In 1803 acted in the waters of Libya. Overhaul from 1812 to 1815, was Rebuilt in 1833, 1871 — 1877 and 1927 — 1930 In 1844 — 1846. USS Constitution has sailed around the world and passed for 495 days over 52 thousand miles. Since 1947 is on eternal Parking in Boston.
 
9. The frigate “Pallada”, Moscow, Russia, 1833
 
Built on Okhtinskaya shipyard in St. Petersburg. The displacement of 2090 tons, length 52,8 m, width at the deck, 13.6 m, a draught of 7.01 meters Armament: thirty 24-pounders karnad and thirty 24-pounder cannons. Built like an American “President”. The first commander was P. S. Nahimov. In October 1852 the frigate came from Kronstadt to circumnavigate the globe. The expedition was headed by Vice-Admiral E. V. Putyatin, and as the Secretary on Board were the famous Russian writer I. A. Goncharov. Sunk in 1855 in the far Eastern waters.

 
Of course the United States could not compete with the “mistress of the seas” in her element as part of the American Navy, there were only 50 military ships, the largest of which was a 44-gun frigates “United States”, “Constitution” and “President”. However technically modest classification disappeared not the usual cruisers. Their project was able to lay so good characteristics as 17 years after construction, they remained the strongest vehicles in its class. The Creator of the American “SuperPreview” Joshua Humphreys proclaimed the principle, 130 years later picked up by the Germans who created the “pocket battleships” to be stronger faster and faster than any ship more powerful. The project assumed that the length of the frigate will be at least 15 m longer than the largest British “classmate” of those years Because it was also accompanied by an increase in width, the American ships was not only faster than their rivals, but also were more stable gun platforms that were severely affected in the fighting. At such large sizes, Humphreys decided on another important step, re-entering on the frigates of the second gun deck.
 
In addition to the size and layout of the artillery, overseas “supergravity” was different and even material. All elements of the body, including the lining, went to the famous American white oak is a luxury, by that time already available to European shipbuilders Its wood is characterized by high strength and durability. The Board was a solid wall of oak with a thickness of up to half a meter. For the beginning of the XIX century such a thing is consistent with this armor: the nucleus to break it could not. The frames were executed as massive as the largest ships of the line. The elements of the set is attached to a very expensive copper nails, but that did not rust and could serve as no less than “exclusive” tree.
 
Each frigate went about 3000 relict oaks, characterized by remarkable firmness and density. Although the United States in those days was a country almost entirely covered by forests, harvesting of the material has proven difficult. The best oak trees grew in the wild so that their felling and cutting claimed many lives. Humphreys had to send in these godforsaken places his son in order to speed up the work.
 
Speed mighty cruisers provide sails with a total area of almost 4,000 sq m — the same as carrying the largest ships of the line. The masts towered above the deck to 56 m, and the total length of the ropes on them exceeded 6 km Contemporaries believed that the crafters here have gone too far: with such a huge sail to be controlled was very, very difficult. Until the war of 1812 the frigates never had to demonstrate their driving performance, but with the beginning of hostilities they really use the opportunity to develop up to 14 knots — again more than any foreign military ship of this size and power.
 
Faster opponents ships Humphreys could withstand the overwhelming artillery power. Formally, the 44-gun, they actually carried 70 guns, and more powerful than envisaged by the project. Thus, the “Constitution” in the time of descent, was carrying 60 long-barreled guns, and “United States” — the 50 guns and 20 karnad. Although a great design could withstand such an overload, the speed is naturally reduced. Therefore, in the future, shipbuilders and sailors had to find a reasonable compromise between conflicting desires.
 
Of particular note is the quality of weapons “the Americans” Thirty 24-pounder guns could shoot at a distance up to 2 km to the British on their frigates had to settle for mostly 18-funtovyj: Admiralty believed that they will be much more rapid-fire. The disappointment was bitter. Well trained gunners enabled the same “United States” in battle with the British frigate “Macedonia” to release 66 cores on the barrel 36 against the enemy. Respective was and the loss in the battle fell only 12 Yankees vs 104 killed and seriously wounded the British. An additional irony is that defeat gave the fact that before the war the commander of the “Macedon”, one of the tricks convincingly described by my colleague, Stephen Decator “United States”, the benefits of the 18-pontook, who have to bring down an American frigate before it has time to really use their clumsy heavy guns — although they say that this battle will never happen!..
 
Such a high rate of fire was provided by two important technical innovations. American gunsmiths supplied long-range weapons sight and the powder charge was placed in a prototype of the future of the sleeves — thin lead cylinders. The gunners did not have to ban guns after each shot, which could not avoid the British stored powder charges in bags made of thin flannel.
 
Heavy guns ranged was supplemented by twenty 42-pound carronade, causing heavy damage in melee.
 
Before the war of 1812 the British often argued — partly in jest, partly seriously — that the Navy of their former colonies should not be taken into account because the Americans build their ships out of spruce. Indeed, by the time “fir frigates” have already secured their sustainable reputation. Cheap to build, they was no good in battle. When you hit the nuclei of their wood scattered in sharp pieces, mutilating people as well as the canister. Sometimes the loss of such “fragments” exceeded the loss from the artillery fire. However, in a cruel twist of fate, during the war, go to El had just to the British. Ship timber in the country ended, the import did not keep pace with needs, and six new large frigates had to construct short-lived and dangerous wood.
 
Not surprisingly, most of the one-on-one battles with the British frigates ended in failure for the latter. In addition to the 49-gun “Macedon” captured “United States”, the same fate befell the 44-gun “Java” and the 38-gun “Fifty”, lowered the flag in two fights with “Constitution”. Now wounded, the British had never said anything about “fir frigates”. On the contrary, they tried to disavow the enemy on the other side, arguing that American cruisers are not that other as “cloaked” ships of the line. However, none of the combat elements of the big “American” by itself is absolutely not superior to that of the enemy. At least three British frigates — “Cornwallis”, “Endymion” and “Indefatigable” — was a 44-gun and carried a 24-pounder. But a good set of qualities really did warships of the former colony stronger, despite the hideous metal from which they were produced artillery — the only known drawback.
 
Good technique was complemented by the excellence of the personnel. The British were saved on the practical firing real charges and nuclei: tradition, not the last time those who destroy “the mistress of the seas”. On the contrary, the Americans did not spare ammunition for the study. And this despite the fact that at sea, they spent less time than the sailors of His Majesty’s Navy. By the way, the number of crew “SuperPreview” in time of war greatly exceed not only the number of enemy teams, but also project staff, reaching 490 people instead of 400
 
The success of the us sailing cruisers in the war with England gave rise to important for the history of world shipbuilding consequences. In the United States is a steady sympathy for the big cruisers. The descendants of “the old Ironsides” as an affectionate nickname over the ocean, USS Constitution, built in the 20’s and 30’s, and 40’s and even 50-ies of the XIX century. The last are launched in 1855 1726-ton 50-pushechnikov “Sabine” and “senti”. As we will see later, the tradition moved on to steam and iron cruisers.
 
Successful examples have left their offspring in Russia. In the early 30-ies of the last century in St. Petersburg was founded a series of “goddesses”, the drawings are almost completely repeated sokalski “President”. With the aggravation of the situation in Europe in the early 1850s to the far East to protect the few Russian cities went “Pallada”, “Avrora” and just built a few smaller project “Diana”. These three frigates became famous during world polylogarithmic or journeys had to experience exciting adventures, to fight with storms and sneak away from the watchful and Intrusive oversight of a future opponent. But before the place got only “Aurora”. “Diana” ended up in the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and is exhausted and unable to move or to fight the “Pallada” had to drown. However, the last of the “goddesses” have worked for all in the defense of Petropavlovsk in 1854 and in the Gulf of De Castries in the following, 1855, Her sailors and cannons helped repel the attack of the Anglo-French squadron, the flagship of which was the British frigate called “President”…
 
V. KOFMAN

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