List of corvette and sloop classes of the Royal Navy

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This is a list of corvette and sloop classes of the Royal Navy. The original term for ships of fewer than 28 (carriage) guns, but at least 20 guns, was "post ship"; the term 'corvette' was not introduced into the Royal Navy until the 1830s (when the French term was copied), and at that time its use replaced both the larger sloops and also what had previously been categorised officially as 'post ships', i.e. ships of 20, 22 or 24 guns (vessels of 28 guns and above were classed as 'frigates' until 1817, thereafter ships of up to 32 guns were also counted as sixth rates) which were so-called because they were the lowest grade of warship which could be commanded by a 'post captain'; as such, they formed the lower portion of the sixth rate.

In 1887, both frigates and corvettes were merged into a new category of 'cruiser'. In 1937, escort sloops were officially re-rated as escort vessels and patrol sloops as patrol vessels, although the traditional term continued in use. In 1948 surviving sloops and corvettes were redesignated as frigates.

Note that vessels captured from other countries and incorporated into the Royal Navy are not included in the following lists.

Corvette classes[edit]

Late 17th-century post ship classes[edit]

18th-century (1700–51) post ship classes[edit]

18th-century (1752–99) post ship classes[edit]

19th-century sailing post ship (and subsequently corvette) classes[edit]

This section lists the 'post ships' of 20 to 24 guns (after 1817, up to 28 guns) which in the 1830s would be merged with the larger sloops to form the new category of corvette. From 1817 the upper limit (in terms of numbers of guns) would be raised to 28 guns.

19th-century screw corvettes[edit]

World War II corvettes[edit]

After more than half a century, the category of corvette was revived during WW2 to describe a smaller form of escort vessel than the existing sloops. It was thus not comparable with the pre-1887 corvettes in the Royal Navy. Two classes of wartime corvette were designed and built in considerable numbers (see separate articles):

Sloop classes[edit]

Sloops (early single-masted type)[edit]

Note that early sloops were single-masted, including (initially) the Swift, Jamaica and Hazard groups listed below for 1700–1711; however, all surviving sloops by 1716 had been re-rigged as two-masted, and all new sloops continued to be two-masted until the 1750s, when three-masted - ship-rigged - sloops were introduced.

Two-masted sloops (to 1732)[edit]

All early two-masted sloops were mainly either ketch-rigged or snow-rigged.

Two-masted sloops (1739 to 1745)[edit]

From the outbeak of the War of Jenkins' Ear in 1739, the Navy recognised that there was a growing need for smaller vessels for amphibious operations, as escorts for commercial traffic and for minor combatant roles. Over the next six years, some 36 specialist vessels were procured (34 designed by the Navy and 2 purchased on the stocks where builders had begun them as speculative ventures), as listed below; of these, the first four were essentially repeats of the previous group of 200-ton sloops of 1732, while the later vessels were progressively enlarged. In addition, a small number were captured from the Spanish during this era, and a dozen bomb vessels of similar construction supplemented the purpose-built sloops in a cruising role.

Two-masted sloops (1749 to 1770)[edit]

  • Wasp group — 4 vessels, 1749–1750
    • Wasp (1749) - sold 1781.
    • Peggy (1749) - wrecked 1770.
    • Hazard (1749) - sold 1783.
    • Savage (1750) - wrecked 1776.
  • Fly class — 2 vessels, 1752
    • Ranger (1752) - sold 1783.
    • Fly (1752) - sold 1772.
  • Cruizer class — 4 vessels, 1752–1754
  • Hawk — 1 vessel, 1756 - sold 1781.
  • Bonetta class — 3 vessels, 1756
    • Bonetta (1756) - sold 1776.
    • Merlin (1756) - burned 1780.
    • Spy (1756) - sold 1773.
  • Hunter class — 2 vessels, 1756
    • Hunter (1756) - sold 1780.
    • Viper (1756) - wrecked 1779.
  • Alderney class — 3 vessels, 1756–1757. Although designed and begun as two-masted sloops, Stork and Alderney were completed as three-masted ships.
  • Druid class — 2 vessels, 1761. Although designed as two-masted sloops, both vessels were later reported as three-masted (ship-rigged).
    • Druid (1761) - sunk as a breakwater 1773.
    • Lynx (1761) - sold 1777.

Ship-rigged sloops (1745–88)[edit]

Ship sloops (i.e. sloops carrying three masts, and rigged as ships) were built frigate-style, and initially were referred to as frigates, in spite of their size and relative lack of guns.

Brig-rigged sloops (1778–84)[edit]

Ship-rigged sloops (1788 to 1815)[edit]

Brig-rigged sloops (1788 to 1815)[edit]

This table excludes the small gun-brigs (of less than 200 burthen tons) that were built in considerable numbers during this period: for these gun-brigs see List of gun-brigs of the Royal Navy

Ship-rigged sloops (after 1816)[edit]

Brig-rigged sloops (after 1816)[edit]

Between 1815 and 1826 numerous additional brig-sloops of the wartime Cherokee class were ordered; these have been included with the numbers mentioned in the previous section.

Paddle-driven sloops[edit]

These vessels were initially rated as steam vessels until 1844, when the category of steam sloops was created.

19th-century screw sloops (to 1903)[edit]

  • Rattler (1843) - sold 1856.
  • Phoenix (1845 conversion from paddle sloop of 1832) - sold 1864.
  • Encounter class — 2 ships (second cancelled), 1846.
  • Niger class — 2 ships (second cancelled), 1846.
  • Conflict class — 4 ships (second pair cancelled), 1846–1849.
  • Plumper (1848) - sold 1865.
  • Reynard (1848) - wrecked 1851.
  • Archer class — 2 ships, 1849–1850.
    • Archer (1849) - sold 1866.
    • Wasp (1850) - sold 1869.
  • Miranda (1851) - sold 1869.
  • Brisk (1851) - sold 1870.
  • Malacca (1853) - sold 1869.

In 1852 six of the screw sloops (Archer, Brisk, Encounter, Malacca, Miranda and Niger) were reclassed as corvettes, while four others (Conflict, Desperate, Phoenix and Wasp) remained sloops.

[the 8 vessels cancelled in 1863–64 were Harlequin, Tees, Sappho, Trent, Circassian, Diligence, Imogene and Success - although 2 were completed as the ironclads Research and Enterprise.]

[the 6 vessels cancelled in 1863 were Circassian, Acheron, Bittern, Fame, Cynthia and Sabrina.]

World War I sloops[edit]

Inter-war sloops[edit]

World War II sloops[edit]


Book sources[edit]