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List of corvette and sloop classes of the Royal Navy

This is a list of corvette and sloop classes of the Royal Navy. The term 'corvette' was not introduced into the Royal Navy until the 1830s, 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') 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.

Corvette classes

Sailing era post ship (and subsequently corvette) classes

This section lists the 'post ships' of 20 to 24 guns, which in the 1830s would be merged with the larger sloops to form the new category of corvette.

  • 1693 Group — 14 ships, with 20 x 6pdrs, + 4 smaller. 1693–1695
  • 1696 Group — 4 ships, with 20 x 6pdrs, + 4 smaller. 1696–1697
  • Peregrine Galley — 1 ship, with 16 x 6pdrs, + 4 smaller. 1700
  • Squirrel Group — 3 ships, with 20 x 6pdrs, + 4 smaller. 1702–1704
  • Purchased Group — 3 ships, with 20 x 6pdrs, + 4 smaller. 1706–1707
  • Flamborough Group — 2 ships, with 20 x 6pdrs, + 4 smaller. 1707
  • Gibraltar Group — 12 ships, with 20 x 6pdrs, + 4 smaller. 1711–1716
  • Dursley Galley — 1 ship, with 20 x 6pdrs. 1719
  • 1719 Establishment Group — 20 ships, with 20 x 6pdrs. 1720–1727
  • Modified 1719 Establishment Group — 2 ships, with 20 x 6pdrs. 1732
  • 1733 Establishment Group — 16 ships, with 20 x 9pdrs. 1734–1742
  • Banterer class — 6 ships, 1806–1807
  • Laurel class — 6 ships, 1806–1812
  • Hermes class — 4 ships, 1811–1816
  • Cyrus class — 16 ships, 1813–1814
  • Conway class — 10 ships, 1814–1817

19th century screw corvettes

  • Highflyer class — 2 ships, 1851–1854
    • Highflyer (1851) - broken up 1871.
    • Esk (1854) - broken up 1870.
  • Pylades class — 1 ship, 1854
    • Pylades (1854) - sold 1875.
  • Cossack class — 2 ships, 1854
    • Cossack (1854) - sold 1875.
    • Tartar (1854) - sold 1866.
  • Pearl class — 10 ships, 1855–1858
    • Pearl (1855) - sold 1884.
    • Satellite (1855) - broken up 1879.
    • Cadmus (1856) - broken up 1879.
    • Scout (1856) - broken up 1877.
    • Scylla (1856) - sold 1882.
    • Charybdis (1859) - sold 1884.
    • Pelorus (1857) - broken up 1869.
    • Challenger (1858) - hulked 1880, sold 1921.
    • Racoon (1857) - broken up 1877.
    • Clio (1858) - training ship 1876, sold 1919.
  • Jason class — 7 ships (of which 1 cancelled), 1859–1863
    • Jason (1859) - broken up 1877.
    • Barrosa (1860) - broken up 1877.
    • Galatea (-) - completed as a screw frigate.
    • Orpheus (1860) - wrecked 1863.
    • Orestes (1860) - broken up 1866.
    • Rattlesnake (1861) - broken up 1882.
    • Wolverene (1863) - training ship 1881, sold 1923.
  • North Star class — 10 ships, 1860 design - all cancelled
  • Juno class — 2 ships, 1867–1869
    • Juno (1867) - sold 1887.
    • Thalia (1869) - sold 1920.
  • Eclipse class — 7 ships, 1867–1870
  • Briton class — 3 ships, 1869–1871
  • Volage class — 3 ships, 1869–1874
  • Amethyst class — 5 ships, 1873–1874
  • Bacchante class — 3 ships, 1875–1877
  • Comus class — 9 ships, 1878–1881
  • Calypso class — 2 ships, 1883–1884

World War II corvettes

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.

Sloop classes

Sloops-of-war (1700 to 1850)

(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)

  • Swift group — 3 vessels, 1704
    • Swift (1704) - sold 1719.
    • Ferret (1704) - captured 1706 by French.
    • Weazle (1704) - sold 1712.
  • Drake — 1 brig-rigged vessel, 1705 - rebuilt 1728
  • Jamaica group — 4 vessels, 1709–1711
    • Jamaica (1709) - wrecked 1715.
    • Trial (1709) - rebuilt 1719.
    • Ferret (1711) - captured by Spanish 1718.
    • Shark (1711) - rebuilt 1722.
  • Hazard group — 2 vessels, 1711
    • Hazard (1711) - wrecked 1714.
    • Happy (1711) - rebuilt 1724-25.
  • Trial — 1 vessel, 1719 (rebuilt from 1709 vessel) - BU 1731.
  • Bonetta group — 2 vessels, 1721
    • Bonetta (1721) - sold 1731.
    • Ferret (1721) - sold 1731.
  • Otter group — 2 vessels, 1721
    • Otter (1721) - wrecked 1742.
    • Swift (1721) - sold 1741.
  • Cruizer group — 4 vessels, 1721
    • Cruizer (1721) - BU 1732.
    • Weazle (1721) - sold 1732.
    • Hawk (1721) - foundered 1739.
    • Spy (1721) - sold 1731.
  • Shark group — 2 vessels, 1723–1725
    • Shark (1723) - sold 1732.
    • Happy (1725) - sold 1735.
  • Spence — 1 vessel, 1723 - BU 1730.
  • Drake class — 2 vessels, 1729
    • Drake (1729) - BU 1740.
    • Spence (1729) - sold 1749.
  • Grampus — 1 vessel, 1731 - foundered 1742.
  • Wolf — 1 vessel, 1731 - wrecked 1741.
  • Bonetta class — 8 vessels, 1732
    • Shark (1732) - sold 1755.
    • Bonetta (1732) - wrecked 1744.
    • Fly (1732) - BU 1751.
    • Spy (1732) - sold 1745.
    • Saltash (1732) - sold 1741.
    • Cruizer (1732) - sold 1745.
    • Hound (1732) - BU 1745.
    • Trial (1732) - scuttled 1741.
  • Drake class — 3 vessels, 1741
    • Drake (1741) - wrecked 1742.
    • Hawk (1741) - BU 1747.
    • Swift (1741) - lost 1756.
  • Wolf class — 3 vessels, 1742–1743
    • Wolf (1742) - wrecked 1748.
    • Otter (1742) - sold 1763.
    • Drake (1743) - captured by the French 1744.
  • Baltimore class — 3 vessels, 1742–1743
    • Baltimore (1742) - sold 1762.
    • Saltash (1742) - capsized 1746.
    • Drake (1743) - sold 1748.
  • Merlin class — 21 vessels, 1744–1747
    • Swallow (1744) - wrecked 1744.
    • Merlin (1744) - sold 1748.
    • Speedwell (1744) - sold 1750.
    • Falcon (1744) - captured by French 1745, retaken 1746 and renamed Fortune, sold 1770.
    • Hazard (1744) - sold 1749.
    • Lizard (1744) - wrecked 1748.
    • Hinchingbrooke (1745) - captured by French 1746.
    • Tavistock (1745) - renamed Albany 1747, sold 1763.
    • Hound (1745) - sold 1773.
    • Hornet (1745) - sold 1770.
    • Raven (1745) - sold 1763.
    • Swan (1745) - sold 1763.
    • Badger (1745) - wrecked 1762.
    • Falcon (1745) - wrecked 1759.
    • Scorpion (1746) - wrecked 1762.
    • Swallow (1745) - sold 1769.
    • Kingfisher (1745) - sold 1763.
    • Dispatch (1745) - sold 1773.
    • Viper (1746) - renamed Lightning as fireship 1755, sold 1762.
    • Grampus (1746) - converted to fireship 1762, renamed Strombolo 1771, sold 1780.
    • Saltash (1745) - sold 1773.
  • Hind class — 4 vessels, 1744
    • Hind (1744) - foundered 1747.
    • Vulture (1744) - sold 1761.
    • Jamaica (1744) - wrecked 1770.
    • Trial (1744) - BU 1776.
  • Swan class — 25 ships, 1766–1778
  • Zebra class — 3 ships, 1779–1781
  • Inspector class — 1 ship, 1782
  • Echo class — 6 ships, 1782–1785
  • Hound class — 5 ships, 1789–1791
  • Hawk class — 2 ships, 1793
  • Cruizer class — 107 brigs, 1797-1815
  • Seagull class — 13 brigs, 1805-1806
  • Fly class — 7 brigs, 1805-1806
  • Crocus class — 10 brigs, 1808-1814
  • Cherokee class — 114 brigs, 1808-1830

19th century screw sloops

  • Rattler (1843) - sold 1856.
  • Phoenix (1845 conversion from paddle sloop of 1832) - sold 1864.
  • Encounter class — 2 ships (second cancelled), 1846.
    • Encounter (1846) - broken up 1866.
    • Harrier (-) - cancelled 1851.
  • Niger class — 2 ships (second cancelled), 1846.
    • Niger (1846) - sold 1869.
    • Florentia (-) - cancelled 1849.
  • Conflict class — 4 ships (second pair cancelled), 1846–1849.
    • Conflict (1846) - sold 1863.
    • Desperate (1849) - broken up 1865.
    • Enchantress (-) - cancelled 1851.
    • Falcon (-) - cancelled 1851.
  • 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.

  • Cruizer class — 6 ships, 1852–1856.
    • Cruizer (1852) - training ship Lark 1893; sold 1912.
    • Hornet (1854) - sold 1868.
    • Harrier (1854) - broken up 1866.
    • Fawn (1856) - sold 1884.
    • Falcon (1854) - sold 1869.
    • Alert (1856) - given away 1884.
  • Swallow class — 4 ships, 1854–1866.
    • Curlew (1854) - sold 1865.
    • Swallow (1854) - sold 1866.
    • Ariel (1854) - sold 1865.
    • Lyra (1857) - broken up 1876.
  • Racer class — 5 ships, 1856–1860.
    • Cordelia (1856) - sold 1870.
    • Racer (1857) - broken up 1876.
    • Gannet (1857) - broken up 1877.
    • Icarus (1858) - sold 1875.
    • Pantaloon (1860) - sold 1867.
  • Greyhound class — 2 ships, 1859.
    • Greyhound (1859) - harbour service 1869, sold 1906.
    • Mutine (1859) - sold 1870.
  • Camelion class — 8 ships, 1860–1866 (another 8 cancelled).

[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.]

  • Amazon class — 6 ships, 1865–1866.
    • Amazon (1865) - sunk in collision 1866.
    • Vestal (1865) - sold 1884.
    • Niobe (1866) - wrecked 1874.
    • Dryad (1866) - sold 1886.
    • Daphne (1866) - sold 1882.
    • Nymphe (1866) - sold 1884.
  • Eclipse class — 7 ships, 1867–1870
  • Fantome class — 6 ships, 1873–1874
  • Osprey class — 5 ships, 1876–1877
    • Wild Swan (1876) - base ship 1904 (renamed Clyde), sold 1920.
    • Penguin (1876) - survey ship 1890, to Australia 1913, sold 1924.
    • Osprey (1876) - sold 1890.
    • Pelican (1877) - sold 1901.
    • Cormorant (1877) - hulked 1889, renamed Rooke 1946, brokem up 1949.
  • Doterel class — improved Osprey class, 9 ships, 1878–1880
    • Dragon (1878) - sold 1892.
    • Pegasus (1878) - sold 1987.
    • Gannet (1878) - training ship 1903, renamed President 1903 then Mercury 1913; preserved at Chatham 1890.
    • Phoenix (1879) - wrecked 1882.
    • Miranda (1879) - survey vessel 1883, sold 1892.
    • Kingfisher (1879) - training ship 1892, renamed Lark 1892 then Cruizer 1893; sold 1919.
    • Doterel (1880) - sank in accidental explosion 1881.
    • Mutine (1880) - boom defence vessel 1899, renamed Azov 1904; sold 1921.
    • Espiegle (1880) - boom defence vessel 1899, renamed Argo 1904; sold 1921.
  • Satellite class — 7 ships, 1881–1884 - reclassed as corvettes 1884.
    • Satellite (1881) - drill ship 1904, sold 1947.
    • Heroine (1881) - sold 1902.
    • Hyacinth (1881) - sold 1902.
    • Royalist (1883) - hulked 1900, sold 1948.
    • Rapid (1883) - hulked 1906, sold 1948.
    • Caroline (1882) - hulked 1897, sold 1929.
    • Pylades (1884) - sold 1906.
  • Nymphe class — 4 ships, 1885–1888
    • Swallow (1885) - sold 1904.
    • Buzzard (1887) - drill ship 1904, renamed President 1911, sold 1921.
    • Daphne (1888) - sold 1904.
    • Nymphe (1888) - base ship 1906, sold 1920.
  • Beagle class — 2 ships, 1889
    • Basilisk (1889) - sold 1905.
    • Beagle (1889) - sold 1905.
  • Alert class — 2 ships, 1894
    • Alert (1894) - sold 1926.
    • Torch (1894) - sold 1920.
  • Phoenix class — 2 ships, 1895
    • Phoenix (1895) - foundered 1906.
    • Algerine (1895) - wrecked 1924.
  • Condor class — 6 ships, 1898–1900
    • Condor (1898) - foundered 1901.
    • Rosario (1898) - sold 1921.
    • Mutine (1900) - sold 1932.
    • Rinaldo (1900) - sold 1921.
    • Shearwater (1900) - sold 1922.
    • Vestal (1900) - sold 1921.
  • Cadmus class — 6 ships, 1901–1903
    • Espiegle (1900) - sold 1923.
    • Fantome (1901) - sold 1925.
    • Merlin (1901) - sold 1923.
    • Odin (1901) - sold 1920.
    • Clio (1903) - sold 1920.
    • Cadmus (1903) - sold 1921.

World War I sloops

Inter-war sloops

World War II sloops

Reference Sources

  • Rif Winfield, British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1793-1817 (Chatham Publishing, 2005)
  • Rif Winfield, British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1714-1792 (Seaforth Publishing, 2007).

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