Originally a small, swift, undecked Meditteranean vessel, using oars or sails. Frigates were adopted by Portugal in the 16th and 17th centuries for naval purposes in the Indies, it became a fast 3-masted, full-rigged scouting and cruising craft, carrying from 24 to 50 guns.
In World War II the name was given to a large sloop of c. 100 ft designed for escort and anti-submarine duties. Today (although somewhat larger than their WWII ancestors) the Frigate remains as one of the most widely employed type of warship in the navys of the world. A combination of speed and agility coupled with the latest surfave-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles making them ideal for small scale local conflicts and peace-keeping duties.