2004 Ship Frigate

A Frigate-Class Ship.

The Frigate Class is a family of ship designs featured in Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004). It includes the Frigate, Large Frigate, and Ship Of The Line. All three of these Ship Types share the same physical appearance, and have similar characteristics.

Frigate-Class ships are large and fast Warships, carrying an impressive complement of Cannons and Crew while maintaining surprising speed and agility for their size. Their primary prey are large and mid-sized ships, including even Combat Galleons. Frigates can both take and deliver a lot of punishment. They are considered to be among the player-favourite ship types.


The Frigate Class is a set of three Ship Types. Collectively, they are known as "Frigate-Class Ships", and sometimes simply as "Frigates".

Each of the three ship types is referred to as a "Variant" of the Frigate Class.

  • The Smallest Variant is known simply as a Frigate.
  • The Mid-sized Variant is called a Large Frigate.
  • The Largest Variant is called a Ship Of The Line (or "SotL" and sometimes "SOL", for short).

Although all variants share the same 3D model, they can be distinguished by size. The Frigate is the smallest of these, about the size of an East Indiaman. The Ship Of The Line is the largest of the three, and one of the largest ships in the game, rivaling a Royal Galleon in size.

All ship characteristics are also similar between these variants. The Frigate, being the smallest, can hold less Cargo, Crew and Cannons than the others. However, it is slightly faster and more maneuverable. The Ship Of The Line, the largest variant, holds more Cargo, Crew and Cannons (in fact, the most crew and cannons of any Ship Type in the game), but is slightly slower than the others. The Large Frigate sits comfortably in the middle, having "average" statistics compared to the other two.

Visual AppearanceEdit

2004 Ship Frigate 3.4

A Frigate as seen inside the game.

Frigate Class ships are large-sized combat vessels with hybrid sails. They vary greatly in size, but are among the largest ships in the Caribbean nonetheless.

Frigates sport four masts and a plethora of different sails. The foremast and mainmast carry three large Square Sails each. The aft mast carries two square sails at the top, and an additional Spanker Sail below. The ship also has a prow-mast with two small square sails. Furthermore, the ship also has four lateen (triangular) sails, stretched between the various masts.

From certain angles, it is possible to confuse at first glance a Frigate-Class ship with a Combat Galleon Class or a Brig Class ship. Nonetheless, their size and the multitude of sails give them away, and most players will immediately identify a Ship Of The Line whenever it comes into view, being one of the largest ships in the Caribbean.

Sailing PropertiesEdit

The Frigate Class vessel relies on a combination of Square and Triangular sails, through it places more emphasis on its Square rigging.

As a result, the Frigate sails best when wind is coming from aft, at angles close to Running Broad Reach. In fact, when sailing at Running Broad Reach the ship can achieve the highest speed possible in the game (compared to other ships), with the maximum being somewhere around 25 knots. This is achieved in stormy weather.

Nonetheless, the Lateen rigging and Spanker Sail are there to enable the ship to maintain some agility even in off-wind conditions. While it cannot develop a good speed heading beyond Beam Reach, it is by far more maneuverable off its Best Point Of Sailing than other large ships such as the Combat Galleon Class or Merchant Galleon Class vessels.

On the Sailing Map, all sailing with a Frigate requires a good grasp of navigation and Weather-utilization. Frigates get a great speed boost from clouds and storms, but can becomes awfully slow when the winds die down. Therefore, it is necessary to constantly pay attention to the weather and seek out windy areas to gain speed. This is especially crucial when sailing eastwards, as it can shave several months off the journey across the map in this direction. When Westwards-bound, things are somewhat simpler, as the Frigate can make headway at up to 90 degrees off the wind with reasonable speed.

All this boils down to a ship that requires some planning ahead: making it to the west is easy, but getting back east is troublesome. Frigate captains quickly learn to finish their business in one part of the Caribbean before heading to the next, to minimize the amount of travel required. As the captain gains more skill, mobility on the Sailing Map becomes less of an issue, but is always more complicated than with smaller ships like the Pinnace Class or Sloop Class.

Combat PropertiesEdit

Frigates are some of the most heavily-armed and well-crewed ships in the game. In fact, an upgraded Ship Of The Line carries more Cannons and Crew than any other ship. Nonetheless, the Frigate is surprisingly maneuverable compared to other large ships like the Combat Galleon Class. The combination between its impressive firepower, surprising agility, and high Durability makes it one of the best combat vessels in the game - assuming one can learn to control it.

The Frigate's broadside is destructive. A single volley of Round-Shot can sink small vessels, and a Chain-Shot volley may instantly Demast anything up to a Merchantman. A Frigate-Class can therefore disable or destroy an enemy within the first few moments of a battle, if it chooses to do so. Even if a straightforward Boarding is the goal, the Frigate has no problem here since it normally carries more than enough men to subdue any opponent in melee combat.

The trick, of course, is to be able to maneuver the ship into broadside position, or into the other enemy vessel for a Boarding. It's tricky because the Frigate only gets good speed when sailing at an angle of Running Broad Reach or close to it. At other angles, it will quickly lose speed, coming to a halt at Close-Hauled or further. Additionally, while the Frigate can certainly take a lot of punishment during combat, it is a large target, and therefore will almost certainly be hit by any broadside fired competently by the enemy.

This is where the Frigate demands great skill, often moreso than small warships like the Sloop Class which are simple to use. To make the best of a Frigate, the captain needs to learn proper pre-battle positioning, good wind utilization, and the precise moments in which to change Sail States. In fact, the Frigate makes the best use of Sail State changes of any ship in the game, since it receives a massive boost to its turning rate when the sails are Reefed. The short burst to turning speed allows the Frigate to bring its guns to bear on the enemy rapidly, but can also be used to completely dodge enemy cannonfire.

To do this, the captain Reefs the sails as soon as the enemy opens fire, then turns the ship a wide angle away from its previous heading, filling the sails back up to regain speed. When executed correctly, the Frigate will have in essence changed course within a very small timeframe, allowing it to sail away from the expected destination of the incoming cannonballs. This allows even a large ship like a Frigate to avoid taking damage in combat - but requires a lot of practice ans skills to perform.

Naturally, if anything goes wrong, the Frigate can always default to a Boarding, utilizing its massive crew to overpower the enemy. It can also escape from combat by simply turning to Running Broad Reach, where no other ship can develop as much speed as the Frigate.

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