By 1805 the 44-gun frigate was probably viewed as a failed experiment whilst the 38-gun frigate was viewed as the vessel of the future. Ten years later every navy was building 44-gun frigates and today it is viewed as the symbol of the Napoleonic-era cruiser. This remarkable transformation resulted from the performance of three ships – the Constitution, United States, and President – 44-gun frigates built for the United States Navy between 1794 and 1799. Their victories in the naval War of 1812, as well as their performance against the Barbary Pirates, caught the imagination of the world – and spurred all navies into re-examining the class.
Read an extract of American Heavy Frigates 1794–1826