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A warship of the 17th–18th centuries with a flush deck and a single tier of guns. It was smaller than a frigate, and was ship rigged. The design was originally French and was a development of the lateen-rigged galley, with virtually the same hull form being taken for the corvette. Proving fast and weatherly, the design was adopted by the British Navy, the best British corvettes being those built of cedarwood in Bermuda.

The name corvette was also used in the Second World War (1939–45) to describe a small anti-submarine warship used for escorting convoys, and some navies still have them (see table in navy). The Norwegian Navy has developed a 47-metre (154-ft) rigid-sidewall surface effect ship, described as a coastal corvette. With a top speed of 55 knots, it can operate in only a metre of water, and is made of GRP and carbon fibre which gives it a low radar signature. The Swedish Navy is building an equally radical corvette (see illus. opposite). Both types may be a glimpse of the future of smaller surface warships. See also warfare at sea.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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