A corvette is a small warship. It is traditionally the smallest class of vessel considered to be a proper (or 'rated') warship. The warship class above the corvette is that of the frigate, while the class below was historically that of the sloop-of-war. The modern types of ships below a corvette are coastal patrol craft, missile boat and fast attack craft. In modern terms, a corvette is typically between 500 tons and 2, 000 tons, although recent designs may approach 3, 000 tons, which might instead be considered a small frigate. The word 'corvette' is first found in Middle French, a diminutive of the Dutch word corf, meaning a 'basket', from the Latin corbis. The rank 'corvette captain', equivalent in many navies to 'lieutenant commander', derives from the name of this type of ship. The rank is the most junior of three 'captain' ranks in several European (e. g., France, Spain, Italy, Croatia) and South American (e. g., Argentina, Chile, Brazil) navies, because a corvette, as the smallest class of rated warship, was traditionally the smallest class of vessel entitled to a commander of a 'captain' rank. Sailing vessels During the Age of Sail, corvettes were one of many types of warships smaller than a frigate and with a single deck of guns. They were very closely related to sloops-of-war. The role of the corvette consisted mostly of coastal patrol, fighting minor wars, supporting large fleets, or participating in show-the-flag missions.
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