When John Paul Jones' old Revolutionary War Navy was sold at auction in the U.S. was left without protection on the high seas. Nobody thought that a Navy would be needed until the pirates from the Barbary Coast began capturing American ships and enslaving their crews. To meet this adversity, the Congress authorized the building of several fast, seaworthy armed frigates to serve as the new U.S. Navy. Famous ships all, and including such illustrious names as Constellation Constitution and United States, these ships ranged the world carrying the stars and stripes to foreign shores. Fighting pirates or European warships, landing marines ""on the shores of Tripoli"", or cruising the Pacific in romantic exploration of tropic isles, they soon became reckoned among the famous warships of the world. No little part of this history of them is the description taken from Melville of his own service aboard one of these frigates, turned to fictional form. Their story, told here with great clarity and affection, makes for history in a truly palatable form. How the frigates declined to steam-power about the time of the Civil War, and where the remaining ships of that class are now berthed, gives the story a delightful link with the sea world of today.