|Ordered:||23 July 1817|
|Builder:||Royal Dockyard, Chatham, Kent, England|
|Laid down:||February 1822|
|Launched:||30 March 1824|
|Out of service:||~1964|
|Refit:||1824, refit during construction to receiving/barracks vessel|
|Status:||Museum ship, Dundee, Scotland|
|Class and type:||Modified Leda-class frigate|
|Tons burthen:||1077 bm|
|Beam:||40 ft 3 in (12.27 m)|
|Depth of hold:||12 ft 9 in (3.89 m)|
|Sail plan:||Although never given masts, she was planned as a full-rigged ship|
|Range:||Cannot move without tow (never rigged)|
HMS Unicorn is a surviving sailing frigate of the successful Leda class, although the original design had been modified by the time that the Unicorn was built, to incorporate a circular stern and "small-timber" system of construction. Listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Unicorn is now a museum ship in Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom. She is one of the six oldest ships in the world, and considered to be one of the last intact warships from the age of sail.
HMS Unicorn was built in peacetime at Chatham Dockyard, Kent and launched in 1824. This was a transitional period for shipbuilding, as suitable timber was becoming more difficult to obtain, and iron was increasingly available. Under the direction of Sir Robert Seppings, then Surveyor of the Royal Navy, Unicorn was built with diagonal riders made with iron straps and iron "knees" that strengthened the hull.
As Unicorn was built shortly after the naval wars against Napoleon ended, she was never rigged; she only went to sea for the voyage from Chatham to Dundee, during which she was under tow. A superstructure was built over her main deck and she was laid up "in ordinary", serving as a hulk and a depot ship for most of the next 140 years. Her lack of active duty left her timbers well preserved, and in the 1960s steps were initiated to convert her to a museum ship. The roof that covers her upper deck is thought to be original, although portions of it were removed in the 1970s, leading conservators to replace the foc'sle roof.
Though steps were taken to restore Unicorn[n 1] to a similar condition as her sister ship HMS Trincomalee, this plan has been changed. The ship was found to be the only example of a wooden frigate of her type existing in ordinary, and as a result, the intention is now to preserve her in her current condition.
Unicorn at the bowsprit