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Model showing characteristics and original painting scheme of Belle Poule.
|Preceded by:||Romaine class|
|Class and type:||Surveillante class frigate|
|Length:||54 metres (177 ft)|
|Beam:||14.10 metres (46.3 ft)|
|Draught:||3.80 metres (12.5 ft)|
One of the main innovations with respect to previous design was the disappearance of the gangways, which provided a flush deck capable of harbouring a complete second battery. With the standardisation on the 30-pounder calibre for all naval ordnance that occurred in the 1820s, this design allowed for a frigate throwing a 900-pound broadside, thrice the firepower of the 40-gun Pallas class that constituted the majority of the frigate forces during the Empire, and comparable to that of a 74-gun.
By far the best-known ship of the class is the Belle Poule, which achieved fame when she transported the ashes of Napoléon back to France in the so-called Retour des cendres; for this occasion, she was painted all black, a colour scheme that she retained later in her career, but which is uncharacteristic of the ships of this type.