Xebec (ETW unit)
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The xebec is a lateen-rigged sailing ship with exceptional speed, making it popular with North African corsairs for hunting wealthy infidel merchants!
These relatively small vessels have three masts carrying fore-and-aft lateen sails, making them handy sailors and speedy, even in light winds. The lateen sails also allow the ship to sail close-hauled to the wind, making pursuits easier. Even when becalmed, some xebecs can still be dangerous enemies to face, as they carry oars and can close with an enemy at a time of their own choosing.
Although not quite as well armed as a European frigate, xebecs carry a formidable arsenal of 12- or 18-pounder guns. This, combined with their excellent sailing characteristics, makes them particularly suitable for piracy, and the corsairs – the infamous Barbary Pirates – of the North African coast use them. They can also carry a good-sized crew of ruffians!
Historically, the Barbary Pirates were a severe threat to European traders for centuries, partly because of excellent warships like the xebec (the name probably comes from an Arabic word “shabbak”, meaning a small warship). Eventually a few xebec-frigates were used by European Mediterranean naval powers, where the basic xebec hull shape was preserved but the distinctive lateen sails were replaced by square rigged sails. A few xebecs carried a hybrid rig with both square and lateen sails.
Unit is available when holding a region on the Mediterranean coast.