A xebec was a three masted, oared sailing ship of Turkish or Arab origin that was the logical successor to the Mediterranean galley – although the oars were only used when necessary. It was larger, wider, with more freeboard than the galley, and was a definite sailing ship, with three masts, square rigged on the fore, and with lateen sails on the two aft, that could be replaced by even larger ones by the use of longer poles. It was popular with all the corsair states of the Mediterranean and was taken on by the French navy as one of their ship types during the 17th century.
An armed xebec would normally carry up to 24 light to medium cannon and over 300 men. It was the fastest most manoeuvrable warship in the Mediterranean. It needed, however, a lot of manpower to handle, was too light to withstand bombardment, and by 1800, was no match for a British or American warship.