The French term Escorteur (Escort Ship) appeared during the Second World War to designate a warship, of a medium or light displacement, whose mission was to protect ocean convoys and naval squadrons from attacks by submarines. This role was in general handled by a destroyer escort such as the Buckley and Cannon classes built in the United States, or a Hunt-class destroyer built by the United Kingdom, or even a River class built by the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. The Imperial Japanese Navy used the denomination of Kaibokan for this type of naval ship.
During the years 1950–1960, France reconstituted the navy with the assistance of the United States which contributed most of the rebuilding program. Following certain hesitations, the term « escorteur » was finally chosen for this new type of warship, instead of the traditional « torpilleur » or « contre-torpilleur », which were abandoned.
The designation of « escorteur » is no longer used in the French Navy. The designation has been replaced by that of frigate, aviso or patrol boat.