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small warship for use on rivers and along coasts in places inaccessible to vessels of larger displacement. In the U.S. Civil War both sides used as gunboats, on the Mississippi and other rivers, any boat that had an engine and had room to mount a gun. Gunboats were widely employed by the European powers in the Far and Middle East and Africa during the late 19th and early 20th cent. for police duty. More recently, gunboats equipped with gas-turbine propulsion plants were used by the U.S. navy for coastal patrol operations during the Vietnam War.


See Jane's Fighting Ships (pub. annually since 1897).



(in Russian, kanonerskaia logka; from French canonnière, from canon, “gun”), a combat artillery ship designed for combat operations in coastal waters, in shallow waters, and in rivers. Gunboats are divided into sea and river types.

Gunboats may be specially designed, but in wartime the number is usually increased by reequiping shallow-draft vessels from the commercial, fishing, and industrial fleets. Gunboats are used to deliver artillery strikes at coastal objectives and the men and matériel of the enemy, to destroy small coastal ships and vessels, and for artillery support of the coastal flanks of the ground troops. In addition they may be used in landing operations and in operations against landing forces, to lay mines and transport troops, and for convoy service and patrol duty. The displacement of gunboats does not exceed 2, 500 tons, and their speed is from nine to 20 knots (17 to 37 km per hour). Their main armament consists of between two and five 76-mm to 152-mm artillery mounts. For defense against enemy aircraft, gunboats may have small-caliber (20– mm) automatic antiaircraft guns and large-caliber antiaircraft machine guns. Since World War II the development of coastal rocket artillery has reduced the role of gunboats as naval artillery ships for coastal action, according to foreign data, but they still retain their value in wartime foractions in lakes and rivers.



(naval architecture)
A small, moderate-speed, heavily armed vessel for general patrol and escort duty; usually unarmored and of less than 2000 tons.


a small shallow-draft vessel carrying mounted guns and used by coastal patrols, etc.
References in periodicals archive ?
He said the opposition forces fought back in self-defense and in those battles destroyed one government's big barge and five gunboats carrying troops and heavy weapons, all burnt and sunk in the River Nile.
Navy ships destroyed at least six of the rebel gunboats killing 30 men.
Found with sonar, the gunboat has not yet been identified by name.
Nizar Ayyash, the chairman of the Palestinian fishermen syndicate, said that the gunboats opened fire at dawn on fishing boats off the Central coast of Gaza, PIC reported.
FORCE German gunboat captures pirates last month HOSTAGE Phillips
The Israeli gunboats opened fire at the ships without previous warning, but no damage or injuries were reported," MENA news agency reported.
a press statement that the Israeli gunboats surrounded the ship and asked the
Israeli gunboats stationed in the waters of Gaza target Palestinian fishing
28 (Petra)-Israeli gunboats on Thursday opened their fires against Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Rafah southern Gaza Strip.
Summary: TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian commander stated on Monday that the country's naval fleet of warships deployed in the Gulf of Aden is dispatching its gunboats to different parts of the volatile waters to safeguard Iranian vessels against Somali buccaneers and assure their safe passage.
And in 1975-6, Icelandic gunboats tried to arrest, British trawlers in the zone.
Even before we reach six miles from the Gaza coast, we can see three Israeli gunboats speeding towards us.