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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 ?
The SS Dignity, a boat belonging to the Free Gaza Movement, was rammed by an Israeli gunboat 144 kilometers off the Gazan coast and 85 kilometers from Israel on December 30, Healey said.
No Australian leader criticizes China over its human rights abuses, but we will send the gunboats to stop the Japanese being beastly to whales.
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The focus of the exploration has been the location where it is believed the Fantome, a French brig captured by the British in 1810 and used as a gunboat during the invasion of the Chesapeake in 1814, went down on November 24, 1814, three months after British troops invaded Washington, D.
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An Israeli gunboat surrounded a boat boarding 2 fishermen; 'Ammar As'ad 'Abdel Malek al-Sultan (21) and Muhsin Akram Diab Zayed (24) from al-Salatin neighborhood in Beit Lahia.
By the first of July, the menacing iron-over-oak gunboat, soon to be called "the monster" by Union naval personnel, was coming together.
According to daily Politis, the incident occurred last Thursday when the 'Odin Finder' was intercepted by a Turkish gunboat.
Beirut, Jan 21 (Petra) -- A Lebanese fisherman was fatally wounded early Saturday when a Syrian gunboat fired on a fishing boat with three people on board inside Lebanese waters on the tense border between the two neighbours.
A Civil War Gunboat in Pacific Waters: Life on Board USS Saginaw is the dramatic true story of the civil war gunboat the USS Saginaw, and her crew.
Notable events in her wartime career included firing three torpedoes at a dead whale while on patrol in the Gulf of Lyon on May 30, 1943, sinking an Italian patrol vessel with gunfire off Bastia, Italy and in February, 1944, torpedoing a Japanese gunboat off Burma.