fire ship

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fire ship

a vessel loaded with explosives and used, esp formerly, as a bomb by igniting it and directing it to drift among an enemy's warships

Fire Ship


(in Russian, brander, from German, brander), a ship laden with combustibles and explosives and used to burn enemy ships. Fire ships had attachments for hooking up with enemy ships. They were first used in warfare in the 17th century. Fire ships were set on fire and released to be floated by the wind or the current toward the enemy fleet; upon collision they set the enemy ships on fire. An example of the use of fire ships is the burning of the Turkish fleet by the Russians in 1770 during the naval battle at Çeşme Bay. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the term “fire ships” was applied to old ships that were to be sunk at the entrances of ports, bays, or canals in order to bar ingress and egress. This method was tried by the Japanese at Port Arthur in 1904; but the Russian artillerymen sank the fire ships before they reached their target.

References in periodicals archive ?
A group of academics and members of the House of Lords agreed, for example, that Dover should do without its clear white cliffs, but that the light by which the fireships sailed should have an element of ambiguity.
Using fireships as a weapon, the Wu strategist Zhou Yu drove Cao's troops back, securing the Yangzi region.
In 1809 he developed a plan to attack an enemy fleet as it lay in a protected anchorage, by sending in 'explosion vessels' ahead of fireships under cover of darkness in order to spread terror and confusion before the main asssault.