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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 ?
Healey, however, denied press reports that shots were fired or that there had been any radio contact between the Israeli gunboats and his ship prior to the hit.
That British gunboat put us off at Cherbourg and then went about its business.
Finally, a single gunboat sailed toward the Tempest.
Payment for annual maintenance of ships the Navy - missile gunboat, and based on the technical specifications.
Knowing also that there wasn't enough time to construct the large number of ships and gunboats needed, President Jefferson Davis and his Secretary of the Navy, Stephen Mallory, opted to secretly build six ironclad vessels patterned after the new iron warships recently invented by the English and the French in 1858-1859.
The gunboat later began circling the vessel, which eventually headed back to shore after alerting Cypriot authorities.
In response to the plea for help, the navy dispatched a patrol gunboat and a surveillance aircraft to the area, but they failed to find or identify the vessel, navy spokesman Lieutenant Stanley Gonzaga told AFP.
After discussing the role of the gunboat in British foreign policy, naval historians Preston (founding editor of the Warship annual) and Major (U.
Let me stress - we are not indulging in gunboat policy here.
It is a tale of mystery, superstition, ill omen and controversy surrounding the 691-ton composite gunboat HMS Wasp, one of the first of her class.
gunboat diplomacy that terrorized our neighbors in the past.