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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 ?
As of Friday morning, military hardwares in form of gunboats and helicopter gunships and personnel, were being reportedly and gradually deployed to the area 15 days to the presidential elections.
Empedrad mentioned Palawan and Zamboanga as possible deployments of the missile-equipped gunboats. Palawan is facing the South China Sea, where the Philippines have overlapping claims with its neighboring countries including China.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said last Tuesday that seven fast-attack gunboats of the Pasdar maritime arm approached the USS Firebolt September 4 with their machine guns uncovered, though not trained on the Americans.
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.
On September 28, Tranmere-born Cookson was in command of the British gunboat HMS Comet, taking part in the advance on Kut-el-Amara, 100 miles south of Baghdad on the River Tigris.
No military expertise is required to know that two lightly-armed gunboats cannot protect our EEZ in the event that the Turks decided to attack it, so the main reason for buying them is invalid.
"We've never had gunboats as big as this before," said the spokesman, as he made a series of enthusiastic machine gunning noises and loudly crowed.
Drawing on material from the National Archives, this illustrated work offers a history of amphibious gunboats specifically designed for combat against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater of WWII.
Earlier, a Palestinian fisherman, Zaki Tarosh, 45, from Gaza City, was injured in the left foot after Israeli gunboats opened fire at a group of fishermen near the city's shore.
Old Pulteney was once banned in its home town of Wick after Navy gunboats were called in to keep sozzled locals in order.
Angus Konstam's YANGTZE RIVER GUNBOATS 1900-49 (9781849084086, $17.95) provides a fine survey of early gunboats that protected traders and missionaries from the end of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th.
UNRWA said the Palestinians fled after the city came under fire from gunboats cruising off the coast and ground troops attacked over the weekend.