River monitor

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River monitors are military craft designed to patrol rivers.

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They are normally the largest of all riverine warships in river flotillas, and mount the heaviest weapons. The name originated from the US Navy's USS Monitor, which made her first appearance in the American Civil War, and being distinguished by the use of revolving gun turrets.

On 18 December 1965, the US Navy, for the second time in one hundred years, authorized the reactivation of a brown-water navy for riparian operations in South Vietnam. In July 1966, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara authorized the formation of a Mobile Riverine Force (MRF); [1] a force that would bring back the heavily armored single-turret river monitor.

River monitors were used on inland waterways such as rivers, estuaries, deltas and lakes. Usually they had a shallow draft which was necessary for them to be able to operate in enclosed waters; but their displacement, size and draft varied depending on where they were used.

Most river monitors were lightly armored although this varied, with some carrying more armor. Exceptional examples, however, most notably the Royal Navy's Lord Clive-class monitors, which could operate in coastal or certain riparian/estuarine situations, bore extra-thick armor plating and heavy shore-bombardment guns, up to a massive 18 inches (457 mm) in size. Typically, however, river monitors displayed a mixture of gun sizes from 3-inch (75 mm) to 6-inch (152 mm), plus machine guns. This type of vessel overlaps with the river gunboat.

United States

The Civil War era river monitor Neosho USS Neosho (1863-1873) - NH 60617.jpg
The Civil War era river monitor Neosho

River monitors were used during the American Civil War, playing an important role in the Mississippi River Campaigns. They also played a role in the Battle of Mobile Bay. The American Civil War river monitors were very large, weighing up to 1,300 tons.

During the Vietnam War, the US Navy's Brown Water Navy operated its monitors as part of their River Assault Flotilla One, which initially consisted of four River Assault Divisions (RAD); with RAD 91 containing three monitors, RAD 92 having two monitors, RAD 111 having three monitors, and RAD 112 operating two monitors. [2]

The Vietnam monitors were divided into two programs; program 4 would consist of the 40 mm gun monitors, while the later program 5 would entail the eight Monitor (H) Howitzer versions, and the six Monitor (F) Flamethrower models. [3] All of the monitors were converted from World War II 56-foot (17 m) long Landing Craft Mechanized (LCMs) Mk 6s. [4] When completed, they were 60 feet (18 m) long, 17 feet (5.2 m) wide, with a draft of 3 12 feet (1.1 m), had two screws driven by two Gray Marine model 64NH9 diesel engines, could do 8.5 knots (15.7 km/h; 9.8 mph) and were manned by usually 11 or more crewmen. [5] They usually carried about ten tons of armor.

A Mobile Riverine Force monitor using napalm in the Vietnam War US riverboat using napalm in Vietnam.jpg
A Mobile Riverine Force monitor using napalm in the Vietnam War
Modern Romanian Mihail Kogalniceanu-class river monitor Romanian river monitor F-46.jpg
Modern Romanian Mihail Kogălniceanu-classriver monitor
US Navy Brown Water Navy River Monitors (Vietnam) [7]
Generation-One TypeGeneration-Two Type/FlameGeneration-Two Type/Howitzer
Length18.6 m (61 ft 0 in)18.4 m (60 ft 6 in)
Width5.3 m (17 ft 6 in)
Draft1.1 m (3 ft 6 in)
Engines2 Gray Marine 64HN9 diesels; 160 kW (220 hp) at 2100 rpm
Speed8.5 knots (15.7 km/h)
Crew11
Armament
  • 2 20 mm cannons
  • 2 200m range flamethrowers
  • 3 M79 grenade launchers
  • 2 .50 cal. machine guns
  • 1 105 mm howitzer
  • 2 20 mm cannons
  • 3 M79 grenade launchers
  • 2 .50 cal. machine guns
  • 1 7.62 mm machine gun

Asia

On Asian rivers, the Amur Military Flotilla on the Amur used large Taifun-class river monitors of the Imperial Russian Navy from around 1907; the Imperial Japanese Navy captured some of these ships in 1918. [8] [9] They were up to 1,000 tons displacement, armed with 130 mm guns. Some of these Russian monitors, such as the recommissioned Sverdlov, were still in use by the Soviet Navy in the 1945 Soviet invasion of Manchuria. [10]

During the Vietnam War, the United States Navy, in conjunction with other riverine craft, commissioned 24 monitors, ten of which mounted a single 40 mm cannon in a Mk 52 turret, eight which mounted an M49 105 mm howitzer within a T172 turret, [11] and six monitors which mounted two M10-8 flamethrowers from two M8 turrets located on either side of the vessel's 40 mm cannon. Referred to as "river battleships" [12] by their crews, they provided the firepower of the brown-water navy.

Europe

Austro-Hungarian river monitor SMS Inn (later Romanian Basarabia), the largest Danube warship sunk during World War I River monitor Inn.png
Austro-Hungarian river monitor SMS Inn (later Romanian Basarabia), the largest Danube warship sunk during World War I

On the Danube, river monitors were employed during World War I by Austria-Hungary and Romania. The Austro-Hungarian river monitor Bodrog fired the first shots of World War I, against the city of Belgrade, and later also fought in the Romanian Campaign, notably during the Flămânda Offensive in October 1916, when she was damaged. Another river monitor, Körös , was also heavily damaged by Romanian artillery, taking 12 hits and ran aground after her steam lines were severed. [13] On 22 September 1917, the Enns-class river monitor Inn was sunk by a Romanian mine near Brăila. [14] [15] [16] She was refloated but her repairs were not completed before the War ended, and she was eventually handed over to Romania as war reparation, being renamed Basarabia. [17]

During World War I, Romania had the largest river monitors on the Danube, displacing 680 tons, armed mainly with three 120 mm guns and protected by at least 70 mm of armor around the belt, turrets and conning tower. They were built in sections at Triest in Austria-Hungary, transported to Romania by rail and assembled by the Romanians at the Galați shipyard in 1907-1908. [18] [19] [20] They did not engage enemy ships, however, instead they were used to support ground forces during the Battle of Turtucaia and the First Battle of Cobadin, and also took part in the 1917 campaign, contributing to the stemming of the enemy advance. [21] During the Interwar period, the Romanian Danube Flotilla was the most powerful riverine fleet in the world. [22] In 1924, the Romanian river monitors helped suppress the Tatarbunary Uprising, along with the entire Romanian Danube Flotilla.

President Masaryk, the flagship of the Czechoslovak River Flotilla Hlidkova lod President Masaryk (2).jpg
President Masaryk, the flagship of the Czechoslovak River Flotilla

Czechoslovakia had one monitor, President Masaryk, of about 200 tons displacement. She was captured by the Germans in 1939 and commissioned as Bechelaren. She was extensively rebuilt in 1943 and her armament was also modified in February 1945. She supported German troops during Operation Spring Awakening and later fought in Austria, sinking two Soviet gunboats.

Yugoslav river monitors were former Austro-Hungarian warships received as reparations. They were renamed Vardar (ex-Bosna), Sava (ex-Bodrog), Drava (ex-Enns) and Morava (ex-Körös). After the fall of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Morava (renamed Bosna) and Sava were commissioned by the newly created Independent State of Croatia.

Smaller monitors (70–100 ton displacement) were used by Poland in 1939 on the Pripyat River and by the Soviet Union in 1941 on the Pripyat and Dnepr rivers. The Soviet Union also had five Zheleznyakov-class monitors of 263 tons, which served with the Danube Flotilla and Dnieper Flotilla in World War II.

Hungary also used river monitors, five of them notably taking part during the Kozara Offensive in 1942.

South America

Brazilian Navy's river monitor Parnaiba M Parnaiba (U-17).jpg
Brazilian Navy's river monitor Parnaíba

The Brazilian river monitor Parnaíba was built for the navy in Rio de Janeiro and commissioned on 9 March 1938. She participated in the Second World War and is currently the world's oldest commissioned warship still in active service. [23] She is assigned to the Brazilian navy's Mato Grosso Flotilla.

See also

Related Research Articles

Monitor (warship) Small ironclad warship

A monitor was a relatively small warship which was neither fast nor strongly armored but carried disproportionately large guns. They were used by some navies from the 1860s, during the First World War and with limited use in the Second World War. During the Vietnam War they were used by the United States Navy. The Brazilian Navy's Parnaíba is the last monitor in service.

Gunboat

A gunboat is a naval watercraft designed for the express purpose of carrying one or more guns to bombard coastal targets, as opposed to those military craft designed for naval warfare, or for ferrying troops or supplies.

Romanian Naval Forces

The Romanian Navy is the navy branch of the Romanian Armed Forces; it operates in the Black Sea and on the Danube. It traces its history back to 1860.

The Royal Romanian Navy during World War I (1914–1918) was divided into two fleets and fought against the forces of the Central Powers. When Romania entered the war in August 1916, the Romanian Navy was officially divided as follows :

<i>Rhein</i>-class monitor

The Rhein class of ironclad riverine monitors (Flußkanonenboote) were a pair of ships built by the German Imperial Navy in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. The class comprised two ships, Rhein and Mosel; both were built by the AG Weser shipyard in Bremen, in 1872–1874. They were armed with a pair of 12 cm (4.7 in) bronze cannon in a revolving gun turret. The ships were intended to protect the German border with France in the event of a conflict, but had short service lives, as war did not come. They served briefly in the defenses of Coblenz, starting in 1875, before being withdrawn from service. The two ships were sold for scrap, apparently in December 1884.

SMS <i>Leitha</i>

SMS Leitha or Lajta Monitor Museumship was the first river monitor in Europe and the oldest and also the only remaining, fully restored warship of the Austro-Hungarian Navy.

Yugoslav monitor <i>Drava</i> Yugoslav river monitor

The Yugoslav monitor Drava was a river monitor operated by the Royal Yugoslav Navy between 1921 and 1941. She was originally built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy as the name ship of the Enns-class river monitors. As SMS Enns, she was part of the Danube Flotilla during World War I, and fought against the Serbian and Romanian armies from Belgrade to the lower Danube. In October 1915, she was covering an amphibious assault on Belgrade when she was holed below the waterline by a direct hit, and had to be towed to Budapest for repairs. After brief service with the Hungarian People's Republic at the end of the war, she was transferred to the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and renamed Drava. She remained in service throughout the interwar period, but was not always in full commission due to budget restrictions.

Yugoslav monitor <i>Sava</i> Austro-Hungarian then Yugoslav riverine naval ship

The Yugoslav monitor Sava is a Temes-class river monitor that was built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy as SMS Bodrog. She fired the first shots of World War I just after 01:00 on 29 July 1914, when she and two other monitors shelled Serbian defences near Belgrade. She was part of the Danube Flotilla, and fought the Serbian and Romanian armies from Belgrade to the mouth of the Danube. In the closing stages of the war, she was the last monitor to withdraw towards Budapest, but was captured by the Serbs when she grounded on a sandbank downstream from Belgrade. After the war, she was transferred to the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and renamed Sava. She remained in service throughout the interwar period, although budget restrictions meant she was not always in full commission.

Yugoslav monitor <i>Vardar</i> Austro-Hungarian monitor ship

Vardar was a Sava-class river monitor built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy as SMS Bosna, but was renamed SMS Temes (II) before she went into service. During World War I, she was the flagship of the Danube Flotilla, and fought the Serbian Army, the Romanian Navy and Army, and the French Army. She reverted to the name Bosna in May 1917, after the original SMS Temes was raised and returned to service. After brief service with the Hungarian People's Republic at the end of the war, she was transferred to the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and renamed Vardar. She remained in service throughout the interwar period, although budget restrictions meant she was not always in full commission.

SMS <i>Körös</i> River monitor built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy

SMS Körös was the name ship of the Körös-class river monitors built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy. Completed in 1892, the ship was part of the Danube Flotilla, and fought various Allied forces from Belgrade down the Danube to the Black Sea during World War I. After brief service with the Hungarian People's Republic at the end of the war, she was transferred to the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, and renamed Morava. She remained in service throughout the interwar period, although budget restrictions meant she was not always in full commission.

<i>Sava</i>-class river monitor

The Sava-class river monitors were built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy during the mid-1910s. The two ships of the class were assigned to the Danube Flotilla and participated in World War I. The ships survived the war and were transferred to Romania and the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as reparations.

<i>Enns</i>-class river monitor

The Enns-class river monitors were built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy during the mid-1910s. The two ships of the class were assigned to the Danube Flotilla and participated in World War I. The ships survived the war and were transferred to Romania and the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as reparations.

Czechoslovakian Naval Forces

The Czechoslovakian Naval Forces were the naval arm of the former Czechoslovakian state. Czechoslovakia being landlocked and with no large rivers flowing through it, its naval forces were small and consisted only of riverine craft operating on the Danube and the upper Elbe.

<i>Brătianu</i>-class river monitor

The Brătianu-class river monitors were a class of four river monitors used by the Romanian Navy. They were named Ion C. Brătianu, Lascăr Catargiu, Mihail Kogălniceanu and Alexandru Lahovari.

NMS <i>Mihail Kogălniceanu</i>

NMS Mihail Kogălniceanu was a monitor of the Romanian Navy. She saw service in both world wars, being the most successful vessel in her class of four ships. Like her three sisters, she was initially built as a river monitor, but in early 1918, she was converted to a sea-going monitor. During the Second Balkan war, she supported the Romanian crossing of the Danube into Bulgaria. During World War I, she carried out numerous bombardments against the Central Powers forces advancing along the shore of the Danube and carried out the last action of the Romanian Navy before the 11 November 1918 armistice. She later fought successfully against Bolshevik naval forces during the early months of the Russian Civil War, helping secure the Budjak region. During the interwar period, she contributed to the suppression of the Tatarbunary Uprising and was rearmed with longer main guns towards the end of the 1930s. During World War II, she fought several engagements against the Soviet Navy in the first month of the Eastern Front, but was ultimately sunk by Soviet aircraft shortly after Romania ceased hostilities against the Soviet Union, on 24 August 1944.

NMS <i>Rândunica</i>

NMS Rândunica was the first torpedo boat of the Romanian Navy. A small British-built spar torpedo boat, she was commissioned in 1875 and fought during the Romanian War of Independence and during World War I.

Action of 26 June 1941

The Action of 26 June 1941 consisted in an engagement between the navies of the Soviet Union and the Kingdom of Romania, taking place on the Chilia branch of the Danube Delta, near the commune of Ceatalchioi. The action resulted in a Romanian victory and the withdrawal of the Soviet vessels, one of them being damaged and later captured.

The Romanian Danube Flotilla is the oldest extant naval force on the Danube, dating since 1860, when the Romanian Navy was founded. It saw service during most of the wars involving Romania, and was the most powerful river naval force in the world during the Interwar period.

Romanian Black Sea Fleet during World War I

During World War I, the Black Sea Fleet of the Romanian Navy fought against the Central Powers forces of the German Empire, the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary. The Romanian warships succeeded in defending the coast of the Danube Delta, corresponding to an area around the port of Sulina, while also aiding in the Delta's defense from inland Central Powers forces.

References

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  2. Carrico, p. 12
  3. Carrico p. 63
  4. Carrico, p. 16, 17
  5. Carrico, p. 63
  6. Carrico p. 82
  7. Monitor Specifications, U.S. Navy Mobile Riverine Force, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2010-01-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. See Soviet Union Monitors Warships of World War II. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  9. Tayfun river gunboats (monitors) (1910). Navypedia. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  10. Glantz, David (2004) Soviet Operational and Tactical Combat in Manchuria, 1945: 'August Storm'. Routledge, p. 222. ISBN   9781135774783
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  12. Carrico, p. 20, 21, 63
  13. Michael B. Barrett, Prelude to Blitzkrieg: The 1916 Austro-German Campaign in Romania, p. 140
  14. Angus Konstam, Gunboats of World War I, p. 29
  15. René Greger, Austro-Hungarian warships of World War I, p. 142
  16. Mark Axworthy, Cornel I. Scafeș, Cristian Crăciunoiu, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941-1945, p. 327
  17. René Greger, Austro-Hungarian Warships of World War I, p. 142
  18. Robert Gardiner, Conway's All the World Fighting Ships 1906-1921, p. 422
  19. Roger Kafka, Roy L. Pepperburg, Warships of the World, p. 881
  20. Frederick Thomas Jane, Jane's Fighting Ships, p. 343
  21. Spencer Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts, World War I: Encyclopedia, Volume 1, p. 999
  22. Axworthy, p. 327
  23. Beckhusen, Robert (25 May 2018). "One of the World's Oldest Military Ships Is Sailing Down a River in Brazil". warisboring.com. Bright Mountain Media. Retrieved 26 May 2018. In terms of operational and active ships doing military work, perhaps only the Russian salvage ship Kommuna is older...