Motor Launch

A Motor Launch (ML) is a small military vessel in Royal Navy service. It was designed for harbour defence and submarine chasing or for armed high-speed air-sea rescue. Some vessels for water police service are also known as motor launches.

Motor Launch ML 59
WW I Motor Launch - ML 59
Class overview
Builders: Elco
Operators:  Royal Navy
Built: 1915–1918
In commission: 1915–1920s
Completed: 580
General characteristics ML.1–50 series
Type: Motor launch
Displacement: 34 t
Length: 75ft
Propulsion: Petrol engine
Speed: 19 kn (35 km/h)
Complement: 8
General characteristics ML.51–550 series
Type: Motor launch
Displacement: 37 t
Length: 86ft
Propulsion: Petrol engine
Speed: 19 kn (35 km/h)
Complement: 6
General characteristics ML.551–580
Type: Motor launch
Displacement: 37 t
Length: 80ft
Speed: 19 kn (35 km/h)
Complement: 8
  • 1 × 13-pdr
  • later replaced with 1 × 3-pdr

World War I service

Although small by naval standards, it was larger than the preceding Coastal Motor Boats of 40 and 55 ft length. The first motor launches entered service in the First World War. These were five hundred and eighty 80-foot-long (24 m) vessels built by the US Elco company for the Admiralty, receiving the numbers ML-1 to ML-580. They served with the Royal Navy between 1916 and the end of the war, defending the British coast from German submarines.[1] Some of the earliest examples, including ML 1, also served in the Persian Gulf from June 1916. After the Armistice of 11 November 1918 a flotilla of 12 RN Motor Launches travelled down the Rhine performing duty as the Rhine Patrol Flotilla.[2] The only known surviving example of a World War I era Motor launch is Motor Launch ML-286, which now lies in a poor condition on the banks of the River Thames.

World War II types

Ole Friele Backer norske marinefartøyer
Royal Norwegian Navy motor launches off Dover during the Second World War.
Type Length Weight Speed Built Total Lost Designed for
Fairmile A motor launch 110 ft 57 tons 25 knots (46 km/h) 1939 12 Submarine chasing, later minelaying
Fairmile B motor launch 112 ft (34 m) 85 tons 20 knots (37 km/h) 1940-45 1,284 Submarine chasing, many later roles including air-sea rescue
Harbour defence motor launch 72 ft (22 m) 54 tons 12 knots (22 km/h) 1940-45 486 47 Defending harbours; anti-submarine
RAF Type 2 Whaleback 63 ft (19 m) 21.5 tons 36 knots (67 km/h) 1940-42 70 Rescuing downed aircrew, particularly in the English Channel

Post-war, many motor launches were taken on as pleasure boats. A number of them are on the National Register of Historic Vessels.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Gardiner, p. 101
  2. ^ Jeffrey Charles. "The Rhine Patrol Flotilla Part I: Establishment of the Flotilla".
  3. ^ Gardiner and Chesneau, p. 71
  • Gardiner, Robert, Conway's all the world's fighting ships 1906–1921 Conway Maritime Press, 1985. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
  • Gardiner, Robert and Chesneau, Roger, Conway's all the world's fighting ships 1922–1946, Conway Maritime Press, 1980. ISBN 0-83170-303-2.

External links


Alverene was a gasoline launch built in 1912 which operated on northern Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands.

Dudley Benjafield

Joseph Dudley "Benjy" Benjafield, MD (6 August 1887- 20 January 1957) was a British medical doctor and racing driver. He was in born Edmonton, London, UK. He attended the University of London and received his MD from University College Hospital in 1912. Specializing in bacteriology, he served in Egypt during World War I and later used his expertise combating the great flu epidemic of 1918-1919.

Benjafield had a passion for motorsports which started with boating, but moved on to automobiles in the 1920s, following the accidental destruction of his beloved motor launch. Upon purchasing a Bentley 3-litre, he started racing in 1924 and 1925. Benjafield's success led to him being offered to drive a company racer at the behest of Bentley founder W.O. Bentley. He competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans seven times, and won the event in 1927 with co-driver and fellow "Bentley Boy" S. C. H. "Sammy" Davis; while their car was badly damaged, they frantically made on-the-spot repairs and wound up winning the race.

Benjafield later created the British Racing Drivers' Club, and continued racing until 1936. He died on 20 January 1957.

Fairmile A motor launch

The Fairmile A motor launch was a type of motor launch designed by Fairmile Marine for the Royal Navy.

Fairmile B motor launch

The Fairmile B motor launch was a type of motor launch (often referred to as MLs) built by British boatbuilder Fairmile Marine during the Second World War for the Royal Navy for coastal operations.

Fantome-class survey motor boat

The Fantome class is a class of eight small survey motor boats (SMBs) operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and DMS Maritime. The four-man boats are designed to operate from the Leeuwin-class survey vessels, with three assigned to each ship, while the seventh and eighth were attached to the RAN Hydrographic School at HMAS Penguin. They are fitted with navigational and survey equipment and are unarmed.


HMAS ML 827 was a Fairmile B Motor Launch of the Royal Australian Navy.

Harbour Defence Motor Launch

The Harbour Defence Motor Launch (HDML) was a British small motor vessel of the Second World War.

The HDML was designed by W J Holt at the Admiralty in early 1939. During the war, 464 HDMLs were constructed, mainly by yacht builders, in the United Kingdom and a number of other allied countries. In view of their later expanded combat roles in some Commonwealth navies some HDMLs were re-designated as "Seaward Defence Motor Launches" (SDML) or "Seaward Defence Boats" (SDB).

List of ships of the Royal New Zealand Navy

Sortable list of commissioned vessels of the Royal New Zealand Navy from its formation on 1 October 1941 to the present. It does not include vessels of the New Zealand Division (1921–1941) or New Zealand Naval Forces (1913–21) or earlier vessels up to 1913.

ML-18 (motor launch boat)

ML-18 was a British motor launch boat that disappeared in the North Sea while on passage from Norway.

ML-191 (motor launch boat)

ML-191 was a British motor launch boat that disappeared in the North Sea while on passage from Norway.

ML-62 (motor launch boat)

ML-62 was a British motor launch boat that disappeared in the North Sea while on passage from Norway.


A minehunter is a naval vessel that seeks, detects, and destroys individual naval mines. Minesweepers, on the other hand, clear mined areas as a whole, without prior detection of mines. A vessel that combines both of these roles is known as a mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV).

Motor Gun Boat

Motor Gun Boat (MGB) was a Royal Navy term for a small military vessel of the Second World War. Such boats were physically similar to Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs), equipped instead with a mix of guns instead of torpedoes. Their small size and high speed made them difficult targets for E-boats or torpedo bombers, but they were particularly vulnerable to mines and heavy weather. The large number of guns meant the crew was relatively large, numbering as high as thirty men.

Operation Chess

Operation Chess was a British Commando raid during the Second World War. It was carried out by 17 men of No. 12 Commando commanded by a Second Lieutenant Pinckney over the night of 27/28 July 1941.

The target for the raid was Ambleteuse, Pas-de-Calais, France. The raiding party were towed across the English Channel in two Landing Craft by a Motor Launch. Which cast them off two miles from the Slack River near Ambleteuse. They remained ashore for one hour, no prisoners were taken.Cdr. Sir Geoffrey Congreve Bt DSO died of his wounds received during the raid.

Paluma-class motor launch

The Paluma-class motor launch is a class of four hydrographic survey motor launches operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Built in Port Adelaide between 1988 and 1990, the four catamarans are primarily based at HMAS Cairns in Cairns, Queensland, and operate in pairs to survey the waters of northern Australia.

RML 497 (motor launch)

RML 497 (Rescue Motor Launch number 497) is a former Royal Navy Fairmile B motor launch from World War II. She was named Western Lady III on her entry to civilian service, as a passenger motor vessel for Western Lady Ferry Service. From 2009 to 2015, she operated as The Fairmile for Greenway Ferry on their day cruise route from Torquay and Brixham to Dartmouth and Greenway. In May 2013, she was returned to her original wartime appearance. Torbay's "ferry wars" forced her removal from service, and in December 2015, RML 497 was acquired by the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Repair ship

A repair ship is a naval auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to warships. Repair ships provide similar services to destroyer, submarine and seaplane tenders or depot ships, but may offer a broader range of repair capability including equipment and personnel for repair of more significant machinery failures or battle damage.


Speeder may refer to:

Railroad speeder, small motorized vehicle used on railroads for maintenance and transport

Speeder (motor vessel), a motor launch built in 1908 which served on Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands

Speeders (TV program), a 2007–2009 American reality television program that aired on TruTV

A driver who breaks a particular speed limit

A number of vehicles from the Star Wars universe:



Speeder bike


Speeder (motor vessel)

Speeder was a motor launch built in 1908 which served on Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands. From 1908 to 1922 this vessel was named Bainbridge.


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