Ocean boarding vessel

Ocean boarding vessels (OBVs) were merchant ships taken over by the Royal Navy for the purpose of enforcing wartime blockades by intercepting and boarding foreign vessels.


Ship Date launched/ completed Date requisitioned/ commissioned History
HMS Ariguani 1926 Converted to "Catapult Armed Ship". Used for convoy escort
HMS Empire Audacity 29 Mar 1939 11 Nov 1940 Former German ship Hannover captured 7/8 March 1940 and put into British service. Commissioned as Ocean boarding vessel in November 1940 but sent for conversion to escort aircraft carrier in January 1941.
HMS Camito June 1915 26 Sep 1940 Torpedoed and sunk 6 May 1941[1]
HMS Corinthian Rescued survivors of SS Duchess of Atholl Oct 1942[2]

Rescued survivors of RMS Empress of Canada (1922) 14 March 1943.[3]

HMS Crispin 1935 Aug 1940 Sunk 4 Feb 1941 after torpedo attack previous day[4]
HMS Fratton 28 September 1925 August 1940 The cross channel steamer was requisitioned by the Admiralty as a Barrage Balloon Vessel, converted to Ocean Boarding Vessel in 1943. She was sunk off Normandy by a Neger manned torpedo 18 August 1944.[5]
HMS Hilary 17 Apr 1931 21 Jan 1941 Former SS Hilary; restored as a merchantman 15 April 1942; recommissioned as an infantry landing and headquarters ship 1943; returned to civilian service after the war in 1945; scrapped 1959.
SS Inanda 1925 11 August 1940 Bombed and sunk on 7 September 1940. Salvaged and converted to cargo ship Empire Explorer, never saw service as an ocean boarding vessel. Torpedoed and sunk in July 1942.
SS Inkosi 1937 11 August 1940 Bombed and sunk on 7 September 1940. Salvaged and converted to cargo ship Empire Chivalry, never saw service as an ocean boarding vessel. Sold postwar and renamed Planter. Scrapped 1958.
HMS Lady Somers[6] 1929 Requisitioned by Admiralty in 1940. Sunk by Italian submarine Morosini in N Atlantic, 15 July 1941.
HMS Largs 1938 1941 French ship MV Charles Plumier in 1938; seized by Royal Navy; returned to France 1945; sold to a Greek company and renamed MV Pleias 1964; scrapped 1968
HMS Malvernian[6] 1937 abandoned after being bombed, North Atlantic, 19 July 1941
HMS Manistee 1920 1940 sailed with Arctic convoy OB 288 and sunk 24 February 1941, no survivors
HMS Marsdale Participated in locating German supply ships after Bismarck had been sunk
HMS Maplin 1932 Formerly Erin. Converted to Fighter catapult ship 1940.
HMS Patia 1922 converted to Fighter catapult ship in 1940. Sank after attacked by German aircraft 1941
HMS Registan[7] 1930 13 Sep 1940 Bombed off Cape Cornwall 27 May 1941; repaired and returned to merchant use Nov 1941; sunk 29 Sep 1942[8]

See also

  • Armed boarding steamer - British vessels of similar purpose in First World War
  • Hired armed vessels - British vessels that performed convoy escort duties, anti-privateer patrols, and ran errands during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars, and earlier.


  1. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur (1995–2010). "HMS Camito (F 77)". uboat.net. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur (1995–2010). "Inversuir". uboat.net. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  3. ^ Moraes, Ozires (2011). "HMS Corinthian". sixtant.net. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur (1995–2010). "HMS Crispin". uboat.net. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  5. ^ "Barrage Balloon Vessels". bbrclub.org. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  6. ^ a b Mason, Geoff. "Royal Navy Vessels Lost at Sea, Atlantic & Arctic 1939-45". Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  7. ^ Stephenson-Knight, Marilyn (October 2006). "World War II - Page, C. P." THE DOVER WAR MEMORIAL PROJECT. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur (1995–2010). "Registan". uboat.net. Retrieved 30 January 2010.


  • Cocker, M Aircraft-carrying ships of the Royal Navy, The History Press 2008 ISBN 978-0-7524-4633-2
Amenities ship

An amenities ship is a ship outfitted with recreational facilities as part of a mobile naval base. Amenities ships included movie theaters and canteens staffed by mercantile crews of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary service. These ships were intended to provide a place where British Pacific Fleet personnel could relax between operations.

Ammunition ship

An ammunition ship is an auxiliary ship specially configured to carry ammunition, usually for naval ships and aircraft. An ammunition ship′s cargo handling systems, designed with extreme safety in mind, include ammunition hoists with airlocks between decks, and mechanisms for flooding entire compartments with sea water in case of emergencies. Ammunition ships most often deliver their cargo to other ships using underway replenishment, using both connected replenishment and vertical replenishment. To a lesser extent, they transport ammunition from one shore-based weapons station to another.

Armed boarding steamer

An armed boarding steamer (or "armed boarding ship", or "armed boarding vessel") was a merchantman that during World War I the British Royal Navy converted to a warship. AB steamers or vessels had the role of enforcing wartime blockades by intercepting and boarding foreign vessels. The boarding party would inspect the foreign ship to determine whether to detain the ship and send it into port, or permit it to go on its way.

Coastal minesweeper

Coastal minesweeper is a term used by the United States Navy to indicate a minesweeper intended for coastal use as opposed to participating in fleet operations at sea.

Because of its small size—usually less than 100 feet in length—and construction—wood as opposed to steel—and slow speed—usually about 9 or 10 knots—the coastal minesweeper was considered too fragile and slow to operate on the high seas with the fleet.

Minesweeping, in conjunction with fleet activities, was usually relegated to the diesel-driven steel-hulled AM-type minesweepers, later to be replaced by the wood-hulled MSO-type minesweeper with aluminum engines.

Coastal submarine

A coastal submarine or littoral submarine is a small, maneuverable submarine with shallow draft well suited to navigation of coastal channels and harbors. Although size is not precisely defined, coastal submarines are larger than midget submarines, but smaller than sea-going submarines designed for longer patrols on the open ocean. Space limitations aboard coastal submarines restrict fuel availability for distant travel, food availability for extended patrol duration, and number of weapons carried. Within those limitations, however, coastal submarines may be able to reach areas inaccessible to larger submarines, and be more difficult to detect.

Combat stores ship

Combat stores ships, or storeships, were originally a designation given to ships in the Age of Sail and immediately afterward that navies used to stow supplies and other goods for naval purposes. Today, the United States Navy and the Royal Navy operate modern combat store ships. The Sirius and Mars classes (for the US) and the Fort Rosalie and Fort Victoria classes (for the UK) provide supplies, including frozen, chilled and dry provisions, and propulsion and aviation fuel to combatant ships that are at sea for extended periods of time. Storeships should not be confused with fast combat support ships or tenders.

Fighter catapult ship

Fighter catapult ships also known as Catapult Armed Ships were an attempt by the Royal Navy to provide air cover at sea. Five ships were acquired and commissioned as Naval vessels early in the Second World War and these were used to accompany convoys.

The concept was extended to merchant ships which were also equipped with rocket assisted launch systems and known as Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen (CAM ships).

General stores issue ship

General stores issue ship is a type of ship used by the United States Navy during World War II and for some time afterwards.

The task of the general stores issue ship was to sail into non-combat, or rear, areas and disburse general stores, such as canned goods, toilet paper, office supplies, etc., to ships and stations.

Guard ship

A guard ship is a warship assigned as a stationary guard in a port or harbour, as opposed to a coastal patrol boat which serves its protective role at sea.

HMS Hilary (1931)

HMS Hilary, was a former passenger liner launched in 1931, as SS Hilary, which was requisitioned by the Royal Navy during the Second World War and used as an ocean boarding vessel in the North Atlantic. It was later converted back to a merchantman but subsequently recommissioned back into the Royal Navy as an infantry landing and headquarters ship. At the end of the war in 1945 it was returned to civilian service, and scrapped at Thos W Ward Inverkeithing in 1959.

HMS Largs

HMS Largs was a former Compagnie Generale Transatlantique (French Line) fruit (banana) ship captured by the Royal Navy ship HMS Faulknor five months after the Battle of France while docked at Gibraltar in November 1940 and commissioned as an "ocean boarding vessel". She subsequently became a Combined Operations Headquarters ship for almost every significant amphibious operation of World War II, including Operations Torch, Husky and Overlord and she would be manned by naval, army and air force crew.

Light aircraft carrier

A light aircraft carrier, or light fleet carrier, is an aircraft carrier that is smaller than the standard carriers of a navy. The precise definition of the type varies by country; light carriers typically have a complement of aircraft only one-half to two-thirds the size of a full-sized fleet carrier. A light carrier was similar in concept to an escort carrier in most respects, however light carriers were intended for higher speeds to be deployed alongside fleet carriers, while escort carriers usually defended convoys and provided air support during amphibious operations.

Mine countermeasures vessel

A mine countermeasures vessel or MCMV is a type of naval ship designed for the location of and destruction of naval mines which combines the role of a minesweeper and minehunter in one hull. The term MCMV is also applied collectively to minehunters and minesweepers.


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).

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.

SS Empire Explorer

Empire Explorer was a 5,985 GRT cargo ship that was built as the cargo liner Inanda in 1925 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, United Kingdom for a British shipping line. She was hired by the Royal Navy in 1940 for use as an ocean boarding vessel but was sunk in an air raid London in September 1940. She was salvaged, rebuilt as a cargo ship, passed to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and renamed Empire Explorer. She served until 9 July 1942, when she was torpedoed and sunk by U-575 in the West Indies.

SS Inkosi (1937)

Inkosi was a 6,618 GRT refrigerated cargo liner which was built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne for the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). She was hired by the Royal Navy in 1940 for use as an ocean boarding vessel, but was sunk in an air raid before she could be used for this purpose. The ship was salvaged, converted to a cargo ship and passed to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT), who renamed her Empire Chivalry. In 1946 she was sold and renamed Planter. She served until 1958, when she was scrapped.

SS Manistee

SS Manistee was a merchant ship of the Elders & Fyffes Line. She was requisitioned by the Royal Navy during the Second World War to serve as an Ocean Boarding Vessel.

Submarine tender

A submarine tender is a type of depot ship that supplies and supports submarines.

Aircraft carriers
Patrol craft
Fast attack craft
Mine warfare
Command and support


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