A patrol boat is a relatively small naval vessel generally designed for coastal defense duties. There have been many designs for patrol boats. They may be operated by a nation's navy, coast guard, or police force, and may be intended for marine (blue water) and/or estuarine or river ("brown water") environments. They are commonly found engaged in various border protection roles, including anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, fisheries patrols, and immigration law enforcement. They are also often called upon to participate in rescue operations.
They may be broadly classified as inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) and offshore patrol vessels (OPVs). They are warships typically smaller in size than a corvette and can include fast attack craft, torpedo boats and missile boats, although some are as large as a frigate. The offshore patrol vessels are usually the smallest ship in a navy's fleet that are large and seaworthy enough to patrol off-shore in the open ocean. In larger militaries, such as in the United States military, offshore patrol vessels usually serve in the coast guard, but many smaller nations navies operate these type of ships.
During both World Wars in order to rapidly build up numbers, all sides created auxiliary patrol boats by arming motorboats and sea going fishing trawlers with machine guns and obsolescent naval weapons. Some modern patrol vessels are still based on fishing and leisure boats. Seagoing patrol boats are typically around 30m (100 ft) in length and usually carry a single medium caliber artillery gun as main armament, and a variety of lighter secondary armament such as machine guns or a close-in weapon system. Depending on role, vessels in this class may also have more sophisticated sensors and fire control systems that would enable them to carry torpedoes, anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles.
Most modern designs are powered by gas turbine arrangements such as CODAG, and speeds are generally in the 25–30 knot range. They are primarily used for patrol in a country's Exclusive Economic Zone. Common tasks are fisheries inspection, anti-smuggling (usually anti-narcotics) duties, illegal immigration patrols, anti-piracy patrols and search and rescue (law enforcement-type of work). The largest OPVs might also have a flight deck and helicopter embarked. In times of crisis or war, these vessels are expected to support the larger vessels in the navy.
Their small size and relatively low cost make them one of the most common type of warship in the world. Almost all navies operate at least a few offshore patrol vessels, especially those with only "green water" capabilities. They are useful in smaller seas such as the North Sea as well as in open oceans. Similar vessels for exclusively military duties include torpedo boats and missile boats. The United States Navy operated the Pegasus class of armed hydrofoils for years, in a patrol boat role. The River Patrol Boat (PBR, sometimes called "Riverine" and "Pibber") is a U.S. design of small patrol boat type designed to patrol waters of large rivers.
Famous quotes containing the word boat:
“The small force that it takes to launch a boat into the stream should not be confused with the force of the stream that carries it along: but this confusion appears in nearly all biographies.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900)