Motor Launch
For other types of "Launch" see Launch (boat)
Launch (boat)
A launch in contemporary usage refers to a large motorboat. The name originally referred to the largest boat carried by a warship. The etymology of the word is given as Portuguese lancha "barge", from Malay lancha, lancharan, "boat," from lanchar "velocity without effort," "action of gliding...

A Motor Launch (ML) is a small military vessel in British navy service. It was designed for harbour defence and submarine chasing
Submarine chaser
A submarine chaser is a small and fast naval vessel specially intended for anti-submarine warfare. Although similar vessels were designed and used by many nations, this designation was most famously used by ships built by the United States of America...

 or for armed high speed air-sea rescue
Air-sea rescue
Air-sea rescue is the coordinated search and rescue of the survivors of emergency water landings as well as people who have survived the loss of their sea-going vessel. ASR can involve a wide variety of resources including seaplanes, helicopters, submarines, rescue boats and ships...


Although small by Naval standards, it was larger than the preceding Coastal Motor Boat
Coastal Motor Boat
During the First World War, following a suggestion from three junior officers of the Harwich destroyer force that small motor boats carrying a torpedo might be capable of travelling over the protective minefields and attacking ships of the German Navy at anchor in their bases, the Admiralty gave...

s of 40 and 55 ft length. The first Motor Launches entered service in the First World War. These were 550 80 feet (24.4 m) vessels built by the US Elco
Elco may refer to:* Elco, Pennsylvania* Electrolytic capacitor* Electric Launch Company, a boat manufacturer which constructed PT boats* El Camino College* Eastern Lebanon County High School, a school in Myerstown, Pennsylvania...

 company for the Admiralty receiving the designations ML-1 to ML-550. They served between 1916 and the end of the war with the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 defending the British coast from German submarines.


Type Length Weight Speed Built Total Lost Designed for
Fairmile A motor launch
Fairmile A motor launch
The Fairmile A motor launch was a type of Motor Launch designed by Fairmile Marine for the Royal Navy.Shortly before the Second World War the British industrialist Noel Macklin submitted to the Admiralty an innovative plan for the series production of a motor launch...

110 ft 57 tons 25 knots (49 km/h) 1939 12
Fairmile B Motor Launch
Fairmile B motor launch
The Fairmile B motor launch was a type of Motor Launch built by Fairmile Marine during the Second World War for the Royal Navy for coastal operations.-Design:...

112 ft (34.1 m) 85 tons 20 knots (39.2 km/h) 1940-45 1,284 Submarine chasing. Later adapted for Air Sea Rescue
Harbour Defence Motor Launch
Harbour Defence Motor Launch
The Harbour Defence Motor Launch 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, 486 HDMLs were constructed, mainly by yacht builders, in the United Kingdom and a number of other allied countries...

72 ft (21.9 m) 54 tons 12 knots (23.5 km/h) 1940-45 486 47 Defending harbours; anti-submarine
RAF Type 2 Whaleback
British Power Boat Company Type Two 63 ft HSL
The 63 foot long Type 2 High Speed Launch, known as the Whaleback from the distinctive curve to its deck, was a high speed launch class ship used in air-sea rescue to save Allied aircrew from the sea after they were shot down during the Second World War....

63 ft (19.2 m) 21.5 tons 36 knots (70.6 km/h) 1940-42 70 Rescuing downed aircrew, particularly in the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

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

See also

  • Motor Gun Boat
    Motor Gun Boat
    Motor Gun Boat was a Royal Navy term for a small military vessel of the Second World War. They were physically similar to the Motor Torpedo Boats but equipped 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...

  • Motor Torpedo Boat
    Motor Torpedo Boat
    Motor Torpedo Boat was the name given to fast torpedo boats by the Royal Navy, and the Royal Canadian Navy.The capitalised term is generally used for the Royal Navy boats and abbreviated to "MTB"...

  • Coastal Forces of the Royal Navy
    Coastal Forces of the Royal Navy
    Coastal Forces was a division of the Royal Navy established duringWorld War II under the command of Rear Admiral Coastal Forces. -History:The Royal Navy had previously operated flotillas of small torpedo- and depth-charge-armed craft during the First World WarThe first Headquarters was set up at ...

  • R boat
    R boat
    The R boats were a group of small minesweepers but used for several purposes during the Second World War.A total of 424 boats were built for the Kriegsmarine before and during World War II. The German Navy used them in every theatre including the Baltic, Mediterranean and the Black Sea...

     - German WWII equivalent
  • Dark class fast patrol boat
    Dark class fast patrol boat
    The Dark class, or Admiralty "Type A", were a class of eighteen fast patrol boats that served with the United Kingdom's Royal Navy starting in 1954. All were named with a prefix of 'Dark'. The class could be fitted as either motor gun boats or motor torpedo boats, depending on the type of armament...

  • River class fast launch

External links

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