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Naval boarding action is an offensive tactic used in
naval warfare Naval warfare is combat in and on the sea, the ocean, or any other battlespace involving a major body of water such as a large lake or wide river. Mankind has fought battles on the sea for more than 3,000 years. Even in the interior of large lan ...
to come up against (or alongside) an enemy
marine vessel Any vehicle used in or on water as well as underwater, including Boat, boats, Ship, ships, hovercraft and Submarine, submarines, is a watercraft, also known as a water vessel or waterborne vessel. A watercraft usually has a propulsive capabilit ...
and attack by inserting combatants aboard that vessel. The goal of boarding is to invade and overrun the enemy personnel on board in order to capture, sabotage or destroy the enemy vessel. While boarding attacks were originally carried out by ordinary sailors who are proficient in
hand-to-hand combat Hand-to-hand combat (sometimes abbreviated as HTH or H2H) is a physical confrontation between two or more persons at short range (grappling distance or within the physical reach of a handheld weapon) that does not involve the use of weapons.Huns ...
, larger
warship A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually they belong to the armed forces of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster ...
s often deploy specially trained and equipped regular troops such as
marines Marines, or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate in littoral zones in support of naval operations. Historically, tasks undertaken by marines have included helping maintain discipline and order aboard the ship (refle ...
and
special forces Special forces and special operations forces (SOF) are military units trained to conduct special operations. NATO has defined special operations as "military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, selected, trained and equip ...
as boarders. Boarding and
close quarters combat Close-quarters combat (CQC) or close-quarters battle (CQB) is a military tactics, tactical situation that involves a physical fight with firearms involved between multiple combatants at short range. It can occur between military units, police/co ...
had been a primary means to conclude a naval battle since
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to: Historical objects or periods Artifacts *Antiquities Antiquities are objects from Ancient history, antiquity, especially the civilizations of the Mediterranean: the Classical antiquity of Greece and Ro ...
, until the early modern period when heavy
naval gun Naval artillery is artillery mounted on a warship, originally used only for naval warfare and then subsequently used for naval gunfire support, shore bombardment and anti-aircraft roles. The term generally refers to tube-launched projectile-firi ...
s gained tactical primacy at sea. A cutting out boarding is an attack by small boats, preferably at night and against an unsuspecting, and anchored, target. It became popular in the later 18th century, and was extensively used during the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic Wars, Europe ...
. This heralded the emphasis on stealth, and surprise, that would come to dominate future boarding tactics. An example is the successful cutting out of the ''Hermione'' which took place at
Puerto Cabello Puerto Cabello () is a city on the north coast of Venezuela. It is located in Carabobo State, about 210 km west of Caracas. As of 2011, the city had a population of around 182,400. The city is home to the largest and busiest port in the coun ...
,
Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and many Federal Dependencies of V ...
, on 25 October 1799. In modern warfare, boarding by military forces almost always involves stealth, and usually takes place at night. It may involve the use of small
submarine A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability. The term is also sometimes used historically or colloquially to refer to remotely op ...
s or
submersible A submersible is a small watercraft designed to operate underwater. The term "submersible" is often used to differentiate from other underwater vessels known as submarines, in that a submarine is a fully self-sufficient craft, capable of ind ...
s, or
inflatable boat An inflatable boat is a lightweight boat constructed with its sides and Bow (watercraft), bow made of Inflatable, flexible tubes containing pressurised gas. For smaller boats, the floor and Hull (watercraft), hull is often flexible, while for b ...
s, or by
frogmen A frogman is someone who is trained in scuba diving or human swimming, swimming underwater in a tactical capacity that includes military, and in some European countries, police work. Such personnel are also known by the more formal names of co ...
. All involve scaling the sides of the ship. When stealth is not as important,
helicopter A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by horizontally spinning rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forward, backward and laterally. These attribut ...
s may be used to carry troops to the deck of the ship.


In wartime

Boarding is used in wartime as a way to seize a vessel without destroying it, or to remove its cargo (people or goods) before it is destroyed. It can also be used to aid in the collection of
naval intelligence Military intelligence is a military discipline that uses information collection and analysis List of intelligence gathering disciplines, approaches to provide guidance and direction to assist Commanding officer, commanders in decision making pr ...
, as soldiers boarding a sinking, crippled, or surrendered vessel could possibly recover enemy plans,
cipher In cryptography, a cipher (or cypher) is an algorithm for performing encryption or decryption—a series of well-defined steps that can be followed as a procedure. An alternative, less common term is ''encipherment''. To encipher or encode i ...
codebooks or machines. For a boarding to be successful, it must occur without the knowledge of the crew of the defending ship, or the ship's defenses must be suppressed. In modern warfare, boarding by military forces may involve the use of small
submarine A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability. The term is also sometimes used historically or colloquially to refer to remotely op ...
s or
submersibles A submersible is a small watercraft Any vehicle used in or on water as well as underwater, including Boat, boats, Ship, ships, hovercraft and Submarine, submarines, is a watercraft, also known as a water vessel or waterborne vessel. A w ...
,
inflatable boat An inflatable boat is a lightweight boat constructed with its sides and Bow (watercraft), bow made of Inflatable, flexible tubes containing pressurised gas. For smaller boats, the floor and Hull (watercraft), hull is often flexible, while for b ...
s or
helicopter A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by horizontally spinning rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forward, backward and laterally. These attribut ...
s to carry troops to the deck of the ship, or may simply be carried out by
scuba diver Scuba diving is a Diving mode, mode of underwater diving whereby divers use Scuba set, breathing equipment that is completely independent of a surface air supply. The name "scuba", an acronym for "Scuba set, Self-Contained Underwater Breathin ...
s scaling the sides of the ship.


In peacetime

In peacetime, boarding allows authorized inspectors of one nation or group, such as a
coast guard A coast guard or coastguard is a maritime security organization of a particular country. The term embraces wide range of responsibilities in different countries, from being a heavily armed military force with customs and security duties t ...
or an international policing fleet (e.g. United Nations fleet), to examine a ship's cargo in a search for drugs, weapons, passengers which are unrecorded on the ship's manifest, or any other type of contraband that could possibly have been carried aboard. A nation's coast guard could also board any suspicious ships that have been overfishing in such a nation's territorial waters.
Air ambulance Air medical services is a comprehensive term covering the use of air transportation, aeroplane or helicopter, to move patients to and from healthcare facilities and accident scenes. Personnel provide comprehensive prehospital and emergency and cri ...
s often deploy paramedics to ships by using typical helicopter boarding procedures. File:Commandant Ducuing 061030-N-5555T-017.jpg, A near prior to performing a "visit, board, search and seizure" operation Image:Commandant Ducuing 061030-N-5555T-019.jpg, A team of Fusiliers Marins launches on a
rigid-hulled inflatable boat A rigid inflatable boat (RIB), also rigid-hull inflatable boat or rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB), is a lightweight but high-performance and high-capacity boat constructed with a rigid hull (ship), hull bottom joined to side-forming air tub ...
Image:HMS Cardiff Marines 2002 2.JPEG, British Royal Navy sailors guard the crew of an Iraqi oil tanker in 2002 Image:Commando jauber2.jpg, Members of Commando ''Jaubert'' boarding ''Alcyon'' in a simulated assault Image:German Navy P8 Pistol.jpg, A
German Navy The German Navy (, ) is the navy of Germany and part of the unified ''Bundeswehr'' (Federal Defense), the German Armed Forces. The German Navy was originally known as the ''Bundesmarine'' (Federal Navy) from 1956 to 1995, when ''Deutsche Mari ...
boarding team member provides security for the remainder of his team as they board a local cargo dhow by fast rope to conduct a search of the vessel


History

Boarding is the oldest method of securing an opposing ship, as the first cases were depicted when the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a hypothesized seafaring confederation that attacked ancient Egypt and other regions in the Eastern Mediterranean, East Mediterranean prior to and during the Late Bronze Age collapse (1200–900 Common Era, BCE).. Quote: ...
and
Egyptians Egyptians ( arz, المَصرِيُون, translit=al-Maṣriyyūn, ; arz, المَصرِيِين, translit=al-Maṣriyyīn, ; cop, ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, remenkhēmi) are an ethnic group native to the Nile Valley in Egypt. Egyptian ident ...
fought. For cultures that lack effective shipboard artillery, boarding is the main technique of ship-to-ship combat. However, in the modern era, boarding is still used, particularly when stealth is desired. In all eras, boarding requires that the ship boarded be stable enough to withstand the impact of enemy personnel leaping or climbing onto the deck and a subsequent sustained fight. The target ship must also have enough deck space for boarders to be able to stand and fight effectively. Thus, Native American
war canoe A war canoe is a watercraft of the canoe type designed and outfitted for warfare, and which is found in various forms in many world cultures. In modern times, such designs have become adapted as a sport, and "war canoe" can mean a type of flatwat ...
s or New Zealand '' waka'' were not suitable boarding targets, and wars between sides equipped with such vessels have generally not seen boarding actions, or any other decisive form of ship-to-ship combat. Instead, such vessels were often used for the rapid transportation of troops and supplies, and decisive engagements were normally fought by landing forces.


Ancient and Post-classical

Throughout the ancient and post-classical periods, all naval ship-to-ship combat focused primarily on boarding, although ramming and incendiaries were secondary tactics.
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
and Persian naval tactics emphasized ramming and boarding, notably at the
Battle of Salamis The Battle of Salamis ( ) was a naval battle fought between an alliance of Classical Greece, Greek Poleis, city-states under Themistocles and the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire under Xerxes I, King Xerxes in 480 BC. It resulted in a decisive ...
. The earliest
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter ...
naval battles against
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of Ancient Carthage, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in ...
also emphasized boarding. Since the Romans were primarily a land-based army, they could not effectively combat the Carthaginian navy, and subsequently lost several sea battles. The
corvus ''Corvus'' is a widely distributed genus of medium-sized to large birds in the family Corvidae. It includes species commonly known as crows, ravens and Rook (bird), rooks. The species commonly encountered in Europe are the carrion crow, the hoo ...
, a boarding ramp with a steel spike, was the Roman answer to this problem. Roman sailors piloted their ship alongside a Carthaginian ship, dropped the corvus from one deck to the other, and sent their soldiers across the board, assaulting the ship. The Carthaginian navy, unprepared for this "land combat" on the oceans, lost several ships to this tactic. This invention secured Roman naval dominance in the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the e ...
for several centuries. During the medieval period, boarding continued to be the dominant form of ship-to-ship combat. The most prominent naval power of the period, the
Viking Vikings ; non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people originally from Scandinavia (present-day Denmark, Norway and Sweden), who from the late 8th to the late 11th centuries raided, pirated, traded and se ...
s, rarely fought other seaborne peoples on the water, but they still depended on boarding on those rare occasions, often lashing their
longship Longships were a type of specialised Viking ships, Scandinavian warships that have a long history in Scandinavia, with their existence being archaeologically proven and documented from at least the fourth century BC. Originally invented and use ...
s together to make a more stable platform for the upcoming battle. The maritime use of
Greek fire Greek fire was an incendiary device, incendiary weapon used by the Byzantine Empire, Eastern Roman Empire beginning . Used to set fire to enemy ships, it consisted of a combustible compound emitted by a flame-throwing weapon. Some historians beli ...
made
Byzantium Byzantium () or Byzantion ( grc, Βυζάντιον) was an Ancient Greece, ancient Greek Polis, city in classical antiquity that became known as Constantinople in late antiquity and Istanbul today. The Greek name ''Byzantion'' and its Romanizat ...
less dependent on boarding than other medieval powers, but it was still used. To better resist boarding, medieval European ships began to be built with high wooden "castles" fore and aft, which boarders could scale only with great difficulty, while archers, crossbowmen or
arquebus An arquebus ( ) is a form of long gun that appeared in Europe and the Ottoman Empire during the 15th century. An infantryman armed with an arquebus is called an arquebusier. Although the term ''arquebus'', derived from the Dutch word ''Haakbus ...
iers could sweep the enemy decks. Naval tactics in medieval China,
Korea Korea ( ko, 한국, or , ) is a peninsular region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, with North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) comprising its northern half and Sout ...
, and Japan also depended on boarding, with the flat expanse of a ship used as a battleground for the marine contingents. The Battle of Dan-no-ura in 1185 was one of the classic naval battles in medieval Asia to be decided by boarding. Boarding attacks also occurred beyond the medieval era in Asia. During the Imjin Wars in naval operations, both Korean and Japanese marines would attempt to board the other's ships for engagement in hand-to-hand combat. The Japanese used boarding attacks more often because of the imbalance of firepower between the two navies; at the time, the Koreans controlled a much more powerful navy, technically and tactically, than the Japanese. Though the Japanese were armed with the latest in European small firearms, Korean cannons were advanced and among the best in Asia at the time; they were easily able to destroy Japanese ships.


Early modern period

The development in the early 16th century of shipboard gunports and gun carriages, and the consequent adoption of broadside tactics, gradually ended the primacy of boarding in naval warfare. The decline in boarding occurred faster in Northern and Western Europe than in the Mediterranean. While England and France quickly designed ships with heavy broadsides, the Mediterranean's lighter winds encouraged the
Spaniards Spaniards, or Spanish people, are a Romance peoples, Romance ethnic group native to Spain. Within Spain, there are a number of National and regional identity in Spain, national and regional ethnic identities that reflect the country's complex Hist ...
,
Italians , flag = , flag_caption = Flag of Italy, The national flag of Italy , population = , regions = Italy 55,551,000 , region1 = Brazil , pop1 = 25–33 million , ref1 = , ...
and
Ottomans The Ottoman Turks ( tr, Osmanlı Türkleri), were the Turkic founding and sociopolitically the most dominant ethnic group of the Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synony ...
to retain the rowed
galley A galley is a type of ship that is propelled mainly by oars. The galley is characterized by its long, slender hull, shallow draft (hull), draft, and low freeboard (nautical), freeboard (clearance between sea and gunwale). Virtually all types of ...
, which was difficult to equip with heavy broadsides because the weight and size of the artillery interfered with the oar banks. As late as 1571, the Mediterranean
Battle of Lepanto The Battle of Lepanto was a naval warfare, naval engagement that took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League (1571), Holy League, a coalition of Catholic states (comprising Spain and its Italian territories, several independen ...
, while influenced by artillery, was still principally a battle determined by boarding. The defeat of Spain's Great Armada in 1588 struck the death knell for major fleets geared toward boarding. The Spanish
galleon Galleons were large, multi-decked sailing ships first used as armed cargo carriers by European states from the 16th to 18th centuries during the age of sail and were the principal vessels drafted for use as Warship, warships until the Anglo- ...
s were intended primarily for boarding combat, their contingents of boarding soldiers far outnumbering the English and their decks provided with high castles for suppressive fire. But the Armada proved unable to close with the English vessels, partly because the Spanish castles rendered their ships more sluggish, while
Drake Drake may refer to: Animals * A male duck People and fictional characters * Drake (surname), a list of people and fictional characters with the family name * Drake (given name), a list of people and fictional characters with the given name * ...
and Hawkins stood off and bombarded the Spanish from long range, tearing up their rigging and their crews with the superior firepower of their broadsides. This enabled the outnumbered English fleet to avoid being boarded and allowed them to prevent a Spanish landing. While boarding would never again be the dominant tactic in Western naval warfare, it was not abandoned. Boarding was still used as the coup de grace against a crippled ship, enabling the victimized vessel to be recovered and used by the boarders' side rather than being sunk. Important information such as enemy plans, ciphers or rutters might also be recovered. Large quantities of soldiers were consigned to transports rather than "pestering" the decks of warships, but smaller units of specialized marines were kept aboard to aid in boarding (as well as to enforce naval discipline). Sailors themselves were now expected to play the major role in boarding combat. Boarding was of particular importance in the 17th and 18th centuries' ''guerre de course'', or
commerce raiding Commerce raiding (french: guerre de course, "war of the chase"; german: Handelskrieg, "trade war") is a form of naval warfare used to destroy or disrupt logistics of the enemy on the open sea by attacking its merchant shipping, rather than enga ...
, as well as to
privateers A privateer is a private person or ship that engages in maritime warfare under a commission of war. Since robbery under arms was a common aspect of seaborne trade, until the early 19th century all merchant ships carried arms. A sovereign or deleg ...
and
pirates Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable goods. Those who conduct acts of piracy are called pirates, v ...
. Because naval crews were paid
prize money Prize money refers in particular to naval prize money, usually arising in naval warfare Naval warfare is combat in and on the sea, the ocean, or any other battlespace involving a major body of water such as a large lake or wide river. Manki ...
for bringing back enemy merchant shipping and cargoes intact, it was preferable to capture such ships rather than sink them, which ultimately required boarding, with or without a preliminary artillery duel. Privateers and pirates found boarding even more necessary, as both depended entirely on capturing merchant vessels for their livelihood, under the wageless system of "no purchase, no pay." There were two chief techniques of boarding in the
Age of Sail The Age of Sail is a periodization, period that lasted at the latest from the mid-16th century, 16th (or mid-15th century, 15th) to the mid-19th century, 19th centuries, in which the dominance of sailing ships in globalization, global trade and ...
. One was to bring the two ships close enough to actually jump from friendly
gunwale The gunwale () is the top edge of the Hull (watercraft), hull of a ship or boat. Originally the structure was the "gun Wale (ship part), wale" on a sailing warship, a horizontal reinforcing band added at and above the level of a gun deck to off ...
to enemy deck, with grappling hooks and lines helping to keep the vessels side by side. The second technique was to place a boarding party onto a
dory A dory is a small, shallow-draft (hull), draft boat, about long. It is usually a lightweight boat with high sides, a flat bottom and sharp bows. It is easy to build because of its simple lines. For centuries, the dory has been used as a trad ...
, gig, or another type of small boat, row it alongside the target, and then climb aboard by using grappling hooks or the steps built into some ship's sides. The cinematic method of throwing a grappling line into the enemy's rigging or yards and then swinging aboard does not appear to have any historical support; it could hardly have been practical, as it would put a soldier within range of a large group of hostile combatants extremely quickly. In addition, it would be hard for large numbers sufficient to overwhelm the other ship's defenses to be brought onto the deck in this fashion. Boarding in the Age of Sail was more difficult and dangerous than in previous eras of open-decked sailing vessels. Defenders could seek cover in "closed quarters" in the ship's roundhouse or foredeck, shooting through small loopholes at the exposed boarders. The defenders could also place
grenade A grenade is an explosive weapon typically thrown by hand (also called hand grenade), but can also refer to a Shell (projectile), shell (explosive projectile) shot from the muzzle of a rifle (as a rifle grenade) or a grenade launcher. A modern ...
s on their gunwales or dangle them from their yards, detonating them by fuses of
quick match In pyrotechnics, black match is a type of crude fuse (explosives), fuse, constructed of cotton string fibers intimately coated with a dried black powder slurry. When black match is wikt:confinement, confined in a paper tube, called quick match or ...
that led back through the loopholes into the closed quarters. If not in closed quarters, defenders sometimes resorted to the naval boarding pike, trying to kill or wound boarders while keeping them at a distance, and of course might use any of the weapons that the boarders themselves used. Boarding weapons in the Age of Sail consisted of
grenades A grenade is an explosive weapon typically thrown by hand (also called hand grenade), but can also refer to a Shell (projectile), shell (explosive projectile) shot from the muzzle of a rifle (as a rifle grenade) or a grenade launcher. A modern ...
,
pistol A pistol is a handgun, more specifically one with the chamber (firearms), chamber integral to its gun barrel, though in common usage the two terms are often used interchangeably. The English word was introduced in , when early handguns were pr ...
s,
blunderbuss The blunderbuss is a firearm with a short, large caliber Gun barrel, barrel which is flared at the muzzle (firearms), muzzle and frequently throughout the entire bore, and used with Lead shot, shot and other projectiles of relevant quantity or ca ...
es,
musket A musket is a muzzle-loaded long gun that appeared as a smoothbore weapon in the early 16th century, at first as a heavier variant of the arquebus, capable of penetrating plate armour Plate armour is a historical type of personal body a ...
s,
bayonet A bayonet (from French ) is a knife, dagger, sword A sword is an edged and bladed weapons, edged, bladed weapon intended for manual cutting or thrusting. Its blade, longer than a knife or dagger, is attached to a hilt and can be straigh ...
s,
cutlass A cutlass is a short, broad sabre or slashing sword, with a straight or slightly curved blade sharpened on the cutting edge, and a hilt often featuring a solid cupped or Basket-hilted sword, basket-shaped Hilt#Guard, guard. It was a common naval ...
es, naval boarding axes, and naval boarding pikes, etc. Until the introduction of the
percussion cap The percussion cap or percussion primer, introduced in the early 1820s, is a type of single-use percussion ignition device for muzzle loader firearm Lock (firearm), locks enabling them to fire reliably in any weather condition. This crucial inven ...
in the early 19th century, sailors preferred to use
flintlock Flintlock is a general term for any firearm that uses a flint-striking ignition mechanism, the first of which appeared in Western Europe in the early 16th century. The term may also apply to a particular form of the mechanism itself, also kno ...
s whenever possible, as the lighted match of a
matchlock A matchlock or firelock is a historical type of firearm wherein the gunpowder is ignited by a burning piece of rope that is touched to the gunpowder by a mechanism that the musketeer activates by pulling a lever or trigger with his finger. Bef ...
was extremely dangerous to use on board a ship. Spanish and Portuguese sailors, especially officers, were known to use the
rapier A rapier () or is a type of sword with a slender and sharply-pointed two-edged blade that was popular in Western Europe, both for civilian use (dueling and self-defense) and as a military Sidearm (weapon), side arm, throughout the 16th and 17th ...
throughout the 17th and even into the 18th century, but the close-quarter nature of boarding combat rendered these lengthy swords very ineffective. An important multipurpose weapon was the boarding axe, useful for attacking the enemy, but also essential for chopping down doors and bulkheads to break into closed quarters where defenders of a ship could barricade themselves. The heavy blade could also cut grappling lines. The continued success throughout the 18th century of boarding tactics in a secondary role is best exemplified by John Paul Jones' assault against from the sinking in 1779, the only known case in the Age of Sail where a ship's captain captured an enemy ship while losing his own. in turn broke the United States' run of successful
frigate A frigate () is a type of warship. In different eras, the roles and capabilities of ships classified as frigates have varied somewhat. The name frigate in the 17th to early 18th centuries was given to any full-rigged ship built for speed and ...
battles during the
War of 1812 The War of 1812 (18 June 1812 – 17 February 1815) was fought by the United States, United States of America and its Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous allies against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, United Kingdom ...
by boarding and capturing in 1813.


Modern era

The adoption of
ironclads An ironclad is a steam engine, steam-propelled warship protected by Wrought iron, iron or steel iron armor, armor plates, constructed from 1859 to the early 1890s. The ironclad was developed as a result of the vulnerability of wooden warships ...
and increasingly powerful naval artillery vastly increased the risk to boarding parties. Meanwhile, the suppression of piracy and the abandonment of privateering and prize money made boarding actions even against merchant vessels less rewarding. The massacre of Paraguayan canoe-borne boarding parties by Brazilian ironclads during the
Paraguayan War The Paraguayan War, also known as the War of the Triple Alliance, was a South American war that lasted from 1864 to 1870. It was fought between Paraguay and the Treaty of the Triple Alliance, Triple Alliance of Argentina, the Empire of Brazil, an ...
demonstrated the futility of direct assault by boarding in the face of 19th-century technology. During
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...
the Royal Navy created their own type of warship specifically designed for boarding. Several
armed boarding steamer An armed boarding steamer (or "armed boarding ship", or "armed boarding vessel") was a merchantman that the British Royal Navy converted to a warship during the First World War. AB steamers or vessels had the role of enforcing wartime blockades b ...
s were converted from merchant ships and fought in engagements such as the action of 16 March 1917. For the most part, boarding became a police action in which the attackers came on board only when no resistance could be expected, in order to search vessels and remove contraband. The target would be a ship that had hove to or surrendered. During wartime, the surrendering or sinking ship would be searched for any valuable information such as plans and
cipher In cryptography, a cipher (or cypher) is an algorithm for performing encryption or decryption—a series of well-defined steps that can be followed as a procedure. An alternative, less common term is ''encipherment''. To encipher or encode i ...
s. One prominent example would be during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, when British vessels crippled the in 1941, and sent a crew aboard after the
U-boat U-boats were Submarine#Military, naval submarines operated by Germany, particularly in the World War I, First and Second World War, Second World Wars. Although at times they were efficient fleet weapons against enemy naval warships, they were ...
commander, Kapitänleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp, gave the order to abandon ship. The British would be rewarded with a fully operational Enigma cipher machine, left behind by the German sailors. On June 4, 1944 a
United States Navy The United States Navy (USN) is the maritime military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the eight uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most powerful navy in the world, with the es ...
task force led by Captain Daniel V. Gallery boarded and captured . True boarding assaults in the 19th, 20th, and early 21st centuries became extremely rare, generally by small boats or by divers, who entered the target vessel surreptitiously and exploited total surprise to seize control before resistance could be effectively organized. Modern-day pirates in motorboats similarly depend on speed, stealth and surprise to take their targets, usually unarmed and poorly defended, without serious resistance. However, the use of boarding tactics has begun to revive in recent years, both as part of anti-piracy operations and in conflicts such as the ongoing aftermath of the
Libyan Civil War Demographics of Libya is the demography of Libya, specifically covering population density, Ethnic group, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, and Religion in Libya, religious affiliations, as well as other aspec ...
, and the
2014 Crimean crisis In February and March 2014, Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. This event took place in the aftermath of the Revolution of Dignity and is part of the wider Russo-Ukrainian War. The Revolution of Dign ...
. File:MayagüezIncident2.jpg, USS ''Harold E. Holt'' pulls alongside the SS ''Mayaguez'' to allow the boarding party to board as part of the
Mayaguez incident The ''Mayaguez'' incident took place between Kampuchea Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, Romanization of Khmer#UNGEGN, UNGEGN: ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of ...
in 1975. Image:Commando jauber1.jpg, Commando Jaubert boarding the ''Alcyon'', relying on techniques of combat in confined environment. Image:Commandos-marine.jpg, French forces conducting boarding operations on MV ''Bobo''. Image:Brazilian navy visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team.jpg,
Brazilian Navy ) , colors= Blue and white , colors_label= Colors , march= " Cisne Branco" ( en, "White Swan") (same name as training ship '' Cisne Branco'' , mascot= , equipment= 1 multipurpose aircraft carrier7 submarine A submarine (or sub) is a wate ...
VBSS operations. File:U.S.-Georgia naval practices. Batumi, 2011.jpg, Georgian–United States training exercise in 2011 File:Boarding Procedures demonstrated by the British Royal Marines.jpg, Boarding Procedures demonstrated by the British
Royal Marines The Corps of Royal Marines (RM), also known as the Royal Marines Commandos, are the UK's special operations capable commando force, amphibious warfare, amphibious light infantry and also one of the :Fighting Arms of the Royal Navy, five fighti ...
on the frigate HMS ''Somerset'' in 2004


See also

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Coast Guard A coast guard or coastguard is a maritime security organization of a particular country. The term embraces wide range of responsibilities in different countries, from being a heavily armed military force with customs and security duties t ...
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Marines Marines, or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate in littoral zones in support of naval operations. Historically, tasks undertaken by marines have included helping maintain discipline and order aboard the ship (refle ...
*
Visit, board, search, and seizure Visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) is the term used by United States military and law enforcement agencies for Naval boarding, maritime boarding actions and tactics. VBSS teams are designed to capture enemy vessels, combat Counter-terrori ...
*
Pirate Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable goods. Those who conduct acts of piracy are called pirates, v ...
* Boarding net


Notes


References

* * {{Cite news, last=Gwin , first=Peter , title=The Strait of Malacca: Dark Passage , newspaper =
National Geographic Magazine ''National Geographic'' (formerly the ''National Geographic Magazine'', sometimes branded as NAT GEO) is a popular American monthly magazine published by National Geographic Partners. Known for its photojournalism, it is one of the most widely ...
, date=October 2007 * Warming, Rolf (2019). An Introduction to Hand-to-Hand Combat at Sea. General Characteristics and Shipborne Technologies from c. 1210 BCE to 1600 CE. In (ed. Johan Rönnby), On War On Board: Historical and Archaeological Perspectives on Early Modern Maritime Violence and Warfare. Södertörn Archaeological Studies 15

Navies Naval warfare tactics