Thiarian Gunboats and Escorts
1. Remaining World War I ships
Thiaria was required to downsize its naval personnel to 40.000 after the Great war under peace treaty conditions. This allowed for manning the remaining battleships, cruisers and destroyers, and a sizeable minesweeper fleet too, but for most of the escorts, no crews could be spared. This was one of the reasons that led to the amalgamation of Thiaria’s Customs Enforcement Service, Maritime Rescue Service and Harbour Police Force to the Garda na hTeorainn Mara (Coast Guard, literally Marine Border Guard) in 1922. This service was not limited in manpower and attracted many former military sailors which were discharged after the war; it also received many former warships. Of the Caithne-class Q-ships, most were sold off for civilian use, but four remained with the Coast Guard (they were however discarded in the early 1930s). The Coast Guard also received some Seabhac-Class trawlers and a variety of civilian vessels purchased on short notice; none of these were still available in 1940. But the core of its high-seas patrol force throughout the 1920s and 1930s consisted of twelve WWI-vintage Ursan-class sloops, which would continue to give sterling service in another world war.
The Ursan-class sloops entered action late in the first world war; of the 16 units available early in 1919, only four had actually seen combat, and six were virtually yard-new. Two more were completed after the war. The Navy retained the four oldest ones as minesweeper tenders; the other 14 (named Ursan (Bear), Cadhoit (Coyote), Tiogar (Tiger), Broc (Badger), Mactire (Wolf), Siota (Cheetah), Fiachat (Wildcat), Faolchu (Jackal), Hieana (Hyenah), Gairial (Gharial), Dobharchu (Otter), Grisun (Grison), Pantar (Panther) and Firead (Ferrett)) were transferred to the Coast Guard in 1922, at first virtually without any modifications except reduction of armament to 2 100mm guns and 4 8mm MGs.
While many other first-generation ships of the Thiarian Coast Guard were discarded in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Ursan-class still had enough life in their robust hulls to warrant a complete mid-life reconstruction, which took place between 1932 and 1937 (two ships per year were taken in hand for an average of two years). They received a lengthened forecastle, a completely reconstructed bridge, new masts with new w/t gear and new, larger boats. Armament was changed to one 100mm gun and four 13mm machineguns.
During this refit, the ships were prepared for a possible wartime role as convoy escorts, which after all had been their original purpose back in 1917. They were fitted for, but not with ASDIC, Hydrophones, two DC racks aft and two DC throwers on each beam, a second 100mm gun aft and two 37mm twins side by side on the aft deckhouse; two of the 13mm machineguns had to be relocated. When the war started, all twelve received the equipment mentioned above within the first six months; with everything already prepared, refit took an average of two weeks per ship. By late 1940, all units (minus Grisun, an early war loss) were in service as convoy escorts. They retained their Coast Guard crews; although the Navy did not think very highly of them, they displayed the same skill, tenacity and courage and earned the respect of friend and foe alike. By mid-1942, they had received two additional 20mm guns (a twin forward); otherwise, they remained unchanged.
Distribution of radars was responsibility of the navy; consequently, the Coast Guard had very low priority. It took them till early 1943 to assign some used first-generation sets to the Ursan-Class, and a total of nine units had received a full suite by year’s end. These nine boats also landed their 13mm machineguns and swapped them for 20mm cannon on a 1:1 basis, bringing the total of 20mm guns to six. Four more (Ursan, Broc, Hiaena and Pantar) were lost before any refit could take place; of the refitted boats, three were lost in 1944 (Tiogar, Fiachat and Firead).
Six units (Cadhoit, Mactire, Siota, Faolchu, Gairial and Dobharchu) survived the war and were disarmed. The first four were still in a fairly decent shape and returned to regular Coast Guard service, looking almost exactly as they looked in 1939 (minus the gun forward); the other two were cannibalized to keep the rest running. They served till the late 1950s, by which time they were totally used up. They were scrapped between 1959 and 1963.
2. Interwar Coast Guard cutters
To quickly replace the mix of ex-civilian makeshift patrol craft that made up the bulk of the coast guard in 1922, a class of 24 350-ton cutters was ordered in 1924 and laid down in three annual batches of eight between 1925 and 1927. By late 1929, all were in service. They were seaworthy craft with single-shaft VTE engines and coal-fueled boilers; they were capable of 16 knots and armed with a single 100mm gun of WW1 vintage, which were taken from surplus stocks or removed from scrapped C- and D-class destroyers. They received the names of Thiarian cities: Carriolar, Abernenui, Firinnea, Nuatearman, Cathair Riordan, Ardgleann, An Thuaidh, Copairgabhra, An Deantus, Dundubh, An Ceardlann, Dubhcraig, Carmaille, Cruacearta, Ardmainear, Nuacathair, Naomh Aine, Fomhareas, Arathiar, Coleraine, Ardgarrai, Cathair Etheile, Seanmainistir and Cladach na Salann.
Like the larger Ursan-class upon reconstruction, these boats were already prepared to act as sub-chasers in case of mobilization. When the war broke out, they were fitted with DC racks, four 13mm MGs (a twin aft and two singles in the bridge wings) and a new w/t rig; the upper bridge received protective plating and air lookout posts. They were crewed by Coast Guard personnel throughout the war.
None ever received radar or ASDIC, so their effectiveness as sub-chasers would always remain limited; they were nevertheless used intensively in the first two years of the war for lack of alternatives. After 1942, when more modern sub-chasers became available in quantity, they were mostly used as patrol and rescue craft. By 1943, the 14 remaining units had at least received three 20mm cannon apiece in lieu of two of the 13mm machineguns, and most had protective plating between the end of the forecastle and the mainmast and a new w/t office behind the bridge, freeing deckspace aft for rescue rafts. Nine had their 100mm LA gun replaced by a 75mm HA gun, complete with a new HA rangefinder.
When the war was over, ten were still available. They were used as buoy and lighthouse tenders by the Coast Guard for another 20 years, some remaining available into the mid-1970s, when they were sold for scrap value.
2.2. Sruthgabhal-Class (Batch 1)
In 1935, the remaining Seabhac-class Coast Guard Trawlers were due for disposal; in this year, it was also decided to massively expand the service, already with the unstated intention to enable it to take over some of the Navy’s duties in wartime. A 450-ton design with a very robust and seaworthy flush-decked hull was prepared, powered by a twin-shaft diesel-electric plant capable of a top speed of 20 knots and 5 knots of silent creeping speed on electric motors alone. Armament was a single 75mm DP gun forward and four single 13mm machineguns; slots for two DC racks, two DC throwers and ASW sweeps were provided for quick refit in wartime. They were also designed for, but not yet with lightweight ASDIC and hydrophones. 24 were ordered in three annual batches of eight in 1937, 1938 and 1939. Like previous Coast Guard Cutters, they were named for Thiarian Cities: Sruthgabhal, Dunfaolamh, Stoirmcraig, Camastra, Donndroim, Abermearui, Tefuaran, Fearmainear, Duniarthar, Portancuan, An Digheann, Smurach, Breaglais, Realthas, Scathgleann, Cormallan, Iarannis, Copaircnoc, Berancuan, Traceann, Fadamharc, Gleanncastan, Dubhforceais and Dun Bunaitheoir. The first units entered service in late 1938 in the Coast Guard livery; the last unit to be delivered in blue-white was LT Realthas in December 1939.
The last ten entered service during 1940 and early n 1941 (last three) already as fully equipped sub-chasers, achieving average construction times of 12 months. Complete retrofit of the earlier units to sub-chasers lasted till mid-1940.
Manned by Coast Guard personnel, they acquitted themselves well; though their design speed was lower than that of the US PC class, they were capable of attaining it at full load, which the PC was not. Though not rated as oceangoing by the Thiarians, they were capable of operating in appalling weather conditions if necessary, but mostly were used to protect coastal convoys around the Thiarian homeland. Their engines however were not very reliable, and the class suffered from relatively high maintenance requirements and many mishaps. By 1943, they swapped their aft 13mm MGs with 20mm cannon, and Raththanach became the prototype for the installation of a submarine-type radar set. Throughout the war, only four of the first batch actually received such radars.
Losses were considerable; fifteen boats were lost during the war and three during the civil war. The six survivors were scrapped in the 1950s after their complicated diesel-electric engines had become unserviceable.
3. Interwar Navy designs
Having no colonies and limited economic interests abroad, the Thiarian Navy had no peacetime requirement for gunboats or sloops. During the 1920s and 1930s, a total of sixteen hulls for special purposes (Survey Ships, Minelayers and Aviation Tenders) were constructed which could double as gunboats if necessary; they can be found under mine warfare craft and auxiliaries (to be posted later). There was however a highly original design for export.
3.1. Eire- and Republica-Class
In 1936, the second LNT lifted the limit of a maximum of four guns for sloops; this was done at the insistence of the British, who would proceed to build their highly successful six- and eight-gun sloops of the Egret/Black-Swan-types of 1.400 tons standard. The CSCA yard had been in contact with the Mexican government since 1934 about a design for a maximum-power sloop; the second LNT finally allowed to develop this type to the utmost of its possibilities. After the havoc wreaked upon the USN by the Imperial Mexican fleet in 1916, Mexico’s new revolutionary government had been forced in the peace treaty to eschew any ship beyond the sloop category (2.000 tons and 20 kts maximum, 155mm caliber maximum, no torpedoes), and the once-proud Mexican Navy was reduced to a shadow of its former self. To restore some of its former prestige, they sought a sloop which would outgun any foreign destroyer and carry enough armour protection to defeat 127mm projectiles. By applying destroyer-building techniques, particularly longitudinal framing, CSCA managed to design a 1.990-ton hull of 105m LCWL which would be strong enough to carry an armament of a mid-sized WW1 cruiser: Eight 130mm guns in lightweight twin mounts, two each superimposed fore and aft, plus six 37mm AA guns and eight 13mm machineguns. An airplane was proposed, but eventually dropped. They were fitted for, but not with ASW equipment (two stern racks and four DC throwers) or rails for 100 mines; only one of these variants could be installed at the same time, and displacement would exceed the 2.000 ton limit in either case. The waterline had 70mm plating, with 25mm decks, the latter very low in the ship to balance the topweight of the gun mounts. Machinery was limited to 9.000 SHP on two shafts, easily enough for the allowable maximum speed of 20 knots. Aluminium was used for much of the superstructure to cut weight; the Thiarian Navy ruled this measure out due to the inflammable nature of that material, but the Mexicans had no such qualms. The deal between the Mexicans and CSCA included the construction of two hulls in Thiaria and a license for six more to be built in Mexico. The first two – Republica and Mexico – were laid down late in 1936 and early in 1937 and delivered to Mexico together in May 1939 after an average building time of 24 months.
These vessels made a huge impression, and the Thiarians and Mexicans were widely accused of exceeding the 2.000-ton limit. In fact, the vessels came out overweight, but not very much and not on purpose. Their armour nicely balanced the topweight of their guns, and they were reasonably seaworthy – not up to usual Thiarian standards, but enough for the Gulf of Mexico and the East Pacific. Mexican construction had started in 1938, but over twenty years without any major orders had left their mark upon the once-renowned Tampico Navy yard, which had built the first – and last – Latin American dreadnought battleship in 1914. The Mexicans needed till late 1942 to complete their domestic pair – named Libertad and Progreso – and the other four units were never laid down. The second pair omitted Y 130mm turret in favour of ASW gear; this was not due to stability issues, but because the Thiarians could no longer deliver 130mm guns after the first batch of 12 had reached Mexico in late 1939.
These four units were the largest and most powerful Mexican ships till the 1950s; by aligning themselves with the Allies in 1943, the Mexicans acquired the right to build destroyers and the large sloops were relegated to the second line (the home-built Mexican destroyers, ironically, were based upon the Thiarian P-class, although with US weapons and equipment). The sloops nevertheless remained in service as TS till the 1980s and were not scrapped prior to 1990.
Just as the Mexican contract was negotiated, the Irish Republic celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Easter uprising, and the Thiarian government presented them with a quite unwanted gift: The promise to build them a flashy flagship for their fledgling Navy free of charge. LE Eire, as she was dubbed by the Thiarians themselves, was ordered at CSCA to the plans of the Mexican sloops in late 1936 and laid down in late 1937. As she was required to operate in the stormy North Atlantic, CSCA applied Thiarian stability standards, requiring the removal of one of the 130mm twins. Turret B was considered most impairing for stability and replaced with a 37mm twin, which was relocated from its original position aft (two additional 13mm twin mounts were installed there instead. The vessel was fitted for minelaying, but never so employed. CSCA built her in 20 months and delivered her in September 1939; she traveled to the USA in November that year and crossed the Atlantic in December, proving her seaworthiness.
Like the Mexican ships, LT Eire had a long, peaceful service life and was decommissioned in 1975, but not scrapped prior to 1995.
4. War Escort programme
4.1. Iaguar-Class (Batch 1)
By 1936, the Thiarians considered war within the next decade as virtually unavoidable; as soon as the British Empire got involved in a major European conflict, they would seize the opportunity to topple it. To fight a war against a substantial part of the Royal Navy, particularly the elite forces of Patagonia and Recherche, all available destroyers would be needed by the fighting fleet, so escort duty would have to be assumed by lesser craft. The 14 Ursan-class coast guard cutters were a beginning, and four Spiorad Naomh-class survey ships were also earmarked for service as oceangoing convoy escorts in case of war, but these units of course were nowhere near enough. A design for an escort vessel capable of operating in the roughest waters imaginable under the worst weather conditions possible was prepared in 1937 by the Navy design department. It was based upon the very successful fleet minesweepers of the Tririnn-Class, which were upscaled by 50%, featuring a 1.300 ton hull of 88m LCWL with twin shaft steam turbine propulsion for 24 knots speed. Although these ships were not built to civilian standards, like Britain’s Frigates, they were much simplified compared with contemporary destroyers; hull design allowed for employment of yards incapable of destroyer construction, so transverse framing was employed and the whole hull was quite bulky for what it was designed to carry. The forecastle was extended all the way to amidships for optimum seakeeping. To achieve maximum stability, armament was limited to the absolute minimum for escort service: Two single 100mm DP guns with a full HA fire control system, three twin 37mm mounts and two quad 13mm AAMG mounts, plus DC rails aft, four DC projectors amidships and ASDIC. Radar was considered desirable, but other ship types had higher priority, so it was considered acceptable that they were completed without and retrofitted later. All in all, armament and equipment could easily have been fitted to a 900 – 1.000 ton hull, but by accepting larger size, an immensely seaworthy and comfortable vessel was achieved, fully capable of operating in South Atlantic winter conditions. An initial batch of four was ordered in 1938, and four more in 1939. They continued the tradition that escorts be named for land predators and received the names Iaguar (Jaguar), Osalat (Ocelot), Glutan (Wolverine), Cobra (Cobra), Liopard (Leopard), Archu (Bloodhound), Claiomhfhiacail (Sabretooth Tiger) and Caracal (Caracal). The small, relatively inexperienced yards employed needed between 30 and 36 months to complete them; the first two did not enter service prior to August 1941…
…and three took till early 1942. As war production of electronic gear picked up, these already had a full radar suite, although the surface search radar was so awkwardly placed as to be nearly useless. They also had an additional pair of 13mm MGs in each bridge wing.
In 1943, they received more modern surface search radars, which were also relocated to a more favourable spot, and other improvements to their electronic suite. They also swapped their 13mm MGs for 20mm cannon at a ratio of 2:1, and four of the class received single fully automatic 37mm cannon in lieu of their twin semi-automatic guns, in effect doubling the number of 37mm shells they could put into the air.
The other four retained their semi-automatic 37mm guns, but received the same radar upgrade and two additional 20mm singles abreast the bridge.
Despite hard war service, only Archu and Cobra were lost; with an overabundance of escort craft on the market after World War II, there was no interest in them as prizes. They were disarmed and transferred to the Thiarian Coast Guard. After modernization in 1954/5, they featured a single 37mm gun in a new mount with local radar control, four 13mm MGs and extensive firefighting and rescue gear, plus a well equipped sickbay in the forecastle.
Due to their immensely robust hulls, they were able to serve till the early 1980s, and the last one was scrapped in 1992, at the ripe old age of 50 years.
4.2. Iaguar-Class (Batch 2)
The merits of the Iaguar-design, which sported a very reasonable combination of capabilities on a hull of supreme seaworthiness and excellent habitability, were soon apparent; under the war programme, another 40 were laid down between 1940 and 1944 – six in 1940, eight each in 1941 and 1942, twelve in 1943 and six in 1944. Another eight had been approved for 1944, but were never laid down, and accordingly not named. Their names were Cugar (Cougar), Leon (Lion), Seacal (Jackal), Lincse (Lynx), Borrnathair (Adder), Crogall (Crocodile) – all laid down 1940; Sionnach (Fox), Puma (Thiarian Snow Puma), Ollbhear (Grizzly), Cu (Wolfhound), Banbhear (Polar Bear), Ailegeadar (Alligator), Caiman (Caiman), Mhoanatora (Monitor Lizard) – all laid down 1941; Madra (Wildhound), Fiachu (Staghound), Brocmeala (Ratel), Iaguarundai (Jaguarundi), Bulladoir (Bulldog), Margae (Dwarf Ocelot), Anacanda (Anaconda), Crotail (Rattlesnake) – all laid down 1942; Maistin (Mastiff), Diongo (Dingo), Ginae (Kodkod), Bhombat (Wombat), Bobchat (Bobcat), Colocolo (Pampa Cat), Racun (Raccoon), Cat Coille (Polecat), Neas (Weasel), Fosa (Fossa Cat), Tiogrin (Tigrina), Pioton (Python) – all laid down 1943; and Minc (Mink), Sibhead (Civet), Easog (Stoat), Mangus (Mongoose), Martan (Marten), Saible (Sable) – all laid down in 1944. As the Thiarians ran out of suitable large predators to name these ships after, their namesake animals became smaller and cuter as the war progressed, earning the second batch the unofficial nickname Ainmhi-Clumhach-thart-ar-baolach-Class (‘more-or-less-dangerous-furry-animal-class’). The first 24 were completed during the war (five in 1942, eleven in 1943, eight in 1944), after building time could be cut to an average of 20 months. They differed from the first batch by having a tripod mainmast with improved electronics arrangements and a 37mm quad turret with radar fire control on the position of the former aft deckhouse. The 100mm guns were of a newer, more powerful model, and the number of 20mm cannon was increased to 10 (three twin and four single mounts). All had a complete radar suite of the newest make upon completion. The weight reserves available were easily sufficient to accommodate the modifications, and the second batch boats were just as seaworthy as the first.
As the 37mm quad turrets were in short supply, some early units were completed with three single 37mm guns; otherwise, they were identical. This applied to Cugar, Seacal, Lincse, Sionnach, Ollbhear and Caracal.
None of the second batch were much modified during the war. Ten (Leon, Lincse, Sionnach, Seacal, Cu, Banbhear, Brocmeala, Iaguarundai, Bulladoir and Anacanda) were lost in the war, one (Caiman) during the civil war. Three of the unfinished units (Bobchat, Racun and Tiogrin) were completed afterwards, without 20mm cannon, but a hedgehog forward. All other surviving units with 37mm quads were retrofitted to this standard by 1949.
The boats with 37mm singles received a fourth single mount on B position in 1948, but no hedgehog.
In this guise, the 16 escorts – rated as frigates after the war - served throughout much of the 1950s. In 1956, a complete rebuild of the still relatively new ships was decided upon. They had their engines gutted and replaced with an all-new diesel plant with the same speed of 24 knots, but more than twice the range. Their entire superstructure was replaced with an all-new arrangement of relatively low profile, with a lattice mast and US-sourced electronics. A completely new domestically developed sonar was installed, and they were among the first warships worldwide to receive towed array sonars. Surface armament now was two fully automatic 76mm guns, and for ASW work, two 400mm triple ASW torpedo tubes and Weapon Alfa were embarked. A total of twelve were rebuilt that way; Cugar, Ollbhear, Caracal and Bulladoir were scrapped instead. Reconstruction lasted from 1957 through 1962.
The twelve frigates remained in service for another 15 to 20 years; the last quartet was decommissioned in 1982. All were scrapped by 1987. Retrospectively, these ships – individually efficient as they were, being the only truly oceangoing escorts of all axis powers (barring possible secret Kokoan projects not yet posted) – were too large, complex, material- manpower- and cost-intensive to be provided in the necessary numbers; the 32 completed units were dwarfed by the allied masses of destroyer escorts and frigates, totaling over a thousand hulls, and the Thiarians regularly had to use fleet minesweepers for ASW work.
4.3. Sruthgabhal-Class (Batch 2)
With series production of the Sruthgabhal-class sub-chasers in full swing in 1940, the type was the natural choice for the wartime sub-chaser programme. Although they were a little too large and complex for effective mass-production, the Thiarians considered them the minimal size to be of any use even in coastal waters under South Atlantic conditions. To ease construction, the diesel-electric plant was replaced with a pure diesel installation of the same power; speed remained the same at 20 knots. They could be distinguished by their heavier tripod foremast and their rearranged upper bridge; armament was the same as in the post-refit Coast guard cutters. Between 1940 and 1944, a total of 80 hulls was laid down, averaging 16 per year; half of them were however completed as large motor minesweepers (see their entry under mine warfare craft). The sub-chasers were named for cities, like the first batch (in the sequence of their completion): Braithreachas, Abersiorrad, Saorsheilbh, Portiarracht, Coilldomhain, Dunleasri, Crochcupla, Raththanach, Aberfoire, Naomh Micheal, Gualpoll, Sruthcursa, Gleannbinn, Portiasc, Duncronthrath, Trateathan, Castelnau, Duneaspag, Trarinn, Banseipeal, Deisceartra, Breadochas, Cluaincaora, Baseamrog, Tramioruilt, Abhalon, Gleanmuilean, Fadabail, An Deanu De, Cnocpirimid, Cuaneamhai, Milistra, An Cuibhreach, Trapailm, Fochta Uaine, An Nead, Longfort, Talamhceann, Beaghaile, Anfa Caolas. Five were completed in 1941, nine in 1942, eight in 1943 and seven in 1944. Eleven were incomplete at the time of the armistice (An Deanu De was the last unit completed in September 1944). All were manned by Navy personnel.
From 1943, they were completed with four 20mm cannon and 2 13mm MGs as light AA; most older units were retrofitted till 1944. A total of fifteen received submarine-type radars during 1944.
The class was employed both around the home islands and along the South American coast; of the 29 units commissioned, 15 survived the war. Three more were completed in 1946/7, and eight were broken up incomplete. All 18 survivors were handed over to the Coast guard and recommissioned in 1946/8, armed with a single 20mm cannon and equipped with a large salvage crane aft.
They enjoyed long peacetime careers, some serving until well into the 1990s; today, three (Cluaincoara, Abhalon and Fadabail) remain as hulks, the rest was scrapped.
Initial service experience with the Iaguar-class revealed that they were excellent ASW escorts, but their AA capacity was only enough for self-defence. In 1941, there was no dedicated anti-air escort below cruiser size in Thiaria’s inventory. During the ground campaign in Argentina, the Thiarians had to bring troop and supply convoys through areas within range of enemy land-based air, and the need for such a ship began to be felt. The CSCA design for the Mexican sloops was revived; the hull was shortened and widened, armour protection was omitted, and a bulbous bow and much stronger machinery were installed to increase speed to 24 knots. An all new armament of six 100/60 DP guns and four 37mm autocannon was installed, both with the latest radar-guided fire control. Twelve 20mm cannon provided close defence. The ships had ASDIC and passive sonar and a heavy DC outfit, and the same radar suite as a cruiser. Displacement was 2.200 tons standard. Due to their complexity, construction of these powerful ships was only possible on specialized destroyer and cruiser yards, which were extremely busy at that time. Production bottlenecks delayed the first four vessels till 1942; in 1943, seven were laid down, and five more in 1944. They were rated as sloops and received names of weather phenomena: Saighnean (Thunderbolt), Tintreach (Lightning), Tradghaoth (Tradewind), Speirling (Whirlwind) – laid down in 1942; Striop (Breeze), Leoithne (Zephyr), Tornado (Tornado), Sinnean (Squall), Hairicin (Hurricane), Cuaifach (Gust), Anfa (Blizzard) – laid down in 1943; Macalla (Echo), Monsun (Monsoon), Feathan (Breeze), Seidean (Storm), Raiste (Squall) – laid down in 1944. Only the first four were completed during the war; Speirling was lost shortly before the start of the civil war.
The other three became allied prizes after the war; they were considered so capable that the Americans and British claimed them for themselves, lest someone who would actually need them laid their hands on them. All unfinished hulls had to be scrapped. Despite their short service record, during which they had no opportunity to achieve much, they were – hull for hull – certainly the best escort vessels of World War two. As a class, however, they were a complete disaster, because their complexity and long construction time made sure the war was lost before they became available.
Next: Thiarian Mine warfare craft