Thiarian Coastal Forces
1. MTBs: Luiochan-Class
The Thiarian navy always considered itself a pure blue-water navy. In the First World War and the interwar years, there quite simply were no coastal craft like Britain’s CMB or Italy’s MAS-craft. Small launches were only operated by the Coast Guard; the navy showed no interest whatsoever in such and considered them useless in Southern Atlantic conditions. This attitude persevered till the beginning of WWII, when Thiaria’s fleet, boasting the world’s largest fleet of purpose-built amphibious assault ships at that time, was suddenly called upon to actually use them offensively in enemy-held littoral waters. Experience with Patagonian coastal craft, which were employed skillfully and aggressively, painfully hammered home the lesson that Thiaria would need something akin. Fortunately for them, the Patagonians, whose naval staff had similar misgivings about the usefulness of MTBs in the South Atlantic, had asked the English Fairmile boat yard for a particularly large and robust MTB design. Eight of these were ordered in 1938 and delivered late in the following year; they were rather slow for MTBs at 30 kts, but they were the largest of their kind worldwide by a wide margin and offered unpreceded seakeeping abilities. Two of these were captured in a damaged state during the invasion of the Falklands in February 1940; one of them was patched up and transferred to Thiaria under its own power in March (reportedly the Officer who commanded the craft had lost a bet). By that time, the decision to acquire MTBs for the Thiarian fleet had already been made, and in order to speed the process up, it was decided to copy the Patagonian Fairmile craft. The Boldisaire Yard, Thiaria’s premier maker of yachts and speedboats, reverse-engineered the Patagonian prize boat within less than six months, enlarging it even more and adding half again the installed power in a three-shaft installation for a fair-weather speed of 36 knots. The prototype was tested late in 1940 under Southern Hemispheric summer conditions and performed exceedingly well; series production was ordered in January 1941. Ironically, the British decided to acquire large MTBs based on the Patagonian prototypes as well, becoming the Fairmile D type; this resulted in virtually identical heavy MTBs used by both sides throughout the South Atlantic campaign (the principal difference was the Thiarian use of hull exhausts instead of funnels). The first Thiarian MTBs were delivered in November 1938; they were from the beginning designed to carry exchangeable armament, enabling them to function as torpedo boat with four 450mm torpedoes, a 20mm cannon and four 13mm AAMGs;
as gunboats with a short 75mm gun (converted 30-caliber tank gun), a 20mm cannon, two 80mm mortars and two 13mm AAMGs and
as sub-chasers with a long 75mm gun, a 20mm cannon, two 13mm AAMGs and depth charges.
They were rated as boats rather than ships, hence the black lower hulls. As they had come out at 110 tons normal displacement, they nevertheless were entitled to individual names under Thiarian regulations. The names were chosen among substantives which had some relation to warfare, however loose: Luiochan (Ambush), Scanradh (Alarm), Fogha (Aggression), Toghraim (Pursuit), Toraiocht (Quest), Iarraidh (Challenge), Ionadh (Surprise), Ciuine (Stealth), Intinn (Spirit), Laochas (Valour), Buntaiste (Advantage), Stuaim (Prudence), Uafas (Terror), Airdeall (Vigilance), Scrios (Destruction), Troid (Battle), Eachtra (Adventure), Sponc (Pluck), Ardaihdm (Ambition), Gearradh (Speed), Fioru (Portent), Anam (Spark), Teacht (Approach), Comhcheilg (Intrigue), Fionnadh (Discovery), Clabhta (Blow), Rira (Clamour), Iontaoibh (Trust), Cruachas (Trap), Ionradh (Invasion), Priacal (Peril), Clampar (Tumult), Luth (Agility), Ionsai (Storming), Rath (Success), Mioruilt (Miracle), Teinne (Firmness), Comhrac (Engagement), Gaisce (Exploit), Rabhad (Alert), Niachas (Chivalry), Seap (Dash), Gabhail (Capture), Coimheascar (Skirmish), Fobairt (Assault), Cleas (Stratagem), Teir (Omen), Reabadh (Devastation), Oscar (Leap), Achrann (Melee), Gearchuis (Intuition), Cruinneas (Steadyness), Nimh (Malevolcence), Coimhlint (Encounter), Seift (Trick), Greadadh (Rout), Ealain (Deftness), Smacht (Domination), Stuaim (Dexterity), Fosadh (Perseverance), Acmhainn (Capability), Forneart (Force), Fuinneamh (Vitality), Baol (Hazard), Ceimiocht (Prestige), Ceannfath (Motivation), Forsa (Power), Straiteis (Strategy), Leim (Jump), Buaic (Apex), Naimhdeas (Hostility), Guais (Danger), Baracaid (Barricade), Neart (Strength), Crogacht (Daring), Fuachtain (Attack), Dimheas (Disdain), Basu (Execution), Tuiscint (Perception), Luas (Velocity), Buille (Hit), Daighe (Obstinacy), Olc (Spite), Ruid (Rush), Tarrthail (Rescue), Dilseacht (Fidelity), Scil (Skill), Lingeadh (Dive), Ciocras (Eagerness), Toir (Chase), Grascar (Infight), Culgharda (Rearguard), Aire (Caution), Eiritheacht (Insurgency), Riosca (Risk), Bagairt (Threat), Tarcaisne (Contempt), Sult (Mirth), Sciobtacht (Swiftness), Maoirseacht (Oversight), Iomaiocht (Rivalry), Easontu (Opposition), Draiocht (Magic), Crionnacht (Providence), Buaine (Perseverance), Timireacht (Errand), Diliseacht (Steadfastness), Eiseamlair (Example), Treallus (Drive), Mortas (Pride), Iarracht (Offensive), Duais (Prize), Toradh (Effect), Seilg (Hunt), Staidear (Sang-Froid), Dilseacht (Devotion), Dutracht (Loyalty), Gliceas (Astuteness), Dithneas (Alacrity) and Bua (Talent). 120 were ordered in three batches (of 20 in 1941, of 60 in 1942 and of 40 in 1944); both initial batches were completed by late 1943, plus eight boats of the third batch in late 1944. Ciocras and all later units were not completed. All were built by the Boldisaire yard. The boats proved sturdy and reliable in service; they were faster than the British original and could operate in rough seas, although they were well advised not to travel into the open South Atlantic, which they usually did not do. They were crewed by active Navy or Naval Reserve personnel and intensely used along the South American coast, often in support of amphibious operations; two dozens were always kept back in Thiaria to defend the entrances to the Bauaine. Most retained the armament they were completed with throughout their careers. All Batch 1 units were MTBs throughout their careers, while twelve of the second batch were completed as gunboats and eight as sub-chasers, the balance becoming MTBs as well. During 1943, another eight MTBs were refitted to sub-chasers. All eight Batch 3 units were completed as sub-chasers. This amply illustrates the change of their role from home-defence torpedo vessel to more offensive uses and then back again to home-defence. A total of 38 were lost during the war. They were continually upgunned during the conflict; the MTBs and sub-chasers received two additional 13mm AAMGs and a small multipurpose radar set;
the subchasers swapped their forward 75mm gun for a fully automatic 37mm AA gun and
the gunboats were only fitted with the additional flak, but no radar.
Of the 50 surviving units, 20 were handed over to Brazil and 12 to Patagonia as reparations. Thiaria retained 16 vessels without torpedoes or guns for patrol duties. They lasted well and were not retired before 1960; three were sold off to private interests, and one of them still exists as a yacht.
2. Patrol and rescue craft
2.1. Coast Guard Launches
The Thiarian Coast Guard operated a multitude of commercially purchased launches and patrol boats between 20 and 50 tons displacement; by 1935, there were about 140 of these. Many were ageing steam-powered craft, and in 1934, the Thiarian Coast Guard ordered their first purpose built patrol boat class to replace them. 80 boats were ordered from four private boat builders; their building pace was rather slow, and they were completed between 1936 and 1941. No names were assigned to them; they were numbered 1181 through 1260. They displaced 60 tons and could make 16 knots with diesel propulsion. They carried only two 8mm MGs in peacetime, but had space for a boarding team and a small sick bay.
During the war, all basically continued their prewar patrol and SAR duty, manned by Coast Guard personnel; they received two 13mm AAMGs, four depth charges and military communications gear.
30 were lost to various causes during the war. The others remained with the Coast Guard and most served until the mid-1970s; the last eight were decommissioned in 1981.
2.2. Multiservice Boat (BMF)
A faster successor for the 1181-type coast guard launches was under development since 1939; the larger boats were supposed to make 24 knots and be able to operate in rougher seas, but be no larger than their predecessors. The final product was influenced by the larger Luiochan-class in hull shape and superstructure arrangement and became available at about the same time late in 1941; size had increased to 80 ts, which was however considered acceptable because of their simple construction which was well suited to mass production. While the MTBs were all built by the same yard, construction of the smaller and simpler patrollers was subcontracted to several smaller boat builders. Unlike the preceding class, the BMF (Multiservice Boat) was employed by Coast Guard, Air Force and Naval Militia and employed as patrol vessel (Coast Guard personnel) with an old 65mm WWI vintage gun from storage and four 13mm AAMGs,
later patrollers being armed with a converted 75mm tank gun, a 20mm cannon and four 13mm AAMGs,
as rescue craft (Air Force Personnel) with four 13mm AAMGs and salvage gear or
as sub-chasers (Naval Militia personnel) with a 20mm cannon, four 13mm AAMGs and depth charges.
A total of 280 of these boats were completed between October 1941 and March 1945. They were numbered 4001 through 4304, with the numbers 4237 – 4240, 4259 – 4260, 4275 – 4280, 4287 – 4300 and 4305 – 4400 either uncompleted or never begun. In 1942, the boats run by the Air Force were renumbered, the first digit becoming a ‘5’; this eventually affected a total of 68 rescue craft. Over 160 of these boats remained operational after 1945, but the force was shrunk to about 50 by 1950, the last of which were decommissioned in 1961.
3. Riverine warfare craft
3.1. Converted LCTs
A total of 25 DT-type LCTs were field-converted to riverine fire support boats in 1942/3 for use on South American rivers. They were fitted with 20mm armour plate, four 75mm tank guns, a 20mm cannon, ten 81mm mortars and eight 13mm AAMGs. All retained their Army crews. Half of them were lost, usually to air strikes, and the remainder was scrapped, given the overabundance of allied landing craft available after the war.
3.2. Armoured River Boat (BPA)
The third custom design by Boldisaire for the Thiarian littoral force was a downscale of the BMF-type patrol craft using the latter’s initial 65 ton hull which had been discarded to improve seakeeping. As a river craft did not need this feature, the smaller hull was sufficient; speed was limited to 18 knots. On the plus side, these boats received armoured sides and armoured casemates behind the pilothouse (20mm each) and were fitted with two short 75mm guns, two 81mm mortars and four 13mm AAMGs. 80 were ordered in two batches of 40 in 1942 and 1943; a third batch of another 40 ordered in 1944 did not yield any completed boats due to changed priorities.
The 80 completed units were numbered 7001 through 7080 and used on South American rivers in support of Ground operations. They were all manned by army personnel. Losses were high at 36; 30 surviving boats were ceded to the Brazilians after the war, who continued to make good use of them till the 1960s. Eight were sold to Uruguay in 1946, the rest was scrapped.
Next: Amphibious Forces