World War I: Vorpostenboot Nürnberg 1914
VP-Boat flotilla leaving a Dutch port during World War II
V-1605 Mosel under attack by Canadian (RCAF No.404 Squadron) aircraft off Lillesand, Norway, 15 October 1944.

Vorpostenboot (plural Vorpostenboote), also referred to as VP-Boats, flakships or outpost boats,[1][2] were German patrol boats which served during both World Wars. They were used around coastal areas and in coastal operations, and were tasked with – among other things – coastal patrol, ship escort, and naval combat.[1]

Warships were not available in sufficient numbers in the Imperial Navy and the Kriegsmarine to control the long coasts of the territories under German rule. For this reason, many different types of smaller craft were modified for use in combat. Most Vorpostenboote were pre-war fishing vessels, yachts or harbour craft.[3] Such vessels were ideal because they were plentiful, and were of simple and robust design, advantageous in rough waters. They were the German equivalent to the trawlers of the Royal Navy. There were several hundred Vorpostenboote active during each World War.[3]

Vorpostenboote typically carried one or two medium-calibre guns (e.g. 88 mm), many light automatic anti-air artillery pieces (20-40mm), and a varying number of machine guns.[1] For anti-submarine warfare they were also fitted with depth charges.[4] Crewed by sixty to seventy men,[5] most of whom were weapons personnel taken from the naval reserve, the Vorpostenboote became particularly feared by the Royal Navy for their firepower and efficiency in battle.[4] While Vorpostenboote were able to engage and defeat light naval forces – such as small motor gun boats – they were not powerful enough to effectively combat destroyers or larger warships.[3]

Some Vorpostenboote (and submarine chasers) were given heavier AA guns and re-rated as Flakjaeger or Flakkorvetten, but the heaviest armed German AA batteries were converted old warships.[6]

During the Cold War, the German Navy planned to use Vorpostenboote as part of its wartime strategy, in squadrons 122 and 124 of the Navy.[clarification needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Hart, p.233
  2. ^ Campbell, p.93
  3. ^ a b c "Kriegsmarine; Vorpostenboot". Retrieved 4 January 2008.
  4. ^ a b Hart, p.234
  5. ^ "Vorpostenboot; statistic". Retrieved 5 January 2008.
  6. ^ Gardiner and Brown p58


  • Derek Hart - Seas Aflame Robert Lenthart, 2005 ISBN 0-595-37983-4
  • John P. Campbell - Dieppe Revisited: A Documentary Investigation Routledge, 1993 ISBN 0-7146-3496-4
  • Robert Gardiner, David K. Brown - The Eclipse of the Big Gun : The Warship 1906-1945 Conway, 2004 ISBN 0-85177-953-0