During the Second World War, more than 2,000 Coastal Forces boats were commissioned for service.* However, these little ships were not built to last. Built of wood, they were designed to serve a purpose for the duration of the war, with little thought as to the aftermath. Although later in the war many boats were built with a view to selling them for civilian service at the cessation of hostilities (the Royal Army Service Corps River Class fast motor boats, built by British Power Boat, and the MFVs, literally designed as motor fishing vessels being typical examples), the MTBs and MGBs were primarily designed as boats of war.
Hundreds were lost between 1939 and 1945, as a result of enemy action or the hazards of the sea. At the cessation of hostilities the vast majority of the remainder were sold, returned to the US or broken up. This article in Dorset Life shows the fate of many of them.
But a few of them have proved hardier than their designers may have expected. Some have been preserved or restored, and a great many have been put to use as houseboats. In fact there are more surviving Coastal Forces craft than you may expect.
Use the map below to see where many of them can be found today. Clicking on the box in the top left corner will reveal the full list of 39 boats and the box in the right corner of the map will make it full screen.
The map above deals only with Second World War Royal Navy Coastal Forces craft found in Britain. However, there are dozens of craft from other branches of service, as well as post-war Coastal Forces craft, still to be found around Britain and the globe. A lot of these details are uncovered during research and it would be a shame not to share it. it The map below will be updated as and when information about them is uncovered.
Do you know of any other surviving Coastal Forces craft? Please get in touch so that they can be added.
*Approx 800 ‘short’ MTBs and MGBs, some 600 Fairmiles, 230 Dog Boats, 450 HDMLs and 9 SGBs.
© Spitfires of the Sea