‘Had we used the Navy’s bare fist instead of its gloved hand...’ - The Absence of Coastal Assault Vessels in the Royal Navy by 1914

  • Howard J. Fuller


This paper will briefly chart how and why the Royal Navy chose not to develop coastal assault vessels—namely heavy-gunned, light-draught monitors specially designed to absorb damage from modern mines or torpedoes—until well after the First World War began. Churchill and Fisher envisaged these particular men-of-war as the floating equivalent of tanks, both ‘intended to restore to the stronger power an effective means of the offensive’. Only when they were finally launched and deployed in sufficient numbers could serious plans for projecting power directly against the German coastline be safely considered. So where were the monitors before the war?