A Motor Launch History

This section provides what I hope is a good overview of the history of the conception, deployment, and accomplishments of the Motor Launch. This includes service during World War I, the occupation along the Rhine following the Armistice, expeditions into Russia during the civil war of 1919, and civilian "service" during the decades following the war.

A "Mosquito Fleet" - An Historical Context for the ML and the Auxiliary Patrol
It is useful to understand a bit of the background resulting in the perceived need for a new type of naval craft for a new type of naval warfare. The Motor Launch was deployed for only three years during World War I. In that time it became ubiquitous - being stationed wherever there was water enough to float.

Early in the war, and as something of an ongoing discussion, questions were raised in the pages of The Yachting Monthly—official magazine of the RNVR during the war—regarding the design, construction and cost of the ML. No history would be complete without this perspective.

The Auxiliary Patrol - ML Deployment During the War
Debates in editorial form appeared in the British yachting press for years leading up to the war, arguing the need for what evolved into the Auxiliary Patrol. Initially disdained by the regular navy, with its large contingent of volunteer amateur yachtsmen, the Auxiliary Patrol grew to be indispensible in the day-to-day operations of the Royal Navy—with occasional flashes of brilliance deserving of their place in the history books. The ML played no small part in this evolution.

ML's in Post-War Service - Primarily in 1919 and the early 1920's
In 1919, after the armistace, the Royal Navy sent flotillas of ML's into Europe as part of the occupation and reconstruction. England also quickly became involved in the ongoing revolution in Russia and a number of ML's were deployed to Russia in company with other craft of the Royal Navy. Others were purchased by the fledgling Irish Free State for use in patroling home waters.

The Motor Launch as Pleasure Yacht
By the end of World War I there were more than 700 ML's in existence among various allied navies. Many of these were quickly decommissoned and sold out of service. Magazines ran articles about the conversion of the ML's to pleasure craft. ML's became houseboats, pleasure yachts, one still survives to this day. This is perhaps the least-known aspect of the life of the Motor Launch and promises to be an exciting avenue to explore.