Coastal Defence Ships

One aspect of naval warfare that has always interested me is coastal defence, whether it be land-based or specially-designed coastal defence ships. The Royal Navy did build some armoured coastal defence ships during the later part of the nineteenth and early years of the twentieth centuries, but it was the Baltic navies that built significant numbers of these ships.

(I have always considered that the monitors built and used by the Royal Navy during the First World War were coastal offence ships rather than coastal defence ships, but that the main difference between the two types of ship was the role for which they were originally designed rather than the use that they were actually put to.)

These Baltic armoured coastal defence ships included:


  • Tordenskjold-class (1897)
    • Tordenskjold
    • Harald Haarfagre
  • Eidsvold-class (1899)
    • Eidsvold
    • Norge
  • Bjørgvin-class (1914)
    • Bjørgvin
    • Nidaros

Note: Both of the last two ships were requisitioned by the Royal Navy during World War I whilst under construction, and served as the monitors HMS Glatton and HMS Gorgon


  • Svea-class (1886)
    • Svea
    • Göta
    • Thule
  • Oden-class (1896)
    • Oden
    • Thor
    • Niord
  • Dristigheten-class (1900)
    • Dristigheten
  • Äran-class (1902)
    • Äran
    • Wasa
    • Tapperheten
    • Manligheten
  • Oscar II-class (1905)
    • Oscar II
  • Sverige-class (1917)
    • Sverige
    • Gustav V
    • Drottning Victoria


  • Herluf Trolle-class (1899)
    • Herluf Trolle
    • Olfert Fischer
    • Peder Skram


  • Admiral Ushakov-class (1895)
    • Admiral Ushakov
    • Admiral Seniavin
    • General Admiral Graf Apraksin


  • Väinämöinen-class (1931)
    • Ilmarinen
    • Väinämöinen

I must admit that a small-scale naval campaign in the Baltic using these ships (plus lighter craft such as torpedo boats and destroyers) appeals to me. As to which of them is my favourite armoured coastal defence ship … well that would be a difficult decision to make, although the Finnish Väinämöinen-class would certainly be on the short-list.


4 Comments on “Coastal Defence Ships”

  1. Conrad Kinch says:

    Suitable for a KS or something with the portable wargame perhaps?

  2. joppy says:

    there's a book on the history of coastal defence vessels, “From Monitor to Missile Boat” just full of lovely pictures; and Paper Shipwright has a number of card models in his range.

  3. Conrad Kinch,

    Very suitable indeed.

    All the best,


  4. Joppy,

    It is an excellent book, and I have a copy on my bookshelves.

    All the best,


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