R boat

The R boats (räumboote in German, meaning minesweeper) were a group of small naval vessels built as minesweepers for the Kriegsmarine (German navy) before and during the Second World War. They were used for several purposes during the war, and were also used post-war by the German Mine Sweeping Administration for clearing naval mines.

Aldebaran class R boat
Class overview
Name: Räumboote or Minenräumboote
Builders: Abeking & Rasmussen


German Mine Sweeping Administration
General characteristics
Type: Minesweeper
Displacement: 160 t (max)
Length: 41.1 m (134 ft 10 in)
Beam: 5.80 m (19 ft 0 in)
Draught: 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)
Propulsion: 2x MAN diesel engines; 1,836 hp
Speed: 20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Range: 1,100 NM (2,000 km)
Complement: up to 38

Operational use

A total of 424 boats were built for the Kriegsmarine before and during World War II. The German Navy used them in every theatre including the Baltic, Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In addition to its designed use as minesweepers, these boats were used for convoy escort, coastal patrol, minelaying and air-sea rescue.

About 140 R boats survived the war and these were distributed amongst the Allies. Some were used by the German Mine Sweeping Administration (GMSA) to clear western Europe of naval mines. Twenty-four boats were transferred back to the post-war German Navy, the Bundesmarine, in 1956 and were used until the late 1960s. An unusual feature of these ships is the use of Voith Schneider Propellers on approximately one quarter of the boats for extra maneuverability.

Additionally, dozens of captured vessels from France, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy were used as foreign R-boats (R-boote Ausland) and were designated with RA-, RH- and RD- prefixes. A further 8 coastal motor fishing boats were designated as auxiliary R-boats and named R111-R118 in the 11th R-boat flotilla.

R boat classes

Class Boats in class Displacement Length Builders[1] Notes
R1 R1–R16 60 long tons (61 t) 26 m Lürssen, Bremen-Vegesack
Abeking & Rasmussen, Lemwerder
Schlichting, Travemünde
Built 1929–34[2]
R17 R17–R24 115 tons 37 m Schlichting, Travemünde,
Abeking & Rasmussen
Built 1934–38[3]
R25 R25–R40 110 tons 35.4 m Abeking & Rasmussen
Schlichting, Travemünde
Built 1938–39[3]
R41 R41–R129 125 tons 37.8 m Abeking & Rasmussen
Schlichting, Travemünde
Built 1939–43
R130 R130–150 150 tons 41.1 m Abeking & Rasmussen Built 1943–44[4]
R151 R151–217 125 tons 35.4 m Built 1940–43
R218 R218–300 140 tons 39.2 m Built 1943–45, R291–300 unfinished at the end of the war
R301 R301–312 160 tons 41 m Built 1942–45, two 533 mm torpedo tubes added
R401 R401–448 140 tons 39.2 m Launched 1943–45 mostly not completed at end of the war

R boat units

In the inter-war years and during the Second World War, a total of twenty Räumboots-Flottille (German for "Minesweeper Flotillas") were created. While most were dissolved late in the war or after the German surrender, a few were kept for use by the German Mine Sweeping Administration (GMSA) and dissolved post-war. An additional flotilla was created in the immediate post-war, also for use by the GMSA.[5]

See also



  1. Lenton 1975, pp. 330–331.
  2. Lenton 1975, p. 319.
  3. Lenton 1975, p. 320.
  4. Lenton 1975, p. 321.
  5. "Räumboots-Flottillen". Lexikon der Wehrmacht, Räumboots-Flottillen (in German). Andreas Altenburger (webmaster). Retrieved 2014-05-04.


  • Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946
  • Hervieux, Pierre "German Motor Minesweepers at War 1939–1945" in Warship 2002–2003, Conway's Maritime Press
  • Lenton, H. T. German Warships of the Second World War. London: Macdonald and Jane's, 1975. ISBN 0356-04661-3.

Online sources

Further reading

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