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A small lightly armed vessel which used to be part of most navies for a variety of war or policing duties, particularly in rivers and on shallow coasts which precluded the use of larger warships. Many of the river gunboats during the 19th century, used for police duties in such places as the Yangtze River and the Persian Gulf, were stern-wheeled paddle steamers so that they could operate in areas where the depth of water was very shallow.

Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.

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