General Characteristics

Armed merchants is a term that has come to mean a merchant ship equipped with guns, usually for defensive purposes, either by design or after the fact.These ships are rare in BSC and some people consider it useless.They are mostly armed with small guns such as 12 cm Guns,Type 96mm AA Guns or rarely Mk 45 5 inch Guns.Or torpedos and mines.The weapons are hidden so it is not been seen by enemy,usually U-Boats.

Also,to preserve their cover,they act neturally and doesen't fire their guns or salute unless under attacked.

Armed Merchants in History

Both the Spanish and United States Navy used auxiliary cruisers during the Spanish–American War of 1898.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1985-074-27, Hilfskreuzer Kormoran

InWorld War I, too, American auxiliary cruisers fought several engagements with German U-boats.

The German practice was to arm merchantmen with hidden weapons and use them as commerce raiders. An auxiliary cruiser — Hilfskreuzer or Handels-Stör-Kreuzer (HSK) — usually approached her target under a false flag with guns concealed, and sometimes with her appearance altered with fake funnels and masts and often a fake paint scheme. The victim was thus engaged at point-blank range and had no chance to escape.

In World War II, Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine operated ten very successful auxiliary cruisers, ranging in tonnage from 3,860 to 9,400; typically these vessels were equipped with:

  • Floatplanes
  • 6 in (15 cm) guns
  • Smaller armaments (typically hidden away behind specially designed and hinged bulwarks, or beneath fake deckhouses and/or skylights)
  • Torpedoes
  • Mines