Navies of landlocked countries

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A landlocked navy is a naval force operated by a country which does not have a coastline. While such countries are obviously unable to develop a seagoing blue-water navy, they may still deploy armed forces on major lakes or rivers.

There are a number of reasons a landlocked country may choose to maintain a navy. If a river or lake forms a national border, countries may feel the need to protect and patrol that border with a military force. In some regions, roads may be unreliable or circuitous, and a river or lake may be the easiest way to move military forces around the country. Sometimes, possession of a body of water may actually be contested – for example, countries around the landlocked Caspian Sea have different views of how ownership should be divided.

Patrol boats of various types are the most common craft among landlocked navies. Some landlocked navies possess troop or vehicle transports, allowing ground forces to cross or travel along a lake or river.

Separate force[edit]

Ethiopia established a navy in 1955 but became a landlocked country upon the independence of Eritrea in 1991. Despite this, the Ethiopian Navy survived until 1996, operating from foreign ports.

Landlocked countries that have navies today include:

Non-independent units[edit]

Retired AM-21 Százhalombatta minesweeper in Budapest, other Yugoslav-made Nestin MS-25 minesweepers still used in Hungary

Other countries may operate water-based military forces without actually establishing an independent navy—instead, responsibility may be given to a branch of a different service, often the army.

Examples of landlocked countries which do this include:

Lacustrine, riverine and landlocked naval elements of non-landlocked countries[edit]

Naturally, the operation of military forces in lakes and rivers is not limited to landlocked countries – many states maintain such forces (e.g. Russia's Caspian Flotilla) in addition to their seagoing navy. River-based forces are often referred to as brown-water navies, and may or may not be part of the same organisation as the seagoing navy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The Caspian is connected to the Black Sea via the Volga and Don rivers and a linking 60 km canal, which route is navigable by seagoing vessels of up to 5,000 gross tons
  2. ^ Volga-Don Shipping Canal
  3. ^ Fuerza Naval Boliviana (Spanish)
  4. ^ Warships of the Hungarian Defence Forces
  5. ^ Minesweepers on the River Danube, commemorating the Battle of Nándorfehérvár (1456)
  6. ^ Ship register of Hungary
  7. ^ River Flotilla