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Convoy

Convoy

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A convoy is a group of vehicle
Vehicle
A vehicle is a device that is designed or used to transport people or cargo. Most often vehicles are manufactured, such as bicycles, cars, motorcycles, trains, ships, boats, and aircraft....

s, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.

Age of Sail


Naval convoys have been used for hundreds of years, and examples of merchant ships/cars traveling under naval protection have been traced back to the 12th Century. The use of organized naval convoys dates from when ships began to be separated into specialist classes and national navies were established.

By the French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

 of the late 18th century, effective naval
Naval warfare
Naval warfare is combat in and on seas, oceans, or any other major bodies of water such as large lakes and wide rivers.-History:Mankind has fought battles on the sea for more than 3,000 years. Land warfare would seem, initially, to be irrelevant and entirely removed from warfare on the open ocean,...

 convoy tactics
Naval tactics
Naval tactics is the collective name for methods of engaging and defeating an enemy ship or fleet in battle at sea during naval warfare, the naval equivalent of military tactics on land....

 had been developed to ward off pirates and privateer
Privateer
A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. Privateering was a way of mobilizing armed ships and sailors without having to spend public money or commit naval officers...

s. Some convoys contained several hundred merchant ships. The most enduring system of convoys were the Spanish treasure fleet
Spanish treasure fleet
The Spanish treasure fleets was a convoy system adopted by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790...

s, that sailed from the 1520s until 1790.

When merchant ships sailed independently, a privateer could cruise a shipping lane and capture ships as they passed. Ships sailing in convoy presented a much smaller target: a convoy was no more likely to be found than a single ship. Even if the privateer found a convoy and the wind was favourable for an attack, it could hope to capture only a handful of ships before the rest managed to escape, and a small escort of warships could easily thwart it. As a result of the convoy system's effectiveness, wartime insurance premiums were consistently lower for ships which sailed in convoys.

Many naval battles in the Age of Sail
Age of Sail
The Age of Sail was the period in which international trade and naval warfare were dominated by sailing ships, lasting from the 16th to the mid 19th century...

 were fought around convoys, including:
  • The Battle of Portland
    Battle of Portland
    The naval Battle of Portland, or Three Days' Battle took place during 28 February-2 March 1653 , during the First Anglo-Dutch War, when the fleet of the Commonwealth of England under General at Sea Robert Blake was attacked by a fleet of the Dutch Republic under Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp...

     (1653)
  • The Battle of Ushant
    Battle of Ushant
    Battle of Ushant may refer to:*Battle of Ushant , fought west of Ushant, a large but inconclusive engagement in the American War of Independence*Battle of Ushant , a convoy battle, also during the American War of Independence...

     (1781)
  • The Battle of Dogger Bank
    Battle of Dogger Bank (1781)
    The naval Battle of the Dogger Bank took place on 5 August 1781 during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, part of the American War of Independence, in the North Sea...

     (1781)
  • The Glorious First of June (1794)
  • The Battle of Pulo Aura
    Battle of Pulo Aura
    The Battle of Pulo Aura was a minor naval engagement of the Napoleonic Wars, fought on 14 February 1804, in which a large squadron of Honourable East India Company East Indiamen, powerful and well armed merchant ships, intimidated, drove off and chased a powerful French naval squadron...

     (1804)


By the end of the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 had in place a sophisticated convoy system to protect merchant ships. Losses of ships traveling out of convoy were so high that no merchant ship was allowed to sail unescorted.

World War I



In the early 20th century, the dreadnought
HMS Dreadnought (1906)
HMS Dreadnought was a battleship of the British Royal Navy that revolutionised naval power. Her entry into service in 1906 represented such a marked advance in naval technology that her name came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships, the "dreadnoughts", as well as the class of...

 changed the balance of power in convoy battles. Steaming faster than merchant ships and firing at long ranges, a single battleship
Battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

 could destroy many ships in a convoy before the others could scatter over the horizon. To protect a convoy against a capital ship required providing it with an escort of another capital ship, at very high cost.

Battleships were the main reason that the British Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 did not adopt convoy tactics at the start of the first Battle of the Atlantic in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. But the German capital ships had been bottled up in the North Sea, and the main threat to shipping came from U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s. From a tactical point of view, World War I–era submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s were similar to privateers in the age of sail: only a little faster than the merchant ships they were attacking, and capable of sinking only a small number of vessels in a convoy because of their limited supply of torpedoes and shells. The Admiralty took a long time to respond to this change in the tactical position, and in April 1917 convoy was trialled, before being officially introduced in the Atlantic in September 1917.

Other arguments against convoy were raised. The primary issue was the loss of productivity, as merchant shipping in convoy has to travel at the speed of the slowest vessel in the convoy and spent a considerable amount of time in ports waiting for the next convoy to depart. Further, large convoys were thought to overload port resources.

Actual analysis of shipping losses in World War I disproved all these arguments, at least so far as they applied to transatlantic and other long-distance traffic. Ships sailing in convoys were far less likely to be sunk, even when not provided with any escort at all. The loss of productivity due to convoy delays was small compared with the loss of productivity due to ships being sunk. Ports could deal more easily with convoys because they tended to arrive on schedule and so loading and unloading could be planned.

In his book On the Psychology of Military Incompetence
Military incompetence
Military incompetence refers to incompetencies and failures of military organisations, whether through incompetent individuals or through a flawed institutional culture....

, Norman Dixon suggested that the hostility towards convoys in the naval establishment were in part caused by a (sub-conscious) perception of convoys as effeminating, due to warships having to care for civilian merchant ships. Convoy duty also exposes the escorting warships to the sometimes hazardous conditions of the North Atlantic, with only rare occurrences of visible achievement (i.e. fending off a submarine assault).

World War II



The British adopted a convoy system, initially voluntary and later compulsory for almost all merchant ships, the moment that World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 was declared. Each convoy consisted of between 30 and 70 mostly unarmed merchant ships.

Canadian, and later American, supplies were vital for Britain to continue its war effort. The course of the second Battle of the Atlantic
Second Battle of the Atlantic
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign in World War II, running from 1939 to the defeat of Germany in 1945. At its core was the Allied naval blockade of Germany, announced the day after the declaration of war, and Germany's subsequent counter-blockade. It was at its...

 was a long struggle as the Germans developed anti-convoy tactics and the British developed counter-tactics to thwart the Germans.

The power of a heavily armed warship against a convoy was dramatically illustrated by the fate of Convoy HX-84
Convoy HX-84
HX-84 was a North Atlantic convoy of the HX series during the battle of the Atlantic in World War II. It consisted of 38 merchant ships which sailed eastbound from Halifax, Nova Scotia, for Liverpool, England, on 28 October 1940 and was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay-The...

. On November 5, 1940, the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer encountered the convoy. Maiden, Trewellard, Kenbame Head, Beaverford, and Fresno were quickly sunk, and other ships were damaged. Only the sacrifice of the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Jervis Bay
HMS Jervis Bay (F40)
HMS Jervis Bay was a British liner later converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser, pennant F40. She was launched in 1922 and sunk on 5 November 1940 by the German pocket battleship ....

 and failing light allowed the rest of the convoy to escape.

The power of a battleship in protecting a convoy was also dramatically illustrated when the German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, carrying 11" guns, came upon an eastbound British convoy of 41 ships, HX-106 in the North Atlantic on February 8, 1941. When they noticed the presence in the escort of the old battleship, HMS Ramillies
HMS Ramillies (07)
HMS Ramillies was a Revenge-class battleship of the Royal Navy, named after the Battle of Ramillies. The ship is notable for having served in both the First and Second World Wars...

, they fled the scene, rather than risk damage from her 15" guns.

The enormous number of vessels involved and the frequency of engagements meant that statistical techniques could be applied to evaluate tactics: an early use of operational research in war.

Prior to overt participation in WWII, the US was actively engaged in convoys with the British in the North Atlantic Ocean, primarily supporting British activities in Iceland. This was discussed by John T. Flynn in his 1944 work "The Truth About Pearl Harbor"

On the entry of the U.S. into World War II, the U.S. Navy decided not to instigate convoys on eastern seaboard of the U.S. Fleet Admiral Ernest King
Ernest King
Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King was Commander in Chief, United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations during World War II. As COMINCH, he directed the United States Navy's operations, planning, and administration and was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the U.S...

 ignored advice on this subject from the British as he had formed a poor opinion of the Royal Navy early in his career. The result was what the U-boat crews called their second happy time
Second happy time
The Second Happy Time , also known among German submarine commanders as the "American shooting season" was the informal name for a phase in the Second Battle of the Atlantic during which Axis submarines attacked merchant shipping along the east coast of North America...

, which did not end until convoys were introduced.

The German anti-convoy tactics
Naval tactics in the Age of Steam
The development of the steam ironclad firing explosive shells in the mid 19th century rendered sailing tactics obsolete. New tactics were developed for the big-gun Dreadnought battleships. The mine, torpedo, submarine and aircraft posed new threats, each of which had to be countered, leading to...

 included:
  • long-range surveillance aircraft to find convoys;
  • strings of U-boats (wolfpacks) that could be directed onto a convoy by radio;
  • breaking the British naval codes;
  • improved anti-ship weapons, including magnetic detonators and sonic homing torpedoes.


The Allied responses included:
  • air raids
    Airstrike
    An air strike is an attack on a specific objective by military aircraft during an offensive mission. Air strikes are commonly delivered from aircraft such as fighters, bombers, ground attack aircraft, attack helicopters, and others...

     on the U-boat bases at Brest
    Brest, France
    Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

     and La Rochelle
    La Rochelle
    La Rochelle is a city in western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department.The city is connected to the Île de Ré by a bridge completed on 19 May 1988...

    ;
  • converted merchant ships, e.g., Merchant aircraft carrier
    Merchant aircraft carrier
    Merchant aircraft carriers were bulk cargo ships with minimal aircraft handling facilities, used during World War II by Britain and the Netherlands as an interim measure to supplement British and United States-built escort carriers in providing an anti-submarine function for convoys...

    s, Catapult Aircraft Merchantman
    CAM ship
    CAM ships were World War II-era British merchant ships used in convoys as an emergency stop-gap until sufficient escort carriers became available. CAM is an acronym for catapult aircraft merchantman. A CAM ship was equipped with a rocket-propelled catapult launching a single Hawker Sea Hurricane,...

     and armed merchant cruisers
  • more convoy escorts, including cheaply produced corvette
    Corvette
    A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, originally smaller than a frigate and larger than a coastal patrol craft or fast attack craft , although many recent designs resemble frigates in size and role...

    s, frigate
    Frigate
    A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

    s, and escort carrier
    Escort aircraft carrier
    The escort aircraft carrier or escort carrier, also called a "jeep carrier" or "baby flattop" in the USN or "Woolworth Carrier" by the Royal Navy, was a small and slow type of aircraft carrier used by the British Royal Navy , the Imperial Japanese Navy and Imperial Japanese Army Air Force, and the...

    s;
  • improved anti-submarine weapons such as the hedgehog
    Hedgehog (weapon)
    The Hedgehog was an anti-submarine weapon developed by the Royal Navy during World War II, that was deployed on convoy escort warships such as destroyers to supplement the depth charge. The weapon worked by firing a number of small spigot mortar bombs from spiked fittings...

    ;
  • long-range aircraft patrols to find U-boats;
  • larger convoys, allowing more escorts per convoy as well as the extraction of enough escorts to form support groups that operated in defence of convoys that faced an above-average risk of attack
  • allocating vessels to convoys according to speed, so that faster ships were less exposed.


They were also aided by
  • improved sonar
    Sonar
    Sonar is a technique that uses sound propagation to navigate, communicate with or detect other vessels...

     (ASDIC
    Sonar
    Sonar is a technique that uses sound propagation to navigate, communicate with or detect other vessels...

    ) allowing escort vessels to better track U-boats;
  • breaking the German naval cipher
    Enigma machine
    An Enigma machine is any of a family of related electro-mechanical rotor cipher machines used for the encryption and decryption of secret messages. Enigma was invented by German engineer Arthur Scherbius at the end of World War I...

    ;
  • improved radar
    Radar
    Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

     and radio direction finding allowing planes to find and destroy U-boats;


During World War II, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese vessels rarely traveled in convoys. As a result, their merchant fleet was largely destroyed by Allied submarines
Allied submarines in the Pacific War
Allied submarines were used extensively during the Pacific War and were a key contributor to the defeat of the Empire of Japan. During the war, submarines of the United States Navy were responsible for 55% of Japan's merchant marine losses; other Allied navies added to the toll. The war against...

.

Many naval battles of World War II were fought around convoys, including:
  • Convoy PQ-16
    Convoy PQ-16
    Convoy PQ 16 was an Arctic convoy sent from Great Britain by the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during World War II. It sailed in May 1942, reaching the Soviet northern ports after five days of air attacks that left eight ships sunk and two damaged. 25 ships arrived safely.-Background:In...

    , May 1942
  • Convoy PQ-17
    Convoy PQ-17
    PQ 17 was the code name for an Allied World War II convoy in the Arctic Ocean. In July 1942, the Arctic convoys suffered a significant defeat when Convoy PQ 17 lost 24 of its 35 merchant ships during a series of heavy enemy daylight attacks which lasted a week. On 27 June, the ships sailed...

    , June–July 1942
  • Convoy PQ-18
    Convoy PQ-18
    Convoy PQ-18 was one of the Arctic convoys sent from Britain to aid the Soviet Union in the war against Nazi Germany. The convoy departed Loch Ewe, Scotland on 2 September 1942 and arrived in Arkhangelsk on 21 September 1942....

    , September 1942
  • Operation Pedestal
    Operation Pedestal
    Operation Pedestal was a British operation to get desperately needed supplies to the island of Malta in August 1942, during the Second World War. Malta was the base from which surface ships, submarines and aircraft attacked Axis convoys carrying essential supplies to the Italian and German armies...

    , August 1942
  • The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
    Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
    The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, sometimes referred to as the Third and Fourth Battles of Savo Island, the Battle of the Solomons, The Battle of Friday the 13th, or, in Japanese sources, as the , took place from 12–15 November 1942, and was the decisive engagement in a series of naval battles...

    , November 1942
  • The Battle of the Barents Sea
    Battle of the Barents Sea
    The Battle of the Barents Sea took place on 31 December 1942 between German surface raiders and British ships escorting convoy JW 51B to Kola Inlet in the USSR. The action took place in the Barents Sea north of North Cape, Norway...

    , December 1942
  • The Battle of the Bismarck Sea
    Battle of the Bismarck Sea
    The Battle of the Bismarck Sea took place in the South West Pacific Area during World War II. During the course of the battle, aircraft of the U.S. 5th Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force attacked a Japanese convoy that was carrying troops to Lae, New Guinea...

    , March 1943


The convoy prefix indicates the route of the convoy. For example, 'PQ' would be Iceland to Northern Russia and 'QP' the return route.

Analysis



The success of convoys as an anti-submarine tactic during the world wars can be ascribed to several reasons related to u-boat capabilities, the size of the ocean and convoy escorts.

In practice, Type VII
German Type VII submarine
Type VII U-boats were the most common type of German World War II U-boat. The Type VII was based on earlier German submarine designs going back to the World War I Type UB III, designed through the Dutch dummy company Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw den Haag which was set up by Germany after...

 and Type IX U-boat
German Type IX submarine
The Type IX U-boat was designed by Germany in 1935 and 1936 as a large ocean-going submarine for sustained operations far from the home support facilities. Type IX boats were briefly used for patrols off the eastern United States in an attempt to disrupt the stream of troops and supplies bound for...

s were limited in their capabilities. Submerged speed and endurance was limited and not suited for overhauling many ships. Even a surfaced U-boat could take several hours to gain an attack position. Torpedo capacity was also restricted to around fourteen (Type VII) or 24 (Type IX), thus limiting the number of attacks that could be made, particularly when multiple firings were necessary for a single target. There was a real problem for the U-boats and their adversaries in finding each other; with a tiny proportion of the ocean in sight, without intelligence or radar, warships and even aircraft would be fortunate in coming across a submarine. The Royal Navy and later the United States Navy each took time to learn this lesson. Conversely, a U-boat's radius of vision was even smaller and had to be supplemented by regular long-range reconnaissance flights.

For both major allied navies, it had been difficult to grasp that, however large a convoy, its "footprint" (the area within which it could be spotted) was far smaller than if the individual ships had traveled independently. In other words, a submarine had less chance of finding a single convoy than if it were scattered as single ships. Moreover, once an attack had been made, the submarine would need to regain an attack position on the convoy. If, however, an attack were thwarted by escorts, even if the submarine had escaped damage, it would have to remain submerged for its own safety and might only recover its position after many hours' hard work. U-boats patrolling areas with constant and predictable flows of sea traffic, such as the United States Atlantic coast in early 1942, could dismiss a missed opportunity in the certain knowledge that another would soon present itself.

The destruction of submarines required their discovery, an improbable occurrence on aggressive patrols, by chance alone. Convoys, however, presented irresistible targets and could not be ignored. For this reason, the U-boats presented themselves as targets to the escorts with increasing possibility of destruction. In this way, the Ubootwaffe suffered severe losses, for little gain, when pressing pack attacks on well-defended convoys.

Post-World War II



The largest convoy effort since World War II was Operation Earnest Will
Operation Earnest Will
Operation Earnest Will was the U.S. military protection of Kuwaiti owned tankers from Iranian attacks in 1987 and 1988, three years into the Tanker War phase of the Iran–Iraq War. It was the largest naval convoy operation since World War II.The U.S. Navy warships that escorted the tankers, part of...

, the U.S. Navy's
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 1987–88 escort of reflagged Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

i tanker
Tanker (ship)
A tanker is a ship designed to transport liquids in bulk. Major types of tankship include the oil tanker, the chemical tanker, and the liquefied natural gas carrier.-Background:...

s in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 during the Iran–Iraq War.
In the present day, convoys are used as a tactic by navies to deter pirates off the coast of Somalia
Piracy in Somalia
Piracy off the coast of Somalia has been a threat to international shipping since the second phase of the Somali Civil War in the early 21st century...

 from capturing unarmed civilian freighters who would otherwise pose easy targets.
It seems that satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

 surveillance, aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s, cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

s and modern submarines have turned the tactical advantage decidedly in favour of the attacker. See the modern naval tactics
Modern naval tactics
The term modern naval tactics refers to tactical doctrines developed after World War II, following the final obsolescence of the battleship and the development of long-range missiles. Since there has been no major naval conflict since World War II, with the exception of the Falklands War, many of...

 article for an idea of the problems facing the defender.

Humanitarian aid convoys


The word "convoy" is also associated with groups of road vehicles being driven, mostly by volunteers, to deliver humanitarian aid
Humanitarian aid
Humanitarian aid is material or logistical assistance provided for humanitarian purposes, typically in response to humanitarian crises including natural disaster and man-made disaster. The primary objective of humanitarian aid is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity...

, supplies, and—a stated objective in some cases—"solidarity".

In the 1990s these convoys became common traveling from Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 to countries of the former Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

, in particular Bosnia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

 and Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

, to deal with the aftermath of the wars there. They also travel to countries where standards of care in institutions such as orphanages are considered low by Western European standards, such as Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

; and where other disasters have led to problems, such as around the Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

 in Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

.

The convoys are made possible partly by the relatively small geographic distances between the stable and affluent countries of Western Europe, and the areas of need in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 and, in a few cases, North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and even Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. They are often justified because although less directly cost-effective than mass freight transport, they emphasise the support of large numbers of small groups, and are quite distinct from multinational organisations such as United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 humanitarian efforts.

Truckers' convoys


The film Convoy (inspired by a 1975 song of the same name
Convoy (song)
"Convoy" is a 1975 novelty song performed by C. W. McCall that became a number-one song on both the country and pop charts in the US. Written by McCall and Chip Davis, the song spent six weeks at number one on the country charts and one week at number one on the pop charts...

) explores the camaraderie between truck driver
Truck driver
A truck driver , is a person who earns a living as the driver of a truck, usually a semi truck, box truck, or dump truck.Truck drivers provide an essential service to...

s, where the culture of the CB radio encourages truck drivers to travel in convoys.

Truckers' convoys were created as a byproduct of the 55 mph speed limit and 18-wheelers becoming the prime targets of speed traps. Most truckers had difficult schedules to keep and as a result had to maintain a speed above the posted speed limit in order to reach their destinations on time. Convoys were started so that multiple trucks could run together at a high speed with the thinking being that if they passed a speed trap the police would only be able to pull over one of the trucks in the convoy. When driving on a highway, convoys are also useful to conserve fuel by drafting.

The truckers' convoy is more similar to a caravan
Caravan (travellers)
A caravan is a group of people traveling together, often on a trade expedition. Caravans were used mainly in desert areas and throughout the Silk Road, where traveling in groups aided in defence against bandits as well as helped to improve economies of scale in trade.In historical times, caravans...

 than a military convoy.

Military convoys

  • List of convoy codes and the similar List of World War II convoys
  • Arctic convoys of World War II
    Arctic convoys of World War II
    The Arctic convoys of World War II travelled from the United Kingdom and North America to the northern ports of the Soviet Union—Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. There were 78 convoys between August 1941 and May 1945...

  • convoy commodore
    Convoy commodore
    A Convoy Commodore was the title of a civilian put in charge of the good order of the merchant ships in the British convoys used during World War II. Usually the convoy commodore was a retired naval officer or a senior merchant captain drawn from the RNVR...

  • Malta Convoys
    Malta Convoys
    The Malta Convoys were a series of Allied supply convoys that sustained the besieged island of Malta during the Mediterranean Theatre of the Second World War...

  • The 1940 destruction of convoy SC-7
    Convoy SC-7
    SC-7 was the code name for a large Allied World War II convoy of 35 merchant ships and six escorts which sailed eastbound from Sydney, Nova Scotia for Liverpool and other United Kingdom ports on 5 October 1940. While crossing the Atlantic, the convoy was intercepted by one of the German Navy's...

  • Q-ship
    Q-ship
    Q-ships, also known as Q-boats, Decoy Vessels, Special Service Ships, or Mystery Ships, were heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks. This gave Q-ships the chance to open fire and sink them...

  • Anti-submarine warfare
    Anti-submarine warfare
    Anti-submarine warfare is a branch of naval warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, or other submarines to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines....


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