Oronegro has always been a naval power. Right from the start it was the ships and boats of the settlers that enabled them to venture into the interior up Oronegro's many rivers and connected the many coastal settlements that were established. Roads were later built connecting these places, and later still railways also linked the growing towns (Oronegro being the first to both build steam engines and railways - a story for another day). However, water remained the main link between the settlements and these links needed constant protection.
|El San Francisco is typical of the many patrol ships in the Oronegrean navy|
Almost from the start Oronegrean ships found themselves attacked, by hostile tribes on the rivers and by pirates along the coast. In response a series of ships were built to counter the threat. These included small vessels designed almost exclusively for use on shallow rivers and estuaries. These ships were often armed with only 2 light cannon or some swivel guns or no guns at all, relying on her crew to use their weapons to fight any foes they encountered.
|The River going craft had shallow drafts to enable them to go in shallow waters or to land on beaches or river banks|
Some threats however could not be dealt with by these small vessels. This was especially true along the coasts and shipping routes. Out here the river craft were, by design, less suitable and a different type of ship was needed. While a variety of naval ships could be used, such as frigates, cutters and sloops, it was decided that specially designed patrol shops would be made. These vessels were often armed with between 6-12 cannon and swivels. Not enough to take on other naval ships or larger pirate vessels but fire-power wasn't the focus.
|Pirates were the main threat in these waters, but sometimes merchant ships would run into trouble and need assistance.|
These ships were able to sail in quite rough seas, were fast and had shallow drafts (making them suitable for use on larger rivers). Although their primary task was to defend shipping lanes and coastal settlements they also served other roles. First amongst these was as search and rescue craft. Because of their speed they were sent out after storms to look for any survivors of wreaks, either clinging to floating debris or washed up on the coast. Another role was transporting important cargo securely. Quite often this meant that letters and parcels being sent during times of war were taken by these ships. In a similar vein high value individuals may also be transported. Such as officers being sent to or brought from the front lines.
|Storms were deadly, sinking many ships. Oronegrean patrol ships looked for survivors often with little success.|
These patrol ships operated in conjunction with the navy but were distinct from it. Often they were part of the Oronegrean Marines (which also operated in tandem with the navy.). This was because of the fact they were used for riverine and estuarine warfare which was considered the marines domain. This relationship wasn't permanent and the patrol ships were placed under the command of the navy and a distinct branch at others. It was this distinct branch - The coast guard - that would eventually become a permanent fixture of the Oronegrean state and carry on the legacy of the patrol ships until the current day.