Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Convoy Definition:

A group of supply ships travelling under the escort of warships.

"A convoy", it is suggested in the 1992 edition of the Encyclopedia of International Law, "means a group of merchant ships, assimilated to a nautical unitwith an escortof warships for the putpose of protection."

Historically, continues that same publication, convoy vessels enjoyed a limited form of protection from attack:

"After the end of the Napolronic wars, the convoy system did not play a prominent part in the practice of sea warfare nd it was contended that it was obsolete.

At the present time, convoy vessels are fair game, considered to be enemy warships "subject to all the risks of military operations and may thus be destroyed." (Encyclopedia, op. cit.).

More problematic was the situation of convoy vessels under the protection of neutral warships of a neutral state.1


  • Macalister-Smith, Peter, Assidtant Editor, Encyclopedia of International Law (London: North-Holland publishers, 1992), Volume 1, at pages 825-826.
  • NOTE 1: Re the Maria, 1 C. Rob. 340, 1799)

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