Initially developed to destroy naval mines, the paravane would be strung out and streamed behind the towing ship. If its wings or the tow cable snagged the cable securing a mine then the mine and the paravane would be brought together and the mine exploded harmlessly. The cable could then be retrieved and a replacement paravane fitted.
Explosive paravanes were developed by Burney as an anti-submarine weapon, as the "high speed sweep". It was a paravane, containing of TNT towed by an armoured electric cable. The warhead was fired automatically as soon as the submarine touched the paravane or towing cable, or by hand from the ship's bridge. It could be quickly deployed into the water, could be towed up to 25 knots, and recovery if unsuccessful was reasonably simple.
A paravane is also a piece of trawling / fishing equipment that is essentially a towed, streamlined body similar in appearance to a military paravane, but equipped with fishing tackle.
A paravane is also a form of stabilization system for slow, single hull boats such as fishing trawlers. It reduces roll and provides a more comfortable ride. The underwater "glider", also known as a "fish" dives easily, but flattens out as it is pulled up providing resistance and thus reducing the roll period of the boat. Usually tow depth is about . In general boats need to be designed with paravanes in mind because they need strong mount points. Sailboats do not need paravanes since the wind pushes them on their side and keeps them from rolling. Most powerboats do not need paravanes because they skim on top of the water (planing hull) at such high speeds the water pressure forces keep the boat from rolling. Boats that efficiently plow through the water (displacement hulls) usually roll uncomfortably from side to side in rougher conditions and they can benefit from paravanes.