The Info List - Naval Warfare

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Naval warfare
Naval warfare
is combat in and on the sea, the ocean, or any other battlespace involving major body of water such as a large lake or wide river.


1 History

1.1 Mediterranean
Sea 1.2 Europe, West Asia and North Africa 1.3 East, South and Southeast Asia

1.3.1 Ancient China

1.4 Early modern 1.5 Late Modern

1.5.1 18th Century 1.5.2 19th Century 1.5.3 20th Century

2 Naval history
Naval history
of nations and empires 3 See also 4 Notes 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

History[edit] Mankind has fought battles on the sea for more than 3,000 years. Even in the interior of large landmasses, transportation before the advent of extensive railroads was largely dependent upon rivers, canals, and other navigable waterways. The latter were crucial in the development of the modern world in the United Kingdom, the Low Countries
Low Countries
and northern Germany, for they enabled the bulk movement of goods and raw materials without which the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
would not have occurred. Prior to 1750, materials largely moved by river barge or sea vessels. Thus armies, with their exorbitant needs for food, ammunition and fodder, were tied to the river valleys throughout the ages. The oceanic influences throughout pre-recorded history (Homeric Legends, e.g. Troy), and classical works such as The Odyssey underscore the past influences. The Persian Empire
Persian Empire
– united and strong – could not prevail against the might of the Athenian fleet combined with that of lesser city states in several attempts to conquer the Greek city states. Phoenicia's and Egypt's power, Carthage's and even Rome's largely depended upon control of the seas. So too did the Venetian Republic
Venetian Republic
dominate Italy's city states, thwart the Ottoman Empire, and dominate commerce on the Silk Road
Silk Road
and the Mediterranean
in general for centuries. For three centuries, the Northmen (commonly called Vikings) raided and pillaged and went where they willed, far into central Russia
and the Ukraine, and even to distant Constantinople
(both via the Black Sea
tributaries and through the Strait of Gibraltar). Many sea battles through history also provide a reliable source of shipwrecks for underwater archaeology. A major example is the exploration of the wrecks of various warships in the Pacific
Ocean. Mediterranean

Scene from an Egyptian temple wall shows Ramesses' combined land and sea victory in the Battle
of the Delta.

The first dateable recorded sea battle occurred about 1210 BC: Suppiluliuma II, king of the Hittites, defeated a fleet from Cyprus, and burned their ships at sea. In the Battle
of the Delta, the Ancient Egyptians defeated the Sea Peoples in a sea battle circa 1175 BC.[1] As recorded on the temple walls of the mortuary temple of pharaoh Ramesses III
Ramesses III
at Medinet Habu, this repulsed a major sea invasion near the shores of the eastern Nile Delta using a naval ambush and archers firing from both ships and shore. Assyrian reliefs from the 8th century BC show Phoenician fighting ships, with two levels of oars, fighting men on a sort of bridge or deck above the oarsmen, and some sort of ram protruding from the bow. No written mention of strategy or tactics seems to have survived. Josephus Flavius (Antiquities IX 283-287) reports a naval battle between Tyre and the king of Assyria
who was aided by the other cities in Phoenicia. The battle took place off the shores of Tyre. Although the Tyrian fleet was much smaller in size, the Tyrians defeated their enemies.

An ancient Greek trireme vessel

The Greeks of Homer
just used their ships as transport for land armies, but in 664 BC there is a mention of a battle at sea between Corinth and its colony city Corcyra. Ancient descriptions of the Persian Wars
Persian Wars
were the first to feature large-scale naval operations, not just sophisticated fleet engagements with dozens of triremes on each side, but combined land-sea operations. It seems unlikely that all this was the product of a single mind or even of a generation; most likely the period of evolution and experimentation was simply not recorded by history. After some initial battles while subjugating the Greeks of the Ionian coast, the Persians determined to invade Greece
proper. Themistocles of Athens
estimated that the Greeks would be outnumbered by the Persians on land, but that Athens
could protect itself by building a fleet (the famous "wooden walls"), using the profits of the silver mines at Laurium
to finance them. The first Persian campaign, in 492 BC, was aborted because the fleet was lost in a storm, but the second, in 490 BC, captured islands in the Aegean Sea
before landing on the mainland near Marathon. Attacks by the Greek armies repulsed these. The third Persian campaign in 480 BC, under Xerxes I of Persia, followed the pattern of the second in marching the army via the Hellespont
while the fleet paralleled them offshore. Near Artemisium, in the narrow channel between the mainland and Euboea, the Greek fleet held off multiple assaults by the Persians, the Persians breaking through a first line, but then being flanked by the second line of ships. But the defeat on land at Thermopylae forced a Greek withdrawal, and Athens
evacuated its population to nearby Salamis Island. The ensuing Battle
of Salamis was one of the decisive engagements of history. Themistocles
trapped the Persians in a channel too narrow for them to bring their greater numbers to bear, and attacked them vigorously, in the end causing the loss of 200 Persian ships vs 40 Greek. Aeschylus
wrote a play about the defeat, The Persians, which was performed in a Greek theatre competition a few years after the battle. It is the oldest known surviving play. At the end, Xerxes still had a fleet stronger than the Greeks, but withdrew anyway, and after losing at Plataea in the following year, returned to Asia Minor, leaving the Greeks their freedom. Nevertheless, the Athenians and Spartans attacked and burned the laid-up Persian fleet at Mycale, and freed many of the Ionian towns. These battles involved triremes or biremes as the standard fighting platform, and the focus of the battle was to ram the opponent's vessel using the boat's reinforced prow. The opponent would try to maneuver and avoid contact, or alternately rush all the marines to the side about to be hit, thus tilting the boat. When the ram had withdrawn and the marines dispersed, the hole would now be above the waterline and not a critical injury to the ship. During the next fifty years, the Greeks commanded the Aegean, but not harmoniously. After several minor wars, tensions exploded into the Peloponnesian War
(431 BC) between Athens' Delian League
Delian League
and the Spartan Peloponnese. Naval strategy was critical; Athens
walled itself off from the rest of Greece, leaving only the port at Piraeus
open, and trusting in its navy to keep supplies flowing while the Spartan army besieged it. This strategy worked, although the close quarters likely contributed to the plague that killed many Athenians in 429 BC. There were a number of sea battles between galleys; at Rhium, Naupactus, Pylos, Syracuse, Cynossema, Cyzicus, Notium. But the end came for Athens
in 405 BC at Aegospotami in the Hellespont, where the Athenians had drawn up their fleet on the beach, and were surprised by the Spartan fleet, who landed and burned all the ships. Athens surrendered to Sparta in the following year.

A Roman naval bireme depicted in a relief from the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia in Praeneste
(Palastrina),[2] which was built c. 120 BC;[3] exhibited in the Pius-Clementine Museum (Museo Pio-Clementino) in the Vatican Museums.

Navies next played a major role in the complicated wars of the successors of Alexander the Great. The Roman Republic
Roman Republic
had never been much of a seafaring nation, but it had to learn. In the Punic Wars
Punic Wars
with Carthage, Romans developed the technique of grappling and boarding enemy ships with soldiers. The Roman Navy
Roman Navy
grew gradually as Rome
became more involved in Mediterranean
politics; by the time of the Roman Civil War
and the Battle
of Actium (31 BC), hundreds of ships were involved, many of them quinqueremes mounting catapults and fighting towers. Following the Emperor Augustus
transforming the Republic into the Roman Empire, Rome
gained control of most of the Mediterranean. Without any significant maritime enemies, the Roman navy
Roman navy
was reduced mostly to patrolling for pirates and transportation duties. It was only on the fringes of the Empire, in newly gained provinces or defensive missions against barbarian invasion, did the navy still engage in actual warfare. Europe, West Asia and North Africa[edit] While the barbarian invasions of the 4th century and later mostly occurred by land, some notable examples of naval conflicts are known. In the late 3rd Century, in the reign of Emperor Gallienus, a large raiding party composed by Goths, Gepids and Heruli, launched itself in the Black Sea, raiding the coasts of Anatolia and Thrace, and crossing into the Aegean Sea, plundering mainland Greece
(including Athens
and Sparta) and going as far as Crete and Rhodes. In the twilight of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in the late 4th Century, examples include that of Emperor Majorian, who, with the help of Constantinople, mustered a large fleet in a failed effort to expel the Germanic invaders from their recently conquered African territories, and a defeat of an Ostrogothic fleet at Sena Gallica
Sena Gallica
in the Adriatic Sea. During the Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests
of the 7th century, Arab
fleets first appeared, raiding Sicily
in 652 (see History of Islam in southern Italy
and Emirate of Sicily), and defeating the Byzantine Navy
Byzantine Navy
in 655. Constantinople
was saved from a prolonged Arab
siege in 678 by the invention of Greek fire, an early form of flamethrower that was devastating to the ships in the besieging fleet. These were the first of many encounters during the Byzantine- Arab
Wars. The Islamic
Caliphate, or Arab
Empire, became the dominant naval power in the Mediterranean
from the 7th to 13th centuries, during what is known as the Islamic
Golden Age. One of the most significant inventions in medieval naval warfare was the torpedo, invented in Syria
by the Arab
inventor Hasan al-Rammah in 1275. His torpedo ran on water with a rocket system filled with explosive gunpowder materials and had three firing points. It was an effective weapon against ships.[4] In the 8th century the Vikings
appeared, although their usual style was to appear quickly, plunder, and disappear, preferably attacking undefended locations. The Vikings
raided places along the coastline of England
and France, with the greatest threats being in England. They would raid monasteries for their wealth and lack of formidable defenders. They also utilized rivers and other auxiliary waterways to work their way inland in the eventual invasion of Britain. They wreaked havoc in Northumbria and Mercia and the rest of Anglia before being halted by Wessex. King Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
of England
was able to stay the Viking invasions with a pivotal victory at the Battle
of Edington. Alfred defeated Guthrum, establishing the boundaries of Danelaw
in an 884 treaty. The effectiveness of Alfred's 'fleet' has been debated; Dr. Kenneth Harl has pointed out that as few as eleven ships were sent to combat the Vikings, only two of which were not beaten back or captured.

The naval battle of Sluys, 1340, from Jean Froissart's Chronicles

The Vikings
also fought several sea battles among themselves. This was normally done by binding the ships on each side together, thus essentially fighting a land battle on the sea. However the fact that the losing side could not easily escape meant that battles tended to be hard and bloody. The Battle
of Svolder is perhaps the most famous of these battles. As Arab
power in the Mediterranean
began to wane, the Italian trading towns of Genoa, Pisa, and Venice
stepped in to seize the opportunity, setting up commercial networks and building navies to protect them. At first the navies fought with the Arabs (off Bari
in 1004, at Messina in 1005), but then they found themselves contending with Normans moving into Sicily, and finally with each other. The Genoese and Venetians fought four naval wars, in 1253–1284, 1293–1299, 1350–1355, and 1378–1381. The last ended with a decisive Venetian victory, giving it almost a century to enjoy Mediterranean
trade domination before other European countries began expanding into the south and west. In the north of Europe, the near-continuous conflict between England and France
was characterised by raids on coastal towns and ports along the coastlines and the securing of sea lanes to protect troop–carrying transports. The Battle
of Dover in 1217, between a French fleet of 80 ships under Eustace the Monk
Eustace the Monk
and an English fleet of 40 under Hubert de Burgh, is notable as the first recorded battle using sailing ship tactics. The battle of Arnemuiden (23 September 1338), which resulted in a French victory, marked the opening of the Hundred Years War
and was the first battle involving artillery.[5] However the battle of Sluys, fought two years later, saw the destruction of the French fleet in a decisive action which allowed the English effective control of the sea lanes and the strategic initiative for much of the war. East, South and Southeast Asia[edit]

A Song dynasty
Song dynasty
naval river ship with a Xuanfeng traction-trebuchet catapult on its top deck, from an illustration of the Wujing Zongyao (1044)

A Chinese paddle-wheel driven ship, from a Qing dynasty
Qing dynasty
encyclopedia published in 1726

A replica of Korean turtle ship

A 17th century model of Vietnamese "Mông đồng" ship. The vessels appears to be propelled by a score of oars and armed with one bombard and a smaller culverin. The roof is recorded to be protected with hide or bronze plates against projectiles.

The Sui (581–618) and Tang (618–907) dynasties of China were involved in several naval affairs over the triple-set of polities ruling medieval Korea
( Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
of Korea), along with engaging naval bombardments on the peninsula from Asuka period
Asuka period
Yamato Kingdom (Japan). The Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
aided the Korean kingdom of Silla
(see also Unified Silla) and expelled the Korean kingdom of Baekje
with the aid of Japanese naval forces from the Korean peninsula (see Battle
of Baekgang) and conquered Silla's Korean rivals, Baekje
and Goguryeo
by 668. In addition, the Tang had maritime trading, tributary, and diplomatic ties as far as modern Sri Lanka, India, Islamic
and Arabia, as well as Somalia
in East Africa. From the Axumite
Kingdom in modern-day Ethiopia, the Arab
traveller Sa'd ibn Abi-Waqqas
Sa'd ibn Abi-Waqqas
sailed from there to Tang China during the reign of Emperor Gaozong. Two decades later, he returned with a copy of the Quran, establishing the first Islamic
mosque in China, the Mosque
of Remembrance in Guangzhou. A rising rivalry followed between the Arabs and Chinese for control of trade in the Indian Ocean. In his book Cultural Flow Between China and the Outside World, Shen Fuwei notes that maritime Chinese merchants in the 9th century were landing regularly at Sufala in East Africa
East Africa
to cut out Arab
middle-men traders.[6] The Chola dynasty
Chola dynasty
of medieval India
was a dominant seapower in the Indian Ocean, an avid maritime trader and diplomatic entity with Song China. Rajaraja Chola I (reigned 985 to 1014) and his son Rajendra Chola I (reigned 1014–42), sent a great naval expedition that occupied parts of Myanmar, Malaya, and Sumatra. The Cholas were the first rulers noted to have a naval fleet in the Indian subcontinent; there are at least two evidences to cite use of navies. Narasimhavarman Pallava
I transported his troops to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
to help Manavarman to reclaim the throne. Shatavahanahas was known to possess a navy that was widely deployed to influence Southeast Asia, however the extent of their use is not known. Some argue that there is no evidence to support naval warfare in a contemporary sense. Others say that ships routinely carried bands of soldiers to keep pirates at bay. However, since the Arabs were known to use catapults, naptha, and devices attached to ships to prevent boarding parties, one may conclude that Chola navies not only transported troops but also provided support, protection, and attack capabilities against enemy targets. In the 12th century, China's first permanent standing navy was established by the Southern Song dynasty, the headquarters of the Admiralty stationed at Dinghai. This came about after the conquest of northern China by the Jurchen people
Jurchen people
(see Jin dynasty) in 1127, while the Song imperial court fled south from Kaifeng
to Hangzhou. Equipped with the magnetic compass and knowledge of Shen Kuo's famous treatise (on the concept of true north), the Chinese became proficient experts of navigation in their day. They raised their naval strength from a mere 11 squadrons of 3,000 marines to 20 squadrons of 52,000 marines in a century's time. Employing paddle wheel crafts and trebuchet's throwing gunpowder bombs from the decks of their ships, the Southern Song dynasty
Song dynasty
became a formidable foe to the Jin dynasty during the 12th-13th centuries during the Jin–Song Wars. There were naval engagements at the Battle of Caishi and Battle
of Tangdao.[7][8] With a powerful navy, China dominated maritime trade throughout South East Asia
South East Asia
as well. Until 1279, the Song were able to use their naval power to defend against the Jin to the north, until the Mongols
finally conquered all of China. After the Song dynasty, the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty
Yuan dynasty
of China was a powerful maritime force in the Indian Ocean. The Yuan emperor Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
attempted to invade Japan
twice with large fleets (of both Mongols
and Chinese), in 1274 and again in 1281, both attempts being unsuccessful (see Mongol invasions of Japan). Building upon the technological achievements of the earlier Song dynasty, the Mongols
also employed early cannons upon the decks of their ships. While Song China built its naval strength, the Japanese also had considerable naval prowess. The strength of Japanese naval forces could be seen in the Genpei War, in the large-scale Battle
of Dan-no-ura on 25 April 1185. The forces of Minamoto no Yoshitsune
Minamoto no Yoshitsune
were 850 ships strong, while Taira no Munemori
Taira no Munemori
had 500 ships. In the mid-14th century, the rebel leader Zhu Yuanzhang
Zhu Yuanzhang
(1328–1398) seized power in the south amongst many other rebel groups. His early success was due to capable officials such as Liu Bowen
Liu Bowen
and Jiao Yu, and their gunpowder weapons (see Huolongjing). Yet the decisive battle that cemented his success and his founding of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) was the Battle
of Lake
Poyang, considered one of the largest naval battles in history. In the 15th century, the Chinese admiral Zheng He
Zheng He
was assigned to assemble a massive fleet for several diplomatic missions abroad, sailing throughout the waters of the South East Pacific
and the Indian Ocean. During his maritime missions, on several occasions Zheng's fleet came into conflict with pirates. Zheng's fleet also became involved in a conflict in Sri Lanka, where the King of Ceylon traveled back to Ming China afterwards to make a formal apology to the Yongle Emperor.

Japanese samurai attacking a Mongol ship, 13th century

The Ming imperial navy defeated a Portuguese navy led by Martim Affonso in 1522. The Chinese destroyed one vessel by targeting its gunpowder magazine, and captured another Portuguese ship.[9][10] A Ming army and navy led by Koxinga
defeated a western power, the Dutch East India
Company, at the Siege
of Fort Zeelandia, the first time China had defeated a western power.[11] The Chinese used cannons and ships to bombard the Dutch into surrendering.[12][13] In the Sengoku period
Sengoku period
of Japan, Oda Nobunaga
Oda Nobunaga
unified the country by military power. However, he was defeated by the Mōri clan's navy. Nobunaga invented the Tekkosen (huge Atakebune
equipped with iron plates) and defeated 600 ships of the Mōri navy with six armored warships ( Battle
of Kizugawaguchi). The navy of Nobunaga and his successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
employed clever close-range tactics on land with arquebus rifles, but also relied upon close-range firing of muskets in grapple-and-board style naval engagements. When Nobunaga died in the Honnō-ji incident, Hideyoshi succeeded him and completed the unification of the whole country. In 1592, Hideyoshi ordered the daimyōs to dispatch troops to Joseon Korea
to conquer Ming China. The Japanese army which landed at Pusan on 12 April 1502 occupied the whole area within a month. The Korean king escaped to the northern region of the Korean peninsula and Japan
completed occupation of Pyongyang
in June. The Japanese army, based near Busan, demolished the Korean navy in the Battle
of Chilcheollyang on 28 August and began advancing toward China. The Wanli Emperor
Wanli Emperor
of Ming China sent military forces to the Korean peninsula. Chen Lin continued damaging the Japanese navy with 500 Chinese warships and remnants of the Korean navy.[14][15] In 1598, the planned conquest in China was canceled by the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the Japanese military retreated from the Korean Peninsula. On their way back to Japan, Chen Lin attacked the Japanese navy at the Battle
of Noryang, but top officials Deng Zilong and Yi Sunsin
Yi Sunsin
were killed in a Japanese army counterattack, and all returned to Japan
by the end of December. In 1609, the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
ordered the abandonment of warships to the feudal lord Law of vessel construction prohibition by the Tokugawa shogunate (ja). The Japanese navy remained stagnant until the Meiji period. In Korea, the greater range of Korean cannons, along with the brilliant naval strategies of the Korean admiral Yi Sun-sin, were the main factors in the ultimate Japanese defeat. Yi Sun-sin
Yi Sun-sin
is credited for improving the turtle ship (Geobukseon). Turtle ships were used mostly to spearhead attacks. They were best used in tight areas and around islands rather than the open sea. Yi Sun-sin
Yi Sun-sin
effectively cut off the possible Japanese supply line that would have run through the Yellow Sea
to China, and severely weakened the Japanese strength and fighting morale in several heated engagements (many regard the critical Japanese defeat to be the Battle
of Hansan Island). The Japanese faced diminishing hopes of further supplies due to repeated losses in naval battles in the hands of Yi Sun-sin. As the Japanese army was about to return to Japan, Yi Sun-sin
Yi Sun-sin
decisively defeated a Japanese navy at the Battle
of Noryang. Ancient China[edit] Main article: Naval history
Naval history
of China

An Eastern Han
Eastern Han
(25–220 AD) Chinese pottery boat fit for riverine and maritime sea travel, with an anchor at the bow, a steering rudder at the stern, roofed compartments with windows and doors, and miniature sailors.

A Song dynasty
Song dynasty
louchuan with a trebuchet, depicted in the Wujing Zongyao

In ancient China, the first known naval battles took place during the Warring States period
Warring States period
(481–221 BC) when vassal lords battled one another. Chinese naval warfare in this period featured grapple-and-hook, as well as ramming tactics with ships called "stomach strikers" and "colliding swoopers".[16] It was written in the Han dynasty
Han dynasty
that the people of the Warring States era had employed chuan ge ships (dagger-axe ships, or halberd ships), thought to be a simple description of ships manned by marines carrying dagger-axe halberds as personal weapons. The 3rd century writer Zhang Yan asserted that the people of the Warring States period
Warring States period
named the boats this way because halberd blades were actually fixed and attached to the hull of the ship in order to rip into the hull of another ship while ramming, to stab enemies in the water that had fallen overboard and were swimming, or simply to clear any possible dangerous marine animals in the path of the ship (since the ancient Chinese did believe in sea monsters; see Xu Fu
Xu Fu
for more info). Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin dynasty
Qin dynasty
(221–207 BC), owed much of his success in unifying southern China to naval power, although an official navy was not yet established (see Medieval Asia section below). The people of the Zhou dynasty
Zhou dynasty
were known to use temporary pontoon bridges for general means of transportation, but it was during the Qin and Han dynasties that large permanent pontoon bridges were assembled and used in warfare (first written account of a pontoon bridge in the West being the oversight of the Greek Mandrocles of Samos in aiding a military campaign of Persian emperor Darius I over the Bosporus). During the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
(202 BC–220 AD), the Chinese began using the stern-mounted steering rudder, and they also designed a new ship type, the junk. From the late Han dynasty
Han dynasty
to the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
period (220–280 AD), large naval battles such as the Battle
of Red Cliffs marked the advancement of naval warfare in the East. In the latter engagement, the allied forces of Sun Quan
Sun Quan
and Liu Bei
Liu Bei
destroyed a large fleet commanded by Cao Cao
Cao Cao
in a fire-based naval attack. In terms of seafaring abroad, arguably one of the first Chinese to sail into the Indian Ocean
and to reach Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
and India
by sea was the Buddhist monk Faxian
in the early 5th century, although diplomatic ties and land trade to Persia and India
were established during the earlier Han dynasty. However, Chinese naval maritime influence would penetrate into the Indian Ocean
until the medieval period. Early modern[edit] Main article: Age of sail

The early 17th century galleon Vasa. on display at the Vasa Museum
Vasa Museum
in Stockholm. Vasa, with its high stern castle and double battery decks, was a transitional design between the preferences for boarding tactics and the line of battle.

The late Middle Ages saw the development of the cogs, caravels and carracks ships capable of surviving the tough conditions of the open ocean, with enough backup systems and crew expertise to make long voyages routine. In addition, they grew from 100 tons to 300 tons displacement, enough to carry cannons as armament and still have space for cargo. One of the largest ships of the time, the Great Harry displaced over 1,500 tons. The voyages of discovery were fundamentally commercial rather than military in nature, although the line was sometimes blurry in that a country's ruler was not above funding exploration for personal profit, nor was it a problem to use military power to enhance that profit. Later the lines gradually separated, in that the ruler's motivation in using the navy was to protect private enterprise so that they could pay more taxes. Like the Egyptian Shia-Fatimids and Mamluks, the Sunni- Islamic
Ottoman Empire centered in modern-day Turkey dominated the eastern Mediterranean
Sea. The Ottomans built a powerful navy, rivaling the Italian city-state of Venice
during the Ottoman–Venetian War (1499–1503). Although they were sorely defeated in the Battle
of Lepanto (1571) by the Holy League, the Ottomans soon rebuilt their naval strength, and afterwards successfully defended the island of Cyprus
so that it would stay in Ottoman hands. However, with the concurrent Age of Discovery, Europe had far surpassed the Ottoman Empire, and successfully bypassed their reliance on land-trade by discovering maritime routes around Africa and towards the Americas. The first naval action in defense of the new colonies was just ten years after Vasco da Gama's epochal landing in India. In March 1508, a combined Gujarati/Egyptian force surprised a Portuguese squadron at Chaul, and only two Portuguese ships escaped. The following February, the Portuguese viceroy destroyed the allied fleet at Diu, confirming Portuguese domination of the Indian Ocean. In 1582, the Battle
of Ponta Delgada in the Azores, in which a Spanish-Portuguese fleet defeated a combined French and Portuguese force, with some English direct support, thus ending the Portuguese succession crisis, was the first battle fought in mid-Atlantic. In 1588, Spanish King Philip II sent his Armada to subdue the English fleet of Elizabeth, but Admiral
Sir Charles Howard defeated the Armada, marking the rise to prominence of the English Royal Navy. However it was unable to follow up with a decisive blow against the Spanish navy, which remained the most important for another half century. After the war's end in 1604 the English fleet went through a time of relative neglect and decline.

The Battle
of the Saintes fought on 12 April 1782 near Guadeloupe

In the 16th century, the Barbary states of North Africa
North Africa
rose to power, becoming a dominant naval power in the Mediterranean
due to the Barbary pirates. The coastal villages and towns of Italy, Spain
and Mediterranean
islands were frequently attacked, and long stretches of the Italian and Spanish coasts were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants; after 1600 Barbary pirates occasionally entered the Atlantic and struck as far north as Iceland. According to Robert Davis[17][18] as many as 1.25 million Europeans were captured by Barbary pirates and sold as slaves in North Africa and the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
between the 16th and 19th centuries. These slaves were captured mainly from seaside villages in Italy, Spain
and Portugal, and from farther places like France, England, the Netherlands, Ireland
and even Iceland
and North America. The Barbary pirates were also able to successfully defeat and capture many European ships, largely due to advances in sailing technology by the Barbary states. The earliest naval trawler, xebec and windward ships were employed by the Barbary pirates from the 16th century.[19]

The 1805 Battle
of Trafalgar

From the middle of the 17th century competition between the expanding English and Dutch commercial fleets came to a head in the Anglo-Dutch Wars, the first wars to be conducted entirely at sea. Most memorable of these battles was the raid on the Medway, in which the Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter
Michiel de Ruyter
sailed up the river Thames, and destroyed most of the British fleet. This remains to date the greatest English naval defeat, and established Dutch supremacy at sea for over half a century. The English and Dutch wars were also known for very few ships being sunk, as it was difficult to hit ships below the water level; the water surface deflected cannonballs, and the few holes produced could be patched quickly. Naval cannonades caused more damage by casualties to the men and damage to the sails than sinking of ships. Late Modern[edit] 18th Century[edit] The 18th century developed into a period of seemingly continuous international wars, each larger than the last. At sea, the British and French were bitter rivals; the French aided the fledgling United States in the American Revolutionary War, but their strategic purpose was to capture territory in India
and the West Indies—which they did not achieve. In the Baltic Sea, the final attempt to revive the Swedish Empire led to Gustav III's Russian War, with its grande finale at the Second Battle
of Svensksund. The battle, unrivaled in size until the 20th century, was a decisive Swedish tactical victory, but it resulted in little strategical result, due to poor army performance and previous lack of initiative from the Swedes, and the war ended with no territorial changes. Even the change of government due to the French Revolution
French Revolution
seemed to intensify rather than diminish the rivalry, and the Napoleonic Wars included a series of legendary naval battles, culminating in the Battle
of Trafalgar in 1805, by which Admiral
Horatio Nelson
Horatio Nelson
broke the power of the French and Spanish fleets, but lost his own life in so doing.

19th Century[edit]

The first battle between ironclads: CSS Virginia/Merrimac (left) vs. USS Monitor, in 1862 at the Battle
of Hampton Roads

Trafalgar ushered in the Pax Britannica
Pax Britannica
of the 19th century, marked by general peace in the world's oceans, under the ensigns of the Royal Navy. But the period was one of intensive experimentation with new technology; steam power for ships appeared in the 1810s, improved metallurgy and machining technique produced larger and deadlier guns, and the development of explosive shells, capable of demolishing a wooden ship at a single blow, in turn required the addition of iron armour. Although naval power during the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties established China as a major world seapower in the East, the Qing dynasty lacked an official standing navy. They were more interested in pouring funds into military ventures closer to home (China proper), such as Mongolia, Tibet, and Central Asia (modern Xinjiang). However, there were some considerable naval conflicts during the Qing Dynasty before the First Opium War
(such as the Battle
of Penghu, and the conflict against Koxinga). The insignificant naval effort that the Manchus/Chinese pitted against the more advanced British steam-powered ships during the first Opium War
in the 1840s was sorely defeated. This left China open to virtual foreign domination (from European powers and then Japan) via spheres of influence over regions of China for economic gain. Although the Qing Dynasty attempted to modernize the Chinese navy, China's Beiyang Fleet was dealt a severe blow by the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
in the First Sino-Japanese War
(1894–1895). The famous battle of the CSS Virginia
CSS Virginia
and USS Monitor
USS Monitor
in the American Civil War
was the duel of ironclads that symbolized the changing times. The first fleet action between ironclad ships was fought in 1866 at the Battle
of Lissa between the navies of Austria
and Italy. Because the decisive moment of the battle occurred when the Austrian flagship the Erzherzog Ferdinand Max successfully sank the Italian flagship Re d'Italia by ramming, in subsequent decade every navy in the world largely focused on ramming as the main tactic. The last known use of ramming in naval battle was in 1879 when the Peruvian ship Huáscar rammed the Chilean ship Esmeralda. The last known gunboat equipped with a ram was launched in 1908, the German ship SMS Emden. As the century came to a close, the modern battleship emerged; a steel-armored ship, entirely dependent on steam, and sporting a number of large shell guns mounted in turrets arranged along the centerline of the main deck. The ultimate design was reached in 1906 with the HMS Dreadnought
which entirely dispensed with smaller guns, her main guns being sufficient to sink any existing ship of the time.

HMS Dreadnought, the first Dreadnought

The Russo-Japanese War
and particularly the Battle
of Tsushima in 1905 was the first test of the new concepts, resulting in a stunning Japanese victory and the destruction of most Russian ships. With the advent of the steamship, it became possible to create massive gun platforms and to provide them with heavy armor protection. The Dreadnought
battleships and their successors were the first capital ships that combined technology and firepower with a mobile platform. However, in the first half of the 20th century, the utility of air power in support of the fleet began to emerge. World War
I pitted the old Royal Navy
Royal Navy
against the new Kaiserliche Marine of Imperial Germany, culminating in the 1916 Battle
of Jutland. The future was heralded when the seaplane carrier HMS Engadine and her Short 184
Short 184
seaplanes joined the battle. In the Black Sea, Russian seaplanes flying from a fleet of converted carriers interdicted Turkish maritime supply routes, Allied air patrols began to counter German U-Boat
activity in Britain's coastal waters, and a British Short 184
Short 184
carried out the first successful torpedo attack on a ship. In 1918 the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
converted an Italian liner to create the first aircraft carrier, HMS Argus, and shortly after the war the first purpose-built carrier, HMS Hermes was launched. Many nations agreed to the Washington Naval Treaty
Washington Naval Treaty
and scrapped many of their battleships and cruisers while still in the shipyards, but the growing tensions of the 1930s restarted the building programs, with even larger ships. The Yamato-class battleships, the largest ever, displaced 72,000 tons and mounted 18.1-inch (460 mm) guns. 20th Century[edit]

USS Yorktown (1940)

USS Theodore Roosevelt launches an F-14 Tomcat
F-14 Tomcat
while F/A-18 Hornets wait their turn during the Kosovo War.

HMAS Sydney in the Persian Gulf (1991)

Main article: Naval history
Naval history
of World War
II The victory of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
at the Battle
of Taranto was a pivotal point as this was the first true demonstration of naval air power. Following 7 December 1941 when the United States
United States
came into World War II, the sinkings of the British battleships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse marked the end of the battleship era. Aircraft
and their transportation, the aircraft carrier, came to the fore. During the Pacific
of World War
II, battleships and cruisers spent most of their time bombarding shore positions, while the carriers and their airplanes were the stars of the Battle
of the Coral Sea, Battle of Midway, Battle
of the Philippine Sea, and the climactic Battle
of Leyte Gulf. Air power remained key to navies throughout the 20th century, moving to jets launched from ever-larger carriers, and augmented by cruisers armed with guided missiles and cruise missiles. Roughly parallel to the development of naval aviation was the development of submarines to attack underneath the surface. At first these ships were only capable of short dives, but soon developed the capability to spend weeks or months underwater powered by nuclear reactors. In both World Wars, submarines (U-boats in Germany) primarily exerted their power by using torpedoes to sink merchant ships and other warships. In the 1950s the Cold War
inspired the development of ballistic missile submarines, each one loaded with dozens of thermonuclear weapon-armed SLBMs and with orders to launch them from sea should the other nation attack. Against the backdrop of these developments, World War
II had seen the United States
United States
become the world's dominant sea power. Throughout the rest of the 20th century, the United States
United States
Navy maintained a tonnage greater than that of the next 17 largest navies combined.[20] Two major naval battles have taken place since World War
II. In the 1982 Falklands War
between Argentina
and the United Kingdom, a Royal Navy task force of approximately 100 ships was dispatched over 7000 miles from the British mainland to the South Atlantic. The British were outnumbered in theatre airpower with only 36 Harriers from their two aircraft carriers and a few helicopters, compared with at least 200 aircraft of the Fuerza Aérea Argentina, although London dispatched Vulcan bombers in a display of long-distance strategic capacity. Most of the land-based aircraft of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
were not available due to the distance from air bases. This reliance on aircraft at sea showed the importance of the aircraft carrier. The Falklands War
showed the vulnerability of modern ships to sea-skimming missiles like the Exocet. One hit from an Exocet
sank HMS Sheffield, a modern anti-air warfare destroyer. Over half of Argentine deaths in the war occurred when the nuclear submarine Conqueror torpedoed and sank the light cruiser ARA General Belgrano
ARA General Belgrano
with the loss of 323 lives. Important lessons about ship design, damage control and ship construction materials were learnt from the conflict. In terms of casualties, the Indo-Pakistani Naval War
of 1971 was the second major naval battle including the dispatch of an Indian aircraft carrier group, over 2000 dead on both sides, and the combined loss of a frigate, two destroyers, a submarine, and a number of smaller craft. At the present time, large naval wars are seldom-seen affairs as modern-day warfare evolves further from warships, which have existed for centuries, to reliance on new technologies such as military aircraft and land warfare. The main function of the modern navy is to exploit its control of the seaways to project power ashore. Power projection has been the primary naval feature of late-century conflicts including the Korean War, Suez Crisis, Vietnam War, Konfrontasi, Gulf War, Kosovo War, the War
on Terrorism in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War. Naval history
Naval history
of nations and empires[edit] Main articles: Naval history
Naval history
and Maritime history

Hellenic Navy
Hellenic Navy
(Greece) Roman navy Byzantine navy Fatimid navy Ottoman Navy History of the Royal Navy, English and British History of the French Navy History of the Iranian Navy Naval history
Naval history
of China Naval history
Naval history
of Japan Naval history
Naval history
of Korea Naval history
Naval history
of the Netherlands Italian Navy Spanish Navy Portuguese Navy Russian Navy History of the United States
United States
Navy History of the Indian Navy Indonesian Navy The German navy has operated under different names. See

Brandenburg Navy, from the 16th century to 1701 Prussian Navy, 1701–1867 Reichsflotte
(Fleet of the Realm), 1848–52 North German Federal Navy, 1867–71 Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
(Imperial German Navy), 1871–1919 Reichsmarine
(Navy of the Realm), 1919–35 Kriegsmarine
( War
Navy), 1935–45 German Mine Sweeping Administration, 1945 to 1956 German Navy, since 1956 Volksmarine, the navy of East Germany, 1956–90

Major theorists: Sir Julian Corbett and Rear Admiral
Alfred Thayer Mahan (The Influence of Sea
Power Upon History)

See also[edit]

Command of the sea Maritime republics Maritime power Thalassocracy Naval strategy Naval tactics Piracy Submarine
warfare Surface warfare War
film Warship


List of naval battles List of navies


^ Beckman, Gary (2000). "Hittite Chronology". Akkadica. 119–120: 19–32 [p. 23 ]. ISSN 1378-5087.  ^ D.B. Saddington (2011) [2007]. "the Evolution of the Roman Imperial Fleets," in Paul Erdkamp (ed), A Companion to the Roman Army, 201-217. Malden, Oxford, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-2153-8. Plate 12.2 on p. 204. ^ Coarelli, Filippo (1987), I Santuari del Lazio in età repubblicana. NIS, Rome, pp 35-84. ^ "Ancient Discoveries, Episode 12: Machines of the East". History Channel. Retrieved 8 September 2008.  ^ Jean-Claude Castex, [1] Dictionnaire des batailles navales franco-anglaises, Presses de l'Université Laval, 2004, p. 21 ^ Shen, 155 ^ Needham, Joseph (1971). Science and Civilisation in China: Civil Engineering and Nautics, Volume 4 Part 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-521-07060-7.  ^ Franke, Herbert (1994). Denis C. Twitchett; Herbert Franke; John King Fairbank, eds. The Cambridge History of China: Volume 6, Alien Regimes and Border States, 710–1368. Cambridge University Press. pp. 241–242. ISBN 978-0-521-24331-5.  ^ Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. China Branch (1895). Journal of the China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society for the year ..., Volumes 27-28. SHANGHAI: The Branch. p. 44. Retrieved 28 June 2010. (Original from Princeton University) ^ Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. North-China Branch (1894). Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volumes 26-27. SHANGHAI: The Branch. p. 44. Retrieved 28 June 2010. (Original from Harvard University) ^ Donald F. Lach, Edwin J. Van Kley (1998). Asia in the Making of Europe: A Century of Advance : East Asia. University of Chicago Press. p. 752. ISBN 0-226-46769-4. Retrieved 28 June 2010.  ^ Andrade, Tonio. "How Taiwan Became Chinese Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century. Chapter 11, The Fall of Dutch Taiwan". Columbia University Press. Retrieved 28 June 2010.  ^ Lynn A. Struve (1998). Voices from the Ming-Qing cataclysm: China in tigers' jaws. Yale University Press. p. 312. ISBN 0-300-07553-7. Retrieved 28 June 2010.  ^ History of Ming Vol247 [2] ^ [3] Japan
encyclopedia, By Louis Frédéric (p. 92) ^ Needham, Volume 4, Part 3, p. 678 ^ "When Europeans were slaves: Research suggests white slavery was much more common than previously believed". Archived from the original on 2011-07-25.  ^ Davis, Robert. Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast
Barbary Coast
and Italy, 1500—1800.[4] ^ Simon de Bruxelles (28 February 2007). "Pirates who got away with it by sailing closer to the wind". The Times. Retrieved 10 September 2008.  ^ Work, Robert O. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2007-10-31.  Winning the Race: A Naval Fleet Platform Architecture for Enduring Maritime Supremacy Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments Online. Retrieved 8 April 2006


Shen, Fuwei (1996). Cultural Flow Between China and the Outside World. China Books & Periodicals. ISBN 978-7-119-00431-0 Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Part 3. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd. Giuseppe Gagliano-Giorgio Giorgerini-Michele Cosentino (2002). Sicurezza internazionale e potere marittimo, New Press

Further reading[edit]

Howarth, David Armine. British Sea
Power: How Britain Became Sovereign of the Seas (2003), 320pp; from 1066 to present Potter, E. B. Sea
Power: A Naval History (1982), world history Starr, Chester. The Influence of Sea
Power on Ancient History (1989) Willmott, H. P. The Last Century of Sea
Power, Volume 1: From Port Arthur to Chanak, 1894–1922 (2009), 568p online in ebrary Willmott, H. P. The Last Century of Sea
Power, vol. 2: From Washington to Tokyo, 1922–1945. (Indiana University Press, 2010). xxii, 679 pp. ISBN 978-0-253-35359-7 online in ebrary

External links[edit]

Naval battles Spanish Naval History

Authority control

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