Sunday, 16 February 2014

Greatest Naval Battles

Greatest Naval Battles

Throughout, history there have been many times when man has took their conflicts onto the sea. Many of these battles have certainly had some influence on history and war, whether decisive or not. Below a brief overview of some of the greatest naval battles of all of history shall be given.

The Battle of the Delta                                                                         

Ramesses III and Egypt were in danger from the mysterious Sea Peoples. The Sea Peoples had plundered and destroyed the Hittite Empire's Capital Hattusha and their endeavours were leading to the collapse of the Bronze Age. After defeating them in a land battle in Syria, Ramesses returned to Egypt ready for the Sea People's attack. Ramesses lined the shores of the Nile Delta with archers and lured the Sea Peoples into the Delta, where ships also lay in wait to ambush. Archers from the ships and shore attacked the Sea Peoples, leading to their defeat. The battle (1178 BC or 1175 BC) secured Egypts future from the Sea People.

The Battle of Actium
The Battle of Actium was a decisive battle in the Final War of the Roman Republic, which  resulted in the formation of the Roman Empire and Octavius becoming the first Roman Emperor. When the senate declared war on Egypt, Marc Antony pledged his support to Cleopatra. The fleet loyal to Octavius consisted of  250 galleys, whereas the opposition's consisted of around 290 galleys. The battle (31 BC) ended when Cleopatra pulled her forces out (various reasons have been suggested, for example the tension created by the actual battle- as the Admiral Quintus Dellius, had defected to Octavius and revealed Antony's plans to him.). Antony then soon pulled out himslef, leaving 3/4 of his fleet behind. Regardless, this battle meant many of Antony's men deserted him. Ultimately, leading to his demise, the Roman annexation of Egypt and the first Roman Emperor.
The Battle of Lepanto

In 1571, the Christian powers in the Mediterranean had assembled a fleet to confront the powerful Ottoman Empire. The Holy League fleet included ships from Venice, Spain, Genoa, the Papacy and the Knights of Malta, Savoy, Tuscany and Urbino. The Holy League had 212 ships, whereas the Ottomans had 251 ships. The two flag ships soon found themselves in battle with each other and eventually Ali Pasha's ship was took with the Ottoman commander being killed in the process. Ali Pasha's death (against Don Juan's wishes) reduced the Ottoman's morale (his head was decapitated and ton a pike), eventually causing many of them to flee. The battle helped to stop the Ottoman influence in the Mediterranean growing.

The Battle of Tsushima 

During the Russo-Japanese War, The Russian Baltic fleet was sent to help relieve the blockade of Port Arthur , which the Japanese had besieged. However, on the 2nd January 1905 Port Arthur had fell, so the fleet tried to reach Vladivostok instead. The fleets would engage in the straits of Tsushima, The Russian ships were in poor condition, made even worse by the long journey ( the British had refused them access to the Suez Canal). Fouling had made the Russian ships less manoeuvrable, therefore Admiral Togo used this to his advantage. The Japanese won, losing only 3 torpedo boats (they had had 89 ships,  37 being the relatively small, but dangerous torpedo boats. The Russians lost 21 of their 28 ships. The battle was a humiliation, as a Asian nation had defeated a great European great power and along with the Siege of Port Arthur and the Battle of Mukden, it had ruined Russia's reputation. It could be argued all this parlty helped in causing the 1905 revolution, which boiled tension over into the 1917 revolution, which would forever change Russia's history.

Battle of Jutland

Th battle of Jutland is considered the only major naval engagement of WWI and is considered the largest naval battle ever in terms of tonnage.  In 1916 the British had effectively blockaded much of the German coastline, however. the Admiral von Poul was replaced by the more aggressive Admiral von Scheer.  In May, Scheer had had ordered  Adiral von Hipper to move along the Danish coastline,  Admiral Jellicoe in Rosyth saw this as a provocation and put the Grand Fleet to sea. On May the 31st the battle began. The British lost more ships (14 of 151 combat ships, whereas the German had lost less capital ships- however, in total they lost  11 of their 99 ships). Despite, the German successes they were never in a position during WW1 to threaten the North Sea again.

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