The Greatest Naval Battle in History

General naval discussions that don't fit within any specific time period or cover several issues.

Which was the greatest naval battle in history?

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paul.mercer
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby paul.mercer » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:48 am

RF wrote:Can I ask a very basic question here. In what way was the Battle of Jutland historically significant beyond the scale of forces deployed?

The outcome did not change the existing pre-battle situation.

In my view the Battle of Corenel was more historically significant than Jutland - leading to the ''correcting'' Battle of the Falklands.

I would argue that the voyage of the Wolf was more historically significant than Jutland, not just in terms of providing a blueprint for the long range raider without a harbour but in bringing WW1 to the shores of South Africa, Australia and Singapore, along with causing the only Japanese naval losses of WW1.


Thanks for your reply,
I'mnot sure how we should actually be judging this, if we are looking at decisve battles, then of course Jutland does not count, except possibly that the High Seas Fleet never seriously challenged the Grand Fleet again. However, if we are asking about the number of ships involved from both sides, then Jutland has to be up near the top of the list

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neil hilton
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby neil hilton » Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:49 pm

RF wrote:I think only with virtual annihilation of the Home Fleet can the Germans break Britains' blockade. Now that would have made Jutland the greatest battle of all.


Even if the High Seas Fleet only damages most of the Grand Fleets BBs so they in drydock for a year or so then the blockade is lifted and German merchant ships can run the blockade by going up the north Atlantic past Greenland, crossing to Norweigan waters north of Iceland and then hugging the coast south, it is quite possible.
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby RF » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:50 pm

Yes it is quite possible, as the Mowe and the Wolf managed it both ways without interception against the full might of the RN.

The distant blockade was operated generally by cruisers and auxiliary vessels of the RN rather than the main Home Fleet battleships/battlecruisers. It would still be running and the journey would be hazardous for the German merchant ships without escort. I don't see much opportunity for such escort.
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neil hilton
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby neil hilton » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:39 pm

With the grand fleet up on blocks a lot of the cruisers used to maintain the blockade probably would be drawn in to protect the east coast of Britain thus weakening any blockade.
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jesse espinosa
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby jesse espinosa » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:02 am

neil hilton wrote:
jesse espinosa wrote:the battle leyte gulf maybe an engagement but it could be and exception from other naval
engagement. first, in the american side, the seventh fleet and third fleet primary aim is
to guard the landing invasion in leyte. second, japanese side, the northern force and southern
force primary aim is to to lure the seventh fleet and third fleet out of position in order the
central force can wreck havoc of the americans landing force and remaining american naval
forces guarding the landing force. Therefore, both forces have the same aim, control of
leyte gulf. Further, with the massive array of naval ships of both sides those not make the battle
of leyte gulf as mere engagement. in addition the japanese plan that their 3 fleets will coincide
their attack of the their on the same date was not materialized its because of miscommunication
of the japanese commanders particularly of their central and southern force. it is only the
japanese northern force that really serve their purpose as decoy.

again unlike any other naval battles were tactics is really used, it is only in leyte gulf all ships
in all kinds were engage. pt boats, submarines, destroyers, cruisers, battleships and all
kinds of aircrafts carriers were used. further engagements ships against planes, planes
against planes, ships against ships, in vast array were used. no question the battle of
leyte gulf is the greates naval warfare in history.


If you can classify Leyte Gulf as a battle by the strictures listed here then by those same points the battle of the Atlantic would also be classed as a battle rather than a campaign. And the battle of the Atlantic makes Leyte Gulf look like a mere skirmish in all respects.
IMO Leyte Gulf is a campaign, like the battle of the Atlantic and should not be listed here.


Battle of Leyte Gulf a mere skirmish??? Dont think So..Ok statistics shows battle wagons assembled by americans and japanese:
1. Americans: 8 fleet carriers, 8 light carriers, 18 escort carriers, 12 battleships, 24 cruisers, 141 destroyers, a number of PT boats and submarines and 1,500 carrier planes
2. Japanese: 1 fleet carrier, 3 light carriers, 9 battlerships, 14 heavy cruisers, 6 light cruisers, 35 destroyers, more than 500 planes land based and carriers planes

Not even in world war 1 or world war 2 including the Battle of Atlantic and Invasion of Normandy or int the present times that such naval forces were assembled.

Losses in the battle:
1. Americans: 1 light carrier, 2 escort carriers, 2 destroyers, 1 escort destroyer, 200 planes and 3,000 dead
2. Japanese: 1 fleet carrier, 3 light carriers, 3 battleships, 10 cruisers, 11 destroyers, more than 500 planes land based and carrier and 10, 500 dead

No naval battle or campaign in world war 1 and world war 2 can compare of the combined losses of men and tonnage in Leyte Gulf

Further, i still believe that Leyte Gulf is not a mere campaign. The battle started in October 23 when U.S. submarines of U.S. 7th fleet ambushed the Japanese Central Force in Palawan Passage, October 24 Japanese Central Force attack by U.S. third fleet carriers planes turned back but later on proceed to its destination to proceed to San Bernardino Strait which is already unguarded by u.s. third fleet, thinking the central force turned tail and in full force proceed to attack the japanese northern force not knowing its a decoy. October 25, the u.s seventh fleet thinking the third fleet has left a task force to guard San Bernardino Strait proceed to meet the Japanese Southern Force and ambush it at surigao strait. In October 25, the Japanese Central Force entered San Bernardino Strait unopposed and attack the u.s. seventh fleet escort carriers sinking 2 escort carriers and 3 destroyers but admiral kurita mis judge the situation withdrew, thinking he was attacked by third fleet carrier planes when in fact the escort carrier planes are not armed with armored piercing shells.

I emphasized these series of events to show to you that the battle of leyte gulf is not a 3 separate campaigns but a continuing battle based of the strategy plan of the japanese and the americans for "CONTROL OF LEYTE GULF".Although it happened in three dates and locations but its still one battle.

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Rick Rather
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby Rick Rather » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:41 am

A "mere campaign"? :?
Just because it's stupid, futile and doomed to failure, that doesn't mean some officer won't try it.
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neil hilton
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby neil hilton » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:48 pm

For those who dont know the difference between a battle and a campaign. A battle is a single engagement conducted over a specific piece of terrain and under the command of a single on site commander commanding a single cohesive force. A campaign is a series of battles linked by a common goal and under the command of a higher level commander with delegated on site commanders.
Thus a campaign is larger in scale than a battle and to compare a campaign to a battle is like comparing a ping-pong ball to a beach ball. I am being persistent with this and not just pedantic because it is unfair.
Leyte gulf consists of three battles, Sibuyan Sea, Cape Engano and Suriagao Strait (the action off Samar involving Taffy 3 is the battle of Sibuyan Sea part 2). This makes it a campaign and thus it is unfair to compare it with battles such as Jutland, Midway, Trafalgar, Lepanto etc all of which involved a single on site commander commanding a single cohesive force.
And btw the battle of the Atlantic was much MUCH MUCH bigger in scale than Leyte gulf. It began in sept 1939 and ended in may 1945. The number of vessels involved were several hundred (I dont even want to try to tally the numbers there were so many, if somebody wants to try good luck to them) The numbers of ships sunk and men lost are staggering 80000+!!!!!. It involved many battles from the river Platte to the sinking of the Bismarck to PQ-17 etc etc etc.
The battle of Leyte gulf was for the control of Leyte gulf, the battle of the Atlantic was for the control of the Atlantic, snap! Campaigns.
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neil hilton
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby neil hilton » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:16 pm

Of course this is just my opinion, it does make sense though?
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jesse espinosa
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby jesse espinosa » Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:04 pm

neil hilton wrote:For those who dont know the difference between a battle and a campaign. A battle is a single engagement conducted over a specific piece of terrain and under the command of a single on site commander commanding a single cohesive force. A campaign is a series of battles linked by a common goal and under the command of a higher level commander with delegated on site commanders.
Thus a campaign is larger in scale than a battle and to compare a campaign to a battle is like comparing a ping-pong ball to a beach ball. I am being persistent with this and not just pedantic because it is unfair.
Leyte gulf consists of three battles, Sibuyan Sea, Cape Engano and Suriagao Strait (the action off Samar involving Taffy 3 is the battle of Sibuyan Sea part 2). This makes it a campaign and thus it is unfair to compare it with battles such as Jutland, Midway, Trafalgar, Lepanto etc all of which involved a single on site commander commanding a single cohesive force.
And btw the battle of the Atlantic was much MUCH MUCH bigger in scale than Leyte gulf. It began in sept 1939 and ended in may 1945. The number of vessels involved were several hundred (I dont even want to try to tally the numbers there were so many, if somebody wants to try good luck to them) The numbers of ships sunk and men lost are staggering 80000+!!!!!. It involved many battles from the river Platte to the sinking of the Bismarck to PQ-17 etc etc etc.
The battle of Leyte gulf was for the control of Leyte gulf, the battle of the Atlantic was for the control of the Atlantic, snap! Campaigns.


The battle of leyte gulf is truly naval battle caused naval ships truly engage in battle and you cannot find in any naval battle, aircraft carriers were sunk by naval fire, its only in leyte gulf. in the atlantic...i dont consider it as a battle..why?? cause majority sunk are merchant ships..if i will consider the tactics with due respect..its mediocre...the british navy really was not able to capitalize its advantage and tactics by using the aircraft carriers but depends on battleships and cruisers in the engagement. it takes them a long time to solve the problem if not of the captured "enigma" where the british could already locate the position of the german submarines. lack of range of the allied land based aircrafts to locate or attack german submarines extended the suffering of the merchant ships which are also escorted with few destroyers. if only the british could have upgraded their aircraft carriers including the naval air groups and be more aggressive the german submarine menace could have been resolve in a fewer years. but engagement of naval ships in the atlantic is piecemeal i cannot find in the battle of atlantic or in europe a large scale engagement of fleets such as big in leyte gulf.

your definition of a campaign or battle it seems does not fit the condition in the pacific command structures in world war 2. the pacific area was divided in to two commands the southwest pacific under gen. douglas macarthur and the pacific ocean theater under adm chester nimitz. In leyte gulf, under macarthur is the seventh fleet and under nimitz is the third fleet. however, in leyte gulf again, although the two american fleets have different commanders it has only one objective to guard the american landing force in leyte to prevent japanese naval ships to enter the San Bernadino strait (guarded by the third fleet) north of leyte and surigao strait (guarded by the seventh fleet) south of leyte. the japanese, used three fleets (nothern force, central force and southern force) was under a single command IJN Combined Fleet Chief Adm soemo toyoda who effect the victory plan sho-go 1 in the philippines to destroy the american naval fleets and landing force in leyte gulf.

now you have it my friend to resolve the issue of the battle of leyte gulf...the japanese has one overall commander that make battle of leyte gulf a battle not a mere campaign or skirmish.

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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby jesse espinosa » Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:24 am

neil hilton wrote:For those who dont know the difference between a battle and a campaign. A battle is a single engagement conducted over a specific piece of terrain and under the command of a single on site commander commanding a single cohesive force. A campaign is a series of battles linked by a common goal and under the command of a higher level commander with delegated on site commanders.
Thus a campaign is larger in scale than a battle and to compare a campaign to a battle is like comparing a ping-pong ball to a beach ball. I am being persistent with this and not just pedantic because it is unfair.
Leyte gulf consists of three battles, Sibuyan Sea, Cape Engano and Suriagao Strait (the action off Samar involving Taffy 3 is the battle of Sibuyan Sea part 2). This makes it a campaign and thus it is unfair to compare it with battles such as Jutland, Midway, Trafalgar, Lepanto etc all of which involved a single on site commander commanding a single cohesive force.
And btw the battle of the Atlantic was much MUCH MUCH bigger in scale than Leyte gulf. It began in sept 1939 and ended in may 1945. The number of vessels involved were several hundred (I dont even want to try to tally the numbers there were so many, if somebody wants to try good luck to them) The numbers of ships sunk and men lost are staggering 80000+!!!!!. It involved many battles from the river Platte to the sinking of the Bismarck to PQ-17 etc etc etc.
The battle of Leyte gulf was for the control of Leyte gulf, the battle of the Atlantic was for the control of the Atlantic, snap! Campaigns.


further, if you will consider Midway as a battle but since the overall plan was conceived by admiral nimitz and delegated it to admiral fletcher as the overall commander of midway that makes Midway a campaign and not a battle.

again my friend lets not confuse the issue of definitions what is a battle or campaign. for me every BLOOD and GUTS that is poured over the battle field whether it is land, in the seas, or in the air it is BATTLE. What make disheartening by using these definitions you will relegate one of the greatest naval battle in history particularly Leyte Gulf and even the Battle of Atlantic or any naval engagement not defined as "BATTLE" , not so important of the discussion because what you will be talking in this FORUM only the NAVAL BATTLES not the CAMPAIGNS or so called mere SKIRMISH or should not be a part of the LIST because it is not in the definition of "BATTLE". By the way, General Macarthur is present in LEYTE GULF the overall commander of the invasion of the philippines and seventh fleet is under his direct command do you mean to say it is still a CAMPAIGN, the engagement of seventh fleet in surigao strait and in the battle of samar.

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neil hilton
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby neil hilton » Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:12 pm

jesse espinosa wrote:The battle of leyte gulf is truly naval battle caused naval ships truly engage in battle and you cannot find in any naval battle, aircraft carriers were sunk by naval fire, its only in leyte gulf. in the atlantic...i dont consider it as a battle..why?? cause majority sunk are merchant ships..if i will consider the tactics with due respect..its mediocre...the british navy really was not able to capitalize its advantage and tactics by using the aircraft carriers but depends on battleships and cruisers in the engagement. it takes them a long time to solve the problem if not of the captured "enigma" where the british could already locate the position of the german submarines. lack of range of the allied land based aircrafts to locate or attack german submarines extended the suffering of the merchant ships which are also escorted with few destroyers. if only the british could have upgraded their aircraft carriers including the naval air groups and be more aggressive the german submarine menace could have been resolve in a fewer years. but engagement of naval ships in the atlantic is piecemeal i cannot find in the battle of atlantic or in europe a large scale engagement of fleets such as big in leyte gulf.

your definition of a campaign or battle it seems does not fit the condition in the pacific command structures in world war 2. the pacific area was divided in to two commands the southwest pacific under gen. douglas macarthur and the pacific ocean theater under adm chester nimitz. In leyte gulf, under macarthur is the seventh fleet and under nimitz is the third fleet. however, in leyte gulf again, although the two american fleets have different commanders it has only one objective to guard the american landing force in leyte to prevent japanese naval ships to enter the San Bernadino strait (guarded by the third fleet) north of leyte and surigao strait (guarded by the seventh fleet) south of leyte. the japanese, used three fleets (nothern force, central force and southern force) was under a single command IJN Combined Fleet Chief Adm soemo toyoda who effect the victory plan sho-go 1 in the philippines to destroy the american naval fleets and landing force in leyte gulf.

now you have it my friend to resolve the issue of the battle of leyte gulf...the japanese has one overall commander that make battle of leyte gulf a battle not a mere campaign or skirmish.


This post has so many wrong facts I dont know where to begin.
1. HMS Glorious was sunk by naval gunfire.
2. The RN did use carriers as convoy escort and lost HMS Courageous to a Uboat.
3. They pioneered the use of escort carriers for convoy escort which was a major turning point in the battle of the Atlantic.
4. The RN the RCN and USN all lost many surface ships to uboats. The Kriegsmarine lost many more uboats to the escorts. Hundreds of warships not just merchant ships.
5. Battleships were used to escort convoys to counter the threat of heavy German surface raiders such as Bismarck, Gniesneau and Scharnhorst etc. The tactics were not faulty as you suggest they had to use what they had or lose whole convoys.
6. There was no large scale surface naval engagement in the Atlantic, true. This was probably because the Kriegsmarine didnt have a large surface navy. Battles come in all sizes and shapes. In the Atlantic campaign every convoy was a battle.
7. Definition of the word 'Campaign' "A series of military operations intended to achieve a particular objective, confined to a particular area, or involving a specified type warfare"
8. In the Leyte Gulf campaign neither sides commanders actually directed forces directly they left that to subordinates such as Halsey, Oldendorf and Kurita etc. Nimitz was in Pearl Harbour and Toyoda was in Japan, MacArthur was in Leyte Gulf itself and overseeing the landings.
9. The convoy escort tactics used by the RN and later the USN evolved as the war progressed and new weapons emerged and became very sophisticated and lethal. They were not 'mediocre'.
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neil hilton
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby neil hilton » Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:24 pm

jesse espinosa wrote:further, if you will consider Midway as a battle but since the overall plan was conceived by admiral nimitz and delegated it to admiral fletcher as the overall commander of midway that makes Midway a campaign and not a battle.

again my friend lets not confuse the issue of definitions what is a battle or campaign. for me every BLOOD and GUTS that is poured over the battle field whether it is land, in the seas, or in the air it is BATTLE. What make disheartening by using these definitions you will relegate one of the greatest naval battle in history particularly Leyte Gulf and even the Battle of Atlantic or any naval engagement not defined as "BATTLE" , not so important of the discussion because what you will be talking in this FORUM only the NAVAL BATTLES not the CAMPAIGNS or so called mere SKIRMISH or should not be a part of the LIST because it is not in the definition of "BATTLE". By the way, General Macarthur is present in LEYTE GULF the overall commander of the invasion of the philippines and seventh fleet is under his direct command do you mean to say it is still a CAMPAIGN, the engagement of seventh fleet in surigao strait and in the battle of samar.


I think the definition of the word battle you're using is the generic laymans term, not the military term. The military distinguishes several levels of engagement referring to the size of forces involved, their goals, the administration and logistics required to make a modern force to work effectively in the field and the political reasons why an Operation or Campaign is carried out.
There is more to it than this but basically speaking a battles purpose is to destroy or otherwise render ineffective an enemy force, an Operation or Campaign is a higher level engagement with a specific goal that is often political.
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby jesse espinosa » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:50 am

neil hilton wrote:
jesse espinosa wrote:further, if you will consider Midway as a battle but since the overall plan was conceived by admiral nimitz and delegated it to admiral fletcher as the overall commander of midway that makes Midway a campaign and not a battle.

again my friend lets not confuse the issue of definitions what is a battle or campaign. for me every BLOOD and GUTS that is poured over the battle field whether it is land, in the seas, or in the air it is BATTLE. What make disheartening by using these definitions you will relegate one of the greatest naval battle in history particularly Leyte Gulf and even the Battle of Atlantic or any naval engagement not defined as "BATTLE" , not so important of the discussion because what you will be talking in this FORUM only the NAVAL BATTLES not the CAMPAIGNS or so called mere SKIRMISH or should not be a part of the LIST because it is not in the definition of "BATTLE". By the way, General Macarthur is present in LEYTE GULF the overall commander of the invasion of the philippines and seventh fleet is under his direct command do you mean to say it is still a CAMPAIGN, the engagement of seventh fleet in surigao strait and in the battle of samar.


I think the definition of the word battle you're using is the generic laymans term, not the military term. The military distinguishes several levels of engagement referring to the size of forces involved, their goals, the administration and logistics required to make a modern force to work effectively in the field and the political reasons why an Operation or Campaign is carried out.
There is more to it than this but basically speaking a battles purpose is to destroy or otherwise render ineffective an enemy force, an Operation or Campaign is a higher level engagement with a specific goal that is often political.[/quote

with due respect, in defining battle or campaign that makes your definition confusing. you said battle purpose is to destroy or otherwise render ineffective an enemy force...if you define atlantic, guadacanal and leyte gulf a campaign is it not the purpose of such campaigns is also to destroy or render en effective an enemy force? and when you say a "campaign" is often political does not make any sense. i dont think the battle of atlantic and guadacanal is a political issue, i think it is not..referring to the philippines particularly in leyte gulf although it is at the height of the presidential campaign in the U.S. at that time, it doesnt make it political because afterall the philippines is a colony of the U.S. it is his primary duty to liberate it first and with the number of american POWs and civilians such invasion is necessary.

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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby neil hilton » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:19 pm

A campaign is a strategic operation which has one or more battles in it classified as high intensity tactical engagements, it is the battles purpose to defeat the enemy forces and the campaigns purpose to direct the strategic motives. Eg the Guadalcanal campaign was to control the island of Guadalcanal, all the tactical operations that occurred on the island and in the surrounding seas (Savo island, naval battles of Guadalcanal one and two etc) were battles and part of the campaign. In Leyte gulf the campaign objective was the control of Leyte gulf so the troops could be landed without interference, this was a strategic objective which also was a political objective ie the successful invasion of the Philippines. The battles of the suriagao strait, sibuyan sea and cape engano were all battles and part of the campaign, to control Leyte gulf.
To liberate the islands of the Philippines is a political objective and a strategic objective not a tactical objective. The political objective is a part of the way to end the war, the strategic objective is to deny Japan the resources in the Philippines.
It is the purpose of the battle aspect of a campaign to defeat enemy forces and the campaign aspect to supply the reason why the battles take place. Without a campaign objective war is a matter of killing the enemy just for the sake of killing, which is very old school warfare.
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby mike1880 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:29 pm

I have some sympathy with both sides of this argument. Leyte is never referred to, as far as I'm aware, as anything other than a battle. If it was a campaign you'd be able to point to specific engagements, each individually named, as being the battles fought as part of that campaign. And what do you know, you can. Both right then. Can we move on now?


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