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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Karl Heidenreich
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Sun Jun 08, 2008 4:51 pm

Bgile:

Maybe to most of us "greatest" means which one intrigues us the most.


That´s right. The political or social relevance, I believe, is not being evaluated here because then, as Farragut points quite well, then Salamis or Lepanto are the ones. In both of them the western (and nowaday political incorrect way) civilization tackled the invasion of eastern hordes that certainly would have destroyed our whole culture, arts, social development, religions, science, philosophy, etc. just to brought amongst us tyranny (as Xerxes) the jihad, the barbarism of Islam and totalitarism of the ayatolahs (having an islamic victory at Lepanto).

But in the context of naval warfare, then we have Tsushima, Midway, Jutland, Trafalgar and the such...
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby lwd » Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:50 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:Bgile:

Maybe to most of us "greatest" means which one intrigues us the most.


That´s right. The political or social relevance, I believe, is not being evaluated here because then, as Farragut points quite well, then Salamis or Lepanto are the ones. In both of them the western (and nowaday political incorrect way) civilization tackled the invasion of eastern hordes that certainly would have destroyed our whole culture, arts, social development, religions, science, philosophy, etc. just to brought amongst us tyranny (as Xerxes) the jihad, the barbarism of Islam and totalitarism of the ayatolahs (having an islamic victory at Lepanto).

But in the context of naval warfare, then we have Tsushima, Midway, Jutland, Trafalgar and the such...

Interesting. We seam to be agreeing on a much more frequent basis. I wouldn't have phrased it quite this way but any disagreement would be a quible.

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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby Farragut » Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:41 am

Hi Karl. Hi bgile. I grant you your points with a caveat.

According to the OP, the consequences and the importance of the battle were part of the criteria. Javier did list other criteria like: number of men involved, number of ships and losses. But in my opinion, all factors relating to any battle are inconsequential when compared to the aftermath of said battle. For instance, suppose that at Jutland, the Germans had been able to sink the greater part of the British fleet but then still chose to sail for home like they actually did. What would they have accomplished? In terms of strategic objectives, Jutland would still have been a complete defeat for the High Seas Fleet. It does not matter how many enemy ships that you sink if the overreaching goal for sinking those ships goes unfulfilled. Likewise, losing all your ships in the battle doesn’t matter if by losing them you still accomplish the mission.

Salamis is a fascinating study guys. All the elements of an epic heroic tale are present. On the Greek side you have a vastly outnumbered people led by a brilliant dynamic leader: Themistocles. On the Persian side you have the largest Empire in the world led by a ruthless conqueror. A huge Persian army has boots on the ground in Greece but all its logistical support is seaborne. One visionary sees the Persian’s achilles heel and the battle is joined. It’s superior generalship versus superior numbers. It’s also the first time in recorded history ,but not the last; that naval power defeats land power.

At stake in this battle was the foundation of western civilization.

What could be a greater battle than that?

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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby Bgile » Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:28 am

Farragut wrote:What could be a greater battle than that?


In terms of it's effect on western civilization, you are probably correct.

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RF
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby RF » Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:24 am

Farragut wrote:

....suppose that at Jutland, the Germans had been able to sink the greater part of the British fleet but then still chose to sail for home like they actually did. What would they have accomplished? In terms of strategic objectives, Jutland would still have been a complete defeat for the High Seas Fleet. It does not matter how many enemy ships that you sink if the overreaching goal for sinking those ships goes unfulfilled. Likewise, losing all your ships in the battle doesn’t matter if by losing them you still accomplish the mission.



This would be looking at the immediate aftermath and not the long term strategic consequences, such as weakening or breaking of the seaborne blockade of Germany. Sailing for home and staying there (which is what happened in reality) is not the same as going home and then coming out again and again.....
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby Farragut » Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:07 am

This would be looking at the immediate aftermath and not the long term strategic consequences, such as weakening or breaking of the seaborne blockade of Germany. Sailing for home and staying there (which is what happened in reality) is not the same as going home and then coming out again and again.....


Naval battles are always strategic if the battle determines contol of the sea. Isn't that what the British were trying to do for the entire war at sea? To secure their control of it by luring the High Seas Fleet out for decisive engagements?

I don't mean to be argumentative, well maybe I do, because it irks me that Jutland received the most votes for "Greatest Battle." Great battles are supposed to be decisive; Jutland was anything but. Neither side accomplished what it wanted to do when they set sail. The Germans wanted to break the British blockade and the British wanted to eliminate the threat of a German fleet in being. So how does it all end? Historians are still arguing about who won 90 years later. Naval battles usually have clear winners and losers; the loser sinks and the winner sails home.

Don't get me wrong, the Battle of Jutland is one of my personal favorites to read about and argue over. The world's two most powerful navies going gun to gun? Fleets of battleships lined up and throwing huge shells at each other? Hipper decoying Beatty and then Beatty decoying Scheer? The death knell of the battlecruiser? What's not to like?

It was a significant battle. It epitomized warfare at sea for the steam age but it wasn't all that great. I wonder: if Halsey had left TF34 in Surigao Strait, would Jutland still be considered to be the height of battleship combat?

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RF
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby RF » Thu Jun 12, 2008 8:17 am

The British objective in 1914 was to ''bottle up'' the HSF in its ports by operating a distant blockade, and to use it to strangle Germany's seaborne trade. This strategy was to avoid a large fleet action that could pose the risk of losing a large part of the Grand Fleet. The blockade effectively mean't the Allies had absolute control of the world's major seas and oceans.
The Battle of Jutland confirmed that control, so was a strategic defeat for the Germans. The verdict of the New York Times that at Jutland the German Fleet assaulted its jailer but was left still in jail was the right one.
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby chcrawfish » Wed Jan 21, 2009 9:04 pm

Had to go with Salamis because of the number of vessels and the consequences.

Tsushima and Midway were the most decisive actions, and the consequences of Drake vs the Armada were also high, but they don't match Salamis overall.
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RF
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby RF » Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:35 pm

Consider that if the Armada had won and the Tudor/Stuart line displaced in Britain then history could have been very different - there probably be no British Empire as a result.....
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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chcrawfish
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby chcrawfish » Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:30 pm

Farragut wrote:It was a significant battle. It epitomized warfare at sea for the steam age but it wasn't all that great. I wonder: if Halsey had left TF34 in Surigao Strait, would Jutland still be considered to be the height of battleship combat?


What about if Halsey had left TF34 in San Bernadino Strait? THAT would have been the ultimate showdown of the battleship age.
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Pr_Eugen
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby Pr_Eugen » Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:10 pm

For Russia, it is doubtless - Tsushima.
For the world - Midway.
...to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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RF
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby RF » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:34 am

Pr_Eugen wrote:For Russia, it is doubtless - Tsushima.
For the world - Midway.


Are the Russians likely to regard a catastrophic defeat as the greatest naval battle?

Midway - well maybe. But I would go for Leyte Gulf.
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Pr_Eugen
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby Pr_Eugen » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:58 pm

RF wrote: Are the Russians likely to regard a catastrophic defeat as the greatest naval battle?
Midway - well maybe. But I would go for Leyte Gulf.

For us - yes... :cool:
For Russia any sea battle did not become an occasion to the end of war.

Leyte - it is appreciable only by quantity of the participating ships... Though the Japanese admirals too should give a part of glory.
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby JtD » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:53 pm

I consider the Guadalcanal night clashes great naval battles, in particular the cruiser action sometime early on.

There have also been several major naval clashes in the Mediterranean Sea from around 700 a.d. on that frequently decided the future of Europe. Lepanto is just the last of these. IIrc, the first major battle took place in the 7th century and already involved more than 1000(!) ships. In the siege of Constantinople in 718 the Arabs are reported to have lost 1800(!) ships. Often forgotten, the impact on history is far larger than any of the ones given here, with the possible exception of Salamis.

Of the options given I'd have vote for Jutland, though. I just like the ships of the era and the type of battle.

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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Postby Legend » Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:13 am

Big guns and made of steel, that's how to fight a battle! Jutland was good, but not the largest. It is very high up in the listings in my book... I don't think ships of that size met in such numbers ever before or since... Duh.
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