Greatest admiral of all time

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

Who was the greatest admiral in History?

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frankwl
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Re: Greatest admiral of all time

Postby frankwl » Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:36 am

Hi, here's a thing. Did the average Japanese soldier think he was worth 10 decadent Americans? Did a U.S. Marine think he was worth 10 Japanese soldiers? We have surviving officer's speeches telling them they were but did they believe it? Human nature is human nature and a Japanese infantryman or a U.S. Marine charging you with a fixed bayonet is a scary thing.

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RF
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Re: Greatest admiral of all time

Postby RF » Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:23 pm

The evidence is that both the Japanese and the Americans believed what they thought of each other and that is one reason why the Pacific War was as savage as it was. All ideological wars tend to be like that - Barbarossa and the four year conflict it engendered is another good example.
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neil hilton
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Re: World greatest admiral?

Postby neil hilton » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:29 pm

RF wrote:
Oberwarrior wrote:
I agree with Karl, Heihachirö Tögö is my favorite, however sadly he seems a little forgotten, only getting 2% of the vote. I think given the differences in technology he proved himself both a great tactical and strategic admiral, his handling of his fleet at both Tsushima and Yellow Sea was classical, he cross the T and send in his torpedo boats, routing the Russians and destroying their fleet. He always kept strategic objectives in mind, had he not been mindful of these the campaign could have worked out very differently.



Right, lets ask a question here. How far was Togo's victory at Tsushima down to the fact that he was on home territory while the Russian Baltic Fleet had sailed halfway round the world and was hardly in tip top condition?

Could Togo have taken his fleet round the world into the Baltic and fought the Russians there, with no logistical or other support from countries bordering on the Baltic? And win?



I agree with RF here completely. Many praise the accomplishments of Togo as '.. the new Nelson..' etc. Togo had all the advantages, his victory was almost a forgone conclusion, better ships, territorial familiarity, short supply lines, and Sun Tzus fatal terrain advantage too (the Russians had to get to Port Arthur and Togo knew it). And his enemies were the exact opposite.
If Togo had by some miracle managed to lose Tsushima he would be the greatest moron in naval history!!
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neil hilton
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Re: World greatest admiral?

Postby neil hilton » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:32 pm

Cohaagen wrote:Forgot to add - Cunningham benefited greatly from his practice of building up a circle of highly competent and trusted staff officers - people like Royer Dick - to keep him regularly briefed. It was Royer Dick, a fluent French speaker, who was instrumental in translating Cunningham's negotiations with French Admiral Rene Godfroy to disarm his fleet and dump their fuel - thus preventing another ignominious Mers-el-Kebir -type incident. British naval intel in the Med was excellent, moreso given that Cunningham was one of the few people to gain regular ULTRA updates (which, naturally, had to be disguised somehow as HUMINT and other sources such as seaplane spottings...the Italians were eventually convinced there were moles in their admin depts).

ABC had very detailed knowledge of the Italian fleet. He considered the Venetos to be particularly dangerous - their possession of flashless propellant was seen as a great advantage over the RN, along with excellent light AA armament the latter of which the RN appropriated at every opportunity. Materially speaking, the Italians were by no means the pushover they were seen as post-war. An example of a force equipped with advanced weaponry undermined by the human factor.



Excellent case put forward by Cohaagen for ABC Cunningham. Can't add any more than that.
Last edited by neil hilton on Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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neil hilton
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Re: World greatest admiral?

Postby neil hilton » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:40 pm

RF wrote:This certainly an impressive record, and a commander who understood logistics and supply, and who also knew how to get the most out of his men. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if he had been available to fight against the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895 or during the annexation of Korea in 1910.
However - I don't think he had as great a long term influence on history to the extent that Nelson did, as neither Korea or China went on to become great empires in the way Britain did, or indeed the Japanese ultimately did.

It would also have been interesting if he was in a later age, say the 1930's, and a senior Admiral in the IJN......


It certainly is an impressive record, sounds too good to be true.
333 ships vs 13 and he wins! WOW. I think there is more to this than than meets the eye. No way 13 ships can take on 333 ships of equal ability and win. From what I understand I believe what the Japanese called their 'navy' at that time was pathetic (like the Romans during the first Punic War. Plain and simple they were rubbish). For Yi Sun-sin they would have been just meat on the table IMO. (Shokuji shite itadaki arigatogozaimasu) Thank you for the meal!!
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neil hilton
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Re: My vote

Postby neil hilton » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:59 pm

Antonio Bonomi wrote:Ciao all,

as said I do admire H. Nelson as well, and many others too.

But my vote goes to Andrea Doria.

Ciao Antonio :D



Andrea Dorias actions at the battle of Preveza could be considered treasonous.
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maega
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Re: Greatest admiral of all time

Postby maega » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:53 am

Lol, Nelson...

It comes down to what makes an Admiral "Great". Those who have a desk job can influence the development and success of a naval policy far more than those at sea, can set up the general strategies and logistics for the future and make a real long-term impact.

But if it comes down to admirals at sea, then I guess you would have to define "greatest" as he who achieved the most with the less and won battles by sheer genius and brilliance.

And Nelson clearly doesn't fill into any of those categories. If you look at his most renowned victories, Aboukir and Trafalgar, there's nothing brilliant or surprising in them. The outcome was obvious and came as a result of blatant RN superiority in terms of quality of the ships and quality of the equipment and manpower and to overwhelmingly favourable circumstances.

Let's look at Aboukir; The French anchor their ships forming a line of defense. Some british frigate captain discovers a safe passing between the shallow waters and the last ship of the anchored french line. Result; The british fleet engages the french fleet with local superiority of 3/4 to 1, destroying the french ships one by one. Nothing awesome about that. It was simply a terrible french mistake.

What would have happened if there was no gap in the line ?? I would like to know that too.. :D

Trafalgar; Villeneuve was a clown. He had been a clown is entire life. And he was about to be called back to Paris by Napoleon for being a useless clown. Only thing that Villeneuve knew about this and decided to set sail against the British Fleet in spite of every single Spanish Admiral and Commander advising him against that cause they knew it was a suicidal stupid move.

The british fleet had better and more maneuvarable ships. The british fleet's sailors and marine infantry were second to none. On the other side, the franco-spanish fleet had been blockaded for months and many of the ships were in disarray,. the crews, gangpressed into action with many of them having no naval experience at all (many of the gunners were army gunners). The ranks of sailors filled in a hurry with folks that had no experience at all and some of them had sea sickness. The entire fleet was unprepared for a battle.

Then the battle. The wind, on th side of british fleet. The franco-spanish fleet, which had never operated together before, consisted of and heteregoneous group of ships of very different sizes and designs, some of them in really poor state (not counting the crews...) and presented with the task of coordinating french and spanish naval styles and trying to form a line of battle (which of course never happened) in the face of an enemy orderly spearheading against the center of the franco spanish formation with the wind in their favour and both the allied vanguard and rearguard awol? (Sorry, I meant the rearguard, cause in the vanguard there were the french ships and they fled the battle as soon as it started).

Good thing is they were caught some days later and sunk/surrendered.

Hmmm, excuse me... where's the merit in this British victory or the awesome prowess and skills displayed by Nelson in the face of overwhelming numbers and unfavourable circumstances?


PD: Nelson was a pretty good naval officer but a great admiral?? We'll never know.

I go with De Ruyter or Blas de Lezo.

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tommy303
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Re: Greatest admiral of all time

Postby tommy303 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:43 pm

You miss one of the points of greatness an admiral at sea must have which Nelson showed in abundance--the ability to inspire his officers and men in the fleet. He was also willing when necessary to ignore the book of fighting instructions, such as at Trafalgar when he decided to break the enemy line in two places--his column and Collingwood's, even though it meant exposing the leading ship of each to potentially crippling fire. Fortunately he knew his enemy's faults so that the risk was a calculated one.

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RF
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Re: Greatest admiral of all time

Postby RF » Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:16 pm

Calculated risk , yes - but the essence is that the risk comes off.

Good leaders with a good track record can still come unstuck when the calculations don't run as they want them. Perhaps one example would be Vice-Admiral Holland on 24 May 1941.
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tommy303
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Re: Greatest admiral of all time

Postby tommy303 » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:53 am

. . . or the case of Commodore Dubourdieu whose attempt in 1811 to use Nelson's trafalgar tactics cost him the battle and his own life.

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Byron Angel
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Re: Greatest admiral of all time

Postby Byron Angel » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:50 pm

It has long been a traditional fashion to heap all manner of praise upon Nelson. IMO, he earned every bit of it. I cannot name another naval officer of his era who so repeatedly played such an important or decisive role in every major engagement in which he took part (even when not in command) - The Saintes, Copenhagen, Aboukir Bay, Trafalgar. As the now Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells is fond of saying - "You are what your record says you are."

The great faith placed in Nelson by the Admiralty was not misplaced; he always delivered the goods.


B

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aurora
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Re: Greatest admiral of all time

Postby aurora » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:12 pm

I feel that Admiral of the Fleet Viscount Cunningham of Hyndehope KT GCB OM DSO deserves a place in this Hall of Fame.A well proven WW2 record.

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RF
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Re: Greatest admiral of all time

Postby RF » Sun Mar 17, 2013 7:39 pm

I would certainly agree with that.
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neil hilton
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Re: Greatest admiral of all time

Postby neil hilton » Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:32 pm

maega wrote:Lol, Nelson...

It comes down to what makes an Admiral "Great". Those who have a desk job can influence the development and success of a naval policy far more than those at sea, can set up the general strategies and logistics for the future and make a real long-term impact.

But if it comes down to admirals at sea, then I guess you would have to define "greatest" as he who achieved the most with the less and won battles by sheer genius and brilliance.

And Nelson clearly doesn't fill into any of those categories. If you look at his most renowned victories, Aboukir and Trafalgar, there's nothing brilliant or surprising in them. The outcome was obvious and came as a result of blatant RN superiority in terms of quality of the ships and quality of the equipment and manpower and to overwhelmingly favourable circumstances.

Let's look at Aboukir; The French anchor their ships forming a line of defense. Some british frigate captain discovers a safe passing between the shallow waters and the last ship of the anchored french line. Result; The british fleet engages the french fleet with local superiority of 3/4 to 1, destroying the french ships one by one. Nothing awesome about that. It was simply a terrible french mistake.

What would have happened if there was no gap in the line ?? I would like to know that too.. :D

Trafalgar; Villeneuve was a clown. He had been a clown is entire life. And he was about to be called back to Paris by Napoleon for being a useless clown. Only thing that Villeneuve knew about this and decided to set sail against the British Fleet in spite of every single Spanish Admiral and Commander advising him against that cause they knew it was a suicidal stupid move.

The british fleet had better and more maneuvarable ships. The british fleet's sailors and marine infantry were second to none. On the other side, the franco-spanish fleet had been blockaded for months and many of the ships were in disarray,. the crews, gangpressed into action with many of them having no naval experience at all (many of the gunners were army gunners). The ranks of sailors filled in a hurry with folks that had no experience at all and some of them had sea sickness. The entire fleet was unprepared for a battle.

Then the battle. The wind, on th side of british fleet. The franco-spanish fleet, which had never operated together before, consisted of and heteregoneous group of ships of very different sizes and designs, some of them in really poor state (not counting the crews...) and presented with the task of coordinating french and spanish naval styles and trying to form a line of battle (which of course never happened) in the face of an enemy orderly spearheading against the center of the franco spanish formation with the wind in their favour and both the allied vanguard and rearguard awol? (Sorry, I meant the rearguard, cause in the vanguard there were the french ships and they fled the battle as soon as it started).

Good thing is they were caught some days later and sunk/surrendered.

Hmmm, excuse me... where's the merit in this British victory or the awesome prowess and skills displayed by Nelson in the face of overwhelming numbers and unfavourable circumstances?


PD: Nelson was a pretty good naval officer but a great admiral?? We'll never know.

I go with De Ruyter or Blas de Lezo.


Vileneuve wasn't a clown he was a competent officer. He was at Aboukir bay and witnessed first hand the L'Orient blowing up (one of the largest explosions in history before ww1). After that he became a complete pessimist, he viewed Nelson as the bogieman (Sun Tzu would have approved, '...defeating your enemy before battle...' Etc).

The British ships were generally of an older and less advanced design than the French and Spanish ships. Thanks to Colberts naval improvement program in the mid 1700s French ships were better designs.

The wind was most definitely not on the British side, they could only manage a few knots. Indeed it took several hours for the fleets to close, for the two British columns to break the French and Spanish line.
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José M. Rico
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Re: Greatest admiral of all time

Postby José M. Rico » Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:52 am

The poll votes have been reset, and all the forum members who wanted to change their votes can do that now.
Feel free to submit your votes again!


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