10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
jrsteven00
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10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by jrsteven00 » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:49 pm

I'm researching topics for a WW2 book or series of magazine articles.
One option I'm considering is a list of 10 events or decisions that created an out-sized impact on the overall war at sea.

Some of these impacts were accidental, others were totally intentional--but had compounding effects down the line. The key ingredient I'm looking for in these moments is that most people know the outcome, but don't know how this one moment influenced that outcome.

So far I've come up with the list below.
What moments can you add to this list? What do you disagree with?

Here they are, in roughly chronological order:

1-Breaking Japanese diplomatic and naval codes (Midway, Yammato shootdown, Atlantic Wall intelligence- 1940-1944

2-British Raid on Taranto (Crippled Italian heavy fleet, foreshadowed Pearl Harbor) - November 1940

4-PBY Catalina finding Bismarck (Led to Bismarck's sinking) - May 1941

5-Sinking of Force Z - (Sidelined battleships as major naval weapons) - December 1941

6-Effectiveness of Type 93 Long Lance torpedo against Allied warships (Enabled Japanese Navy to beat Allied fleets) - 1941-1943

7-Replacing cautious U.S. submarine commanders with aggressive officers (Increased destruction of Japanese merchant shipping) - 1942-45

8-Closing Air Gap over the Atlantic with B-24s and CAMs (Increased U-boat loses) - May 1943

9-Dieppe Raid (Convinced Allies to delay invasion of France until 1944, valuable lessons on combined arms operations) - August 1942

10-Pas de Calais subterfuge (Convinced Hitler and OKH that Normandy invasion was diversion) - May/June 1944

Thanks,
JS

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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by Bgile » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:12 pm

Cdr C Wade McClusky, Jr., the commander of the USS Enterprise Air Group at Midway made a crucial decision. In the words of Admiral Chester Nimitz, McClusky's decision to continue the search for the enemy and his judgment as to where the enemy might be found, "decided the fate of our carrier task force and our forces at Midway...". I suppose one could say he just performed as a competent commander would, but it was very important anyway.

There is also the miscues which resulted in the Japanese air search failing to find the US Fleet in a timely manner at Midway.

There were also some things which could have adversely affected the war from the Allied point of view, but didn't and we won anyway.

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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by dougieo » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:12 pm

HMS Bulldogs capture of a naval Enigma machine and cipher documents?

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RF
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by RF » Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:10 am

A significant proportion of the ten mentioned in the original thread are not single events as such, but a collection of related actions over time, spanning up to four years.....
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neil hilton
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by neil hilton » Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:56 am

How about the capture of the British defence plans for Singapore aboard the SS Automedon, captured by the German raider Atlantis and given to the Japanese?

How about the Grounding of HMS Illustrious off Madagascar which prevented her reinforcing Force Z?

How about Admiral Kings decision not to implement convoying along the eastern seaboard of the USA immediately after war was declared, even after the British urged him to?

How about the attack on PH itself and Nagumos decision not to send in a 3rd wave?

Just as examples.
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by lwd » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:53 pm

jrsteven00 wrote: ...
6-Effectiveness of Type 93 Long Lance torpedo against Allied warships (Enabled Japanese Navy to beat Allied fleets) - 1941-1943
...
I personally wouldn't put the type 93 as the primary reason. Indeed with their older torpedoes they might have done almsot as well. Doctrine and training particularly for night actions were far more important. And that's without getting into all the problems the type 93 had.

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Gary
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by Gary » Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:59 pm

The battle of Midway (which saw the destruction of some Vital IJNS Aircraft carriers)
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jun 10, 2010 10:12 pm

The Battle of Philipine Sea, in which the Japanese naval power was destroyed. Leyte was only a confirmation that the Decisive Battle was already fought and lost.
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by paulcadogan » Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:07 pm

neil hilton wrote:How about the Grounding of HMS Illustrious off Madagascar which prevented her reinforcing Force Z?
:negative: :negative: :negative: :negative:

It was Indomitable and she was entering Kingston Harbour, JAMAICA....... :oops:

The Battle of the Barents Sea.....Hipper & Lutzow held off by destroyers and driven off by 2 light cruisers Sheffield & Jamaica :cool: - Hitler's wrath comes down on the fleet and he orders the scrapping of all the big ships. (Though this was reversed by the cool head of Doenitz).

Mers-el-Kebir - the profound effect on Franco-British relations and the suposed positive effect on the American psyche in their view of British resolve...

The failure of German torpedoes early in the war - many British ships that might have been sunk or seriously damaged survived to fight another day.

Warspite's 26,000 yard hit on Guilio Cesare at Calabria - set the tone for future Italian-British confrontations.

Just a few that came to mind...

Paul
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

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RF
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by RF » Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:48 am

neil hilton wrote:How about the capture of the British defence plans for Singapore aboard the SS Automedon, captured by the German raider Atlantis and given to the Japanese?

How about the Grounding of HMS Illustrious off Madagascar which prevented her reinforcing Force Z?

How about Admiral Kings decision not to implement convoying along the eastern seaboard of the USA immediately after war was declared, even after the British urged him to?

How about the attack on PH itself and Nagumos decision not to send in a 3rd wave?

Just as examples.
Intersting examples but which either didn't or wouldn't have altered the war at sea.

Incidently with respect to Atlantis the Japanese were generally sceptical of the captured documents when they were presented to them, they suspected a British trick or plant of false information, because the documents were found on a merchant ship. Only when Singapore was captured did the Japanese realise the documents were genuine and decorated Kapitan Rogge with his Samurai sword.
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RF
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by RF » Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:51 am

Gary wrote:The battle of Midway (which saw the destruction of some Vital IJNS Aircraft carriers)
Or perhaps more significantly the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, that caused the change in Japanese plans and thus made the Battle of Midway happen.
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neil hilton
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by neil hilton » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:20 am

Oops! :oops: My mistake about the grounding of HMS Indomitable. Thanks for the correction. :oops:

I seem to remember reading somewhere a long time ago that the Japanese high command pre-war were constantly looking for a way to avoid invading Singapore, however their overall plans required it which put them in a dilema. The Automedon documents gave them a chance to carry out an invasion, which basically allowed them to go to war in the first place. Don't know if its true but it is interesting.
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by tnemelckram » Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:11 pm

Please forgive me for this but taking the Tread Title literally . . . .

Invention of . . . .
1. Water displacing hull shape (hollowed out log).
2. Oar.
3. Tiller.
4. Sail.
5. Packaged incendiaries.
6. Food preservatives (salt) and dietary standards (Capt. Cook).
7. Antiseptic washes.
8. Metal shaping.
9. Fueled propulsion.
10. Long range sensing devices.

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RF
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by RF » Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:51 am

You forgot to include the inventions of sextant and chronometer.
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Re: 10 moments that changed the course of the war at sea

Post by RF » Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:57 am

neil hilton wrote:
I seem to remember reading somewhere a long time ago that the Japanese high command pre-war were constantly looking for a way to avoid invading Singapore, however their overall plans required it which put them in a dilema. The Automedon documents gave them a chance to carry out an invasion, which basically allowed them to go to war in the first place. Don't know if its true but it is interesting.
The problem for the Japanese was the defence of Singapore Island, which was expected to be heavily fortified. In reality is was not from the landward side - from which the eventual attack came.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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