|Outline of war|
Naval tactics are distinct from naval strategy. Naval tactics are concerned with the movements a commander makes in battle, typically in the presence of the enemy. Naval strategy concerns the overall strategy for achieving victory and the large movements by which a Commandant and commander secures the advantage of fighting at a place convenient to himself.
The evolution of tactics at sea
Naval tactics have evolved over time with developments in naval technology and the evolution of warships. The evolution of naval tactics can best be understood by dividing naval history into four eras:
- Naval tactics in the Age of Galleys. Naval tactics from the earliest times to the Battle of Lepanto (1571), the last big battle in which (oar-propelled) galleys dominated.
- Naval tactics in the Age of Sail. The emergence of the sailing man-of-war in the late 16th century led to the emergence of the line of battle and the development of the ship of the line. The age of sail also saw the development of convoy as a means of defending trade.
- Naval tactics in the Age of Steam. The development of the steam ironclad firing explosive shells in the mid 19th century rendered sailing tactics obsolete. New tactics were developed for the big-gun Dreadnought battleships. The mine, torpedo, submarine and aircraft posed new threats, each of which had to be countered, leading to tactical developments such as anti-submarine warfare and the use of dazzle camouflage. By the end of the steam age, aircraft carriers and submarines had replaced battleships as the principal units of the fleet.
- Naval tactics in the Missile Age. The modern era began with the widespread replacement of guns with missiles after the Second World War.
- Rodger, Nicholas, "Image and Reality in Eighteenth-Century Naval Tactics." Mariner's Mirror 89, No. 3 (2003), pp. 281–96.
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