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About this book

Man lives on land, but the seas of the world are crucial to his lot. Focusing on navies as instruments of power and analysing what they indicate about the nature of state systems and cultures all over the world, Black provides an overview of the most significant debates within the field. Organised into key historical periods and accessibly framed, this wide-ranging account emphasises the links between past and present throughout the history of naval power.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Abstract
The Water Planet. That was the image created by Athelstan Spilhaus in his Atlas of the World with Geophysical Boundaries Showing Oceans, Continents and Tectonic Plates in their Entirety (1991), the first version of which was devised in 1942. Spilhaus emphasised the sea more than other map-makers and also challenged the control of the map provided by edges and edging, concepts that mean little as far as the oceans are concerned. Indeed, he mapped what he termed ‘a water planet’: the world ocean uninterrupted by the limits of the map. To do so, Spilhaus produced a three-lobed map, centring respectively on the Atlantic, Pacifi c and Indian Oceans, with the map joined around Antarctica.1 A related, but different, reconceptualisation of the relationship between land and sea has been offered by challenges to the organisation of the world in terms of continents,2 and the stress, instead, on oceanic-based systems, such as the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. These approaches lead to a strong emphasis on oceanic links, maritime interests and naval power.
Jeremy Black

2. 1500–1660

Abstract
An account of change driven by military technology and operational considerations would argue that the prime means of, and reason for, change was the rise in Europe in the sixteenth century of the large, specialised, sailing, cannon-armed warship, built and maintained just for war, rather than also acting as a peacetime trader. These ships, able to take part in sustained artillery duels at close range, were expensive to build, administer and maintain. As a consequence of this cost and the related need for political support and organisational sophistication, the number of potential maritime powers was restricted, and, by the late seventeenth century, the powerful naval state was no longer coterminous, as it had earlier been, with the commercial territory or port; although, nevertheless, particular ports and related entrepreneurial groups were crucial to the operation of these states.1
Jeremy Black

3. 1660–1775

Abstract
Britain became the leading naval power in Europe, and thus the world, in the period 1690–1715, a position it was to sustain until the Second World War. This achievement refl ected British policies and priorities, those of other states, and the course of wars. British naval history therefore is the dominant theme in this chapter, both because more is known about Britain than about other states and because it is possible to use Britain as a case study for the domestic aspects of naval power and their interaction with strategic concerns. The growth of English naval power in both the sixteenth and the early and mid-seventeenth centuries had equipped England with an important navy and a tradition of maritime power that subsequently affected political assumptions and views about the necessary identity and desirable policies of Britain (the correct term after the Parliamentary Union of 1707 with Scotland) as a military power.
Jeremy Black

4. 1775–1815

Abstract
Discussion about military change and, more specifi cally, concerning modern and/or total warfare in the period 1775–1815, focuses on land confl ict in the Western world, particularly the armies of the American and French Revolutions and of Napoleon, and, in contrast, generally ignores or underrates the importance of naval developments. This approach is unfortunate as, on the world scale, it was as naval powers with an amphibious capability that the Western states were particularly important and effective. Indeed, as throughout the period covered by this book, there was a Western naval exceptionalism that rewards attention. Moreover, victories, the deeds of a few hours, however much they represented the toil of decades, blazed the way for a world that was not only to be dominated by the West, but also by a particular set of Western values.
Jeremy Black

5. 1815–1914

Abstract
The nineteenth century was an age of British naval dominance, yet also a period in which there were moves towards a challenge to Western naval superiority. Indeed, in 1905, the Japanese dramatically defeated the Russian navy. Yet, unlike the Oriental warships that competed in the same waters in the 1590s, the Japanese victor was organised on the Western model and, indeed, had been trained and equipped by the British. As another key instance of continuity, although naval technologies changed dramatically over the nineteenth century, especially those of propulsion, firepower and armour, the essentials of the Western naval model did not alter. The reliance throughout was on specialised warships, instead of armed merchantmen (although there was a place for the latter and for armed liners in naval plans); and the stress was on permanent naval forces, and not on units raised for particular conflicts. As another important element of continuity, navies depended on a sophisticated infrastructure of bases and supply systems and were the product of an advanced military-industrial system.
Jeremy Black

6. 1914–45

Abstract
The battle of Jutland of 31 May–1 June 1916 between the main British and German fleets was not to be the Trafalgar or, as it was then seen, sweeping victory hoped for by naval planners. Indeed, there was no decisive clash between the British and German fleets in the First World War (1914–18). Similarly, there was no decisive battle in that confl ict in the Adriatic between the Austrians and the Italians or, further east, involving the Turks. However, the lack of a decisive naval battle, and the extent to which the decision to put an army of unprecedented size into the field proved a major change in the British way of warfare,1 did not mean that naval power was unimportant in that war. Instead, thanks to the navy, the British retained control of their home waters and were, therefore, able to avoid blockade and invasion, to maintain a flow of men and munitions to their army in France unmolested, to retain trade links that permitted the mobilisation of British resources, and to blockade Germany.2 However, the very serious impact of the British blockade, which indeed violated the norms of commercial warfare, was lessened by Germany’s continental position and her ability to obtain most of the resources she required from within Europe.
Jeremy Black

7. 1945–2010

Abstract
In the post-war world, the potential of warships as a delivery system for hitherto unprecedented power developed. Part of the importance of air and later, sea, more specifi cally submarine, power lay in their role as delivery platforms for nuclear bombs and later, missiles. The American George Washington was the fi rst fl eet ballistic missile submarine, commissioned in late 1959 and firing the fi rst Polaris missile from under water in July 1960. George Washington and its four sister submarines were the proto-types of the first generation of American, British and French fleet ballistic missile submarines, with sixteen missiles in two rows in the central part of the hull. The Soviet Union, in contrast, originally built several smaller ballistic missile submarines with only a few missiles each in the turret, but they soon changed to the 16-missile configuration, ensuring a remarkable standardisation in type. The first British Polaris test missile was fired from a submarine in 1968, and the French commissioned their first ballistic missile submarine in 1969.
Jeremy Black

8. The future

Abstract
Looking to the future, in the short term of the next few decades, the basic assumption tends to be that weapons systems similar to those of the present will continue to dominate the military situation and the equations of force and capability. This view, a key aspect of what is termed ‘future proofing’, may be a mistake, but it is argued that aircraft carriers, submarines, destroyers, frigates and assault vessels will be the essential warships, and that they will serve as the basis for delivering fi repower (via aircraft, cruise missiles and shells) and troops. These suppositions assume that there will be scant equivalent at sea to the movement towards remotely controlled aircraft (drones) for air warfare, or that the existing platforms can be used as the basis for such weaponry. Thus, the two large British carriers ordered in 2008 are intended to remain in service until 2070 and are designed to have the space to carry new systems. The latter goal is also seen in the design of the British Type 45 destroyers.
Jeremy Black

9. Conclusions

Abstract
Naval power has to be understood not as a free-floating variable but as a phenomenon shaped in and by particular contexts. This shaping involves a dynamic interaction of capabilities and tasks. The tasks are more important as far as individual powers are concerned, although the capabilities tend to set general parameters, as is captured in phrases such as ‘the Age of Steam’. The dynamic interaction between capabilities and tasks owes much to the coalitions of social, political and economic interests which provide the basis for naval organisation and doctrine. Thus, reinterpretations of state interests were linked to investment in navies and to tasks for naval activity.1
Jeremy Black
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