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Chapter 1 Naval Sea Power
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Naval Orientation - Military manual for administrative purposes
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Defeat of the Spanish Armada
Geographical  position  was  described  as  the most  significant  condition  in  the  rise  of  English sea   power   to   world   dominance.   England   was ideally  situated  astride  the  major  sea  lanes  of European  trade.  Therefore,  in  times  of  peace England  would  prosper  commercially  and  in  times of war would deny the use of these vital sea lanes to  its  enemies.  In  addition,  England’s  insular position  protected  it  from  invasion  by  enemies  and prevented  the  necessity  of  a  large  army. Although geographical position is important, Mahan  observed  that  other  conditions  are  also important  for  a  nation  to  become  a  strong  sea power. An advantageous geographical position is of little benefit to a nation that lacks a suitable coast  line  for  harbors,  natural  resources,  and  a favorable  climate.  A  nation  that  possesses  such benefits  will  seldom  look  seaward.  England, lacking these natural advantages, was compelled to  turn  to  the  sea. Mahan’s  third  and  fourth  conditions,  extent of  territory  and  a  population  large  enough  to defend  its  territory,  are  interdependent.  A  nation’s coastlines  and  harbors  are  not  only  commercial outlets,  but  also  a  means  of  penetration  by  its enemies. A nation must have a strong navy and engage in profitable trade with other nations to become a  sea  power.  Therefore,  as  Mahan  states  in  the fifth requirement, the society of that nation must have  an  aptitude  for  the  sea  and  commercial enterprise. Finally,  the  government  of  a  nation  must  have enough influence over other nations to dominate the sea. In  the  decades  immediately  following  the  Civil War,  the  primary  role  of  the  U.S.  Navy  was  as coastal   defender   and   commerce   raider.   The United States did not exercise the concept of sea power,  but  believed  in  the  concept  of  national isolation.  In  effect,  the  nation  stressed  naval expansion  within  its  own  country.  By  1890, however,   the   nation   began   naval   expansion toward  other  countries,  and  its  concept  of  national isolation  began  to  ebb. Those groups in the Navy and in the govern- ment  who  believed  in  the  concept  of  sea  power endorsed   Mahan’s   doctrine.   They   based   their endorsement  on  the  belief  that  history  provides clues to achieving maritime supremacy. Mahan’s concept,  therefore,  became  the  intellectual  force behind  the  United  States’  development  of  its  Navy into  a  sea  power. HISTORY  OF  SEA  POWER Sea power as an important influence in history dates back to 2000 B.C. The ancient Cretans are credited with being the first nation to possess a navy  and  a  merchant  marine.  Because  of  their strong  naval  forces,  the  Cretans  dominated  the people on the shores of the Aegean Sea. This land area  became  known  as  Greece  and  Turkey. The  age  of  exploration  and  colonization  was the age of sea power in its broadest application. Nations  employing  sea  power  during  this  age became rich and powerful. They prospered from the goods brought in by their ships, and the world prospered  from  the  goods  sent  forth  by  their ships. Inevitably, power struggles erupted between the maritime rivals, and many wars were fought between opposing sea powers. When sea powers clashed, the one with the soundest knowledge of the  sea  and  the  most  effective  use  of  its  ships determined  the  victor. Spain, Portugal, and France, the three great maritime  powers,  made  great  and  enduring contributions   to   discovery,   exploration,   and colonization.   Portugal,   a   country   with   only 1 million inhabitants at the time, discovered and explored  almost  two-thirds  of  the  unknown  world. Eventually   the   sea   power   of   these   countries dwindled because their knowledge of the sea was either   lacking   or   inferior   to   that   of   their opponents. In  one  of  the  most  decisive  battles  of  maritime history, the battle of Diu in 1509, the Portuguese fleet  crushed  the  Egyptian-Gujerati  fleet.  This victory  turned  Portugal  into  a  major  sea  power with an empire stretching from Brazil to China. It also marked the beginning of four centuries of undisputed European sea supremacy in the Indian Ocean.  This  battle  was  the  first  proof  of  the importance of artillery mounted aboard ships to destroy enemy vessels. In  1511  the  Portuguese  fleet  moved  northward to China and then eastward through the heart of the   Spice   Islands   to   Malacca.   This   voyage established  one  of  the  first  routes  to  Europe’s commercial-colonial  empires,  which  were  main- tained by superiority of firearms and sea power. In the Indian ocean, the Portuguese navy was the first to understand the concept of sea power and  to  develop  a  naval  strategy  to  suit  its individual needs. Countries later achieving naval power used the same strategy introduced by the Portuguese. 1-2

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