The Royal Navy and Maritime Power in the Twentieth Century

The Royal Navy and Maritime Power in the Twentieth Century

The Royal Navy and Maritime Power in the Twentieth Century

The Royal Navy and Maritime Power in the Twentieth Century


Using a number of case studies based upon key Royal Navy operations in the 20th century, Ian Speller discusses the enduring principles of maritime power & examines the strengths & limitations of maritime forces as instruments of national policy.


I am delighted to provide a few words as a Foreword to this volume which, authoritatively yet accessibly, analyses the utility of maritime force, and its limitations, and the role of navies as instruments of national power. The authority of the work is inherent in the impressive list of contributors assembled by the Editor.

The period and sea areas covered are limited to the twentieth century, the Mediterranean and the Persian (now Arabian) Gulf, which still provide plenty of case studies. Indeed, major campaigns such as Gallipoli (1915) and Suez (1956) are not included. The geographical limitation is both practical (obviating the need to run to several volumes!) and useful, as by concentrating on just two areas, it helps to underline the connection between maritime strategy, and the enduring facts of geography which, together with hydrography, meteorology and other wet sciences contribute to our understanding of the environment to seaward of Mean High Water Springs.

That this book has its genesis in the work of the staff and students of the Joint Services Command and Staff College underlines its fully practical approach to pinning down the enduring essentials of the strengths and limitations of maritime power, and it greatly encourages me to learn that generations of young officers, and not only naval officers, are extracting not strictly lessons, for that would be too prescriptive, but ideas and thoughts about the utility and possibilities of maritime power, the better to enable them to address today's multifarious defence and security challenges.

It would be idle to deny that British forces in general, and perhaps the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in particular, have a proud and enviable reputation for punching above their weight. Clearly this must have been developed in the twentieth century, for in 1900 the Royal Navy was the weightiest around, by some margin. By the year 2000 this had clearly changed radically. If our country and our politicians are to continue to enjoy this special dividend it will become ever more important that the objectives for, and the manner in which, British forces are used are carefully assessed and analysed before commitment. This is where the ideas, considerations and experiences outlined in the chapters of this book, and the discussion and analysis in establishments such as the JSCSC lying behind them, should prove especially valuable. And while not all of us, and not even all serving officers, will find ourselves taking part in the studies and debates which

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