The Last Century of Sea Power - Vol. 2

The Last Century of Sea Power - Vol. 2

The Last Century of Sea Power - Vol. 2

The Last Century of Sea Power - Vol. 2

Synopsis

The transition to modern war at sea began during the period of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Spanish-American War (1898) and was propelled forward rapidly by the advent of the dreadnought and the nearly continuous state of war that culminated in World War I. By 1922, most of the elements that would define sea power in the 20th century were in place. Written by one of our foremost military historians, this volume acknowledges the complex nature of this transformation, focusing on imperialism, the growth of fleets, changes in shipbuilding and armament technology, and doctrines about the deployment and use of force at sea, among other factors. There is careful attention to the many battles fought at sea during this period and their impact on the future of sea power. The narrative is supplemented by a wide range of reference materials, including a detailed census of capital ships built during this period and a remarkable chronology of actions at sea during World War I.

Excerpt

Arms races are not the cause of rivalries and wars but rather the reflection of conflicting ambition and intent, though inevitably they compound and add to these differences. The First World War was not the product of AngloGerman naval rivalry, though this was one of the major factors that determined Britain’s taking position in the ranks of Germany’s enemies, and most certainly it was a major factor in producing the growing sense of instability within Europe in the decade prior to 1914. But if the naval race was indeed one of the factors that made for war in 1914—although it should be noted that the most dangerous phase of this rivalry would seem to have passed by 1914—then there is the obvious problem of explaining the war in 1939–1941, in that the greater part of the inter-war period, between 1921 and 1936, was marked by a very deliberate policy of naval limitation on the part of the great powers. Admittedly the arrangements that were set in place in various treaties had lapsed by 1937, and a naval race had begun that most certainly was crucially important in terms of Japanese calculations in 1940 and 1941 and indeed was critical in the decision to initiate war in the Pacific. In summer 1941, as the Japanese naval command was obliged to consider the consequences of its own actions and the full implications of the U.S. Congress having passed the Two-Ocean Naval Expansion Act in July 1940, the Imperial Navy, the Kaigun, was caught in a go-now-or-never dilemma, and it, like its sister service, simply could not admit the futility and pointlessness of past endeavors and sacrifices. But, of course, not a few of these endeavors and sacrifices had been military and Asian and most definitely were not naval and Pacific.

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