Brown-, Green-, and Blue-Water Fleets: The Influence of Geography on Naval Warfare, 1861 to the Present

By Michael Lindberg; Daniel Todd | Go to book overview

4
The Naval Warfare Environment

At first glance, the ocean appears to be a fairly uniform, featureless environment. Water, water everywhere. Vast expanses of open ocean, occasionally interrupted by an island or reef but essentially an uncomplicated and uncluttered environment, especially when compared with the terrestrial portions of the earth. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The marine environment is an extremely complex one and presents those engaging in naval operations with many challenges. In order to fully understand the impact of geography on naval warfare, it is essential that one have a firm grasp on the physical realities of the marine environment. To this end, we present an overall description of this environment’s physical geographic characteristics as well as a detailed examination of its three specific areas: the high seas, marginal seas, and littorals. The special environment that inland waterways constitutes is also addressed. Some mention of the influence that these physical geographic characteristics have on naval warfare is presented, but we confine most of our comments to the physical nature of these characteristics and deal with the specifics of their influence in more detail elsewhere in the book.

From a global perspective, the ocean is a single body of water, the so-called world ocean. Covering nearly 71 percent (a staggering 139 million square miles) of the earth’s surface, it constitutes the single largest environment on the planet. It is true that when we look at a map of the world, we see many different oceans and seas, but these are largely artificial partitions. In reality, there is only one vast, interconnected body of water.1 While the continents separate the various ocean basins from each other, they do not isolate or cut off any of them from one another. They do not prevent the exchange of water from one area to another via surface and subsurface currents, nor do they prohibit the movement of marine life or shipping on a global basis. Barring technological restrictions, there is no place on the planet that is covered by this body of water or borders on it that a vessel cannot access. In addition, the connection between the world ocean and various inland waterway

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Brown-, Green-, and Blue-Water Fleets: The Influence of Geography on Naval Warfare, 1861 to the Present
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Prelude- Land versus Sea Warfare 13
  • 3 - Theoretical Background- Classicaland Modern Geostrategy 23
  • 4 - The Naval Warfare Environment 59
  • 5 - Naval Warfare on the High Seas 71
  • 6 - Naval Warfare in the Littorals 145
  • 7 - Riverine Warfare 169
  • 8 - The Influence Ofgeography on Navies 195
  • 9 - Conclusion 223
  • Selected Bibliography 229
  • Index 237
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