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#1
Old 05-27-2003, 07:38 PM
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When was the most recent naval battle?

The First and Second World Wars had important naval battles like the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of Midway, and prior to that the British and French had a number of famous encounters. However, since the end of WWII, most conflicts have been fought on land (and between air and land). The Falklands War is the only recent conflict I can think of with an important naval component.

My question is therefore, what major naval battles have been fought since the end of World War II? I don't know if there is a precise definition of a naval battle, but I would say: any encounter where multiple ships of either side attacked each other with guns, missiles or ship-launched planes.

I understand that India and Pakistan and North and South Korea have some of the largest navies in the world, but in their conflicts have they ever fought a serious naval battle? Did the Falklands war constitute a naval battle with a large Argentine fleet opposing the British, or were most of the attacks on ships from land-based aircraft? What about other major wars since 1945?

And is the decline in naval battles due to changes in strategy and technology or merely to the geography of combatants? (Britain vs. Germany or USA vs. Japan are more likely to involve naval battles than Iran vs. Iraq or the civil war in DR Congo)
#2
Old 05-27-2003, 08:14 PM
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Re: When was the most recent naval battle?

Quote:
Originally posted by refusal

I understand that India and Pakistan and North and South Korea have some of the largest navies in the world, but in their conflicts have they ever fought a serious naval battle?
More like a series of smaller engagements, I believe. I know India sunk 22 Pakistani vessels ( including 2 submarines ), while losing only 1 in the 1971 war.

Quote:
Did the Falklands war constitute a naval battle with a large Argentine fleet opposing the British, or were most of the attacks on ships from land-based aircraft?
The latter. It was basically a contest between the British navy and Argentine air force.

Quote:
What about other major wars since 1945?
There was some relatively minor action associated with some of the Arab-Israeli wars. There were also very minor actions in Vietnam and Korea which could hardly be called battles under your definition. Similarly there were minor actions in the Iran-Iraq War.

I don't really think we have seen a major multi-ship ( as opposed to small gunboat ) engagement since WW II.

Quote:
And is the decline in naval battles due to changes in strategy and technology or merely to the geography of combatants? (Britain vs. Germany or USA vs. Japan are more likely to involve naval battles than Iran vs. Iraq or the civil war in DR Congo)
A little of both probably, but mostly the latter. If WW III had ever broken out between NATO and the WARsaw Pact, it is likely we would have seen at least some sort of major engagement.

- Tamerlane
#3
Old 05-27-2003, 09:18 PM
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The Falklands war also was the first (and so far only) time that a nuclear submarine engaged an enemy in a naval battle (ignoring any cold war rumors) when the British sub HMS Conqueror torpedoed and sunk the Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano.
#4
Old 05-27-2003, 11:15 PM
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In 1988 Chinese and Vietnamese naval ships battled in the South China Sea (in the area of the hotly contested Spratly Islands). Over 70 Vietnamese sailors were killed, and a bunch of their ships sunk. There was another brief skirmish between China and the Philippines in the same region in 1996, but IIRC there were no casualties or sinkings.
#5
Old 05-27-2003, 11:31 PM
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Realize that almost no countries possess a blue water navy. The US is without doubt the premier navy in the world. The former USSR had a formidable navy but even they never really rivaled the US. Today the Russian navy is a ghost of its former self. Most any naval action you are likely to see today will be relatively small scale in comparison to WWII or previous engagements.

What about the Gulf of Tonkin? How does that stack-up as a naval engagement? My sense is it was relatively minor as these things go but it led the US into the Vietnam War so its ultimate impact was rather large.
#6
Old 05-27-2003, 11:47 PM
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Large naval battles are a thing of the past; mostly due to the appearence of naval aviation; the Midway battle was the curtain call for that kind of operations. Large ships (battleships, carriers, cruisers et all) are too vulnerable to air attacks and modern submarines; I once heard that carriers are called "bomb magnetos"; to big a target to let it go.
#7
Old 05-27-2003, 11:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ale
Large naval battles are a thing of the past; mostly due to the appearence of naval aviation; the Midway battle was the curtain call for that kind of operations. Large ships (battleships, carriers, cruisers et all) are too vulnerable to air attacks and modern submarines; I once heard that carriers are called "bomb magnetos"; to big a target to let it go.
Hmmm...the US navy would seem to disagree. Certainly a carrier is a prime target but it is likewise protected to no end. Regardless the US most certainly fields a large navy. Maybe not equal to the tonnage in WWII but quite formidable nevertheless.
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Old 05-27-2003, 11:59 PM
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Au contraire, how many battleships does the US Navy has built since WWII?
The main ships in the US Navy are the carriers; and a fleet of support vessels as a defense force, not as a direct attacking force.
#9
Old 05-28-2003, 12:01 AM
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Midway was not a naval battle as such. There was no contact between surface ships. The modern navy is not designed for naval surface battles. Hence the use of missles. And the lack of big guns.
#10
Old 05-28-2003, 12:04 AM
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Eerrr... well instead of "au contraire" id better have said that you were right when saying: "Certainly a carrier is a prime target but it is likewise protected to no end" The carrier, defended by smaller ships; volleys of cannon fire between enemy fleets are gone for good. In fact, modern vessels have surprisingly small and scarce cannons; relying more on missiles.
#11
Old 05-28-2003, 12:07 AM
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"Midway was not a naval battle as such. "
Thats why I said that it was the end of the traditional naval battles....
#12
Old 05-28-2003, 12:35 AM
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The Battle of Surigao Strait in late 1944 during the invasion of the Phillipines was probably the last capital ship gun battle, complete with crossing the T.

But I'd hardly call that the last naval battle. It's just that such have evolved, and since WWII have generally been of the form of air delivered weaponry, whether missile or armed aircraft, attacking ships. Whether the armament departed from a land base or an opposing ship probably doesn't matter. As long as one side is on the water, in contemporary terms that could be called a naval battle, IMHO.

So, the Falklands count. If you want to stretch a bit, I suppose you might consider the 1987-88 "Tanker War" during the Iran-Iraq conflict. While it involved few warships, as with the Battle of the Atlantic, it was a strategic attack on commerce.
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