Historically, the naval fleet or navy has traditionally been used as an instrument of conquest and colonial expansion. This concept can be seen in many maritime warfare novels written by non-fiction books authors describing the historical events that took place on the sea.
Naval power has also been utilized as a political tool throughout history. In the context of technological advancements in naval warfare, the Falkland Islands’ war book “Two Battles Two Wars 1980-1982“ by author and former navy sailor David McDonald provides a glimpse into the human side of naval warfare. While technological advancements have allowed navies to become more efficient and effective in achieving their objectives, they have not eliminated the human costs of warfare. The central character in the book David McDonald is an example of how sailors must deal with the personal and emotional tolls of warfare while also carrying out their duties. The book shows how sailors must balance their duties with their personal lives and how the emotional burden of personal tragedy can affect their performance.
Naval power has been a key determinant of victory in many maritime wars throughout history, as demonstrated in World Wars I and II.
During World War I, although trench warfare on land was the most popularly known aspect of the conflict, battles also took place at sea. A naval war strategy played out between the British Navy and Germany, with the Germans employing an underwater war strategy using submarines (U-Boats) to disrupt Allied surface warship domination and supply lines in the Atlantic Ocean.
In World War II, naval warfare evolved to include the deployment of aircraft carriers, in addition to surface warships and submarines. These carriers could carry dozens of warplanes, allowing for expanded and more versatile operations. For instance, the Japanese attack on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor highlighted the power of aircraft carriers and Kamikaze fighter aircraft.
During World War II, the Pacific Front was a particularly destructive area of conflict for the US Navy and the Japanese Navy.
The Momentum of Naval Warfare Technology
By the end of WW II, the world underwent a significant shift with the emergence of the Western Bloc (led by the US and its allies) and the Eastern Bloc (led by the Soviet Union and its supporters) in what became known as the Cold War. Both blocs competed to spread their influence around the world, using various means to win over countries that had not yet aligned with either side. Economic assistance, education, and defense were among the ways both sides supported these countries.
The Cold War had a momentous impact on the world, with many wars and conflicts arising as proxy wars fought by countries under the influence of each bloc. Examples include the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Arab-Israeli warfare of 1967 and 1973.
In modern times, naval warfare technology has developed rapidly with the introduction of various types of warships, such as submarines, aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates, and corvettes. One of the most developed technologies in this field is stealth technology, which allows ships to operate with minimal radar detection.
Anti-Surface Warfare (ASW) is one of the tactics and strategies developed by many countries as a defense strategy. This strategy is not solely reliant on traditional concepts of naval warfare, such as ship dimensions and cannon power. Instead, it involves tactics such as surface-to-surface missile (SSM) warfare, small warships to carry out maneuvers, electronic warfare, and the deployment of advanced sensor and radar systems. An Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) equipped with missiles and advanced radar, sensors, and communication systems can be a formidable weapon when combined with the right tactics and strategy. David McDonald’s book “Two Battles Two Wars 1980-1982” serves as the cornerstone of depicting the great 1982 Falkland Islands war and the challenges navy sailors faced at sea while spending long periods during the war without access to traditional forms of communication. The book shows how modern communication technology can make life easier for sailors to stay connected with their loved ones and receive updates on the situation at home.
The Doctrine of Naval Warfare
Advancements have influenced the tactics of naval warfare in technology, but the overall strategy remains the same – to achieve victory. The concepts of sea supremacy and sea denial still serve as the main strategy for naval battles. However, there are new concepts that have been developed to suit the needs of each country’s strategy, such as the Maritime Conception Domain Awareness (MDA) and the integration of naval, ground, and air-based combat operations.
In peacetime, many countries strive to achieve sea power as a strategy. This concept goes beyond the power of the navy and includes a wider scope of elements. Sea power has three main elements: control over commercial and international trade traffic, the capability for naval combat operations, and the use of naval instruments in diplomacy, deterrence, and political influence in peacetime. Unlike the concepts of land or water power, which are very military-oriented, the concept of sea power is integral to geo-economics.