Five naval battles that changed American History
To be considered a superpower, a state must be able to project its naval power across the seas and oceans. U.S. has exploited its excellent geostrategic position between the Atlantic and Pacific, gradually building the rule over the seas . The control of trade routes and supply bases are the main condition for a state to be considered a naval power. When you have command of the sea, you can severely limit the strategic options of your opponents. The Royal Navy is the perfect model for a state that managed to build a colonial empire by using the professionalism of its naval forces, which have protected the supply routes for British merchant ships.
As a former British colony, U.S has shown that it learned well the lesson regarding command of the seas .
Professor Craig L. Symonds of U.S. Naval Academy identified in his book, “ Decision at Sea:Five Naval Battles that Shaped American History” , the five crucial moments in American History in which naval forces played a key role.
1.Battle of Lake Earie(10 september 1813)
Battle of Lake Earie is part of the War of 1812, also referred to as the "Second War of Independence". In this naval confrontation that took place in the area of Great Lakes, 9 American warships captured 6 British warships.The victory in this battles, allowed the Americans to recover Detroit and win the next Battle of Moraviantown (5 October 1813) against the Indian confederation of Tecumseh.
2. Battle of Hampton Roads (8-9 March 1862)
Was one of the most important battles of the American Civil War (1861-1865), that marked in the same time a historic moment in the design and construction of warships. Is the battle that highlights the first iron clad, CSS Virginia(Ex-USS Merrimac), belonging to Confederacy. CSS Virginia sailed in the estuary of Elizabeth River(Virginia) to break the Union Navy blockade composed of wooden-hulled ships . At the end of the battle, CSS Virginia detached from all other ships and marked a new chapter in the history of naval warfare, and also has inaugurated a new class of warships known as monitors. It is interesting to note that the CSS Virginia was protected by iron only up to waterline. In other words, it was vulnerable under waterline.
3. Battle of Manila Bay (1 May 1898)
Battle of Manila Bay is a part of Spanish–American War of 1898, that marked the collapse of Spanish colonial empire and asserting the status of great power of United States . Manila Bay naval confrontation was the most decisive battle in the history of naval history because it resulted in the end of the Spanish colonial period in the history of the Philippines.
4. Battle of Midway (4 June 1942)
Battle of Midway was one of the most important battles of World War II, that took place In the Pacific theater of operations . U.S. naval forces have achieved a decisive victory, inflicting insurmountable damage on the Japanese Imperial Fleet
The great importance of the Battle of Midway is underlined by military historian John Kaegan, , which called it “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare”.
American code breakers were able to determine the date and location of the attack, enabling the forewarned U.S. Navy to set up an ambush of its own. Four Japanese aircraft carriers and a heavy cruiser were sunk in exchange for one American aircraft carrier and a destroyer. Japanese plan to draw in trap US aircraft carriers was a disaster. It was Japan’s worst defeat in 350 years of history.
Image: Japanese Mogami class cruiser wreck
5. Operation Praying Mantis (Persian Gulf, 18 April 1988)
Operation Praying Mantis was a U.S. Navy military action in retaliation for the Iranian mining of the Persian Gulf, during Iran-Iraq War(1980-1988). The incident with the frigate Samuel B Roberts damaged by an Iranian mine, is the triggering factor of US Navy strike.This battle was the largest of the U.S. surface engagements since World War II. For the first time in US Navy history, US has used anti-ship missiles.
Image with Iranian frigate IS Sahand (F-74)wreck in flames
Craig L. Symonds, Decision at Sea:Five Naval Battles that Shaped American History, Ed. Oxford University Press, New York, 2005.