Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - 12:45 AM UTC
The first instance of naval warfare dates to 1210BC. King Suppililiuma II, of the Hittites, defeated a fleet from Cyprus and burned all of their ships at sea. This story has been debated since there is only one source detailing the battle. The Greeks mostly used their ships for trade and transport. There is mention in 664BC of a sea battle between Corinth and its colony of Corcyra.
The Persian Wars, 498BC-488BC, were noted for their use of combined land-sea operations. Large scale naval battles were used in conjunction with land battles to meet the objective. It seems that most naval developments for the proceeding 200 years were lost to history.
Over the years as ship design improved so did naval tactics and the battle that followed. The distances between ships during combat began to increase until opposing navies would never see each other during combat. Also during this time the battle was taken below the waves and finally into the air.
The fortunes of entire wars have been determined by naval battles. During the Persian Wars Xerxes I tried to use a similar tactic of using his navy to help protect his land forces. However at the Battle of Salamis the Greek Navy routed the Persian Navy and helped to force Xerxes to retreat and finally be driven back to Asia.
The seemingly unstoppable Japanese were crippled beyond repair by a rapid series of naval battles with the Unites States. After loosing at ships and aircrews the Japanese could no longer hold their island empire. Naval power figured into the defeat of the Confederate States during the US Civil War. The blockade prevented supplies from reaching the southern states.
So as much as naval warfare has changed over the years it is still used to support the ground forces. But without one another each would be lost.
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