By Michael Palmer
Commanders at sea fight not just with the unpredictability of normal components, but additionally with a shroud of uncertainty sometimes called the "fog of war." Over the centuries such a lot admirals yielded to the common temptation to discover in new applied sciences a way to claim centralized keep an eye on over their forces. yet different commanders have famous the fog for what it's: a continuing point of uncertainty immune to mere technological answer.
during this grand historical past of naval war, Michael Palmer observes 5 centuries of dramatic encounters lower than sail and steam. From reliance on sign flags within the 17th century to satellite tv for pc communications within the twenty-first, admirals seemed to the subsequent develop in expertise because the one who could let them keep an eye on their forces. yet whereas skills to speak stronger, Palmer indicates how different applied sciences concurrently shrank admirals' home windows of determination. the outcome used to be easy, if now not visible: naval commanders have by no means had adequate capability or time to direct subordinates in conflict.
winning commanders as far away as Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) and Arleigh Burke (1901-1996) permitted this fact. They sought strategies to the dilemmas of command within the own indoctrination of subordinates via dialogue, comradeship, and monitors of belief and self assurance. Such leaders created a commonality of imaginative and prescient and fostered a excessive measure of person initiative. Their decentralized method of command led to a resiliency that so usually supplied the major to good fortune in conflict.
Palmer's fascinating and enlightening historical past finds the myriad efforts of naval commanders to navigate the fog of battle.
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Additional info for Command at Sea: Naval Command and Control Since the Sixteenth Century
Communicating in the midst of a sea battle fought under the old system had been far more complicated than communicating ashore. The standard method employed during a land battle—sending a staff ofﬁcer with a message or riding oneself to a threatened sector—was fraught with hazard aﬂoat, although well into the seventeenth century naval commanders did summon subordinates to the ﬂagship during lulls in engagements. The use of speaking trumpets, never truly satisfactory, became even less so as distances between ships increased and the roar of ever larger and more numerous cannon drowned out auditory communication.
Sailing ships were not designed with ramming bows. Ships rammed each other in battle, but as a prelude to boarding, not, except in rare cases, in an effort to sink an opponent. Nor did the development of more advanced ranged weapons— the arquebus and cannon—alter battle tactics. Reload times were too long and ranges too short. Since early sailing warships mounted only a few cannon, galley-fashion to ﬁre forward, commanders continued to rely on the mêlée in battle. The ad hoc nature of most early sailing navies reinforced reliance on military—that is, land—tactics.
The Dutch explained that they sought no trouble, only relief from rough Channel weather. Despite such assurances, Bourne took no chances. 1 Anglo-Dutch relations had been steadily deteriorating for years. ” In the English Channel and the North Sea, the Dutch navy rivaled that of England. In the Baltic, the Dutch had displaced the English commercially, gaining control over the lucrative carrying trade as well as strategically important timber supplies. England’s Muscovy Company had been thrown out of Russia and suffered heavy ﬁnancial losses, in part because of the competition and machinations of the Dutch.