The Greatest Naval Battle in History

General naval discussions that don't fit within any specific time period or cover several issues.

Which was the greatest naval battle in history?

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lwd
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by lwd » Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:16 pm

neil hilton wrote:... I think using specific chain of command structure and administration is a more clear cut method of determining the difference....
By this definition Waterloo wouldn't be considered a battle. Adrianople might also not be considered such. I don't think we can really come up with one good fixed defintion that is universally applicable.

Seekanone
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by Seekanone » Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:53 pm

Midway, while often described as the most decisive battle of the Pacific War was not. While four Japanese Carriers were sunk, enough were left to remain a mortal foe to the USN and Japan had more than enough surface ships to more than defeat the USN at sea.
IMHO, the Battle of Leyte Gulf was the greatest battle of the greatest sea combat in history, the war in the Pacific as it spelled the end of the Nihon Kaigun as a viable naval force and meant the beginning of the end of the Japanese empire.

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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by lwd » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:47 am

Seekanone wrote:Midway, while often described as the most decisive battle of the Pacific War was not.
It certainlly rates right up there. I can't think of another that was more decisive.
While four Japanese Carriers were sunk, enough were left to remain a mortal foe to the USN and Japan had more than enough surface ships to more than defeat the USN at sea.
Even before Midway the Japanese didn't have a strong enough navy to defeat the USN and certainly not afterwards. They could win battles here and there but they weren't going to win the war.
IMHO, the Battle of Leyte Gulf was the greatest battle of the greatest sea combat in history, the war in the Pacific as it spelled the end of the Nihon Kaigun as a viable naval force and meant the beginning of the end of the Japanese empire.
In some senses there is a good argument for this but the Nihon Kaigun at Leyte was already defeated they were simply looking for a place to "die with honor".

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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by Seekanone » Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:49 pm

I would recommend you read Shattered Sword by Parshall and Tully. It explains why Midway was not by any means the decisive battle it has been claimed to be. The turning point of the war in the Pacific was in total the battles of attrition during the Guadalcanal campaign in which the destroyer and cruiser forces of the Nihon Kaigun were stripped to the bone while the USN was able to replace her losses. :stubborn:

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RF
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by RF » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:09 pm

I think this claim is a faulty reading - it implies that the loss of the four fleet carriers at Midway didn't matter. They certainly did matter, starting with the Guadalcanal campaign.
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lwd
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by lwd » Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:30 am

Seekanone wrote:I would recommend you read Shattered Sword by Parshall and Tully. It explains why Midway was not by any means the decisive battle it has been claimed to be. The turning point of the war in the Pacific was in total the battles of attrition during the Guadalcanal campaign in which the destroyer and cruiser forces of the Nihon Kaigun were stripped to the bone while the USN was able to replace her losses. :stubborn:
I've read it. However as far as the war goes it was more decisive than Leyte. While the Japanese took higher losses in the latter their navy was so far outclassed at that point by the USN that they had no chance at all. On the other hand prior to Midway the Japanese were the dominant navy in the Pacific. After Midway they were not. Now that situation was almost sure to occur but it would have been latter if Midway hadn't gone as it did and months later if the US had lost badly. The battles around Guadalcanal cost the Japanese in parity they may have had at that point and it wasn't just the loss of light forces but skilled pilots as well. There is however a very real question of whether the US would even have tried an offensive operation at Guadalcanal if Midway hadn't occurred and almost certainly wouldn't have in the face of a disaster at Midway.

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RF
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by RF » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:01 am

If the US had been defeated at Midway they would have put more immediate emphasis on their submarine campaign against Japanese shipping, and would have carried on the ''hit and run'' raids on Japanese ouposts that they were carrying out prior to the Coral Sea and Midway battles, but with growing strength. Raids carried out in the Guadalcanal theatre could easily be extended into the land campaign it was. The main factor here is not the degree of Japanese surface ship/carrier/aircraft superiority but the logistical one of the Japanese being hopelessly overstretched on all fronts - making them more vulnerable to counter attack and their losses more critical.
A US defeat at Midway could have led to a big US victory at Guadalcanal, particulary if the Japanese commited their forces piecemeal.
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by Seekanone » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:21 am

I did not imply nor state that the loss of four carriers of Kido Butai meant nothing. I did not overread anything. The authors state that the more grievous loss for Japan was the maintenance techs and the experienced carrier crews. Midway was important and while Leyte Gulf spelled the end of the Japanese Navy as an effective fighting force, I believe the Battle of the Phillipine Sea actually spelled the end of the Japanese naval air arm and therefore meant defeat for Japan at sea.

The minute the first bomb landed on Pearl Harbor, Japan was headed for defeat. All of the Pacific battles were just stepping stones toward that end. Of the surface battles, most either were Japanese victories or stalemates. Nonethless, Japan had no choice but to fight or face international humiliation. :dance:

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RF
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by RF » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:47 am

Seekanone wrote: Nonethless, Japan had no choice but to fight or face international humiliation. :dance:
There is now a lot of growing propaganda about this. No doubt there is a case that by 1941 Japan had put itself in that position - but that was only because of the acts of aggression commited by the IJA from 1931 onwards. In 1931 or even 1937 Japan was not in a position of being forced to fight or climb down, yet chose the path of aggression.
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by lwd » Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:25 am

Seekanone wrote:I did not imply nor state that the loss of four carriers of Kido Butai meant nothing. I did not overread anything. The authors state that the more grievous loss for Japan was the maintenance techs and the experienced carrier crews.
From what I recall this was in relation to the flight crews and not the carriers. The loss of the carriers took away a lot of flexability. From that point on they had to be extremely careful how they commited any surface units.
Midway was important and while Leyte Gulf spelled the end of the Japanese Navy as an effective fighting force, I believe the Battle of the Phillipine Sea actually spelled the end of the Japanese naval air arm and therefore meant defeat for Japan at sea.
....
Midway meant not only was Japan no longer the dominant naval force in the Pacific they didn't even hold parity. Furthermore their offensive capability was crippled. After the Philippine Sea they were no longer an effective fighting force. Leyte Gulf was essentially a suicide run.

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RF
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by RF » Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:32 am

lwd wrote: Midway meant not only was Japan no longer the dominant naval force in the Pacific they didn't even hold parity. Furthermore their offensive capability was crippled. After the Philippine Sea they were no longer an effective fighting force. Leyte Gulf was essentially a suicide run.
I concur with that view.
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neil hilton
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by neil hilton » Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:19 am

I also agree that Leyte Gulf was a suicide run to allow the IJN to 'die fighting'

This begs the question (relevant to this thread) how can it be classed as the 'Greatest Naval Battle in History'? If it can even be called a battle!!

Just to throw more fuel on the fire, how about Actium as a candidate. Augustus Ceasar against Mark Antony and Cleopatra. If Mark Antony had won how would the would the World have changed?
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lwd
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by lwd » Sun Apr 17, 2011 7:14 pm

I'm really surprised we missed Actium. I don't know enough about the politics of Rome at the time to even guess what would have happened.

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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by Bgile » Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:28 pm

Augustus Caesar was a genius at managing empire. If he had been killed it might very well have effected the extent of the Roman empire. Presumably Egypt would have had greater autonomy. An important battle to be sure, and I'm not sure one can really choose between the truly important battles of history.

123, easy as ABC
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by 123, easy as ABC » Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:24 pm

what about the battle of Sluys??

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