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Subject History » Military History

Key-Topics navy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631168485.1994.x


Throughout history, the warship represents a compromise, which it attempts to reconcile with varying degrees of success, between range of action, living conditions aboard, protection and offensive capacity, regardless of whether the last is provided by a ram, ballistic weapons, cannon, torpedoes, aircraft or missiles. Fighting ships also have a ranking order of importance, which is determined by their ability to perform given tasks or by the appearance of new weapons. In fleets of the past, trigates and corvettes acted as scouts for the main squadrons, carried out liaison duties, lent aid to vessels in difficulties or undertook the repetition of signals. During the First World War, battleships did not go to sea except with an escort of destroyers, whose task was to repulse, or forestall, attacks by torpedo-boats or submarines. Aircraft carriers of contemporary navies require a surrounding screen of vessels designed for battle against aircraft and submarines. From Antiquity until the nineteenth century, two types of vessel formed the backbone of navies, depending on the particular geographical area–the galley, of Mediterranean origin, and the ocean-going sailing ship, which, however, made a late entrance on the scene. The galley's history was, in fact, a strange one. Its existence, in various forms, was immensely prolonged, and extended over nearly two millennia. In the Mediterranean, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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