Line of battle

In naval warfare, the line of battle is a tactic in which a naval fleet of ships forms a line end to end. Its first use is disputed, variously claimed for dates ranging from 1502 to 1652, with line-of-battle tactics in widespread use by 1675.

Compared with prior naval tactics, in which two opposing ships closed on one another for individual combat, the line of battle has the advantage that each ship in the line can fire its broadside without fear of hitting a friendly ship. Therefore, in a given period, the fleet can fire more shots.

Another advantage is that a relative movement of the line in relation to some part of the enemy fleet allows for a systematic concentration of fire on that part. The other fleet can avoid this by maneuvering in a line itself, with a result typical for sea battle since 1675: two fleets sail alongside one another or on the opposite tack.

A ship powerful enough to stand in the line of battle came to be called a ship of the line (of battle) or line of battle ship, which was shortened to become the word battleship.[1]

La Marine-Pacini-140
A French squadron forming the line of battle circa 1840. Drawing by Antoine Morel-Fatio.
Nicholas Pocock - The Battle of Copenhagen, 2 April 1801
British and Danish ships in line of battle at the Battle of Copenhagen (1801)


Slag bij Öland - Battle of Öland in 1676 (Romeyn de Hooghe)
A contemporary depiction of the battle of Öland between an allied Danish-Dutch fleet under Cornelis Tromp and the Swedish navy. The Swedish ships are arranged in a battle line in the early stages, but they quickly become disorganized and suffer a humiliating defeat. Copper engraving by Romeyn de Hooghe, 1676.

The first recorded mention of the use of a line of battle tactic is attested from 1500. The Instructions provided in 1500 by King Manuel I of Portugal to the commander of a fleet dispatched to the Indian Ocean suggests its use predated the written instructions. Portuguese fleets overseas deployed in line ahead, firing one broadside and then putting about in order to return and discharge the other, resolving battles by gunnery alone. In a treatise of 1555, The Art of War at Sea, Portuguese theorist on naval warfare and shipbuilding, Fernão de Oliveira, recognized that at sea, the Portuguese "fight at a distance, as if from walls and fortresses...". He recommended the single line ahead as the ideal combat formation.[2]

A line-of-battle tactic had been used by the Fourth Portuguese India Armada in the Battle of Calicut, under Vasco da Gama in 1502, near Malabar against a Muslim fleet.[3] One of the earliest recorded deliberate use is also documented in the First Battle of Cannanore between the Third Portuguese India Armada under João da Nova and the naval forces of Calicut, earlier in the same year.[4] Another early, but different form of this strategy, was used in 1507 by Afonso de Albuquerque at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, in the first conquest of Ormuz. Albuquerque commanded a fleet of six carracks manned by 460 men, and entered Ormuz Bay, being surrounded by 250 warships and a 20.000 men army on land, Albuquerque made his small fleet (but powerful in its artillery) circle like a carrousel, but in a line end-to-end, and destroyed most of the ships that surrounded his squad. He then proceeded to capture Ormuz.

While it is well documented that Maarten Tromp first used it in the Action of 18 September 1639,[5] some have disputed this.[6] One of the first precise written instructions in any language adopting the formation were contained in the English Navy's Fighting Instructions, written by Admiral Robert Blake and published in 1653.[6] Individual captains on both sides of the First Anglo-Dutch War appear to have experimented with the technique in 1652, possibly including Blake at the Battle of Goodwin Sands.[6]

From the mid-16th century the cannon gradually became the most important weapon in naval warfare, replacing boarding actions as the decisive factor in combat. At the same time, the natural tendency in the design of galleons was for longer ships with lower castles, which meant faster, more stable vessels. These newer warships could mount more cannons along the sides of their decks, concentrating their firepower along their broadside.

Until the mid-17th century, the tactics of a fleet were often to "charge" the enemy, firing bow chaser cannon, which did not deploy the broadside to its best effect. These new vessels required new tactics, and "since ... almost all the artillery is found upon the sides of a ship of war, hence it is the beam that must necessarily and always be turned toward the enemy. On the other hand, it is necessary that the sight of the latter must never be interrupted by a friendly ship. Only one formation allows the ships of the same fleet to satisfy fully these conditions. That formation is the line ahead [column]. This line, therefore, is imposed as the only order of battle, and consequently as the basis of all fleet tactics."[7]

The line-of-battle tactic favored very large ships that could sail steadily and maintain their place in the line in the face of heavy fire. The change toward the line of battle also depended on an increased disciplining of society and the demands of powerful centralized government to keep permanent fleets led by a corps of professional officers. These officers were better able to manage and communicate between the ships they commanded than the merchant crews that often comprised large parts of a navy's force. The new type of warfare that developed during the early modern period was marked by a successively stricter organization. Battle formations became standardized, based on mathematically calculated ideal models. The increased power of states at the expense of individual landowners led to increasingly larger armies and navies.[8]

Effective use

The line of battle was marked by tactical ridigity and often resulted in indecisive engagements. Fleet commanders sometimes met with greater success by altering or abandoning the line of battle outright by breaking the enemy line and moving through it (e.g. Four Days Battle, Battle of Schooneveld, Battle of Trafalgar), by trying to cut off and isolate part of the enemy's line while concentrating a stronger force on it (e.g. Battle of Texel, Battle of the Saintes), or by trying to "double up" the enemy's ships (e.g. Battle of Beachy Head).


The main problem with the line of battle was that when the fleets are of similar size, naval actions using it were generally indecisive. The French in particular were adept at gunnery and would generally take the leeward position to enable their fleet to retire downwind while continuing to fire chain-shot at long range to bring down masts. Eventually so many vessels in a line would be damaged that they would be forced to retire for repairs while the French took few casualties and very little damage themselves.


If the opposing fleets were of similar size, a portion of the line might be overwhelmed by focused gunfire of the entire enemy line by doubling. Ships breaking through the enemy line would act in concert with others remaining on the original side to simultaneously engage both sides of a portion of the enemy fleet while the broadsides of the remainder of the enemy line were unable to engage.[9]

Age of steam

For a period in the late 19th century, naval tactics became chaotic as ironclad warships were introduced. One school of thought held that ironclads were effectively invulnerable to gunfire, so ramming became a popular method of attack, such as at the Battle of Lissa and the Battle of the Yalu River. Another held that naval battles would only be decided by an assault on an enemy fleet in port. Ships built according to these doctrines tended to mount a handful of guns which could fire ahead or all-round, rather than broadside. The fleets of these periods tended to use the line of battle less.

However, as ramming fell out of fashion, the logic of the line of battle returned; used in the Battle of Tsushima of 1905, the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and finally in the Battle of Surigao Strait in 1944.

During World War II the development of aircraft carriers meant that gun engagements were no longer decisive. This meant there was no rationale for using a line-of-battle formation. In modern naval warfare, a battlegroup generally deploys with the highest-value units in the centre, accompanied closely by anti-aircraft escorts, with a number of anti-submarine escorts surrounding the formation at a distance of tens of miles.

See also


  1. ^ "battleship" The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press. 4 April 2000
  2. ^ [1] The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare: The Triumph of the West - Geoffrey Parker, pp. 125-130, Cambridge University Press, 1995
  3. ^ Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution, p. 94
  4. ^, 2009, site Cananor - 31 de Dezembro de 1501 a 2 de Janeiro de 1502
  5. ^ R. Prud’homme van Reine, Schittering en Schandaal. Dubbelbiografie van Maerten en Cornelis Tromp', 2001, p. 417
  6. ^ a b c Fighting Instructions, 1530-1816 Sir Julian Stafford Corbett, Publications Of The Navy Records Society Vol. XXIX.
  7. ^ Mahan, A.T., The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660–1783, pp. 115–116, quoting Chabaud-Arnault
  8. ^ Glete (1993), p. 176.
  9. ^ Keegan, John (1989). The Price of Admiralty. New York: Viking. p. 277. ISBN 0-670-81416-4.


  • Glete, Jan (1993) Navies and Nations: Warships, Navies and State Building in Europe and America, 1500–1680, Volume One. Almqvist & Wiksell International, Stockholm. ISBN 91-22-01565-5
  • Rodger, N. A. M. The Command of the Ocean, a Naval History of Britain 1649–1815. Allen Lane, London, 2004. ISBN 0-7139-9411-8
  • R. Prud’homme van Reine, Schittering en Schandaal. Dubbelbiografie van Maerten en Cornelis Tromp, Arbeidspers, 2001

Further reading

Athenian sacred ships

Athenian sacred ships were ancient Athenian ships, often triremes, which had special religious functions such as serving in sacred processions (theoria) or embassies or racing in boat races during religious festivals. The two most famous such ships were the Paralus and the Salaminia, which also served as the messenger ships of the Athenian government in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Other notable ships included one possibly named the Delias, a triakonter (thirty-oared galley) believed to be the ship in which Theseus had sailed to Crete, and which was involved in several traditional theoria to Delos; the vessel was constantly repaired by replacing individual planks to keep it seaworthy while maintaining its identity as the same ship. (For the philosophical question of the ship's identity, see Ship of Theseus.) After the reforms of Cleisthenes, a ship was named for each of the ten tribes that political leader had created; these ships may also have been sacred ships.The Paralus and the Salaminia, and possibly some other sacred ships, served in the Athenian combat fleet. Those two vessels, being particularly swift, were used as scout and messenger ships, but also fought in the line of battle. The Paralus and Salaminia, meanwhile, also performed various tasks for the government; the Paralus appears to have carried most diplomatic missions, and the Salaminia carried official state messages; most famously, it was sent to arrest Alcibiades while that politician was commanding the Sicilian Expedition. These two triremes also had dedicated treasurers, or tamiai.

Battle of Lepanto

The Battle of Lepanto was a naval engagement that took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, led by the Venetian Republic and the Spanish Empire, inflicted a major defeat on the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras. The Ottoman forces were sailing westward from their naval station in Lepanto (the Venetian name of ancient Naupactus Ναύπακτος, Ottoman İnebahtı) when they met the fleet of the Holy League which was sailing east from Messina, Sicily. The Holy League was a coalition of European Catholic maritime states which was arranged by Pope Pius V and led by John of Austria. The league was largely financed by Philip II of Spain, and the Venetian Republic was the main contributor of ships.In the history of naval warfare, Lepanto marks the last major engagement in the Western world to be fought almost entirely between rowing vessels, namely the galleys and galeasses which were the direct descendants of ancient trireme warships. The battle was in essence an "infantry battle on floating platforms". It was the largest naval battle in Western history since classical antiquity, involving more than 400 warships. Over the following decades, the increasing importance of the galleon and the line of battle tactic would displace the galley as the major warship of its era, marking the beginning of the "Age of Sail".

The victory of the Holy League is of great importance in the history of Europe and of the Ottoman Empire, marking the turning-point of Ottoman military expansion into the Mediterranean, although the Ottoman wars in Europe would continue for another century. It has long been compared to the Battle of Salamis, both for tactical parallels and for its crucial importance in the defense of Europe against imperial expansion. It was also of great symbolic importance in a period when Europe was torn by its own wars of religion following the Protestant Reformation, strengthening the position of Philip II of Spain as the "Most Catholic King" and defender of Christendom against Muslim incursion. Historian Paul K. Davis writes that, "More than a military victory, Lepanto was a moral one. For decades, the Ottoman Turks had terrified Europe, and the victories of Suleiman the Magnificent caused Christian Europe serious concern. The defeat at Lepanto further exemplified the rapid deterioration of Ottoman might under Selim II, and Christians rejoiced at this setback for the infidels. The mystique of Ottoman power was tarnished significantly by this battle, and Christian Europe was heartened."

Battle of Valls

The Battle of Valls was fought on 25 February 1809, during the Peninsular War, between a French force under General Gouvion Saint-Cyr and a Spanish force under General Reding. Fought near the town of Valls in Catalonia Spain, the battle ended in a French victory. General Reding was fatally wounded during a cavalry charge against French cavalry.

During actions on 15 February 1809, Reding's left wing was cut off from reinforcement by a French attack. Reding decided to retrieve this cut-off army, instead of counter striking at Souham. Planning to meet up with his northern units, Reding left Tarragona with only 2,000 men and most of his cavalry. On his way, he successfully met with units standing guard over the pass to Santa Cristina and another unit at Santas Cruces. Having sufficient strength, he continued to the town of Santa Coloma, whereupon he met with his previously cut-off left wing. With the combined left wing and the forces he took with him, Reding then had a total of almost 20,000 troops at his disposal. Deciding to defend Tarragona, he dispatched 4–5,000 of his men to watch Igualada and pressed home with his remaining men. St. Cyr, aware of Reding's movements, moved to block the two direct routes of returning to Tarragona. Reding, aware that Souham had moved and taken position in the town of Valls, still decided to take the route. Committing his forces to a march at night, Reding got his army to a bridge only two miles out of the town before daybreak.

Upon arriving at the bridge, Reding's vanguard was involved in a skirmish with men of Souham's division. Both commanders, realizing that the time for battle had arrived, rushed to get their men into position. Souham brought the rest of his division out of Valls and set them into position north of town. Reding, deciding this division to be insignificant, pushed his advanced line and most of his center across the river, continuing to send more across until the French division finally broke and fell back to Valls. At this point, most of his men and baggage train had crossed the bridge, but he nonetheless decided to give his men a long break. St. Cyr, learning of the attack later in the day, rushed to Valls with the 7th Italian Dragoons, also bringing the Italian division which would be delayed for six hours before joining the French line at Valls. Having seen the French line rallying when St. Cyr arrived with the Italian Cavalry, Reding pulled his forces back across the river in a defensive position. After three hours had passed, the Italian division had finally caught up to St. Cyr, who formed the French line of battle and crossed the river under constant bombardment. The Spanish forces poured fire onto the French attackers but as the columned French grew close to the Spanish line, the Spaniards began to rout. The only point of hand-to-hand combat came when Reding took his staff and cavalry and attacked the left column, only to be met by the Italian dragoons. in the ensuing melee, Reding himself took three fatal wounds.

Campaigns of 1801 in the French Revolutionary Wars

The French Revolutionary Wars continued in 1801 with the French bringing the war against the Second Coalition to a close.

By 9 February, the Austrians had signed the Treaty of Lunéville, ending the war on the continent. The war against the United Kingdom continued (with Neapolitan harbours closed to her by the Treaty of Florence, signed on 28 March), and the Turks invaded Egypt in March, losing to Kleber at Heliopolis. The exhausted French force in Egypt, however, surrendered in August.

The naval war also continued, with the United Kingdom maintaining a blockade of France by sea. Non-combatants Russia, Prussia, Denmark, and Sweden joined to protect neutral shipping from British attacks, but were unsuccessful. British Admiral Horatio Nelson defied orders and attacked the Danish fleet in harbor at the Battle of Copenhagen, destroying much of the fleet of one of France's more steady allies during the period. An armistice prevented him from continuing into the Baltic Sea to attack the Russian fleet at Reval (Tallinn). Meanwhile, off Gibraltar, the outnumbered French squadron under Linois rebuffed a first British attack under Saumarez in the first battle of Algeciras, capturing a line-of-battle ship. In the second battle of Algeciras, four days later, the British captured a French ship and sank two others, killing around 2000 French for the loss of 12 British.

First Battle of Cannanore

The First Battle of Cannanore was a naval engagement between the Third Portuguese Armada under João da Nova and the naval forces of Calicut, which had been assembled by the Zamorin against the Portuguese in order to prevent their return to Portugal.

The battle was fought over two days, between 31 December 1501 and 2 January 1502, and was the first major Portuguese naval engagement in the Indian Ocean. Although badly outnumbered, da Nova's bold tactics, better trained and prepared men and superior weaponry proved decisive for the Portuguese to defeat the blocking force of Calicut, break out of Cannanore, and emerge victorious from the battle.

The battle is also historically notable for being one of the earliest recorded deliberate uses of a naval line of battle, and for resolving the battle by cannon alone. These tactics would become increasingly prevalent as navies evolved and began to see ships less as carriers of armed men, and more as floating artillery. In that respect, this has been called the first 'modern' naval battle (at least for one side). After it, João da Nova returned to Portugal.


A frigate () is a type of warship, having various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.

In the 17th century, a frigate was any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built". These could be warships carrying their principal batteries of carriage-mounted guns on a single deck or on two decks (with further smaller carriage-mounted guns usually carried on the forecastle and quarterdeck of the vessel). The term was generally used for ships too small to stand in the line of battle, although early line-of-battle ships were frequently referred to as frigates when they were built for speed.

In the 18th century, frigates were usually as long as a ship of the line and were square-rigged on all three masts (full-rigged), but were faster and with lighter armament, used for patrolling and escort. In the definition adopted by the British Admiralty, they were rated ships of at least 28 guns, carrying their principal armaments upon a single continuous deck – the upper deck – while ships of the line possessed two or more continuous decks bearing batteries of guns.

In the late 19th century (beginning about 1858 with the construction of prototypes by the British and French navies), the armoured frigate was a type of ironclad warship that for a time was the most powerful type of vessel afloat. The term "frigate" was used because such ships still mounted their principal armaments on a single continuous upper deck.

In modern navies, frigates are used to protect other warships and merchant-marine ships, especially as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups, and merchant convoys. Ship classes dubbed "frigates" have also more closely resembled corvettes, destroyers, cruisers and even battleships. Some European navies such as the French, German or Spanish ones use the term "frigate" for both their destroyers and frigates. The rank "frigate captain" derives from the name of this type of ship.

HMS Prince of Wales (1860)

HMS Prince of Wales was one of six 121-gun screw-propelled first-rate three-decker line-of-battle ships of the Royal Navy. She was launched on 25 January 1860.

In 1869 she was renamed HMS Britannia and under that name served at Dartmouth as a cadet training ship until 1905.

List of Roman army unit types

This is a list of Roman army unit types.

Actarius – A military or camp clerk.

Adiutor – A camp or headquarters adjutant or assistant

Aeneator – Military musician such as a bugler.

Agrimensor – A surveyor (a type of immunes).

Aquilifer – Bearer of the legionary eagle.

Alaris – A cavalryman serving in an ala.

Architecti – An engineer or artillery constructor.

Armicustos – A soldier tasked with the administration and supply of weapons and equipment. A quartermaster.

Ballistarius – An artillery operator (a type of immunes).

Beneficiarius – A soldier performing an extraordinary task such as military policing or a special assignment.

Bucinator – A trumpeter or bugler.

Cacula – Servant or slave of a soldier.

Capsarior – A medical orderly.

Causarius – A soldier discharged for wounds or other medical reasons.

Centurion – Officer rank, generally one per 80 soldiers, in charge of a centuria.

Clinicus – A medic.

Cornicen – Bugler.

Doctor – A trainer, subdivisions for everything from weapons to hornblowing.

Draconarius – Bearer of a cavalry standard.

Decurion – Leader of a troop of cavalry (14-30 men). Often confused with decanus.

Decanus – Leader of a contubernium (a legionary tent group of 8 men).

Discens – Miles in training for an immunis position.

Dux – A general in charge of two or more legions. In the Third Century AD, an officer with a regional command transcending provincial boundaries, responsible directly to the emperor alone, usually appointed on a temporary basis in a grave emergency. In the fourth century AD, an officer in charge of a section of the frontier answering to the Magister Militum.

Equites singulares Augusti – Elite cavalry unit tasked to guard the Roman Emperors. Usually commanded by a tribunus of praetorian rank.

Evocatus – A soldier who had served out his time and obtained his discharge (missio), but had voluntarily enlisted again at the invitation of the consul or other commander.

Frumentarii – Officials of the Roman Empire during the 2nd and 3rd era. Often used as a Secret Service, mostly operating in uniform.

Hastatus – The youngest of the heavy infantry in the pre-Marian armies, who were less well-equipped than the older Principes and Triarii. These formed the first line of battle in front of the Principes.

Hastatus Prior – A centurion commanding a manipulus or centuria of hastati. A high-ranking officer within a manipulus or centuria.

Hastatus Posterior – A deputy to the hastatus prior

Hastiliarius – a weapons instructor.

Imaginifer – A standard-bearer carrying the imago – the standard which bore a likeness of the emperor, and, at later dates, his family.

Immunes – Soldiers who were "immune" from combat duty and fatigues through having a more specialist role within the army.

Legatus legionis – A legion commander of senatorial rank; literally the "deputy" of the emperor, who was the titular commander-in-chief.

Legatus pro praetore – Provincial governor of senatorial rank with multiple legions under his command.

Legionary – The heavy infantry that was the basic military force of the ancient Roman army in the period of the late Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.

Medicus – Physician or combat medic. Specializations included surgery (medicus vulnerarius), ophthalmology (medicus ocularius), and also veterinary (medicus veterinarius). At least some held rank equivalent to a centurion.

Miles or Miles Gregarius – The basic private level foot soldier.

Numerus – A unit of barbarian allies not integrated into the regular army structure. Later, a unit of border forces.

Optio – One per century as second-in-command to the centurion. Could also fill several other specialized roles on an ad hoc basis.

Pedites – The infantry of the early army of the Roman kingdom. The majority of the army in this period.

Peditatus – A term referring to any infantryman in the Roman Empire.

Pilus Prior – Senior centurion of a cohort.

Pilus Posterior – Deputy to the pilus prior.

Praefectus Castrorum – Camp prefect, third-in-command of the legion, also responsible for maintaining the camp, equipment, and supplies. Usually a former primus pilus.

Praefectus Cohortis - Commander of a cohort.

Praefectus legionis agens vice legati – Equestrian officer given the command of a legion in the absence of a senatorial legatus. After the removal of senators from military command, the title of a legionary commander. ("...agens vice legati, dropped in later Third Century")

Praetorians – A special force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors.

Primus Ordinis – The commanding officer of each centuria in the first cohort with the exception of the first centuria of the cohort.

Primus Pilus (literally 'first file', not spear) – The centurion commanding the first cohort and the senior centurion of the entire Legion.

Princeps – Pre-Marian soldier, initially equipped with the Hasta spear, but later with the pilum, these men formed the second line of battle behind the Hastati in the pre-Marian armies. They were also chieftains in Briton like Dumnorix of the Regneses (he was killed by Gaius Salvius Liberalis' soldiers).

Princeps Prior – A centurion commanding a century of principes.

Princeps Posterior – A deputy to the princeps prior.

Principales – A group of ranks, including aquilifer, signifer, optio, and tesserarius. Similar to modern NCOs (Non-commissioned officers).

Protectores Augusti Nostri (a.k.a. Protectores Divini Lateris) – honorific title for senior officers singled out for their loyalty to the Emperor and soldierly qualities. The protectores were an order of honor rather than a military unit. The order first appeared in the mid-200s AD.

Quaestionarius – An interrogator or torturer.

Retentus – A soldier kept in service after serving required term.

Rorarii – The final line, or reserve, in the ancient pre-Marius Roman army. These were removed even before the Marian reforms, as the Triarii provided a very sturdy anchor.

Sagittarii – Archers, including horse-riding auxiliary archers recruited mainly in the Eastern Empire and Africa.

Salararius – A soldier enjoying special service conditions or hired as a mercenary.

Scholae Palatinae – An elite troop of soldiers created by the Emperor Constantine the Great to provide personal protection of the Emperor and his immediate family.

Scorpionarius – An artilleryman operating a scorpio artillery piece.

Signifer – Standard bearer of the Roman Legion.

Socii – Troops from allied states in the pre-Marian army before the Social War (91–88 BC)

Speculatores and Exploratores – The scouts and reconnaissance element of the Roman army.

Supernumerarii – Supernumerary soldiers who served to fill the places of those who were killed or disabled by their wounds.

Tablifer – A guard cavalry standard-bearer

Tesserarius – Guard commander, one per centuria.

Tirones – A basic trainee.

Triarii – Spearmen of the pre-Marian armies, equipped with the Hasta, who formed the third line of battle behind the Principes.

Tribuni militum angusticlavii or military tribune – Military tribune of equestrian rank, five of whom were assigned to each legion.

Tribunus militum laticlavius – Military tribune of senatorial rank. Second in command of a legion. Appointments to this rank seem to have ceased during the sole reign of Gallienus as part of a policy of excluding senators from military commands.

Tubicen – A trumpeter.

Urbanae – A special police force of Rome, created to counterbalance the Praetorians.

Velites – A class of light infantry in the army of the Roman Republic.

Venator – A hunter (a type of immunes).

Vexillarius – Bearer of a vexillum (standard).


A navy or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, riverine, littoral, or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions. It includes anything conducted by surface ships, amphibious ships, submarines, and seaborne aviation, as well as ancillary support, communications, training, and other fields. The strategic offensive role of a navy is projection of force into areas beyond a country's shores (for example, to protect sea-lanes, ferry troops, or attack other navies, ports, or shore installations). The strategic defensive purpose of a navy is to frustrate seaborne projection-of-force by enemies. The strategic task of the navy also may incorporate nuclear deterrence by use of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Naval operations can be broadly divided between riverine and littoral applications (brown-water navy), open-ocean applications (blue-water navy), and something in between (green-water navy), although these distinctions are more about strategic scope than tactical or operational division.

In most nations, the term "naval", as opposed to "navy", is interpreted as encompassing all maritime military forces, e.g., navy, naval infantry/marine corps, and coast guard forces.

Northrop Tacit Blue

The Northrop Tacit Blue was a technology demonstrator aircraft created to demonstrate that a low-observable stealth surveillance aircraft with a low probability of intercept radar and other sensors could operate close to the forward line of battle with a high degree of survivability.

Raking fire

In sailing naval warfare, raking fire is fire directed parallel to the long axis of an enemy ship from ahead or astern. Although each shot is directed against a smaller target profile than by shooting broadside and thus more likely to miss the target ship to one side or the other, an individual cannon shot that hits will pass through more of the ship, thereby increasing damage to the hull, sails, cannon and crew. In addition, the targeted ship will have fewer (if any) guns able to return fire. A stern rake tends to be more damaging than a bow rake because the shots are not deflected by the curved (and strengthened) bow, and because disabling the exposed rudder at the stern would render the target unable to steer and thus manoeuvre. However, achieving a position to rake a single enemy ship was usually very difficult unless the opponent was unable to manoeuvre due to damage to the sails or rudder; it was easier if a ship was constrained by its position in the line of battle.

Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Queen's Division. Currently, the regiment has two battalions: the 1st battalion, part of the Regular Army, is an armoured infantry battalion based in Tidworth, Wiltshire, and the fifth battalion, part of the Army Reserve, is based across the northeast of England. There are also a number of independent Reservist Fusilier sub-units based across England. Whilst the Fusiliers traditionally recruited in specific counties, today, as an English regiment, the Fusiliers recruit nationally. The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was largely unaffected by the infantry reforms that were announced in December 2004, but under the Army 2020 reduction in size of the Army, its second battalion was merged into the first in 2014.

Sailing ship tactics

Sailing ship tactics were the naval tactics employed by sailing ships in contrast to galley tactics employed by oared vessels. This article focuses on the period from c. 1500 to the mid-19th century, when sailing warships were replaced with steam-powered ironclads.


A salvo is the simultaneous discharge of artillery or firearms including the firing of guns either to hit a target or to perform a salute.

Troops armed with muzzleloaders required time in which to refill their arms with gunpowder and shot. Gun drills were designed to enable an almost continuous rain of fire on the enemy by lining troops into ranks, allowing one rank to fire a salvo, or volley, while the other ranks prepared their guns for firing.

The term is commonly used to describe the firing of broadsides by warships, especially battleships. During fleet engagements in the days of sail, from 17th century until the 19th century, ships of the line were maneuvered with the objective of bringing the greatest possible number of cannon to bear on the enemy and to discharge them in a salvo, causing enough damage and confusion as to allow time for the cannon to be swabbed out and reloaded. Crossing the T entailed cutting across the enemy's line of battle to enable broadsides to be fired through the enemy's bow or stern along the whole length of the ship, with every shot likely to cause the maximum carnage. The opportunity was a passing one and the most had to be made of it.

With the coming of HMS Dreadnought, with her turreted main armament, the heavy guns were directed by firing a salvo of half-broadside in order to observe the fall of shot, allowing enough time to adjust for range and direction before firing the other half-broadside. This way, shells were kept in flight while each half-battery was reloaded. Reloading a battleship guns, arriving at a firing solution and lining the guns up to fire took as long as 30 seconds, especially when the fall of shot needed to be observed and corrections made before firing again. A target ship moving at 18 knots (33 km/h) traveled 0.15 nautical miles (0.28 km) in 30 seconds, and would often maneuver to "spoil" the range measurement. The "spread" of the salvo would have one shot fire "over" the estimated range, one shot "under," and two on the estimated range. When a four-shot "salvo" "straddled" the target with one splashing over, one splashing under and two landing on or near the target, fire control officers knew they had the correct range. All turret mounted guns on battleships and cruisers were directed by the gunnery officer, positioned high in the ship and equipped with a visual rangefinder and other mechanisms for directing fire. Instructions to the gunlayers in the turrets were passed by voice pipe, messenger and, later, by telephone. Guns could also be laid by remote control by the gunnery director, with the appropriate technology. Late in World War II, guns were directed by radar.


In the rating system of the British Royal Navy used to categorise sailing warships, a second-rate was a ship of the line which by the start of the 18th century mounted 90 to 98 guns on three gun decks; earlier 17th-century second rates had fewer guns and were originally two-deckers or had only partially armed third gun decks.

They were essentially smaller and hence cheaper versions of the three-decker first rates. Like the first rates, they fought in the line of battle, but unlike the first rates, which were considered too valuable to risk in distant stations, the second rates often served also in major overseas stations as flagships. They had a reputation for poor handling and slow sailing. They were popular as Flagships of admirals commanding the Windward and/or Leeward islands station, which was usually a Rear Admiral of the Red.

Ship of the line

A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through to the mid-19th century to take part in the naval tactic known as the line of battle, in which two columns of opposing warships would manoeuvre to bring the greatest weight of broadside firepower to bear. Since these engagements were almost invariably won by the heaviest ships carrying the most powerful guns, the natural progression was to build sailing vessels that were the largest and most powerful of their time.From the end of the 1840s, the introduction of steam power brought less dependence on the wind in battle and led to the construction of screw-driven, wooden-hulled, ships of the line; a number of pure sail-driven ships were converted to this propulsion mechanism. However, the introduction of the ironclad frigate in about 1859 led swiftly to the decline of the steam-assisted ships of the line. The ironclad warship became the ancestor of the 20th-century battleship, whose very designation is itself a contraction of the phrase "ship of the line of battle" or, more colloquially, "line-of-battle ship".

The term "ship of the line" has fallen into disuse except in historical contexts, after warships and naval tactics evolved and changed from the mid 19th century.

Tennessee-class battleship

The Tennessee class was a class of battleships of the United States Navy. The class comprised two ships: Tennessee and California. They were modified versions of the New Mexico class featuring improved underwater armor for better torpedo protection and 30-degree elevation on their main batteries, as opposed to 15 degrees for the New Mexicos. Both ships were extensively rebuilt after being damaged during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and survived World War II to be scrapped shortly after.

The Legion Academy

The Legion Academy is a training school for members of the Legion of Super-heroes. It was created by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan, and has been re-used and revisited by subsequent creators in the many evolving iterations of the Legion that have been published over the decades. The Academy is both a source of supporting characters and subplots for the ongoing Legion titles (which have an established history of searches, competitions and understudies meant to expand the roster), and has also groomed several fan favorite characters for eventual starring roles. Chemical King, Dawnstar, Karate Kid II, Magnetic Kid, Tellus and Timber Wolf are all graduates of the Academy. Training there may be deficient to some degree, however, as Chemical King, Karate Kid II and Magnetic Kid have all died in the line of battle, though as two of those were selfless sacrifices made to save others, they clearly teach heroism quite well.

In recent stories, the Academy has been run by long-term Legionnaires Duplicate Damsel and Bouncing Boy, a married couple who take on quasi-parental roles with the students. Also assisting is Night Girl, a former Substitute Legionnaire and one time lover of Legion leader Cosmic Boy. News that fan-favorite artist Phil Jiminez was contributing art generated early excitement. The most recent cast included a mix of older and new characters including Power Boy, Gravity Kid, Chemical Kid, Variable Lad, Glorith and Dragonwing.


A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually they belong to the armed forces of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more manoeuvrable than merchant ships. Unlike a merchant ship, which carries cargo, a warship typically carries only weapons, ammunition and supplies for its crew. Warships usually belong to a navy, though they have also been operated by individuals, cooperatives and corporations.

In wartime, the distinction between warships and merchant ships is often blurred. In war, merchant ships are often armed and used as auxiliary warships, such as the Q-ships of the First World War and the armed merchant cruisers of the Second World War. Until the 17th century it was common for merchant ships to be pressed into naval service and not unusual for more than half a fleet to be composed of merchant ships. Until the threat of piracy subsided in the 19th century, it was normal practice to arm larger merchant ships such as galleons. Warships have also often been used as troop carriers or supply ships, such as by the French Navy in the 18th century or the Japanese Navy during the Second World War.

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