1st Edition

African Navies Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Edited By Timothy Stapleton Copyright 2023
    252 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This edited volume focuses on aspects of the understudied theme of African sea-power, including African navies and the engagement of non-African navies with the continent.

    Africa possesses 48,000 kilometers of coastline, comprising 38 out of 54 of the continent’s states and several strategic choke points for international shipping, such as the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Aden and the Cape of Good Hope. Nevertheless, post-colonial Africa’s small navies and their relations with the navies of external powers have not received much scholarly attention. Focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa, this collection attempts to address this neglect and stimulate further research by offering original chapters related to historical and contemporary themes around Africa’s navies. The historical chapters cover the origin of the Tanzanian, Ethiopian, Nigerian and Ghana navies during the era of decolonization and the Cold War, the asymmetrical naval campaign fought during the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70), and the activities of the Soviet Navy in supporting African states and movements fighting lingering colonialism and white supremacy during the 1970s and 1980s. Focusing on the contemporary situation, other chapters discuss the engagement of the Indian Navy with Africa, the potential role of the Angolan and Mozambican navies in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the transformation and development of the post-apartheid South African Navy, and the challenges and capabilities of African navies in the early twenty-first century. The book concludes by discussing the question of whether African coastal countries need navies.

    This book will be of much interest to students of naval power, strategic studies, African politics and International Relations.

    Chapters 1, 2, 6 and 8 of this book are available for free in Open Access at www.taylorfrancis.com. It has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.


    Timothy Stapleton

    1. Sailing on Cold War Tides: The Founding of the Tanzania Naval Command

    Charles Thomas

    2. A Forgotten Fleet: The Imperial Ethiopian Navy, 1953-1974

    Quentin Holbert

    3. The Origins of the Nigerian and Ghana Navies (c.1930-1960)

    Timothy Stapleton

    4. A Comparative Study of the Nigerian and Biafran Navies During the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70)

    Lawrence Okechukwu Udeagbala

    5. The Cold War Soviet Navy in Sub-Saharan African Waters: From the Republic of Guinea to Angola and Mozambique

    Alexander Hill

    6. India’s Ocean: Indian Maritime Diplomacy in the African Maritime Domain

    Lisa Otto

    7. A New Navy for a New South Africa? Historical Background and Context, Developments and Challenges, 1994-2019

    Andre Wessels

    8. Non-South African SADC Navies and Maritime Security in the post-Cold War Era: Angola and Mozambique

    Enoch Ndawana

    9. African Navies in the Twenty-First Century

    Alexander Hill and Timothy Stapleton


    Timothy Stapleton


    Tim Stapleton is Professor in the Department of History, University of Calgary, Canada. He has held academic positions in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, and Nigeria. His most recent books include Africa: War and Conflict in the Twentieth Century (2018).

    'Stapleton has assembled a talented set of authors to produce a trail-blazing book on the African navies. In this original work, we begin to understand the creation and uses of the navies, their contributions over time, and their interactions with other navies, such as those of India and the Soviet Union. Full of policy recommendations, it will be read in naval and military academies, with ideas passed down to policymakers on reforms and transformations.'

    Toyin Falola, University of Texas, USA