Understanding Naval Warfare (Paperback) book cover

Understanding Naval Warfare

By Ian Speller

© 2014 – Routledge

218 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415523455
pub: 2014-04-28
Hardback: 9780415523387
pub: 2014-04-28
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315882260
pub: 2014-04-24
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This new textbook offers the reader an accessible introduction to the study of modern naval warfare, providing a thorough grounding in the vocabulary, concepts, issues, debates and relevant history.

Navies operate in an environment that most people do not understand and that many avoid. They are equipped with a bewildering range of ships, craft and other vessels and types of equipment whose purpose is often unclear. Writings on naval warfare are usually replete with references to obscure concepts explained in arcane language that can serve as an effective barrier to understanding. It is the objective of this book to cut through the obscure and the arcane to offer a clear, coherent and accessible guide to the key features of naval warfare that will equip the reader with the knowledge and understanding necessary for a sophisticated engagement with the subject.

Understanding Naval Warfare is divided into two key parts. The first focuses on concepts of naval warfare and introduces readers to the key concepts and ideas associated with the theory and practice of naval operations. The second part focuses on the conduct of war at sea, and also on peacetime roles for contemporary navies. This section concludes with a chapter that looks ahead to the likely future of naval warfare, assessing whether navies are likely to be more or less useful than in the past.

This textbook will be essential reading for students of naval warfare, seapower and maritime security, and highly recommended for students of military history, strategic studies and security studies in general.


'In order to understand the concept of naval warfare there are two things that are required: to be able to define what navies do for a state, and their utility for operations during total war, limited war and peace. Understanding Naval Warfare does both things very well and is a wonderfully informative and readable introduction into the complex world of naval warfare. Packed with useful definitions, explanations, examples, theoretical understanding and technical knowledge, the book is well worth the money for anyone wishing to embark on the study of naval power and its uses.' -- Greg Kennedy, Kings College London and UK Defence Academy

Ian Speller has written what is likely to become a classic in the field. Understanding Naval Warfare lives up to the promise of its title and delivers a beautifully written explanation on concepts and relevant real-world examples. This is a comprehensive examination of the conduct of naval warfare …the work will help naval officers from Admiral to Ensign sharpen their ideas and expand the knowledge of their profession. By making obscure concepts accessible it will also be a boon to civilian policy makers and students of naval warfare. Finally, this book has the virtue of being a terrific read.’ -- Rear Admiral Mike McDevitt, USN (retd,), Senior Fellow, CNA Center for Naval Analyses, USA

''This is a clear and well-written account of naval warfare….It should work well as a teaching tool as well as a guide to discussion in the scholarly community. … An impressive book.' -- Jeremy Black, The Mariner's Mirror

Table of Contents

Introduction PART I: CONCEPTS OF NAVAL WARFARE AND MARITIME POWER 1. The Nature of the Maritime Operating Environment 2. Maritime Strategy and Naval Warfare 3. Maritime Strategy and Naval Warfare 4. Naval Diplomacy PART II: CONTEMPORARY PRACTICE 5.Combat Operations at Sea: sea control and sea denial 6. Combat Operations at Sea: exploiting sea control 7. Combat Operations From the Sea 8. Maritime Security and the Maintenance of Good Order at Sea 9. Contemporary Naval Policy and Future Practice Conclusion

About the Author

Ian Speller is Senior Lecturer in Military History in the Department of History and is the Director of the Centre for Military History and Strategic Studies at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. He is author/editor of Amphibious Warfare: Strategy and Tactics from Gallipoli to Iraq (2014, co-authored with Christopher Tuck), Understanding Modern Warfare (2009), The Royal Navy and Maritime Power in the Twentieth Century, (2005), and The Role of Amphibious Warfare in British Defence Policy, 1945-56 (2001).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / Military / Strategy
HISTORY / Military / Naval
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security