The vital role of world navies this past year could be best viewed through a sampling of regional hot spots. The South China Sea remained high on the danger list because of the many contested territorial assertions in the energy-rich region, and the naval buildups that are intended to protect and enforce these claims. The Persian Gulf is another problem area that saw increased tension stemming largely from Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its ever-present threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. The Mediterranean Sea was added to the list during 2011 as the “Arab Spring” brought both hope and chaos to North Africa and the Middle East, and as NATO intervened to protect civilians in the Libyan civil war. Scores of other maritime operations included piracy prevention, counterterrorism, and maintaining freedom of the world’s waterways. These missions serve as a constant reminder that the power and impact of maritime forces have a major role in shaping current events.