John B. Hattendorf, Professor Emeritus of the U.S. Naval War College, offers what—at first blush—appears to be a straightforward, static definition of maritime strategy, “. . . the direction of all aspects of national power that relate to a nation’s interests at sea.” In making this statement, Hattendorf recognizes that an important characteristic of such a strategy is that those interests and the international environment in which they are developed are not static. Writing about the period of the twentieth century World Wars, Hattendorf states:
The period leading up to WWI was quite different from ours. It was a world of imperial rivalry and colonial expansion, a time of rising military and naval budgets, and a period in which regional tensions in Europe had immediate and world-wide impact. Similarly, the period leading up to WWII, a time of unresolved issues left from WWI, was equally different from ours.
- James Goldrick, “Review of Lambert, Nicholas. Sir John Fisher’s Naval Revolution. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.”
- Harold and Margaret Sprout, Toward a New Order of Sea Power: American Naval Policy and the World Scene, 1918-22 (Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1940).
- W.A.B. Douglas, Roger Sarty, and Michael Whitby, The Official Operational History of the Royal Canadian Navy, Vol. 2 (St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Vanwell Publishing, 2006).
- An example of such a summary is H. L. Pence, Head, Department of Intelligence, U.S. Naval War College, “Outline to Accompany Presentations of Naval and Military History, 1492-1917,” Record Group 4, Box 215, Naval Historical Collection, Naval War College Archives.
- Harold and Margaret Sprout, The Rise of American Naval Power, 1775-1918 (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1939). The Sprouts wrote a follow-on book, Toward a New Order of Sea Power, 1918-1922, in which they argue that the strategic environment described by Mahan had been fundamentally changed by the emergence of non-European sea powers to the extent that his sea power thesis was no longer as relevant.
- The Naval Historical Collection in the Naval War College Archives has numerous examples of faculty-prepared summaries derived from Mahan’s work that were used by student working groups to conduct case study analysis of naval conflicts from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries.