Vice Admiral Jean-Louis Vichot, French Navy (Retired)
The September 1781 Battle of the Chesapeake, at which the French fleet led by Rear Admiral François Joseph Paul de Grasse defeated the Royal Navy fleet led by Admiral Sir Thomas Graves. The victory prevented the resupply of General Cornwallis’ forces at Yorktown and sealed their fate. The birth of the United States is owed in no small part to its first alliance.
Ensign Luke Bowman, U.S. Navy
The Battle of Lake Erie on 10 September 1813. America’s westward expansion would not have been realized if the Royal Navy had prevailed against Oliver Hazard Perry’s nine-ship force. By repelling the British flotilla, the United States secured her interior and laid the foundation of the superpower that exists today.
The Battle of Lake Erie. National Maritime Museum (unknown)
Eric Engle, U.S. Army Reserve Veteran
The Greco-Persian Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE. Persia’s rowed, ramming slave ships greatly outnumbered those of Athens. But the Athenians under Themistocles chose to defend at the straits. Consequently, Persia under Xerxes could only bring fewer, badly steered ships to bear. In victory, Athens emerged as the dominant Greek polis.
Captain Lawson W. Brigham, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)
The Battle of the Atlantic from 1939 to 1945 is one of the greatest naval triumphs. The hard-fought Allied victory over the Nazi U-boat campaign gained supremacy in the Atlantic and allowed supply convoys to reach the Soviet Union and United Kingdom. It altered the balance of power ashore and hastened the German defeat.
Captain Thomas Pinney, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The Battle of the Nile in August 1798 established the dominance of the English fleet over France at the beginning of the Napoleonic wars. By destroying a French fleet in a supposedly superior position, Admiral Horatio Nelson ended Napoleon’s efforts in Egypt and broke the will of the French Navy.
The Battle of the Nile. National Maritime Museum (Louis Le Breton)
Ralph A. Notaristefano
Admiral Giovanni Andrea Doria led Western Europe’s Christian Holy League in defeating the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Lepanto in October 1571. It was the largest naval engagement to date and included approximately 162,000 seamen and soldiers in hand-to-hand combat on more than 400 warships.
Tolford Young, U.S. Navy Veteran
The Battle of Cape Trafalgar, Spain. England overpowered France and Spain in 1805 to become the greatest world power for the next 140 years. Admiral Horatio Nelson commanded 27 ships to victory over the 33-ship combined French and Spanish fleet.
Captain Glenn A. Fletcher, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Under Queen Elizabeth I, the English fleet’s 1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada marked Spain’s decline and began England’s rise to power over all the New World.
C. Henry Depew
The Battle of Cape Santa Maria between British and Spanish forces on 5 October 1804. The British won, and the Spanish lost four warships as well as their treasure fleet. The other result was the beginning of the end of the Spanish receipt of gold, silver, and gems from the New World. The loss of the annual treasure fleet changed the entire economy of Europe.
Stephen S. Weaver, U.S. Merchant Marine (Retired)
Royal Navy Commodore George Anson’s capture of the Manila Galleon Nuestra Señora de Covadonga in 1743 in Philippine waters. The silver and plate captured from the Nuestra Señora de Covadonga forever changed the financial and military balance of power between Britain and Spain. The circumnavigation itself was epic and immortalized in Patrick O’Brian’s The Golden Ocean.
Commander Evan Wright, U.S. Navy Reserve
The Battle of Manila Bay, after which the United States secured the means to achieve a Mahanian end. The victory led to the projection of U.S. diplomacy with the Great White Fleet’s global circumnavigation of the globe—all courtesy of orders from the Secretary of the Navy and later President Theodore Roosevelt.
Lieutenant Kyle Cregge, U.S. Navy
The 480 BCE Battle of Salamis. While from long ago, this sea denial preserved the West’s ability to continue flourishing by denying the Persians free access to the sea and ensuring their subsequent defeat at the Battle of Plataea.
Don Chappell, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran
The World War II Battle of the Atlantic against Nazi Germany that made Operation Neptune possible. Neptune landed three Allied Army Groups and logistically supported them almost entirely by sea for 11 months. Not only did the operation defeat Germany, it ensured the West was present, in strength, in Europe to check Soviet/Russian expansion even to this day.
Rear Admiral Michael Baker, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The Battle of Tsushima, 27–29 May 1905. Japan emerged from the conflict as the first modern non-Western world power and set its sights on greater imperial expansion. However, for Russia, its military’s disastrous performance in the war was one of the immediate causes of the 1905 First Russian Revolution.
Commander Earl J. Higgins, U.S. Navy (Retired)
In October 1571 the combined navies of Spain, Venice, and the Papal States defeated the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto. The European victory stopped the Turks, who were on the verge of taking over the Mediterranean and Southern Europe.
The Battle of the Chesapeake. The French naval victory and British defeat made the American/French victory at Yorktown possible. The victory at Yorktown cemented America’s independence. That independence created the United States, which has become the most significant positive world power in history.
Captain Ben Feril, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The Battle of the Virginia Capes in September 1781 was a decisive engagement during the American Revolution. The French Fleet hindered the Royal Navy from evacuating the besieged British Army in Yorktown, Virginia, and resulted in securing independence for the American Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain.
Floyd Whitney, U.S. Army Veteran
The 1865 Battle of Riachuelo. Paraguay was at war with Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. A Brazilian naval squadron decisively defeated the Paraguayan contingent in the Parana River. This destroyed Paraguay’s navy and cut off Paraguay from contact by sea with the rest of the world, insuring a victory for the three allied nations.
Lieutenant Commander Sankey Blanton, U.S. Navy Reserve (Retired)
The June 1942 Battle of Midway. With the loss of four carriers, the Japanese strategy fell apart and their downhill slide started. U.S. industrial power and massive shipbuilding created open season to supply both Atlantic and Pacific Fleets with whatever they needed by 1944.
Master Sergeant Douglas Cook, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
The Battle of Lepanto was a decisive victory that halted the westward expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Both fleets were evenly matched, but the Ottomans were severely beaten by the Holy League consisting of a coalition of Spanish and Italian states.