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The Transformation of British Naval Strategy


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After the Battle of Trafalgar, the navy continued to be the major arm of British strategy. Decades of practice and refinement had rendered it adept at executing operations - fighting battles, blockading and convoying - across the globe. And yet, as late as 1807, fleets were forced from their stations due to an ineffective provisioning system. The Transformation of British Naval Strategy shows how sweeping administrative reforms enacted between 1808 and 1812 established a highly-effective logistical system, changing an ineffective supply system into one which successfully enabled a fleet to remain on station for as long as was required. James Davey examines the logistical support provided for fleets sent to Northern Europe during the Napoleonic War and shows how this new supply system successfully transformed naval operations, enabling the navy to pursue crucial objectives of national importance, protect essential exports and imports and attack the economies of the Napoleonic Empire.BR> The Transformation of British Naval Strategy is a detailed study of national policy, administrative and political reform and strategic viability. It delves into the nature of the British state, its relationship with the private sector and its ability to reform itself in a time of war. Bureaucratic restructuring represented the last stage in a century-long process of logistical improvement. As a result of the reforms, the navy was able to conduct operations beyond the realms of possibility even twenty years earlier and saw the reach of its power transformed. Military and Napoleonic historians will find this book invaluable.

JAMES DAVEY is Research Curator at the National Maritime Museum and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Greenwich, where he teaches British naval history.


[A] fascinating book. AUSMARINE

Military and naval historians will find this book very useful. NAUTICAL RESEARCH JOURNAL

A valuable contribution to our understanding of British naval power in the Napoleonic period - what it was used for and how it was supported. HISTORY OF WAR.ORG

This is an important contribution to the history of the Napoleonic War [and] is highly recommended. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARITIME HISTORY


First Published: 15 Nov 2012
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843837480
Pages: 248
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press
BIC Class: HBW

Details updated on 19 Mar 2016


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  The Forgotten Theatre: Britain, Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea
  • 3  'To Keep a Fleet above a Fortnight': The Evolution of Naval Logistics during the Eighteenth Century
  • 4  The Challenge of the Black Sea
  • 5  The Administration of Power Projection
  • 6  The First Year in the Baltic: 1808
  • 7  The Escalation of Seapower: 1809
  • 8  The Navy, Reform and the British State
  • 9  Logistics and Seapower: 1810-1812
  • 10  Conclusion
  • 11  Appendix 1: Time taken to secure transport tonnage to the Baltic, 1808-1812
  • 12  Appendix 2: Time taken to secure tonnage to the Mediterranean, 1800-1802
  • 13  Appendix 3: Time taken to load victualling shipments, 1808-1810
  • 14  Appendix 4: Time taken to deliver provisions to the Baltic, 1808-1809
  • 15  Appendix 5: Efficiency of victualling deliveries: Bread
  • 16  Appendix 6: Efficiency of victualling deliveries: Spirits

Strategy and War Planning in the British Navy, 1887-1918

Strategy and War Planning in the British Navy, 1887-1918