Both sides pulled out their aircraft carriers, as they were too vulnerable to land-based aviation. In preparation of the recapture of the Philippines, the Navy started the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign to retake the Gilbert and Marshall Islands from the Japanese in summer Enormous effort went into recruiting and training sailors and Marines, and building warships, warplanes and support ships in preparation for a thrust across the Pacific, and to support Army operations in the Southwest Pacific, as well as in Europe and North Africa.
The Navy continued its long movement west across the Pacific, seizing one island base after another. Not every Japanese stronghold had to be captured; some, like the big bases at Truk, Rabaul and Formosa were neutralized by air attack and then simply leapfrogged. The ultimate goal was to get close to Japan itself, then launch massive strategic air attacks and finally an invasion.
The US Navy did not seek out the Japanese fleet for a decisive battle, as Mahanian doctrine would suggest; the enemy had to attack to stop the inexorable advance. The climax of the carrier war came at the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The Japanese launched an ill-coordinated attack on the larger American fleet; its planes operated at extreme ranges and could not keep together, allowing them to be easily shot down in what Americans jokingly called the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.
The final act of was the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the last naval battle in history in which the battle line of one navy "crossed the T" of the battle line of its enemy, enabling the crossing line to fire the full broadsides of its main batteries as against only the forward guns of only the enemy's lead ship. The Japanese plan was to lure the main body of the U. Army and Marines landing at Leyte with a pincer movement of two squadrons of battleships, and annihilate them. The movements of these Japanese fleet components were terribly uncoordinated, resulting in piecemeal slaughter of Japanese fleet units in the Sibuyan Sea and the Surigao Strait where "the T was crossed" , but, although the ruse to lure the main body of the U.
After which Japan had now lost all its offensive naval capability. Okinawa was the last great battle of the entire war. The goal was to make the island into a staging area for the invasion of Japan scheduled for fall Marines and soldiers landed on 1 April , to begin an day campaign which became the largest land-sea-air battle in history and was noted for the ferocity of the fighting and the high civilian casualties with over , Okinawans losing their lives.
Japanese kamikaze pilots exacted the largest loss of ships in U. Total U. The fierce combat and high American losses led the Navy to oppose an invasion of the main islands. An alternative strategy was chosen: using the atomic bomb to induce surrender. Technology and industrial power proved decisive.
Japan failed to exploit its early successes before the immense potential power of the Allies could be brought to bear. In the Japanese Zero fighter had a longer range and better performance than rival American warplanes, and the pilots had more experience in the air. High tech innovations arrived with dizzying rapidity. Entirely new weapons systems were invented—like the landing ships, such as the 3,ton LST " Landing Ship, Tank " that carried 25 tanks thousands of miles and landed them right on the assault beaches.
Furthermore, older weapons systems were constantly upgraded and improved. Obsolescent airplanes, for example, received more powerful engines and more sensitive radar sets. One impediment to progress was that admirals who had grown up with great battleships and fast cruisers had a hard time adjusting their war-fighting doctrines to incorporate the capability and flexibility of the rapidly evolving new weapons systems. The ships of the American and Japanese forces were closely matched at the beginning of the war.
By the American qualitative edge was winning battles; by the American quantitative advantage made the Japanese position hopeless. The German navy, distrusting its Japanese ally, ignored Hitler's orders to cooperate and failed to share its expertise in radar and radio. Thus the Imperial Navy was further handicapped in the technological race with the Allies who did cooperate with each other.
The United States economic base was ten times larger than Japan's, and its technological capabilities also significantly greater, and it mobilized engineering skills much more effectively than Japan, so that technological advances came faster and were applied more effectively to weapons. Above all, American admirals adjusted their doctrines of naval warfare to exploit the advantages.
The quality and performance of the warships of Japan were initially comparable to those of the US. The Americans were supremely, and perhaps overly, confident in Pacific commander Admiral Chester W. Nimitz boasted he could beat a bigger fleet because of " The American battleships before Pearl Harbor could fire salvos of nine 2,pound armor-piercing shells every minute to a range of 35, yards 19 miles.
No ship except another battleship had the thick armor that could withstand that kind of firepower. When intelligence reported that Japan had secretly built even more powerful battleships, Washington responded with four Iowa -class battleships.
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Their doctrine was utterly out of date. A plane like the Grumman TBF Avenger could drop a 2,pound bomb on a battleship at a range of hundreds of miles.
An aircraft carrier cost less, required about the same number of personnel, was just as fast, and could easily sink a battleship. During the war the battleships found new missions: they were platforms holding all together dozens of anti-aircraft guns and eight or nine inch or inch long-range guns used to blast land targets before amphibious landings. Their smaller 5-inch guns, and the 4, 3-inch to 8-inch guns on cruisers and destroyers also proved effective at bombarding landing zones.
After a short bombardment of Tarawa island in November , Marines discovered that the Japanese defenders were surviving in underground shelters. It then became routine doctrine to thoroughly work over beaches with thousands of high-explosive and armor-piercing shells. The bombardment would destroy some fixed emplacements and kill some troops.
More important, it severed communication lines, stunned and demoralized the defenders, and gave the landing parties fresh confidence. After the landing, naval gunfire directed by ground observers would target any enemy pillboxes that were still operational.
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The sinking of the battleships at Pearl Harbor proved a blessing in deep disguise, for after they were resurrected and assigned their new mission they performed well. Absent Pearl Harbor, big-gun admirals like Raymond Spruance might have followed prewar doctrine and sought a surface battle in which the Japanese would have been very hard to defeat.
However, the Navy nearly abolished aviation in when Admiral William S. Benson , the reactionary Chief of Naval Operations, could not "conceive of any use the fleet will ever have for aviation", and he secretly tried to abolish the Navy's Aviation Division. Roosevelt reversed the decision because he believed aviation might someday be "the principal factor" at sea with missions to bomb enemy warships, scout enemy fleets, map minefields, and escort convoys.
Grudgingly allowing it a minor mission, the Navy slowly built up its aviation. With Roosevelt now in the White House, the tempo soon quickened. One of the main relief agencies, the PWA , made building warships a priority. In the U. Navy with 8 carriers, 4, pilots and 3, planes had more air power than the Japanese Navy. Germany's main naval weapon was the U-boat; its main mission was to cut off the flow of supplies and munitions reaching Britain by sea.
Submarine attacks on Britain's vital maritime supply routes in the " Battle of the Atlantic " started immediately at the outbreak of war. Although they were hampered initially by the lack of well placed ports from which to operate; that changed when France fell in and Germany took control of all the ports in France and the Low Countries. The U-boats had such a high success rate at first, that the period to early was known as the First Happy Time.
The Kriegsmarine was responsible for coastal artillery protecting major ports and possible invasion points, and also handled anti-aircraft batteries protecting major ports.
In — German shipyards launched 1, U-boats, of which were destroyed during the war at sea along with 30, crew. The British anti-submarine ships and aircraft accounted for over kills. At the end of the war, U-boats surrendered to the Allies, while the crews scuttled others, chiefly in German ports. In terms of effectiveness, German and other Axis submarines sank merchant ships totaling The use of convoys dramatically reduced the number of sinkings, but convoys made for slow movement and long delays at both ends, and thus reduced the flow of Allied goods.
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German submarines also sank Allied warships, mostly British, with 52, Royal Navy sailors killed. The German fleet was involved in many operations, starting with the Invasion of Poland. As a result of the earlier changes the Royal Navy entered the Second World War as a heterogeneous force of World War I veterans, inter-war ships limited by close adherence to treaty restrictions and later unrestricted designs. It remained a powerful force, though smaller and relatively older than it was during World War I. Its first task remained the protection of trade, since Britain was heavily dependent upon imports of food and raw materials, and the global empire was also interdependent.
The navy's assets were allocated between various fleets and stations. There are sharply divided opinions of Pound's leadership. His greatest achievement was his successful campaign against German U-boat activity and the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic. Winston Churchill , the civilian head of the Navy —40 and of all the forces as Prime Minister —45 worked with him closely on naval strategies; he was dubbed "Churchill's anchor".
However his judgment has been challenged regarding his micromanagement, the failed Norwegian Campaign in , his dismissal of Admiral Dudley North in , Japan's sinking of the Repulse and the Prince of Wales by air attack off Malaya in late , and the failure in July to disperse Convoy PQ 17 under German attack. During the early phases of World War II , the Royal Navy provided critical cover during British evacuations from Norway where an aircraft carrier and 6 destroyers were lost but , men were evacuated , from Dunkirk where 7, RN men were killed and at the Battle of Crete.
In the latter operation Admiral Cunningham ran great risks to extract the Army, and saved many men to fight another day. The prestige of the Navy suffered a severe blow when the battlecruiser Hood was sunk by the German battleship Bismarck in May Although the Bismarck was sunk a few days later, public pride in the Royal Navy was severely damaged as a result of the loss of the "mighty Hood ". In the attack on Taranto torpedo bombers sank three Italian battleships in their naval base at Taranto and in March it sank three cruisers and two destroyers at Cape Matapan.
The RN carried out an evacuation of troops from Greece to Crete and then from that island. In this the navy lost three cruisers and six destroyers but rescued 30, men. The losses in Operation Pedestal were high but the convoy got through.
The Royal Navy was also vital in guarding the sea lanes that enabled British forces to fight in remote parts of the world such as North Africa , the Mediterranean and the Far East. Convoys were used from the start of the war and anti-submarine hunting patrols used. From , responsibility for the protection of Atlantic convoys was divided between the various allied navies: the Royal Navy being responsible for much of the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Suppression of the U-boat threat was an essential requirement for the invasion of northern Europe: the necessary armies could not otherwise be transported and resupplied.
During this period the Royal Navy acquired many relatively cheap and quickly built escort vessels. The defence of the ports and harbours and keeping sea-lanes around the coast open was the responsibility of Coastal Forces and the Royal Naval Patrol Service. Naval supremacy was vital to the amphibious operations carried out, such as the invasions of Northwest Africa Operation Torch , Sicily, Italy, and Normandy Operation Overlord.
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The use of the Mulberry harbours allowed the invasion forces to be kept resupplied. There were also landings in the south of France in August.
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During the war however, it became clear that aircraft carriers were the new capital ship of naval warfare , and that Britain's former naval superiority in terms of battleships had become irrelevant. Britain was an early innovator in aircraft carrier design, introducing armoured flight decks, in place of the now obsolete and vulnerable battleship. The successful invasion of Europe reduced the European role of the navy to escorting convoys and providing fire support for troops near the coast as at Walcheren , during the battle of the Scheldt.
Despite opposition from the U.
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