The Transformation of British Naval Strategy

November 2012
2 black and white, 13 line illustrations
248 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843837480
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS027150, HIS015000, HIS037050

The Transformation of British Naval Strategy

Seapower and Supply in Northern Europe, 1808-1812

James Davey

Shows how the system of supply was perfected during the later part of the Napoleonic Wars, enabling fleets to stay at sea on a permanent basis.
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.

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.

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Table of Contents

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


[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