The British Royal Navy
1805 - 1815
"Alone among the European powers, England had no need of big standing army.
Whereas any European power has to support a vast army first of all,
we in this fortunate ... relieved by our insular position of a double burden
may turn our individual undivided efforts and attention to the fleet."
- Winston Churchill

1. Introduction: The Royal Navy.
- - Ships-of-the-line. >
- - Frigates. >
- - Schooners. >
- - Gunboats. >
2. Admiral Nelson.
3. Victories and Defeats.

4. The Spanish Navy.
5. The French Navy.
6. The Russian Navy.

"Although Napoleon 'lost' the war at sea effectively from 1805,
his naval strategy against Great Britain remained surprisingly effective ...
By keeping his surviving squadrons ready for sea ...
he kept the Royal Navy at full stretch on blockade duties,
and the task of hunting down a small French break-out force
was incommensurately expensive in terms of vessels and effort."
- David Chandler, UK


Introduction: The Royal Navy.
The Royal Navy made Britain's trade boom and prosper,
it sustained its colonies and reshaped its politics.
The navy enabled Britain to avoid prolonged land wars
on the European Continent.

Battle of the Nile Great Britain is an island nation. The Royal Navy made Britain's trade boom and prosper, it sustained its colonies and reshaped its politics. The sailor enjoyed greater popular respect than the infantryman, artillerist or the cavalryman. King George III in Speech From the Throne addressed the assembled Houses of Parliament and said: "... my Navy is the principle article of our natural strength, it gives me much satisfaction ..."
The navy enabled England to avoid prolonged land wars on the European Continent. The English Channel has often enough proved to be British army's salvation. After failed expedition the troops would retreat on the island and lick their wounds. In comparison the European territories, populaces and armies were exposed to repeated and unabated invasions by the enemy.
Against England there was no broder just to be marched across. Isolation gave the opportunity to enter wars and intrigues selectively. The geography matters, it makes people who they are.

The British fleet greatly increased in size, from about 500 in 1793 to approx. 950 vessels in 1805. The principal royal dockyards were in Woolwich, Plymouth and Portsmouth and they worked on all cylinders. Potrsmouth had been the embarkation point for some of the Royal Navy's greatest victories but also its worst defeats.

Comparison of naval strength in 1808-1809:
- Great Britain: 113 ships-of-the-line
- Spain: 45 ships-of-the-line
- France: 45 ships-of-the-line
- Russia: 34 ships-of-the-line
- Denmark: 21 ships-of-the-line

The British navy also empolyed leading shipwrights from other countries, particularly after the French Revolution caused many royalists to flee from France. For example Marc Brunel carried out many improvements in the British dockyards, Barrallier designed several warships for the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy had paid particular attention to French prizes and many improvements in hull design had come from them. The French warship Courageaux was directly copied many times.

Danish ships were occasionally influential, like the captured Christian VII

Ships-of-the-line were the basic
ingridient of naval power.

Ship of the line. The evolution of broadside cannon in 17th century led to the conclusion that the fleet had to fight in a single line to make the maximum use of its firepower without one ship getting in the way of another. The line of battle is traditionally attributed to the British navy and Robert Blake who wrote the Sailing and Fighting Instructions of 1653. The first documented deliberate use seems to be somewhat earlier in the Action of 18 September 1639 by Dutch Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp against the Spanish. The tactic was used by both sides in the Anglo-Dutch Wars, and was codified in written 'fighting instructions'. These formed the basis of the whole tactical system of the 17th and 18th centuries in naval warfare.

As the line of battle was adopted, navies began to distinguish between vessels that were fit to form parts of the line in action, and the smaller ships that were not.

Ships-of-the-line were the basic ingridient of naval power. The fleets had made the maximum use of their strength by arranging their ships in line. The 74-gun ship was the smallest that was expected to stand in such a line. (There are only few exceptions were smaller ships were used.)

The big ships however had several disadvantages: they were clumsy, needed large crew, and were very expensive. Poor sailing qualities were not a great disadvantage, for a fleet was normally led by the slowest ship. To build a large ship took several years and the wood from a small forest. Approx. 2,250 mature oak-trees were used to built Victory.

Traditionally British ships had been built of oak. Many frigates were built of pine, but these were poorly received by naval officers and din't last long. After 1801 it became increasingly common to build ships in India, using native supplies of teak. Large quantities of oak were procured in northern Europe and this was one of the reasons why the navy went to great lengths to keep the Baltic Sea open.

The largest British ships-of-the-line:

  • - Caledonia - 120 guns
  • - Ville de Paris - 110-114 guns
  • - Hibernia - 110 guns
  • - Victory - 100-104 guns
    (Lower Deck 30 32pdr, Middle Deck 28 24pdr, Upper Deck 30 12pdr, Quarter Deck 12 12pdr, Forecastle 2 68pdr (Carronades) and 2 12 pdrs)

    They were big enough to carry a significant gun power,
    but fast enough to evade ships-of-the-line.

    Frigate. The frigates were the most glamorous type of ship in the navy. It was big enough to carry a significant gun power, but fast enough to evade ships-of-the-line. The frigate was designed with an unarmed lower deck, so that its guns were well above the waterline; this meant that it could be allowed to heel quite considerably, and carry sail in a strong wind and heavy sea.
    It also meant that it could use its guns in heavy weather, when the ships-of-the-line (two and three deckers) would be unable to open its lower ports.

    Frigate was not expected to take on a ship-of-the-line, because the difference in gun power was far too great. (Lavery - "Nelson's Navy" p 49)

    British admirals frequently complained that they did not have them enough. While searching for the French fleet before the Battle of the Nile in 1798, Nelson wrote to Sir W. Hamilton: ‘All my ill-fortune, hitherto, has proceeded from want of frigates.’

    They were intended as despatch boats.

    Schooner. The schooners were first used by the Dutch in the 16th or 17th century, and further developed in North America. Schooners were more widely used in the United States than in any other country. They were popular in trades that required speed and windward ability.

    The Royal Navy had only 10 schooners in 1801. But soon 17 were built in Bermuda and 12 in England. There was approx. one dozen of captured French schooners in the navy. The schooner was intended as despatch boat and one of them became famous for bringing home the news of Trafalgar.

    They were for coast defence and for
    operations on shallow waters.

    The gunboat carried a single heavy cannon - 32pdr or 48pdr - and could be maneuvered in shallow or restricted waters, where the sailing was quite difficult for larger ships. Ten flat bottom boats were built around 1801 with a single carronade or howitzer and a displacement of 12 tons.

    In 1805 was designed a gunboat which carried 2 18pdrs on sliders near the bows and an 18pdr on a pivot aft. A further 85 were built from 1808 onwards, for coast defence and for operations in areas like the Danish Islands, where shallow draught was an advantage.

  • ~


    Nelson hated the French people with volcanic passion,
    whom he variously described as "pests" and "vermin"
    - Hayward "For God and Glory"

    Admiral Horatio Nelson.
    He directed his greatest hostility at the American traders
    and displaying anti-American passion far exceeding anything
    revealed during the War of Independence itself.
    He wrote: "I hate them all ... the rebellious people were trash."

    Admiral Nelson Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) won fame as a leading naval commander. He is famous for his participation in the Napoleonic Wars, most notably in the Battle of Trafalgar, where he lost his life.

    By 1777 Horatio Nelson had risen to the rank of lieutenant, and was assigned to the West Indies, during which time he saw action on the British side of the American Revolutionary War. By the time he was 20, in June 1779, he made captain.

    In 1794 Nelson was shot in the face during a joint operation at Calvi, Corsica, which cost him both half of his right eyebrow and the sight in his right eye. Despite popular legend, there is no evidence that Nelson ever wore an eye patch, though he was known to wear an eyeshade to protect his remaining eye.

    Nelson wounded at Tenerife. During an unsuccessful expedition to conquer Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Nelson was shot in the right arm with a musket ball. To prevent gangrene, and subsequent death Nelson's right arm was amputated. Nelson was cited as saying, as he pointed to his right arm “Doctor, I want to get rid of this useless piece of flesh here”. Nelson's operation was quick and aseptic. The limb was thrown over board, despite the admiral's wish to keep it.

    At Aboukir Bay the British fleet defeated the French fleet. Of 13 French ships of the line, 10 had been captured or sunk. Nelson had not lost a single ship. The king was enthusiastic and made Nelson a baron. After Trafalgar Nelson became a hero. Without him the British navy's glory would have been incomplete. Nelson was commander-in-chief only for 2 last years of his life, he fought at Nile and Copenhagen as a subordinate admiral. (Herman - "To Rule the Waves" pp 245 and 360)

    Nelson despised Napoleon, describing him as an orge, satan and tyrant. He hated the French people with volcanic passion, whom he variously described as "pests" and "vermin". The fact Napoleon had became the most powerful and feared warrior, stung Nelson's vanity. Nelson was not the only Englishman to dislike the French. One finds similiar attitudes and statements in the newspapers and diaries. Nelson's hate toward the French people is uncommonly intense and consuming, so much that it almost overshadows the positive aspects of his personality. (Hayward - "For God and Glory" pp 5-10)

    Believing that British commercial interests must not be compromised by American traffic, Nelson commenced a rigid enforcement of the acts and even seized a number of American vessels. He directed his greatest hostility at the American traders and displaying anti-American passion far exceeding anything revealed during the War of Independence itself. He wrote: "I hate them all" and "the rebellious people were trash." In a letter to Mrs Nisbet, his future wife he wrote: "I shall wish the American vessels at the devil and the whole Continent of America to boot."

    Nelson's extreme vanity and craving for fame appear incompatible with the Christian concept of humility. After defeating the Danish fleet and burning Copenhagen, Nelson had the arrogance to send the commander of the Danish Naval Academy, copies of a short account of his life.

    Duke of Wellington Wellington found Nelson's vanity repellent. When Wellington and Nelson met each other, the excitable and emotional admiral didn't recognized the aloof general. "He could not know who I was, but he entered at once into a conversation with me, if I can call it conversation, for it was almost all on his side and all about himself, and in, really, a style so vain and silly as to surprise and almost disgust me" - Wellington.
    General Moore Wanting to reflect his glory at every opportunity, Nelson loved to be seen and shown in his parade uniform, with collection of medals and decorations and a spray of diamonds received from the Sultan of Ottoman Empire.
    General John Moore wrote that Nelson looked more like an opera star than a military man.



    The Middle East and Europe were not
    the only objects of Britain's interest.
    There was "a plethora of schemes for attacks
    on Chile, Peru and Mexico, with the possibility
    of a seizure of the Philippines thrown in for good measure..."

    Victories and Defeats of the Royal Navy.
    Nelson destroyed the French Toulon fleet at Trafalgar,
    but that was not the entire French fleet,
    there were still fleets at Brest and Cherbourg.

    Naval battle. After war broke out in Europe between France and England in the 1680s, the two nations regularly sent expeditions to raid and capture each other's fur trading posts in America. In March 1686, the French sent a raiding party under des Troyes over 1300 km to capture the British Hudson Bay Company's posts along James Bay. The French appointed Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, who had shown extreme heroism during the raids, as commander of the company's captured posts. In 1697, d'Iberville commanded a French naval raid on the company's headquarters at York Factory. On the way to the fort, he defeated the ships of the Royal Navy in the Battle of the Bay, the largest naval battle in the history of the North American Arctic.

    For a very long time the Spanish Empire remained a major target of British navy. In 1704 Admiral Rooke captured Gibraltar which became the major British base in the western Mediterranean. When war broke out in 1739, Admiral Anson took a squadron to prey on Spanish trade.

    Nelson made his name with his contribution to Jervis’s victory over the Spanish at St Vincent in 1797 and the fleet he defeated at Trafalgar had a substantial Spanish force.

    Spanish victory at Tenerife. Battle of Tenerife 1797 In 1797 however the Spanish fleet heavily defeated Nelson at the Battle of Tenerife. Nelson's expedition counted 400 guns and 4,000 men. The Spaniards were led by Antonio Gutierrez, a two-time victor over the British. They had hastened to prepare a defence following the British raid in April. In the battle the Spanish suffered only 70 dead and wounded. Nelson withdrew with the loss of several hundred casualties and his arm. The British never again tried to capture Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

    The wars of the 18th century produced a series of tactically indecisive naval battles between evenly matched fleets in line ahead, such as Malaga (1704), Rügen Island (1715), Toulon (1744), Minorca (1756), Negapatam (1758), Cuddalore (1758), Pondicherry (1759), Ushant (1778), Dogger Bank (1781), the Chesapeake (1781), Hogland (1788) and Öland (1789). Although a few of these battles had important strategic consequences, like the Chesapeake which the British needed to win, all were tactically indecisive. Many admirals began to believe that a contest between two equally matched fleets could not produce a decisive result. The tactically decisive actions of the 18th century were all chase actions, where one fleet was clearly superior to the other, such as the two battles of Finisterre (1747), Lagos (1759), Quiberon Bay (1759) and Cape St. Vincent (1780).

    British naval innovation was retarded by an unseemly dispute between two Admirals in the aftermath of the Battle of Toulon. The British fleet under Admiral Thomas Mathews had been unable to draw level with the French fleet, and Mathews ordered an attack anyway, intending all the British ships to attack the French rear. He had no signals by which he could communicate his intentions, and the rear squadron under Vice Admiral Lestock, his rival and second-in-command, obtusely remained at the prescribed intervals in line ahead, far to the rear of the action. A subsequent series of courts martial, in which political influence was brought to bear by Lestock's friends in Parliament, punished Mathews and those captains who had supported him in the battle, and vindicated Lestock. In several future actions, Admirals who were tempted to deviate from the Admiralty's fighting instructions were reminded of Mathews's fate.

    The French Revolution of 1793 halted the French naval revival and the professional skills of French naval personnel declined. This created an opportunity for the remarkable successes of the Royal Navy in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

    Battle of Nile. In 1798 Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson (14 ships-of-the-line) defeated the French (13 ships-of-the-line and 4 frigates) at Aboukir Bay. French casualties have been estimated to have been as high as 2,300 dead and wounded, and 3,000 captured. British losses were 895 dead and wounded. News of the victory was delayed reaching Britain as Leander, returning home with Nelson's dispatches, was captured after a fierce battle by the surviving 74-gun Le Généreux. The battle established British naval superiority during the remainder of the French Revolutionary Wars.

    In 1801 the French troops in Egypt comfortably returned in English ships to France, free to serve again, in accordance with the terms of an earlier convention.

    In August 1805 the best French admiral, La Touche-Treville suddenly died and Napoleon replaced him with Pierre Villeneuve. The tensions between the French and Spanish admirals were high - the French commander Villeneuve accusing the Spanish commander Gravina of cowardice the night before the fleet sailed from Trafalgar. Villeneuve did indeed predict Admiral Nelson's attack quite accurately, yet he was at a loss to respond. The British gunners were better trained than the Spanish and French and the use of new signaling methods by the British played a significant role in the combat.

    Battle of Trafalgar.
Picture by Montague-Dawson. The Battle of Trafalgar, which began at midday, was terminated about five. Eighteen of the allies were taken, the British lost no ships. The casualties were high in such a close fought combat. The damaged British warships limped back to the safety of Gibraltar.
    The Royal Navy lost 1.690 men killed and wounded incl. Admiral Nelson was killed by a French sharpshooter. Hastily carried below so as not to be seen by Victory's crew as they fought on, Nelson was taken down to the cockpit where he died 3 hours later. Before he died he said: "They have done for me at last" said Nelson "my backbone is shot through !" The Bellerophon's captain also received a fatal shot from a French sniper. The French and Spanish fleets lost 4.500-7.000 men.
    The decisive English victory ended Napoleon I's power on the sea and made a French invasion of England impossible.

    In March 16th 1807 the Royal Navy and 5.000 troops invaded and occupied Alexandria in Egypt to cause "a very great degree distress to the Constantinopole". Whatever was the motivation, "the attack on Alexandria could be viewed diplomatically only in the worst possible light." It backfired as this action ended in failure as the native forces crushed British infantry inflicting "almost 1.400 casualties". It forced the British troops to abandon the idea of expanding the conquered territory, and they were confined only to the city.

    In September, after a Danish refusal to surrender their biggest city, Copenhagen, to the British, the warships bombarded the place killing 2.000 civilians and destroying 30 % of the buildings. Then during armistice they carried off the Danish fleet and "all the naval stores in the arsenal."

    In September 1807, British ambassador from Constantinopole, Arbuthnot, had already pressed for warships to be sent to bully the Turks. Admiral Collingwood sent number of ships to the Dardanelles and shortly after this the British Cabinet decided to send Vice-Admiral Duckworth with more ships to the Turkish capital "to demand the immediate surrender of the Turkish Fleet , together with that of supply of naval stores from the arsenal ..." The Turks however showed no signs of being intimidated. They cannonaded the British forcing them to a hastily retreat on March 3rd. The British barely escaped being battered by 300 cannons. This action ended up in humiliation.

    In 1808 according to the Convention of Cintra the French troops with all its equipment and plunder (!) were again transfered safely on English ships. This time from Portugal to France.

    In 1808, the British fleet and expeditionary force sent to help Sweden against Russian aggression proved powerless to prevent the Russian conquest of Finland. The British navy gained control of the Baltic Sea, but - as in 1715-1721 - could only parade impotently without seriously hindering Russian operations. Sweden capitulated in September 1809.

    American frigate Constitution. The Americans were very frustrated with the British. In August 1807 USA president Jefferson wrote to T. Leiper: "I never expected to be under the necessity of wishing success to Bonaparte. But the English being equally tyrannical at sea as he is on land, ... I say, "down with England."
    American Congress had authorized 6 modern frigates to be built, including three with 44 guns and based on the most advanced designs: the Constitution, the President and the United States. They were 20 feet longer than their British opponents and 3 feet wider in the beam. They also had one continuous upper deck, instead of the usual forecastle and quarterdeck joined by two gangways, which allowed the Americans to mount 20 or so carronades in addition to the 30 24pdrs in the deck below. They were fast and outclassed all the British frigates.
    (HUMOR: The U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides) as a combat vessel carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last 6 months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators. However, let it be noted that according to her log, "On July 27, 1798, the U.S.S. Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannonshot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum." Her mission: "To destroy and harass English shipping." Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Then she headed for the Azores, arriving there 12 November. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine. On 18 November, she set sail for England. In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchantmen, salvaging only the rum aboard each. By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted.
    Nevertheless, although unarmed she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Her landing party captured a whisky distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard by dawn. Then she headed home. The U.S.S. Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 Feb 1799, with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no wine, no whisky and 38,600 gallons of stagnant water.
    Reinlistment was 100%. :=)


    The Spanish Navy.
    The Spanish navy reached its zenith in the 16th Century.

    Spanish ship of the line 
Santissima Trinidad The Spanish navy reached its zenith in the 16th Century. Since then until the Seven Years War it was one of the most powerful navies in the World. The Seven Years War however was a disastrous experience. During the Napoleonic Wars the Spaniards took ideas and practicies from both France and Britain, with Matthew Mullan of Ireland directing the naval yard at Havana.

    The pride of the Spanish fleet was Santissima Trinidad with 130 guns (!), it was the largest warship in the world. The second was British Caledonia with 120 guns. Santissima Trinidad in fact repressented a very old fashioned idea of ship design and it sailed very badly. Even the Spanish admiral recommeded that she be used only for the defence of Cadiz harbor.

    The Spaniards however went much further than Britain and France in the development of their overseas facilities. The dockyard at Havana was the best developed naval port outside of Europe.



    It was the French navy that made possible
    the American victory in the American Revolution.

    The French Navy.
    " ... Napoleon could campaign deep into Spain, Austria, and Russia,
    leaving his coasts lightly garrisoned by second-line troops,
    without much worry over a British invasion.
    - Esposito & John Elting, USA

    Anglo-French rivalry was fuelled by the two nations' desire to control colonial trade. The French government condemned the "oceanocrats" and claimed to be the defender of maritime freedom and the protector of neutral nations.

    France was not really a maritime nation in the same as Britain or Spain, and her navy always took second place to the army. The major naval bases were: Brest, Rochefort and Toulon. The French frigates were excellent, while their ships-of-the-line not so.

    In 1690 Britain for the first time established a naval superiority over France. French ships typically fired their cannons on the upward roll of the ship, disabling their opponents but doing little damage to the enemy ships or their crews.
    British and Dutch ships, by contrast, tended to use the opposite tactic of firing on the downward roll into the enemy hulls, causing a storm of flying splinters that killed and maimed the enemy gun crews.

    Pre-revolutionary officers had been aristocratic, professional and well trained. The Revolution caused them to flee the country. Many ended up in Britain. Frequent gun practice while under sail gave the British Royal Navy's gunners an advantage over the blocked French.
    Another advantage was the new flintlock firing mechanisms that allowed for more accurate sighting on the cannon. The French gunners were less trained than the British ones and in battle they aimed at the rigging rather than the hulls of their opponents. It resulted that British casualties were often remarkably light compared with those of the French.

    Vice Admiral Villeneuve. In 1804, Napoleon ordered Vice Admiral Villeneuve, now a stationed at Toulon, to escape from the British blockade, overcome the British fleet in the English Channel, and allow the planned invasion of Britain to take place. To draw off the British defences, Villeneuve was to sail to the West Indies, where it was planned that he would combine with the Spanish fleet and the French fleet from Brest, attack British possessions in the Caribbean, before returning across the Atlantic to destroy the British Channel squadrons and escort the Armée d'Angleterre from their camp at Boulogne to victory in England.

    Map of Battle of Trafalgar. Inexperienced French crews and the difficulties of getting out of Cádiz meant that it took 2 days to get all ships out of port and in some kind of order. Villeneuve learned of the size of the British fleet, and turned back to Cádiz, but the combined fleets were intercepted by Nelson off Cape Trafalgar.
    Nelson, though outnumbered, won the Battle of Trafalgar.
    According to Encyclopædia Britannica: "His (Villeneuve's) decision to leave Cádiz and give battle in October 1805, which led directly to the Battle of Trafalgar, cannot be justified even on his own principles. He foresaw defeat to be inevitable, and yet he went out solely because he learnt from the Minister of Marine that another officer had been sent to supersede him... It was provoked in a spasm of wounded vanity."

    "Trafalgar permanently crippled the Spanish navy, but the French soon recovered. Even as the English maneuvered to intercept Villeneuve, the Rochefort squadron put to sea in a long, destructive raid. Napoleon strengthened his Brest and Rochefort fleets, rebuilt the Toulon fleet, and began constructing a new one at Antwerp. Antwerp - a "pistol pointed at the heart of England" - was an ideal base for a cross-channel attack. The Boulogne flotilla was kept until 1811; Napoleon also made considerable efforts to develop an effective Italian navy, but without success. ...
    After Trafalgar, England continued its traditional policy of "subsidizing" (hiring) various Continental powers to do the land fighting, while her navy eliminated the enemy's merchant fleet and seized his colones... Napoleon could campaign deep into Spain, Austria, and Russia, leaving his coasts lightly garrisoned by second-line troops, without much worry over a British invasion. (Esposito & Elting - "A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars.")
    This is interesting that already in 1813 the French navy was back at its pre-war strength.

    "Although Napoleon 'lost' the war at sea effectively from 1805, his naval strategy against Great Britain remained surprisingly effective. ... By keeping his surviving squadrons ready for sea (or capable of being rapidly made so) at Brest, Rochfort, or Toulon, he kept the Royal Navy at full stretch on blockade duties, and the task of hunting down a small French break-out force was incommensurately expensive in terms of vessels and effort." (Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars" p 177)

    The French corsairs of the Napoleonic Wars enjoyed numerous successes against the British ships. Many captains made names for themselves - L'Hermitte, Leduc and Troude, for example. St.Malo, Nantes and Marseille were one of the premier corsair ports. Their activities caused a considerable panic in British commercial circles.



    Although Britain was Russia's ally against Napoleon,
    the Brits were concerned about the Russian fleet's
    growing strength in the Mediterranean.
    England was especially troubled by Russia's newly-
    attained strategic position in the Ionian Islands.

    The Russian Navy.
    Russia made its departure from the Mediterranean Sea
    to the relief of the French and the English.

    Russian ship of the line 
Azov. The Russian navy was one of the youngest of European modern navies. In 1696 Tsar Peter the Great issued order about forming the Navy on Azov Sea. The next year was opened Naval School in Moscow, afterwards it has been moved to Azov.

    In 1798, the Russian fleet was officially divided into two formations:

  • on Baltic Sea were: 45 ships-of-the-line and 19 frigates
  • on Black Sea were: 15 ships-of-the-line and 10 frigates
    That same year new navigation schools were established to replace the "navigator's companies." In St. Petersburg and Nikolayev maritime academies were opened for shipbuilding.

    In 1798, Russia and Turkey became unlikely allies after the French seized Malta and Napoleon began his Egyptian campaign. Vice-Admiral Ushakov's squadron passed through the Dardanelles and, after joining Turkish Admiral Kadyr Bey, headed for the French-occupied Ionian Islands. The allied fleet numbered 11 Russian and 4 Turkish ships-of-the-line, 6 Russian and 4 Turkish frigates, and 3 Russian and 8 Turkish gunboats. From September to November, detachments of Ushakov's fleet seized French fortifications on the islands of Cerigo, Zante, Cephalonia, and Saint Mauro. In addition, Ushakov made a landing on Corfu ( and delivered the first blow to Vido Island. The Russian fleet now possessed a strategically located base in the Mediterranean.

    Russian warships were dispatched from Corfu to attack French supply routes and assist Allied forces in Italy. In 9 days Sorokin's detachment took the towns of Brindisi, Mola and Bari, and Vice-Admiral Pavel Pustoshkin's squadron blockaded Ancona. On 3 June 1799, the Russians joined the Naples troops in the liberation of Naples. Now the Russian goal was Malta which was under siege by the British without any noticeable success. Although Great Britain was Russia's ally against Napoleon, the English were concerned about the Russian fleet's growing strength in the Mediterranean. England was especially troubled by Russia's newly-attained strategic position in the Ionian Islands. The British began to delay operations on Malta, not accepting Russia's offer of assistance.
    During this time a detachment of 4 frigates and 10 gunboats, joined the British fleet off the coast of Egypt. Although Russia had no plans for involvement in the Egyptian campaign, Nelson attempted to dispatch Ushakov and his Russian forces to Egypt. A compromise was reached, and it was decided to send only the squadron of Kartsov. Ushakov was senior to Nelson in rank, and in the anticipated operations on Malta the British would have to follow the Russian officer's orders, an arrangement that further rankled the British.
    In any event, the Malta campaign did not materialize. In late December 1799, Ushakov received an order to cease action in the Mediterranean and return with his fleet to the Black Sea. Only a few Russian vessels remained on Corfu, while the Ionian Islands became a republic under Russian control. (Source: "The History of Russian Navy")

    In 1803 Russia had the following ships:

  • on Baltic Sea were: 27 ships-of-the-line and 26 frigates
  • on Black Sea were: 21 ships-of-the-line and 8 frigates

    In early 1806 Vice-Admiral Senyavin entered the Ionian Sea with a large squadron. Within a year Senyavin had under his command 16 ships-of-the-line and 7 frigates as well as numerous small transports. The port of Corfu served as an operational base while the admiral commanded an infantry division for land operations against the French. In May at the request of the French, the Austrians, detained several Russian merchant vessels at Trieste. Senyavin rushed without delay to rescue his compatriots, taking 3 ships-of-the-line and 1 frigate. He demanded the release of the vessels within one hour, and, indeed, they were set free.

    In February of 1807, after being informed of the outbreak of war with Turkey, Senyavin departed from Corfu for the Aegean Sea with the main body of his fleet and a number of ground troops. According to the Tilsit Treaty, Russia made its departure from the Mediterranean Sea to the relief of the French and the English.

    In 1815 the first Russian steamship "Elizaveta" was built in St.Petersburg.

  • Sources and Links.

    Arturo Perez Reverte - "Cabo Trafalgar"
    Lavery - "Nelson's Fleet at Trafalgar"
    Herman - "To Rule the Waves." (very anglocentric book)
    Colledge - "Ships of the Royal Navy"
    Sugden - "Nelson : A Dream of Glory 1758 - 1797"
    The Royal Navy - Official Website
    Admiral Horatio Nelson, England's Hero.
    Ship of the line in mid 17th century.
    Ship of the line, frigate, sloop.
    Pictures of American Frigates.
    Pictures of Spanish Galeons.

    Napoleon, His Army and Enemies