Special Report

The 15 Most Pivotal Naval Battles in History

For thousands of years, naval battles have been some of the most decisive military conflicts. Controlling the seas allows victors to dominate ports, trade routes, and encircle opponents.

With such strategic importance, commanders throughout history have committed massive naval forces to key battles that shaped the course of wars and empires.

To identify the largest naval battles in history, 24/7 Tempo used a variety of resources such as Encyclopedia Britannica to compile a list of naval military engagements that had the greatest number of participants and casualties as well as significant importance to world history. 

Though many were in the 20th century World Wars, earlier battles also made the list, determining the fates of ancient civilizations. Casualty reports from these eras may be exaggerated or lost.

Naval warfare is perilous, as ships are vulnerable to aerial, submarine, artillery, and ship-to-ship attacks. One well-placed strike can sink a vessel and kill thousands, swinging the tide of war. These are the deadliest battles in U.S. history.

Click here to see the most pivotal naval battles of all time

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