A Japanese merchant ship sinks in the Pacific after being torpedoed by USS Drum (SS 228), as seen through the submarine’s periscope. U.S. Navy Photo, U.S. Naval Institute, courtesy Naval War College Museum.
NEWPORT, R.I. -- The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) Newport Paper, entitled “Commerce Raiding: Historical Case Studies, 1755-2009,” is now available as the latest offering from the NWC Press.
Edited by NWC professors Bruce A. Elleman and S. C. M. Paine, the work offers sixteen case studies for commerce raiding that examine how and why this military tactic has been adopted and conducted through several centuries of naval history.
“From ancient times, piracy has been an issue at sea, and a long tradition of private men-of-war lasted into the mid-nineteenth century,” explained NWC’s Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History and Maritime History Department Chair John Hattendorf in the foreword. In some cases navies and naval thinkers promoted the practice while in others naval strategists concluded it was “an indecisive method of waging war.” The twentieth century world wars demonstrated attacks on trade could be particularly effective.
From the Seven Years’ War in the eighteenth century to today’s Somali pirates, factors over time show that both strong and weak powers have used the tactic, campaigns are often prolonged, and technological changes have influenced conduct of attacks on maritime trade.
“A consideration of the range of historical case studies in this volume provides an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which old and long-forgotten problems might reemerge to challenge future naval planners and strategists,” Hattendorf concluded.
The Newport Papers are extended research projects that the NWC Press director, dean of Naval Warfare Studies, and NWC president consider of particular interest to policy makers, scholars, and analysts.