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Don't give up the ship!

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    Posted: 04 Aug 2009 at 21:54

Is this a policy which you personally support or not?

Also, any really noteworthy instances when it was carried out (or failed at the same)? I heard of one instance where the commander of a sinking ship followed this so well that he and his men boarded the enemy vessel and the captain said something along the lines of 'The battle has just begun.'

 

I personally support this policy - for a naval commander to give up his command and authority in face of danger is not acceptable. Surrendering a ship sounds like a true disgrace -- would a cavalry commander sell his horses to the enemy?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2009 at 22:06
I personally think that the whole "Down with the ship" think is a little pathetic. Glory and Bayonets is a ridiculous notion, and this extends to maritime warfare.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 00:05
Originally posted by Aster Thrax Eupator Aster Thrax Eupator wrote:

I personally think that the whole "Down with the ship" think is a little pathetic. Glory and Bayonets is a ridiculous notion, and this extends to maritime warfare.


Is there not something to be said for the stoical captain, proudly going down with his vessel rather than suffer its capture at the hands of an enemy? A man of integrity and shameless loyalty, refusing to surrender to any flag but her own?? I say Aster, an Englishman you are not!
http://xkcd.com/15/



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ahmed The Fighter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 01:04
  Von Reuter comes to my mind, he ordered one of the greatest and boldest scuttles in naval history.
 The shame of surrender had been wiped from the German Fleet.
 Had the fleet not been scuttled,  it would've been one of the most abject surrenders in history.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 01:58
Many Imperial Japanese Commanders willingly went down with their ships, even when they could have been rescued by their own side.
 
Their actions only hurt the Japanese cause as the Japanese could not replace experienced senior officers. Consider the Shinamo disaster where an inexperienced and fanatical IJN captain lost not only his ship, but 1,000 men needlessly.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 09:43
I concur completely with von Reuter's decision. It's actually amazing that the British Navy allowed them to surrender in the first place -- they were giving a bad name for all sailors everywhere in my opinion. With the Scapa Flow, it all changed. And only for the better.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 11:43

Surrendering the ship would have been a court-martial charge in Britain certainly. In fact losing your ship in any way is a court martial charge. Even if the captain was found for some reason not guilty through force majeure the charge would probably ruin his career.

An interesting example of court-martialling and executing officers who surrendered their ships in the Batavian Republic (Netherlands after French occupation) is the Vlieter Incident, which has a page at wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlieter_Incident

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 20:30
Interesting read. Doesn't seem that the Batavians were ever too intent on fighting to the end (the article mentioned another surrender as well).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Aug 2009 at 18:00
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Surrendering the ship would have been a court-martial charge in Britain certainly. In fact losing your ship in any way is a court martial charge. Even if the captain was found for some reason not guilty through force majeure the charge would probably ruin his career.

Something the captain of HMS Manchester found out.
 
 
edit- that link doesn't take you directly to the article for some reason. You have to select search for Manchester (15 first then select it from the list.


Edited by DukeC - 07 Aug 2009 at 18:36
we have a blind date with destiny..and it looks like she's ordered the lobster
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Aug 2009 at 21:13
What's that '(15' ? Why is it relevant in the link?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Aug 2009 at 21:25
It's part of the address on the wiki page for the HMS Manchester. The URL that I copied and pasted into the post doesn't take you directly to the right page for some reason.
 
HMS Manchester (C15) is the name of the specific ship I'm refering to.


Edited by DukeC - 07 Aug 2009 at 21:28
we have a blind date with destiny..and it looks like she's ordered the lobster
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Aug 2009 at 21:30

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Manchester_(15)">HMS Manchester

Now it should. The last bracket was not included in the link for some reason.
 
Seems that the Admirality did wrong in having the chap martialled. Especially in the way they did it. At least, that's what seems to me.


Edited by rider - 08 Aug 2009 at 21:24
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Aug 2009 at 21:54
thank rider
 
I agree, maybe someone in the Admiralty had a grudge against him?
we have a blind date with destiny..and it looks like she's ordered the lobster
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 2009 at 08:50
There are certain advantages to such a policy, though I think if it becomes too rigid it risks turning into a very poor one.  The Japanese during WWII for example; many of their most experienced captains and admirals voluntarily went down with their ships for no material gain.  (it strikes me how similar the germans and japanese were in WWII from the perspective of fighting with voluntarily enforced handicaps to make the war even more difficult)  In certain battles it would have made much more since to have the captain abandon the ship once all other personnel are off and all pertinent documents, etc. have been secured or destroyed.  Japan really handicapped itself with this all or nothing strategy in the pacific, (really from every level) and they were fighting an uphill battle from the start.  
"War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."--Thomas Mann

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 2009 at 20:23
That might be true, but for me it signifies their love for their ship and the sea. If I commanded a ship, I doubt I'd ever wish to retreat from it, no matter what it's fate.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2009 at 08:25
Perhaps, I can understand that attitude if its the end of a war one knows will be lost.  Though if its at the beginning, it seems to me superior to abandon ship and use what you've learned and next time make the opponent go down with his ship.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2009 at 20:08
In the end, both of the sides have all the Navy stocked on one single ship? That would happen after all, if the policy wouldn't be used.

Edited by rider - 08 Sep 2009 at 20:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Sep 2009 at 00:41
Originally posted by rider rider wrote:

In the end, both of the sides have all the Navy stocked on one single ship? That would happen after all, if the policy wouldn't be used.
 
What?  Confused
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Sep 2009 at 15:06
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Surrendering the ship would have been a court-martial charge in Britain certainly. In fact losing your ship in any way is a court martial charge. Even if the captain was found for some reason not guilty through force majeure the charge would probably ruin his career.

An interesting example of court-martialling and executing officers who surrendered their ships in the Batavian Republic (Netherlands after French occupation) is the Vlieter Incident, which has a page at wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlieter_Incident

The same in Sweden during the 17th and 18th centuries.

A related issue is the haughty English demands that other nation's ships strike their flags. To strike the flags or lowering the topsails for the English were also punished by death, in case it was on the captain's instigation. In case the crew decided to do it without the captains consent, the punishment was Decimation. Until the beginning of the 18th century the laws were deliberately vaguely formulated though, and in practice the opposite solution of Tromp's was used: don't even fly the flag outside the Baltic in the first place. It changed with the Northern War though, where the punishment by death was guaranteed. This caused at least one action against the English: Psilander of the 50-gun Öland, returning from hunting Barbary pirates, was engaged and eventually captured by an eight ship and one frigate-flottilla in the Channel after refusing to strike flag. Honour was obviously no light matter.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Sep 2009 at 17:17
Originally posted by Styrbiorn Styrbiorn wrote:


A related issue is the haughty English demands that other nation's ships strike their flags. To strike the flags or lowering the topsails for the English were also punished by death, in case it was on the captain's instigation. In case the crew decided to do it without the captains consent, the punishment was Decimation. Until the beginning of the 18th century the laws were deliberately vaguely formulated though, and in practice the opposite solution of Tromp's was used: don't even fly the flag outside the Baltic in the first place. It changed with the Northern War though, where the punishment by death was guaranteed. This caused at least one action against the English: Psilander of the 50-gun Öland, returning from hunting Barbary pirates, was engaged and eventually captured by an eight ship and one frigate-flottilla in the Channel after refusing to strike flag. Honour was obviously no light matter.



Yes that was and interesting battle, the battle at Orford Ness 1704. The English had together 430 guns but after the battle the English had lost 20 dead and 80 wounded while the Swedish lost 16 dead and 37 wounded.

A picture of Gustav von Psilander:
http://members.tripod.com/Bengt_Nilsson/Bilder/gus1.jpg


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Sep 2009 at 19:27
Does that make the English commander a terrible idiot or the Swedish one the finest naval man in history?
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