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Don't give up the ship!

Printed From: WorldHistoria Forum
Category: GENERAL HISTORY
Forum Name: Naval History
Forum Description: Events and developments, peaceful and warlike, at sea, especially covering broad areas or periods
URL: http://www.worldhistoria.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=124475
Printed Date: 13 Nov 2019 at 10:35
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.01 - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: Don't give up the ship!
Posted By: rider
Subject: Don't give up the ship!
Date Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 07:54

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?




Replies:
Posted By: Aster Thrax Eupator
Date Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 08:06
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.


Posted By: Parnell
Date Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 10:05
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!


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http://xkcd.com/15/



Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it. ~George Bernard Shaw


Posted By: Ahmed The Fighter
Date Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 11:04
  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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"May the eyes of cowards never sleep"
Khalid Bin Walid.


Posted By: Cryptic
Date Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 11:58
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.  


Posted By: rider
Date Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 19:43
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.


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 05 Aug 2009 at 21:43

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 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlieter_Incident

 



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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: rider
Date Posted: 06 Aug 2009 at 06:30
Interesting read. Doesn't seem that the Batavians were ever too intent on fighting to the end (the article mentioned another surrender as well).


Posted By: DukeC
Date Posted: 08 Aug 2009 at 04:00
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.
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Manchester_%2815 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Manchester_(15 )
 
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.


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we have a blind date with destiny..and it looks like she's ordered the lobster


Posted By: rider
Date Posted: 08 Aug 2009 at 07:13
What's that '(15' ? Why is it relevant in the link?


Posted By: DukeC
Date Posted: 08 Aug 2009 at 07:25
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.


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we have a blind date with destiny..and it looks like she's ordered the lobster


Posted By: rider
Date Posted: 08 Aug 2009 at 07:30
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Manchester_%2815 -

%3cA%20href= - 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.


Posted By: DukeC
Date Posted: 08 Aug 2009 at 07:54
thank rider
 
I agree, maybe someone in the Admiralty had a grudge against him?


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we have a blind date with destiny..and it looks like she's ordered the lobster


Posted By: Justinian
Date Posted: 07 Sep 2009 at 18:50
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.  

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"War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."--Thomas Mann



Posted By: rider
Date Posted: 08 Sep 2009 at 06:23
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.


Posted By: Justinian
Date Posted: 08 Sep 2009 at 18:25
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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"War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."--Thomas Mann



Posted By: rider
Date Posted: 09 Sep 2009 at 06:08
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.


Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date Posted: 09 Sep 2009 at 10:41
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
 
 


Posted By: Styrbiorn
Date Posted: 10 Sep 2009 at 01:06
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 - 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.



Posted By: Carcharodon
Date Posted: 10 Sep 2009 at 03:17
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




Posted By: rider
Date Posted: 10 Sep 2009 at 05:27
Does that make the English commander a terrible idiot or the Swedish one the finest naval man in history?



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