Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The “Myth” of British Seapower

The “Myth” of British Seapower

…[i]n perfect lines, more than 150 British destroyers, thirty-three battleships, nine battle cruisers, and twenty-seven cruisers greeted the German surrender. The Grand Fleet’s Commander-in-Chief, Admiral David Beatty, paced the deck of his flagship, the Queen Elizabeth, flushed with triumph and anticipation. It was a bittersweet moment. In his great cabin above his desk was a portrait of Nelson, the founding father of Britain’s naval supremacy around the world.1 Yet the surrender of the German fleet, the greatest naval victory in history, had come without firing a shot—and without the glorious and decisive sea battle Beatty and his generation had yearned for, to set beside the achievements of Trafalgar and the Nile. In fact, the surrender marked not the beginning of Britain’s reign as the world’s superpower, but its end.

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