Alfred Mahan: The Father of Seapower

Alfred Mahan (1840-1914) was an unlikely naval innovator. He served, not as a combat officer, but as a staff officer blockading Confederate Ports  in the U.S Civil War (1861-1865). This experience proved to be important, it showed to him that large naval campaigns can have an important strategic impact both on and off the water. Throughout his long and slow career (Captain's rank in 1885, after 25 years service.), Mahan developed a reputation as a very progressive officer. After publishing a History of the Civil War, which earned him the post of President of the Naval War College, he went on to publish his masterpiece "The Influence of Seapower on History 1660-1783". Mahan's views were that fleets are most effective when used as part of a coherent campaign. He recognised that it did not take a large fleet to tie down another large fleet. A small fleet would be a constant threat to commerce and would tie down resources that could have been used on another battle front. These practises were put into use, particularly by the Germans, in the First and Second World Wars. Take the actions of SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau in the First World War, they were able to tie down the entire British Mediterranean Fleet and the entire French Navy; or SMS Emden, which again tied down a large amount of Allied Ships in the First World War. Mahan's strategies could still be put in use if a major war was to arise today; he is truly a father of modern naval tactics.