Full course description
The sea was always a battleground, and as naval technology advanced, the battleground steadily extended from coastal waters to the widest oceans. When the Spanish discovered a way across the Atlantic and the Portuguese opened the sea-route to Asia, it was the beginning of a European domination of the world built solely on command of the sea. As with Spain and Portugal, England and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries, so with Japan in the 20th. Peripheral nations, with no more than access to the sea and a will to conquer, set sail to remake the world.
This course traces the evolution of sea power from the time when the galleys broke their oars against each other in the narrow waters of the Mediterranean to the days when fleets of carriers and battleships, cruisers and transports, destroyers and submarines campaigned across the immensity of the Pacific.
This course will take place Tuesdays between 7-9pm for 10 Weeks, 31 January to 4 April 2023.
Location- Western Gateway Building, UCC. Room G14
Closing date for applications: Monday, 23 January 2023
Week 1. In the 16th century European ambitions and European fleets turned from the inner seas to the open ocean. The future lay on blue water.
Week 2. Among Europe’s maritime powers it was becoming clear that the maintenance of a permanent navy was the nation’s safeguard. A ‘wooden world’ of peculiar traditions began to evolve.
Week 3. The warship under sail reached a state of perfection in the 18th century as the great powers embarked on a climactic contest for command of the ocean.
Week 4. The British attained mastery of the seas just as their age-old seafaring expertise was about to be rendered obsolete by dramatic technological innovation.
Week 5. Steam and steel had transformed naval power by the end of the 19th century, and the revolution was not over yet. Moreover, Western naval technology was being adopted by a Far Eastern power.
Week 6. After a century of naval supremacy, Britain was at last challenged at sea. As world war erupted, the dreadnought fleets made ready to contest the legacy of Trafalgar.
Week 7. Enter the submarine: ‘underhand, underwater and damned un-English’, but highly effective. Week 8. Aircraft were to be the eyes of the fleet, but they became much more. The battleship in all its grandeur would have to make way for the ungainly carrier as the most valuable of capital ships.
Week 9. The new technologies had made it possible to fight in the most inhospitable waters. In the Second World War, the opposing fleet was sometimes merely the adversary: the sea itself was the enemy.
Week 10. The war in the Pacific saw distance conquered. A century of naval evolution came to a grand climax in far-flung amphibious operations and the last and greatest fleet action in history. The war ended, but the dawning of the atomic age ensured that fleets would remain at sea.
John Ware is a part-time lecturer in the School of History UCC, and in Adult Continuing Education. Although trained as a medievalist, he pursues a wide range of historical interests. He is the author of Dirty Shirt and A Green Bough.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old at course commencement.
Short courses are not assessed. Students will receive a UCC Certificate of Attendance upon completion.
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