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The Ottoman Navy was established in the early 14th century. During its long existence it was involved in many conflicts; refer to list of Ottoman sieges and landings and list of Admirals in the Ottoman Empire for a brief chronology.

Contents

Rise (1299–1453)

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Military &
political history
Rise of the Ottoman Empire
Time span 154 years
# Sultans 8
Soc-econ Enlargement
See also
External Timeline
Graphical timeline
The Battle of Zonchio in 1499 was the first naval battle in history where cannons were used on ships

The conquest of İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara in 1308 marked the first Ottoman naval victory (for a timeline of the naval actions of the Ottoman fleet, see the History of the Turkish Navy.) In 1321 the Ottoman fleet made its first landings on Thrace in southeastern Europe. In 1351 the Ottoman naval forces built the first Turkish castles in Europe, and in 1352 the Anatolian shores of the strategic Bosporus Strait near Constantinople (Istanbul, and both shores of the equally strategic Dardanelles Strait were conquered by the Ottoman fleet.

In 1373 the first landings and conquests on the Aegean shores of Macedonia were made, which was followed by the first Ottoman siege of Thessaloniki in 1374. The conquest of Thessaloniki and Macedonia were completed in 1387. Between 1387 and 1423 the Ottoman fleet contributed to the territorial expansions of the Ottoman Empire on the Balkan peninsula and the Black Sea coasts of Anatolia. Following the first conquests of Venetian territories in Morea, the first Ottoman-Venetian War (1423-1430) started. In the meantime the Ottoman fleet continued to contribute to the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the Aegean and Black Seas, with the conquests of Sinop (1424), Izmir (1426) and the reconquest of Thessaloniki from the Venetians (1430). Albania was reconquered by the Ottoman fleet with landings between 1448 and 1450.

Growth (1453–1683)

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Military &
political history
Growth of the Ottoman Empire
Time span 230 years
# Sultans 11
Soc-econ Enlargement
See also
External Timeline
Graphical timeline
Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha defeated the Holy League of Charles V under the command of Andrea Doria at the Battle of Preveza in 1538

In 1453 the Ottoman fleet participated in the historic conquests of Constantinople (Istanbul, Gökçeada, Lemnos and Thasos. The conquest of the Duchy of Athens in Morea was completed between 1458 and 1460, followed by the conquest of the Empire of Trebizond and the Genoese colony of Amasra in 1461, which brought an end to the final vestiges of the Byzantine Empire. In 1462 the Ottoman fleet conquered the Genoese islands of the northern Aegean Sea, including Lesbos. This was followed by the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1463-1479. In the following period the Ottoman fleet gained more territory in the Aegean Sea, and in 1475 set foot on Crimea on the northern shores of the Black Sea. Until 1499 this was followed by further expansion on the Black Sea coasts (such as the conquest of Georgia in 1479) and on the Balkan peninsula (such as the final reconquest of Albania in 1497, and the conquest of Montenegro in 1499). The loss of Venetian forts in Montenegro, near the strategic Castelnuovo, triggered the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499-1503, during which the Turkish fleet of Kemal Reis defeated the Venetian forces at the Battle of Zonchio (1499) and the Battle of Modon (1500). By 1503 the Ottoman fleet raided the northeastern Adriatic coasts of Italy, and completely captured the Venetian lands on Morea, the Ionian Sea coast and the southeastern Adriatic Sea coast.

Starting from the conquest of Syria in 1516, the Ottoman fleet of Selim I started expanding the Ottoman territories towards the Levant and the Mediterranean coasts of North Africa. Between 1516 and 1517 Algeria was conquered from Spain by the forces of Oruç Reis who declared his allegiance to the Ottoman Empire, which was followed by the conquest of Egypt and the end of the Mameluke Empire in 1517. In 1522 the strategic island of Rhodes, then the seat of the Knights of St. John, was conquered by the naval fleet of Kurtoğlu Muslihiddin Reis; Suleiman I let the Knights leave the island, who relocated their base first to Sicily and later to Malta.

In 1527 the Ottoman fleet participated in the conquest of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia and Bosnia. In 1529 the Ottoman fleet under Salih Reis and Aydın Reis destroyed the Spanish fleet of Rodrigo Portundo near the Isle of Formentera. This was followed by the first conquest of Tunisia from Spain and the reconquest of Morea by the fleet of Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa, whose fleet later conquered the islands belonging to the Duchy of Naxos in 1537. Afterwards, the Ottoman fleet laid siege on the Venetian island of Corfu, and landed on the coasts of Calabria and Puglia, which forced the Republic of Venice and Habsburg Spain of Charles V to ask for the Pope to create a Holy League, which consisted of Spain, the Republic of Venice, the Republic of Genoa, the Papal States and the Knights of Malta. The joint fleet was to be commanded by Charles V's top admiral, Andrea Doria. The Holy League and the Ottoman fleet under the command of Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa encountered in September 1538 at the Battle of Preveza, which is often considered the greatest Turkish naval victory in history.

Surviving fragment of the first World Map of Piri Reis (1513)

In 1541, 1544, 1552 and 1555 the Spanish-Italian fleet of Charles V under the command of Andrea Doria were defeated in Algiers, Naples, Ponza and Piombino, respectively. In the meantime, the Ottoman Indian Ocean Fleet, based in Suez and Basra, defeated the Portuguese forces on several occasions near the Arabian peninsula, conquering Aden and Yemen (1538-1539) which were important Portuguese ports, along with Jeddah and Hijaz on the Red Sea coast. Between 1547-1548 Yemen was reconquered from the Portuguese, while in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, other important Portuguese ports such as Oman, Hormuz and Qatar were conquered in 1552.

The Ottoman naval victory at the Battle of Preveza in 1538 and the Battle of Djerba in 1560 ensured the Ottoman supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea for several decades, until the Ottoman Turks suffered their first ever military defeat at the hands of the Europeans at the Battle of Lepanto (1571). But the defeat at Lepanto, despite being much celebrated in Europe, was only a temporary setback: it could not reverse the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus, and within a year, the Ottomans built an equally large fleet, which in 1574 conquered Tunisia from Spain. This completing the Ottoman conquest of North Africa, following the operations of the Ottoman fleet under Turgut Reis which had earlier conquered Libya (1551) and of Salih Reis, who had conquered the coasts of Morocco beyond the Strait of Gibraltar in 1553. In 1565 the Sultanate of Aceh in Sumatra (Indonesia) declared allegiance to the Ottoman Empire, and in 1569 the Ottoman fleet of Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis set foot on Aceh, which marked the easternmost Ottoman territorial expansion.

Starting from the early 17th century, the Ottoman fleet began to venture into the Atlantic Ocean (earlier, Kemal Reis had ventured into the Canary Islands in 1501, while the fleet of Murat Reis the Elder had captured Lanzarote of the Canary Islands in 1585). In 1617 the Ottoman fleet captured Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean, before raiding Sussex, Plymouth, Devon, Hartland Point, Cornwall and the other counties of western England in August 1625. In 1627 Ottoman naval ships, accompanied by corsairs from the Barbary Coast, raided the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. Between 1627 and 1631 the same Ottoman force also raided the coasts of Ireland and Sweden.

In 1655 a force of 40 Ottoman ships captured the Isle of Lundy in the Bristol Channel, which served as the main base for Ottoman naval and privateering operations in the North Atlantic until 1660, when Ottoman ships appeared off the eastern coasts of North America, particularly being sighted at the British colonies like Newfoundland and Virginia. Finally, the long lasting Ottoman-Venetian War of 1645–1669 ended with Ottoman victory and the completion of the conquest of Crete, marking the Empire's territorial zenith.

Stagnation (1683–1827)

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Military &
political history
Stagnation of the Ottoman Empire
Time span 133 years
# Sultans 11
Soc-econ
See also
External Timeline
Graphical timeline

In the rest of the 17th and 18th centuries, however, the operations of the Ottoman fleet were largely limited to the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Red Sea, Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. The Morean War saw numerous battles with the Venetians, with mixed results. In 1708 another long lasting objective, the conquest of Oran (the final Spanish stronghold in Algeria) was accomplished.

The 18th century was a period of stalemate for the Ottoman fleet, with numerous victories matched by equally numerous defeats. Important Ottoman naval victories in this period included the reconquest of Moldavia and Azov from the Russians in 1711. The Ottoman–Venetian War of 1714–1718 saw the reconquest of Morea from the Venetians and the elimination of the last Venetian island strongholds in the Aegean. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774 however, the Ottoman fleet was destroyed in the Battle of Chesme (1770). The next Russo-Turkish War again saw numerous naval defeats at the hands of the Russian Black Sea Fleet under Admiral Fyodor Ushakov.

During the Greek War of Independence, the much larger Ottoman fleet proved unable to effectively counter the Greek fleets. Several large-scale engagements, such as Samos and Gerontas were won for the rebels by the use of fireships, which negated the presence of the far superior Ottoman ships-of-the-line.

Decline (1828–1908)

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Military &
political history
Decline of the Ottoman Empire
Time span 82 years
# Sultans 5
Soc-econ Reformation
See also
External Timeline
Graphical timeline
Mahmudiye (1829), built by the Imperial Naval Arsenal on the Golden Horn in Istanbul, was for many years the largest warship in the world. The 62x17x7m ship was armed with 128 cannons on 3 decks. She participated in numerous important naval battles, including the Siege of Sevastopol (1854-1855) during the Crimean War
Nordenfelt class Ottoman submarine Abdülhamid (1886) was the first submarine in history to fire a torpedo while submerged under water. Two submarines of this class, Nordenfelt II (Abdülhamid, 1886) and Nordenfelt III (Abdülmecid, 1887) joined the Ottoman fleet. They were built in pieces by Des Vignes (Chertsey) and Vickers (Sheffield) in England, and assembled at the Taşkızak Naval Shipyard in Istanbul

The 19th century saw further decline in Ottoman naval power, despite occasional recovery. Following the defeat against the combined British-French-Russian fleet at the Battle of Navarino in 1827, Sultan Mahmud II gave priority to develop a strong and modern Ottoman naval force. The first steam ships of the Ottoman Navy were acquired in 1828. In 1829 the world's largest warship for many years, the 62x17x7m ship-of-the-line Mahmudiye, which had 128 cannons on 3 decks, was built for the Ottoman Navy at the Imperial Naval Arsenal on the Golden Horn in Istanbul.

In 1875, during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz, the Ottoman Navy had 21 battleships and 173 other types of warships, ranking as the third largest navy in the world after the British and French navies. But the vast size of the navy was too much of a burden for the collapsing Ottoman economy to sustain. Abdülhamid II's suspicion of the reformist admirals, who supported Midhat Pasha, made things even worse, and consequently almost the entire Ottoman fleet was kept locked inside the Golden Horn for more than 3 decades, during which the ships decayed.

Abdulhamid has often been blamed for the long inactivity and the decay of the navy. It has been suggested that the two Nordenfelt class submarines acquired by Abdulhamid himself, Abdülhamid (1886) and Abdülmecid (1887), could seldomly leave the Golden Horn due to the sultan's suspicions and fear of a Navy-based coup against him; which eventually started to take place with the naval demonstration at the port of Selanik in 1908.

In fact, despite his suspicions of his admirals, Abdülhamid was painfully aware that the empire needed a navy to shield herself from the ever-growing Russian threat. He was fresh out of options, however. The second half of the 19th century was a period of breakthroughs in the field of naval engineering. The Ottoman Navy was rapidly becoming obsolete, and needed to replace all her warships once a decade to keep pace with technological progress - which, given the dismal state of the economy, was clearly not an option.

The aforementioned submarines were an attempt to gain an edge over the Greek navy (which had only one Nordenfelt submarine, a smaller and older version). However, it was quickly realized that -like the other Nordenfelt submarines ordered by Russia- they suffered from stability problems and were too easy to swamp on the surface. The Turks could not find a crew that was willing to serve on the primitive submarines. Abdülhamid ended up rotting at dock, while Abdülmecid was never fully completed.[1]

Dissolution (1908–1922)

The Ottoman Navy at the Golden Horn in Istanbul, in the early days of the First World War

Following the Young Turk Revolution in 1908, the Committee of Union and Progress which effectively took control of the country sought to develop a strong Ottoman naval force. The poor condition of the fleet was evident during the Ottoman Naval Parade of 1910, and the Ottoman Navy Foundation was established in order to purchase new ships through public donations. Those who made donations received different types of medals according to the size of their contributions. The bad state of the Ottoman fleet became even more evident with the outbreak of the First Balkan War, when it was twice defeated by the Greek Navy at the battles of Elli and Lemnos, while several smaller vessels were captured or sunk by Greek torpedo boats. The only Ottoman naval successes were the raiding actions of the light cruiser Hamidiye under Rauf Orbay.

In the aftermath of the Balkan Wars, the Ottomans remained engaged in a dispute over the sovereignty of the North Aegean islands with Greece. A naval race ensued in 1914, with the Ottoman government ordering large dreadnought battleships like Sultan Osman I and Reşadiye. Despite the payment for both ships, the United Kingdom confiscated them at the outbreak of World War I and renamed them as HMS Agincourt and HMS Erin. This caused some ill-feeling towards Britain among the Ottoman public, and the German Empire took advantage of the situation by sending the battlecruiser SMS Goeben and light cruiser SMS Breslau which entered service in the Ottoman fleet as Yavuz Sultan Selim and Midilli respectively. This event significantly contributed to the decision of entry into World War I on the side of Germany and the Central Powers.

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World War I and aftermath

Ottoman battlecruiser Yavuz

The British, French and ANZAC fleets could not pass through the Dardanelles Strait (Çanakkale Boğazı) during the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915 thanks to the heavy Turkish fortifications lining the strait and mining by Turkish minelayers like Nusret, and fierce fighting by the Turkish soldiers on land, sea and air, who were well aware that they were resisting the capture of Istanbul and the occupation of their homeland.

Following the end of World War I, the Ottoman Navy was dissolved by the victorious Allies and the large ships of the Ottoman fleet were towed to the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara under the control of Allied warships, or locked inside the Golden Horn. Some of them were scrapped.

After the independence of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the remaining major warships of the former Ottoman fleet, such as the battlecruiser TCG Yavuz, the pre-dreadnought battleship TCG Turgut Reis, protected cruisers TCG Hamidiye and TCG Mecidiye, light cruisers TCG Berk-i Satvet and TCG Peyk-i Şevket, destroyers TCG Samsun, TCG Bafra and TCG Taşoz, and torpedo boats TCG Burak Reis, TCG Kemal Reis, TCG İsa Reis and TCG Sakız were overhauled, repaired and modernized, while new ships and submarines were acquired.

Gallery

See also

References and sources

  1. ^ The Invention of the Submarine, Greg Goebel, http://www.vectorsite.net/twsub1.html

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