Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Antipiracy Operations in the Aegean Sea

Antipiracy Operations in the Aegean Sea

US-Greek Naval Relations Begin: Antipiracy Operations in the Aegean Sea
Peter M. Swartz
CNA [Center for Naval Analyses], Center for Strategic Studies Alexandria, Virginia
[Approved for Public Release; Distribution Unlimited.]


This paper discusses the US Navy's campaign against Greek pirates who interfered with American shipping in the Aegean during the second decade of the nineteenth century.1 This campaign was not a particularly important one in the overall history of the US Navy, nor did it strongly influence subsequent Greek-American naval relations. Nevertheless, it illustrates some key aspects of the nature of the Greek war for independence, and of the republic in North America that had itself won its independence less than half a century earlier.

America's war for independence spawned many small American naval forces-national, state, and private. Some had acquitted themselves quite well against the Royal Navy, but all had disappeared once American independence had been won. The new United States of America, however, quickly became a major international shipping power during the last decades of the eighteenth century, capitalizing on American knowledge and resources as well as European involvement in the several wars of the French revolution and of the Napoleonic Era. A particularly profitable trade had grown up between American ports and Smyrna. America's huge new merchant fleet, however, periodically became prey to French or British warships and privateers, as well as the corsairs of the Barbary States of North Africa. Therefore, in 1798 the United States commissioned a new Navy to protect its burgeoning commerce.