>Lest We Forget: Nusret. The Little Ship That Changed The History

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Today is the 95th anniversary of the Turkish forces over the Allied Fleet in the Dardanelles.

Known as the Çanakkale Naval Victory, in Turkey, this battle effectively sunk (no pun indented) the hopes of the British Admiralty and Churchill to force the Turkish Straits and a quickly dash to Istanbul to occupy it. This Turkish victory forced the Allies to use ground force in order to bring Dardanelles under their control and led to the merciless Gallipoli Campaign.

Churchill realized that if Allies could eliminate Ottoman Empire from the war, they could help Russia via Black Sea and could pressure Central Powers from the east as well.

While the main of the British Army deeply entrench in Belgium and France and the most potent s capital ships loitering in the North Sea Allied Forces had few forces to spare for such a secondary and diversionary front.

The plan of the British Admiralty was to bombard the forts that were protecting the shores of Dardanelles to annihilation and later clean the mines to open the way for Allied warships to sail to Istanbul.

The plan had two important mistakes:
1) It grossly underestimated capability, strength and sprit of the Turkish forces, assisted by Germany.
2) It did not take Lord Nelson with his oft-quoted dictum: “A ship’s a fool to fight a fort” into consideration.

The order of the battle for the Allied fleet consisted of HMS Queen Elizabet, HMS Agamemnon, HMS Lord Nelson, HMS Inflexible, HMS Prince George, HMS Triump, HMS Ocean, HMS Majestic, HMS Swiftsure, HMS Vengeance, HMS Irresistible, HMS Albion from Royal Navy, Gaulois, Charlemange, Bouvet, Suffren from French Navy.

The fighting began at around 10:00 in the morning. Everything seem to be on the side of the Allied forces until at around 14:00 a small cloud of yellowish smoke, which turned black afterwards, came out of the starboard quarter of the Bouvet. She had struck a mine. This mine was laid ten day ago by Turkish minelayer Nusret, in an area that was previously cleared by Allied minesweepers and used by capital Allied ships for maneuvering. This new single mine line consisting of 20 mines, changed the whole history.

Winston Churchill defined those mines as the reason for the prolonging of the war and the enormous casualties, in the interview he made with “Revue de Paris,” in 1930.

At 16:00 first HMS Inflexible 5 minutes later HMS Irresistible struck to mines. HMS Ocean was ordered to tow the now abandoned HMS Irresisteble. But she too hit a mine at around 18:00, followed moments later by a shell that penetrated to a magazine below the water line.

Of the 16 capital ships that sailed in the Dardanelles that morning HMS Ocean, HMS Irresistible and Bouvet never returned. HMS Inflexible and Gaulios had to be beached at the near by small island in order to be rescued. Suffren heavily damaged by Turkish guns had to be docked at Malta for intensive repairs.

This Turkish victory forced the Allies to use ground force to occupy the hills commanding Dardanelles in order to destroy the forts protecting the straits and mine fields. This campaign was too destined to be a defeat for the Allies.

Today where the littoral warfare is the buzz word there are many lessons to be learned or re-learn from the naval battles of Gallipoli campaign.

During Gallipoli campaign all kind of naval action took place that can be expected today as well. The shore bombardment, the shooting of ships from land sites, submarine operations, ASW operations, attacks from fast and swift ships to larger and ungainly capital ships, mine warfare just to name a few.

For further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_operations_in_the_Dardanelles_Campaign

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