Some people just love all things naval. The uniforms, the ships, the navy in general. They just love the idea of a navy, the fantasy about the navy in their brain - even insiders who actually worked in a navy and experienced the dull bureaucracy that all established armed forces have become - they just love the navy.

It's a grave mistake to think of navy officers or veterans as experts in naval affairs. First one should check whether they are infected with this irrational love or not. The bias of navy fans is incredible and perfectly immune to arguments or reality in general. Psychologists revealed in experiments that people with a strong opinion will feel this opinion even stronger and become more agitated in its defence when faced with contradicting evidence. The psychological research about this phenomenon was done in the 70's or earlier, but still didn't improve our society because "rational" is not the way people make decisions.

More about the navy fans; I suppose many readers know about the German Flottenverein, a lobby organization with an astonishing quantity of members which pushed for an impressive battlefleet prior to the First World War. This endeavour leached resources away from the land power of Germany, quite likely causing the first World War to grow this long, this horrible - and to end with German instead of French defeat.

There was a second Flottenverein, though. Now considering that there were and are only three German-speaking countries and Switzerland lacking any coastline, this could only have been an Austrian thing. Austria-Hungary had a coastline before 1918.

Now keep in mind the naval mine was developed into a practical munition by 1900, the torpedo was developed into a practical munition by 1900, Italy had hardly any important harbours on the Adriatic coast, Italy was kinda allied to Austria-Hungary prior to 1915 (the map shows the political allegiances of 1916) Austria-Hungary had no colonies, no intent to conquer any ... the case for even a small navy was infinitesimally small. Any money spent on an Austrian-Hungarian navy would be better spent on its army.

Nevertheless, Austria had its own navy fan(atics). They had their own Flottenverein, the Österreichischer Flottenverein. It lobbied for a battlefleet, and a (tiny) battlefleet it got.

Austro-Hungarian fleet exercise fo 1913 - from an old postcard

I kid you not; the stupid is so strong, Austria - while lacking any coastline after 1919 - had successor organizations of this lobby organization founded after both world wars.

The navy of Austria Hungary is summarized at naval-history.net:
Apart from one major fleet sortie on the declaration of war between Austria and Italy on the 23rd May 1915, and an aborted one in June 1918 when dreadnought 'Szent Istvan' was lost, the Austrian heavy ships spent the entire war as a fleet-in-being within the Adriatic Sea, holding down a large portion of the Italian and French battle fleets as well as units of the Royal Navy. Most of the action in the Adriatic that took place involved the well-handled destroyers, submarines and to a lesser extent light cruisers of the Austrian Navy.

The page goes on to list the 'impressive' record of achievements - eight warships sunk for 17 lost.
Meanwhile, the Austrian army badly lacked machineguns, field howitzers, ammunition and an industrial base to properly sustain itself during wartime. Their navy was useless to them during the First World War - their army and what little industry supported it was all-important - and succumbed due to lack of resources (and cohesion), killing the state it was meant to defend in the process.

I kid you not on this either: Bolivia has been landlocked for generations, but it nevertheless maintains a "navy":

That's how strong the stupid is, how strong the fascination with a navy can be - and is in many places. 

Germany has never been better off with a navy in war than it would have been without it  - but this didn't stop us from recreating one in both Germanys during the Cold War. Neither had any chance of being a cost-efficient deterrent or an at least remotely decisive force in WW3. The surface combat units of the Cold War were all crap save for the F122 Bremen class of ASW frigates, which may or may not have been useful in their niche. The oversized mine countermeasures fleet of West Germany had no sensible mission at all - nobody would have been stupid enough to ship supplies or reinforcements directly into German harbours during a WW3, and we did expressly not want to suggest to Moscow that we planned for invading Eastern Europe.

Yet actual utility or not - navy fans just know that the navy is all-important, and they all have one thing in common: They want more ships, shinier ships. Nice toys.


No comments:

Post a Comment