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Survey: What’s the Greatest Naval Innovation and Why?

Surmounting the challenges of operating on and under the seas has forced groups from the Vikings to the sailors of the modern era do develop tools to help find their way, keep them safe and attack their enemies. This week we want our readers to share with us what they think is the greatest naval innovation and why. Please be as specific as you can in your answer.

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Categories: Budget Industry, News & Analysis, Survey, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.

  • Ctrot

    Why “diversity” of course, can’t win wars without it don’t you know.

    • Stephen Smith

      Love your response. Best laugh I have had today!

    • old guy

      …..”so take my advice and NEVER go to sea, and you all may be rulers of OBummer’s NAIVEE
      (apologies to G&S)

  • Ed L

    The Marine Chronometer a timepiece that is precise and accurate enough to be used as a portable time standard; it can therefore be used to determine longitude by means of celestial navigation. When first developed in the 18th century, it was a major technical achievement, as accurate knowledge of the time over a long sea voyage is necessary for navigation, lacking electronic or communications aids. The first true chronometer was the life work of one man, John Harrison, spanning 31 years of persistent experimentation and testing that revolutionized naval (and later aerial) navigation and enabling the Age of Discovery and Colonialism to accelerate.

    • Marc Hohenstein

      Ed. I said the same thing before I saw your post. Did you read the book “Longitude” by Dana Sobell? It’s very good. Best, Marc Ho, QM-2

      • Ed L

        I missed your post. Actually I became interested in marine chronometers back in the 70’s while standing bridge watches. I got to see the actual winding of the ships chronometers. The QM’s were checking them against the time tic from the naval observatory. The chief QM told me that they navigate using them since electronics are not reliable. I believe I had read that book. It might be worth a re read

        • Marc Hohenstein

          Ed, we had three Chronos each in their own gimble. They were kept as close to the centerline of the ship as possible. We got the hourly beep from WWV in Colorado. Today’s quartz watches are very precise as long as you can open the back and use the slider to slow or speed up the watch. You can get it down to plus/minus 2 seconds a month with some.

          • bee bop

            Dana Point is named after Henry Dana! Very detailed but interesting read. His writings were referenced in a 1900 geological study of the soils lost in the Tennessee Valley during the earlier of times when the current river bed was shaped with soil eroded in cubic miles, like 3000 cubic miles resulting in both deposits and movement of soils to the Gulf which resulted in the sugar while/quartz sand of Panama City beach. Smithsonian had a one page article on Dana last Fall with the snaked headed woman on the cover.

      • bee bop

        How about “Two Years Before the Mast,” by Richard Henry Dana , first published about 1840.

    • bee bop

      High math was the mainstay for the needed calculations, along with understanding the movement of celestial bodies, and the accompanying tables. Nowadays, any idiot can use a handheld GPS device marking waypoints for back tracking, thanks to those pesky satellites flying overhead.

      • Marc Hohenstein

        Bee Bop, Dizzy Gillespie, oh I digress. I never read that book, but I will now! If you read “Longitude” the calculations you speak of were so crazy, that they were unworkable. It was the clock that ended that. I have been to Dana Point in CA, does that count?

    • old guy

      If you are going to give serious answers, you will spoil the hilarious opportunity this idiotic question poses.

  • Andre

    The caterpillar drive…

    It allows the submarine to use pyrrolizidine alkaloids and urticating hairs with venom glads to deter predators.

  • RobM1981

    The Sail

    • pp_muscimol

      you nail it!

  • Hugh

    Boomers and their missiles. They have kept the peace.

  • bee bop

    Long Hull Gearing Class Destroyer, platform for the 5″-38 gun.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    I think it’s the ‘mating’ of aircraft to ships. Second would be the harnessing of nuclear power for propulsion.

  • Stephen

    The single greatest contribution to modern war-fighting was the design/construction of USS Nautilus, as envisioned by Hyman G. Rickover. Space-age tech married to tried & true engineering.

  • The_Usual_Suspect61

    Pickling, salt pork, and refrigeration. Just like an army, the Navy travels on its stomach.

    • Ed L

      Food in Tins and Water tanks installed on Ships starting around the early 18 hundreds

  • Jeff

    Buoyancy! Because there wouldn’t be a navy without it.

    • bee bop

      I guess there is always something to be thankful for. In submarines there is a slight variation to consider.

  • Elliott S.

    I think the Landing Ship Tank (LST) was the greatest invention. I allowed our forces to off-load vast amounts of ar material right t the point of combat and was instrumental in the winning of WWII.

  • Jim Valle

    It was the introduction of steam propulsion. All modern powered vessels derive from it. For the first time warships became independent of the weather, could reach much higher speeds, grow to enormous tonnages, carry truly powerful weapons and sustain really large crews. Steam powered auxiliaries made it possible to introduce electronic equipment and sensors and amenities to improve the lives and health of crews at sea. Diesels and gas turbines may be replacing some steam power plants but nuclear subs and
    aircraft carriers still rely on steam turbines to convert fission generated heat energy into power.

  • Donald Carey

    The paddle/oar – the first method of deep water propulsion not dependent on the weather.

  • Mark Albertson

    John Ericsson’s turret, carried by the Monitor versus Virginia at Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862. The popular conception is that the Union ironclad’s revolving gun platform enabled warships to no longer have to change course to train their armament. Merely traverse a turret. But of underrated consideration, it set the stage for a new design cue . . . centerline armament. Hence the destroyer, cruiser and battleship.

    • El_Sid

      HMS Trusty had a revolving turret before the Monitor, and the Lady Nancy barge had one in the Crimean War, designs for turrets go back to Napoleonic times. But I wouldn’t put it at number one, compared to oars, sails, steam power, copper sheathing, limes, the lash, the mariner’s astrolabe, the sextant, the chronometer to name but a few.

      I’d probably go for the invention of central banking and government bonds, all these toys are moot without a way to pay for them and the Bank of England was a decisive advantage in Britain’s ascendancy over the Dutch and French.

  • The the torpedo deserves a mention. Made the small boys–surface, sub, and air–capable of taking on the biggest baddest

  • Neale Beck

    Men with the balls to go out there and do it!.

  • Thomas McCaskill

    GPS has changed the future of warfare, FOREVER.

    • KellyJ

      Until an EMP strike takes the system out and nobody knows how to use a sextant or read a chart.

  • KellyJ

    Underway Replenishment.
    Without the oiler or supply ship even the mightiest carrier will run out of gas for the planes and food for the crew. Not to mention the needs of the escort DDGs and CGs that protect the ship.