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Maritime strategy in the era of control and denial of visibility

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2017
Number of pages228
Awarding Institution
Thesis sponsors
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In the contemporary, globalised world the maritime domain is more important than it has ever been throughout history. As such, maritime strategy - the direction of elements of national power (including naval power, in particular) to secure national interests at sea - remains a vital subject. Just as there are principles of military strategy, so too are there principles of maritime strategy.
However, these principles have their roots in the thinking of scholars from as far back as the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Alfred Thayer Mahan and Sir Julian Corbett. Yet the political, strategic and technological environments have changed a lot since those periods, with the current context marked by advancements in information and communications technologies and their associated political and strategic ramifications.
This thesis asks how the principles of maritime strategy have evolved as times have changed. In particular, it focuses upon how they deal with 'visibility' - a triad consisting of knowledge, perception and interpretation. These have always been important to navies, yet the principles arguably say little about them. This thesis then ultimately aims to assess whether a new principle, control and/or denial of visibility, can be useful as a means of filling this gap.
This thesis therefore contributes to the literature and discussion of maritime strategy not only by assessing traditional concepts, but also by assessing the extent of this gap in their definitions. Furthermore, it will assess whether a new principle is useful in filling this gap. The main finding is that, despite some evolutions in how they are conceived, the traditional principles only account for visibility to a limited extent, making a new principle of control and/or denial of visibility useful.