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Unit Information Game Strategies History

Among the many types of ships in the world, there is none so illustrious nor long-lived as the galley, whose use continued in Western navies in spite of the appearance of more sophisticated watercraft such as tall ships well into the 19th century.

Galleys were easy to build, and cheap to outfit, and were thus suitable for naval warfare which generally involved littoral action. Contrary to popular misconceptions, military galleys did not fully utilise brute force, but were built in order to operate using both muscle power by designated rowers (or the marines themselves if desperate) and sail power wherever wind was available. Only in periods of crisis (either battle or bad weather) would oars be broken out to give the ship added speed whenever it was seen to be meet to do so. In the Early Modern Era, this ability was used to great effect by arming them with longitudinally positioned guns. This meant that compared to smaller broadside-based vessels, galleys then could carry much heavier ordnance which can then be used to great effect like long-distance artillery.

For this reason, galleys armed with high-calibre guns often formed the backbone of Mediterranean and Baltic fleets in post-Mediaeval European navies, such as those of Russia and Sweden, or the Italian and Muslim polities of the Mediterranean, where relatively calm waters and the vast numbers of coves in littoral areas meant that low-draft vessels with oars such as galleys could operate well. The last notable battle involving galleys was the battle of Gangut, fought off the Finnish Baltic coast in 1714CE between Russia and Sweden using medium-calibre gunpowder artillery. Only when motorised vessels began appearing did galleys began to disappear from the world's' navies although rowboats continue to be used.

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