Unit Information Game Strategies History

Although fireships continued to gather some interest from the navies of some European nations, increased knowledge of shipbuilding techniques and marine gunnery eventually reduced the appeal of fireships to the world's naval powers. During the Napoleonic Wars, fireships were more of an afterthought, despite the existence of purpose-built British vessels for suicide attacks against enemy fleets and installations. The last known use of fireships of any decisive effect was during the Greek War of Independence in which patriot forces successfully used fireships to sabotage and hinder the Ottoman fleet in Greek waters. Thus from this period, the fireship lapses into obscurity, although its place would be taken up by the electric sea-mine and the torpedo, which were substantially cheaper in comparison to having to build a full-scale vessel for a single operation.

Use of purpose-built single-use attack craft was indeed investigated by Japanese, Italian and British nautical engineers during the Second World War, but in an age of guided ordnance and long-distance warfare, the concept of a manned suicide attack craft has since then fallen out of favour in the world's most prominent navies. Suicide attack by boats today appeal mostly to desperate belligerents who for various reasons are low on resources. One such attack of note in our time was the attack on an American destroyer, USS Cole by terrorists while it was moored off Aden, Yemen in 2000. In that attack, 17 sailors were killed and another 39 were injured. Cole herself had to be substantially rebuilt, demonstrating that the concept of the fireship can still be very effective especially if used against an unsuspecting and vulnerable foe.

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