As Naval warfare enters the 21st century the balance and role of Naval operations is changing drastically. Gone is the potential (at least for the foreseeable future) for Great Fleet engagements between carrier or battleship groups, instead the new role of naval forces is supporting the land war. With the growing number of peacekeeping operations in the late 20th century the Naval role was minimalised but with the majority of Third World cities being coastal this was never going to last long. Most modern Navy's are now adapting to support ground troops with precision attacks and air support the so called Littoral Warfare. Often with Peacekeeping operations a friendly airfield is far away (the Gulf war was an exception but could have been very different had Saddam Hussein invaded Saudi Arabia) Sea going carriers can now provide this vital air support while the next generation of destroyers and new Arsenal ships provide artillery and cruise missile support. This change in roles requires new techniques and importantly new warships adapted for this return of gun boat diplomacy, in British service the Royal marines have just received a new troopship/ carrier HMS Ocean and new helicopter carriers are planned, while the US Navy is looking at the next generation of destroyers which will be designed to use long range highly accurate weaponry to support ground troops. Finally early designs of Arsenal ships have been drawn - ships designed purely as cruise missile carriers to support ground operations from far away.
How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T. (24 October 2000), Littoral Warfare, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/concepts_littoral.html