The revolutions of this century, in comparison with the preceding one, are numerous: There is none that succeeds in gaining the ascendancy over others, whether in the civil or military sphere.
In the civil field, we see the disappearance of the last commercial yachts. They underwent bleeding in 1914-18 and then fell into disuse and were scrapped in the last 30 years.
For their part, the steamers alone took the succession of the "mixed", disappeared since the 1890s. They perfect themselves, adopt the ballast system, the shell compartments fillable to ensure their stability. The fuel oil of course succeeded the coal, of a ratio congestion / energy quite disadvantaged.
The steamers became the stars of the sea, especially on the transatlantic line, where real floating palaces competed with splendor and speed, offering to a clientele always higher in services that the nascent aviation can not yet challenge.
After the Second World War, maritime transport benefited from the revolution in the container system, leading to a new class of large cargo ships. A kind of reactivation of what the ancient nations practiced with the Amphoras.
With the prosperity of the "thirty glorious", the need for energy requires the appearance of tankers and LNG tankers more complex and vast than ever. At the height of the geopolitical changes, "supertankers" of more than 400 meters are conceived. Never was a larger and heavier machine constructed from human memory.
The passenger transport, under civil aviation law, and the development of recreation, sees its last seabirds disappear in favor of cruise ships that have more to do with floating hotels than with real ships. Others, the Ferry-Boats, are able to take the new land queen, the car, for short distances, using the developed military system of landing ships.
In the military field, the revolutions were even more radical: The kings of the seas since 1860, the battleship, a fast man, sees its utility contested already after 1918, but it is in 1945 that it disappears definitively, overwhelmed by two new forms Threats: Underwater warfare and air warfare. The true king of the Second World War indeed is the plane.
The submarine demonstrated that even when deployed in large numbers, it could not ensure a blockade when industries were able to mitigate its action by producing an even greater mass of escort and new cargo ships, but also And still-of aircraft carriers, capable of detecting them effectively from the sky.
On the other hand, successes are registered by the US Navy in the Pacific, applying the same recipe against the badly protected Nippon convoys.
Such a symbol. Sailships were still largely in use by trade companies round the world, still competitive for some kind of products. However they will pay a heavy price to submarine warfare.
In these last major confrontations, the main change is the appearance of the naval battle. Speed vessels never compete against each other, and are reduced to the role of coastal gunboats, fire support of large amphibious operations, a concept already tested with a scathing failure during the previous conflict at the Dardanelles and This time reaching maturity: The taking of a port is no longer the condition of a landing of troops, which allows the latter to arrive quickly in any theater of operation. It would be wrong to say of the concept was invented in this century since it was already in use in antiquity.
During the Cold War, two new revolutions still disrupt the certainties and concepts of naval warfare: missile and nuclear. The missile, developed at the very end of the second world war, reaches its full maturity and proves its relevance, imposing itself by eliminating the classic naval weapon since the Middle Ages, the canon. Nuclear power, on the other hand, will not only become a quasi-infinite energy source, but will revolutionize the propulsion of submarines as surface units, making them almost autonomous; And as an offensive vector, combined with the missile, be used in all kinds of sauces, from the anti-ship missile, the intercontinental ballistic missile to the conventional ASM loads. The "naval component" of deterrence becomes indispensable thanks to the stealthiness of the modern submarine.