The Idea of a Fleet in Being in Historical Perspective
NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT RI
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The phrase fleet in being is one of those troublesome terms that naval historians and strategists have tended to use in a range of different meanings. The term first appeared in reference to the naval battle off Beachy Head in 1690, during the Nine Years War, as part of an excuse that Admiral Arthur Herbert, first Earl of Torrington, used to explain his reluctance to engage the French fleet in that battle. A later commentator pointed out that the thinking of several British naval officers ninety years later during the War for American Independence, when the Royal Navy was in a similar situation of inferior strength, contributed an expansion to the fleet-in-being concept. To examine this subject carefully, it is necessary to look at two separate areas first, the development of the idea of the fleet in being in naval strategic thought, and, second, the ideas that arose in the Royal Navy during the War of the American Revolution.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics