Preparation for the Great Invasion II

The successful beating-off of such a large enemy force kept the S-boats well clear of the east coast for a while. As the year ended, Coastal Forces were very much on the attack, harrying enemy shipping from the north – where the Norwegian 54th and now the British 58th MTB Flotilla under Gemmel operated from Lerwick against the Norwegian coast, to encourage the Germans in their belief that the Allies were planning a large-scale invasion of Norway – to the south where the MTBs and MGBs of Plymouth Command were now fighting regularly in the Channel Islands and off the coast of Brittany.

One of the long-standing complaints of the German S-boat crews had been that although their boats were faster than most of those of the British, they suffered from inferior armament. During the winter of 1943/4, however, a number of S-boats were rearmed with 40mm in place of their 20mm guns, which brought an aggressive new spirit amongst the German forces. In the past they had always avoided contact with their opposite numbers whenever possible, not from any lack of bravery or determination, but acting on German Naval Command policy. Unless they were defending their own convoys as escorts, their primary targets were Allied merchant ships, using either torpedoes or mines, and not the small craft of Coastal Forces which they usually hoped to avoid by their superior speed. These tactics had become less and less successful as Coastal Forces developed interception techniques to force the S-boats into combat, and on such occasions the German craft usually found themselves outgunned and at a distinct disadvantage.

Now, with heavier guns, the S-boats showed less reluctance to engage in a direct confrontation and the time came, on the night of 14/15 February 1944, when they actually sought out and hunted a group of British MTBs.

The events of the night began when a group of six S-boats crossed the North Sea with the intention of laying mines off the east coast. They were picked up by shore radar at 23.07 and driven off by the Harwich-based corvettes Mallard and Shearwater, which were on patrol. As they sped away, the S-boats were seen to jettison their mines. Meanwhile, five MTBs under Lieutenant Derek Leaf DSC had been sent earlier to the south end of Brown Ridge to try to intercept the enemy boats on their home run. The MTBs were 71½-foot BPB craft, able to stand up to long spells at high speed, but even so, they were too late: the enemy were already ahead of them. So Leaf decided to make for Ijmuiden, to be waiting on their doorstep when they returned to base.

Approaching the Dutch coast, however, the MTBs came upon an enemy flak ship and two trawlers. A combined attack was made, in which the flak ship was torpedoed and sunk by MTB 455 (Lieutenant M.V. Round RNZNVR), while Leaf’s boat, MTB 444, repeatedly hit one of the trawlers with gunfire and left it burning. In coming in to make another attack, Leaf ran straight towards another enemy ship which he did not see until the last minute. The MTB was heavily hit both above and below the waterline. Leaf, his Petty Officer and two ratings were killed and two others wounded.

This was not realized at the time by the other boats, however, and when three of them regrouped and 444 and 455 could not be seen, Lieutenant C.A. Burk RCNVR, commanding 439, took over as Senior Officer of the unit and set off to search for the missing boats. Almost immediately, Burk had the nasty shock of discovering by radar that six S-boats were shadowing his unit 1,000 yards off on the port quarter, an almost unheard of occurrence. The enemy craft were allowed to close to 600 yards, at which point further radar contacts, probably more S-boats, were picked up ahead. Burk decided to attack the shadowing boats first, rather than all groups at once. The unit altered course to port, increased to full speed and crossed the bows of the leading S-boat at 100 yards. Fire was opened at this and the second boat in line. Both were hit and the leader silenced and left stopped with a fire burning aft. During this engagement the MTBs were repeatedly hit by small-arms fire.

Burk then turned to attack the second group of six S-boats, but during this manoeuvre MTB 441 (Lieutenant W. Fesq RANVR) lost contact with the others. While trying to rejoin them he came across two boats which he thought were MTBs but which, after challenges were flashed, turned out to be S-boats. Fire was exchanged and 441 broke away. There were so many radar echoes at this time that Fesq had no means of telling which were friendly and which were enemy craft, so he turned and headed back to base.

The other two boats meanwhile found themselves outnumbered by no less than seventeen S-boats. Fire was exchanged while running at high speed, but the MTBs sustained little damage and only three men were slightly wounded. Eventually they broke off and set off for base, having already established W/T contact with 441 and 455, which were also returning and not in need of help. No contact could be made with 444 as the wireless on Leaf’s boat had been put out of action.

What happened after Leaf was mortally wounded was described by Sub Lieutenant P.P. Bains, the first officer of 444 who took over command:

As all the electrical equipment had been put out of action, I decided it was useless to try to regain contact with the remainder of the unit and so steered a north-westerly course to avoid further enemy boats until 04.15, when I altered for base and increased speed to 30 knots. Smoke and a distinct smell of burning was coming from the W/T compartment (where the telegraphist had been one of those killed; the others were the helmsman and Oerlikon and pom-pom gunners). This was drenched with Pyrene as the source could not be discovered but the smell and smoke persisted all the way back to Lowestoft. A serious leak in the forward mess-deck was discovered, and as soon as the hands could be spared, a chain of buckets was formed. This managed to keep the water down below danger level. There had also been a fire in the engine room which had been put out by the motor mechanic and stokers.

The loss of Derek Leaf, one of the most brilliant of the MTB leaders, was a serious blow to Coastal Forces. It had been he, as Senior Officer of the 3rd MTB Flotilla, who had devised the successful tactics of attacking trawlers from astern as a means of avoiding detection by their hydrophones, which appeared to operate best forward of the beam. Indeed, it was these tactics that had resulted in success on his last attack.

During the three years of night fighting by Coastal Forces, it had been the North Sea which commanded the lion’s share of operations. Now it was the turn of the English Channel to come into prominence with the greatest operation of them all, the Normandy landings, in which Coastal Forces had many important roles to play.

As the invasion was to be launched principally by Portsmouth Command, in March a Captain, Coastal Forces, Channel, was appointed (Captain P.V. McLaughlin) to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, to take charge of all MTB and ML operations (MGBs were no longer designated separately). Such an appointment was long overdue and came more than a year after the similar appointment in Nore Command which had achieved such good results.

While Captain McLaughlin and his small staff, which included such experienced flotilla commanders as Christopher Dreyer and Peter Scott, made detailed plans for the part that Coastal Forces were to play in the invasion, American PT boats made their first appearance in the Channel, brought over originally at the urgent request of the Office of Strategic Services to land and pick up agents on the French coast. This led to the re-commissioning of Squadron 2, which had previously been wound up in the Solomons at the end of 1943. The first of the Higgins boats, under Lieutenant Commander John Bulkeley, arrived at Dartmouth in April. They were fitted with special navigational equipment to aid them in locating specific points on the French coast, and their officers and men trained in launching and rowing special four-oared boats, constructed with padded sides and muffled rowlocks, so that they could land men and equipment on a beach swiftly and silently on the darkest nights. The first of these cloak-and-dagger operations took place on the night of 19 May, when PT 71 landed agents with equipment on a beach within 500 yards of German sentries. They continued up until November. The crews never knew the identity of their passengers and never once made contact with the enemy, which was as intended.

To take part in the invasion itself, further PTs were shipped across: Squadron 34 (Lieutenant Allen H. Harris), Squadron 35 (Lieutenant Commander Richard Davis Jr) and Squadron 30 (Lieutenant Robert L. Searles). Bulkeley was appointed as task group commander of all PT operations.

The main job of the British and American craft was to help defend the flanks of the spearhead attack on the shores of the Baie de la Seine and maintain guard over the subsequent flow of cross-Channel traffic. The most likely attacks were expected to come from destroyers, torpedo boats and minesweepers, of which the Germans still had large forces based in the Low Countries and on the Atlantic coast of France, and from S-boats based along the coast from Cherbourg to Holland. In the weeks before the invasion, ten flotillas of MTBs and MLs laid nearly 3,000 mines unobtrusively in areas close to the French coast, while at the same time other MTBs carried out their usual anti-S-boat patrols, and the MLs prepared for their wide range of tasks which were to include minesweeping, duties as escorts and navigational leaders, and shepherding in the landing craft.

Knowing that an invasion was imminent, although not its date or location, the Germans were preparing their own plans. The S-boats played an important part in these and Petersen, as commander of all S-boats in the Channel and North Sea, with his headquarters at Scheveningen, Holland, was involved in a direct battle of wits with McLaughlin and his staff at Portsmouth. In order to hamper the Allied preparations, Petersen increased his patrols until large numbers of S-boats were at sea every night.

Their biggest success came in the early hours of 28 April. A force of six S-boats from the 5th and 9th Flotillas had set sail from Cherbourg the evening before to attack an Allied convoy reported to be in the vicinity of Portland Bill. By the time the S-boats arrived they found they had missed the convoy, which had passed out of the danger area. The German craft were preparing to return home when, to their amazement, they came across a convoy of eight American tank landing ships sailing sedately at only 3½ knots in line ahead across Lyme Bay, off the Dorset coast, with only a corvette as escort, way ahead of the convoy and not guarding its flank. It seemed too good to be true. The S-boats raced into the attack before the Americans knew what had hit them. As the LSTs, packed with men and equipment, scattered in confusion, the S-boats sank two of them with torpedoes and severely damaged a third. The gunners on the other landing craft began wildly firing their machine-guns, often hitting friendly craft. By the time the corvette Azalea realized something was wrong and had turned about, the S-boats had sped away, completely unscathed, leaving a death toll of 441 military and 197 naval servicemen, which increased to a total of 749 over the following weeks as more bodies were recovered from the water or floated on to the shore.

News of the disaster came as a shock to General Eisenhower and his commanders who were planning for the great invasion of Europe only five weeks away. The American landing craft were in fact taking part in an exercise to practise amphibious landings on the beach at nearby Slapton Sands, chosen because of its similarity to the beaches of Normandy. If a few small German boats could slip through at night, apparently undetected, and create such havoc amongst just eight landing craft, what might they not do against a target of thousands when the real invasion took place?

If nothing else, the event once again proved the vital importance of coastal waters, both in offence and defence, and the value of small, well-armed boats which were difficult to detect at night. It was a lesson the Royal Navy had learned the hard way earlier in the North Sea and English Channel but a danger underestimated by the Americans – although the US Navy in the Pacific would have told a different story. Plans were put in hand to strengthen the forces defending the Normandy invasion fleet, including the deployment of more British and American motor gunboats. The Royal Air Force began a series of bombing raids against S-boat bases which severely reduced their numbers. And a news blackout was imposed on the fiasco to avoid a loss of morale among the American troops waiting to take part in the invasion, many of them as inexperienced in combat as those who had tragically lost their lives in Lyme Bay.

But in reality, such S-boat successes as Lyme Bay were exceptional. As Kapitänleutnant Rudolph Petersen summed up at the time: ‘Owing to the superior radar, strong escorts and air patrols of the enemy, and the German dependence on good visibility (for their boats still lacked radar), each success must be paid for by many fruitless attacks.’

And as the Allies pieced together the events of that night, it became apparent that it was not so much a German success as a chapter of Allied errors. The destroyer Scimitar should have been part of the escort, but had been in a collision with one of the landing craft the night before and had put in to Plymouth for repairs. The destroyer Saladin was intended to replace her, but through an oversight had not reached the convoy. Shore radar contact with the S-boats had in fact been made and Azalea warned two hours before the attack took place, but still the corvette allowed the convoy to proceed slowly right into the enemy’s path without any evasive action. Although the Azalea was under the orders of US Navy officers, it was her British captain who was censured for not taking more effective measures to defend the convoy. The heavy loss of life included men who had jumped from their sinking or damaged craft and drowned because there were too few life rafts, they had not been instructed properly in the use of life vests, and, in the case of the troops, they were encumbered by their heavy equipment and the helmets they were still wearing.

As stated in Captain Roskill’s Official History of the War at Sea:

The first five months of 1944 marked a very important stage in the development of our maritime control over the narrow waters; for it was then that we gradually established a sufficient ascendancy to ensure that, when the invasion fleets set sail for France, the Germans would not be in a position to molest them seriously. The degree of success accomplished could not, of course, be judged until the expedition actually sailed; but by the end of May there were solid grounds for believing that, even though the passage would undoubtedly be contested with all the means available to the enemy, his worst efforts would not suffice to frustrate our purpose. Such was the measure of the accomplishment of the astonishingly varied forces of little ships and aircraft which had so long fought to gain control of our coastal waters, and to deny a similar measure of control to the enemy.

As D-Day approached, so the work of Coastal Forces increased. Now it was not only a matter of laying mines to protect the flanks of the 15-mile-wide path of the invasion fleet across the Channel, but every effort had to be made to prevent S-boats from mining this path or the convoy routes of the invasion forces gathering in harbours along the south coast. There was a momentary alarm when, during an exercise on the night of 18/19 May in which MTBs were to act the part of S-boats to test the defences against these, two real S-boats approached the outer patrols. They were chased off, however, by two SGBs.

It is outside the scope of this book to describe the complex plans for D-Day in detail. Very briefly, Operation Neptune, which was the naval part of the overall invasion, Operation Overlord, called for two great task forces to make landings on either side of a line dividing Seine Bay. To the east was the British area, under Rear Admiral Sir Philip Vian, where three divisions of the British Second Army were to land at three points, ‘Sword’, ‘Juno’ and ‘Gold’, on a 30-mile front between the River Orne and the harbour of Port-en-Bessin. To the west was the American area under Rear Admiral A.G. Kirk, where the US First Army was to make two landings, ‘Omaha’ and ‘Utah’, on a 20-mile front. Two follow-up forces were to come in immediately behind the main assaults: Force L, commanded by Rear Admiral W.E. Parry, and Force B, commanded by Commodore C. D. Edgar.

Out of the total of 1,213 warships allocated to the assault phase of the operation, 495 were coastal craft, including SGBs, MTBs, PTs, MLs and HDMLs. With the Eastern Task Force there were ninety craft, including thirty American. With the Western Task Force there were 113, including eighty-one American. It was in the latter area that the SGBs and most of the PTs were to operate. A further 292 craft came under Home Commands, amongst which were thirteen Dutch, eight French and three Norwegian. The landing craft of various types which were to take part in the initial phase totalled 4,126.

D-Day was originally scheduled for 5 June. As instructed, a group of three PTs, which were to be among the spearhead forces, set out on the 4th to rendezvous with minesweepers off the Isle of Wight and began the crossing towards Seine Bay. Only after they left was the belated notice received that D-Day had been postponed until the 6th because of the bad weather forecast. The PTs were all set to make a landing on their own, a day ahead of time, with consequences in revealing to the Germans the location of the invasion that hardly bear imagining. Luckily they were intercepted by a patrolling destroyer when halfway across the Channel and sent back to Portland.

There was great anxiety and tension throughout that day, 5 June. It seemed impossible that the enemy could still be unaware of the Allied plans, considering the sheer size of the operation and the fact that the concentration of shipping of every kind imaginable in the Solent and Spithead was so great that scarcely an empty berth remained in those wide stretches of sheltered water. But there was no sign of enemy activity. As darkness fell on the waiting, darkened ships it seemed, incredible as it was, that the greatest invasion armada the world had ever seen might after all achieve that element of surprise that counted for so much.

Battle Squadron

The expansion of Coastal Forces activity into the Aegean and Adriatic made it necessary for boats to be transferred to these areas from Malta and Messina, with an inevitable falling off in the number of operations that could be carried out along the west coast of Italy.

After the landings in Italy, Commander Robert Allan had moved his mobile base up from Messina to Maddalena, the former Italian naval base in Sardinia. From here the 20th MGB Flotilla began operations by the end of September 1943, patrolling the north-western waters particularly round Elba; they were soon followed by the 7th MTB Flotilla and the American PTs under Lieutenant Commander Barnes. Except when they were withdrawn for special operations with American forces, such as the invasions of Sicily, Italy and later Southern France, the PTs operated throughout as part of British Coastal Forces. In mid-October an advance base was established at Bastia, in Corsica, and from here the entire Gulf of Genoa came within patrolling distance.

As the Germans were driven slowly towards Rome during the winter of 1943, their supply lines by road and rail from Genoa came under continual attack and they had to rely increasingly on waterborne transport from the north. This mainly took the form of F-lighters and cargo ships that made the run down the coast by night, behind protective minefields and under cover of shore batteries, making it too risky to send in destroyers to stop the traffic. And so the job was left to the MTBs, MGBs and PTs, which with their shallow draft could usually pass safely over the minefields.

Experience had shown that the strongly built F-lighters could only be effectively sunk by torpedo as they were virtually invulnerable to the gunpower the small boats carried at that time. The F-lighters on the other hand were heavily armed with 6-inch and 8-inch guns, which made it necessary for the MTBs to get their torpedoes away quickly before coming under fire themselves. This led to the development of a technique for tracking a target by radar to assess its course and speed, then sneaking quietly in from the most favourable angle of approach and firing torpedoes before the enemy knew they were being attacked.

The PTs were the best craft for tracking the enemy, equipped as they were with a much more effective kind of radar. But the MTBs carried better torpedoes than the Americans – faster, more reliable and of higher explosive power – and the MGBs carried heavier firepower with their 6-pounders. And so joint patrols were instituted, in which a PT acted as scout and tracker while the MGBs held off any attack that was being made, and the MTBs came in to fire their torpedoes.

The technique of using MTBs and MGBs together on operations was not new, having orginally been developed during the early days in the English Channel. But Coastal Forces in the Mediterranean went one step further by reorganizing the ‘Dog’ flotillas to include four each of MTBs and MGBs. In one of these flotillas, the 56th, every commanding officer was a Canadian, with another Canadian, Lieutenant Commander Douglas Maitland, as Senior Officer. This flotilla became something of a legend in the Mediterranean. Soon after its formation it took part with other Coastal Force units in the Anzio landings on 21 January. In conjunction with the PTs under Stanley Barnes, the Canadian boats made a ‘dummy landing’ further along the coast as a diversion, using the usual techniques of record-playing the sounds of a landing over loudspeakers and setting off fireworks to simulate a battle. It was while this was in progress that an F-lighter and two S-boats passed by, further offshore. The six ‘Dogs’ set off in pursuit, MGBs 657 (Maitland), 658 (Cornelius Burke), 633 (Tommy Ladner), 640 (Campbell McLachlan), 659 (Peter Barlow), and MTB 655 (Pickard). Coming up fast in line ahead in the wake of the enemy, the MGBs delivered a fierce broadside which soon silenced the German gunners, and set the F-lighter and one of the S-boats on fire. Pickard’s MTB which should then have made a torpedo attack had been hit and had fallen out of line. But just as Maitland turned back to look for him, the F-lighter blew up with a tremendous explosion.

It was the first time one of these craft had been destroyed by gunfire and the significance was not lost on Commander Allan. German opposition had stiffened considerably, with the F-lighter convoys now being escorted by S-boats and large landing-craft mounting high-velocity 88mm, as well as 40mm and 20mm guns. The MTBs found it difficult to get near enough to make a torpedo attack, and even when they did the torpedoes usually passed underneath the shallow-draft lighters. But the Canadians had shown that an attack by gunfire could be successful, pointing to a new method of approaching the problem. Allan began devising plans which led to the formation of Coastal Forces’ ‘Battle Squadron’, one of the most spectacular and successful small-boat units of the war.

This force was built around three British LCGs (Landing Craft Gun), each mounting two 4.7-inch and two 40mm guns manned by Royal Marine crews. These formed the Battle Group (the actual craft used were LCGs 14,19 and 20). They were screened from possible S-boat attack by an Escort Group, comprising the Canadian-commanded ‘Dogs’, MTB 634 and MGBs 662, 660 and 659. A Scouting Group of PTs 212 and 214, under the command of Lieutenant Edwin A. Du Bose in 272, was to search ahead for targets and also act as a screen against any enemy destroyers in the vicinity. And finally there was the Control Group of PTs 218 and 208, with Commander Allan in 275 commanding the entire operation. He was virtually in the position of admiral of a battle fleet – a battle fleet in miniature – going into action against a somewhat similar opposing force but in which events would move a great deal faster than if they had been big ships.

One of the most successful operations by the ‘Battle Squadron’ took place on the night of 24 April. Allan led the Control Group in PT 218, with 209, and Du Bose the Scouting Group in PT 212, with 202 and 273. The LCGs were escorted by PTs 211 and 276, MTBs 640,633 and 655, and MGBs 657, 660 and 662. The MTBs were commanded by Tim Bligh and the MGBs by Douglas Maitland. The force left Bastia at various times in the afternoon, because of their different speeds, and made rendezvous in the vicinity of the Vada Rocks at 20.00.

At this same time, a German convoy of eight F-lighters and a tug was setting off from Leghorn to take supplies further down the coast to San Stefano, while a smaller convoy of two patrol trawlers, each towing a barge, left shortly afterwards from Porto Ferraio, northward bound for Leghorn.

The first radar contact was picked up by the Scouting Group at 22.05, just off Vada Rocks, and a few minutes later Allan picked up another contact off Piombino Point on his own radar screen. The first was the southbound convoy and the second appeared to Allan to be an escort group heading to make rendezvous with the convoy; it was in fact the northbound convoy. In any event, Allan decided to pass ahead of this and attack the main target.

The F-lighters were close inshore when Allan located them shortly after midnight. As starshells lit up the enemy craft, many of the first rounds fired by the LCGs landed on the cliffs. But others found their targets, and within minutes four lighters and the tug had been blown up and sunk. Then the Battle Group turned away to intercept further radar contacts which had appeared to seaward, leaving the MGBs to close the beach and search for any further targets. One F-lighter was found, undamaged but abandoned by most of her crew; this was set on fire by the MGBs and later blew up. After picking up survivors, the MGBs were ordered by Allan to return to Bastia.

In the meantime, the LCGs had located three more F-lighters, two of which were hit and sunk almost immediately, but the third returned a high rate of fire which narrowly missed the LCGs. PT 218, from which Allan was controlling the operation, pulled ahead and drew most of this fire, which also landed dangerously near but did not hit the boat; no damage or casualties were suffered by any of the Allied craft. Then the third F-lighter was hit and withdrew under a heavy smokescreen. Fearing she would escape, Allan detached the MTBs to finish her off. They did inflict further damage, but the craft did not sink and eventually beached south of San Vincenzo.

An hour later the Scouting Group made contact with the two patrol vessels towing barges that were the northward-bound convoy. As the LCGs were too far away to make an interception, Allan gave the PTs permission to attack with torpedoes. They came under fire from the enemy craft before manoeuvring into an attacking position, but one of them, PT 202, fired a five-star recognition cartridge which happened to be handy and the enemy stopped firing. The PTs made a final run-in unopposed, fired their torpedoes and one of the vessels blew up, sinking almost immediately. The second opened up heavy fire again, at which the PTs withdrew under a smokescreen.

The ‘Battle Squadron’ was then ordered to return to Bastia, but the operation was not yet over. At 04.00 on the morning of the 25th, Bastia reported that an unknown number of enemy boats was stopped in a position 3 miles due west of Capraia. Allan considered that it was probably an S-boat force lying in wait for his return. He warned the LCGs of the suspected presence of S-boats, giving them a lookout bearing to starboard, and at the same time altering course to port. The Scouting Group were also informed of the enemy position and ordered to proceed round the north of Capraia, while the Close Radar Screen (PTs 211 and 276) was ordered to intercept round the south of the island.

The enemy force was in fact made up of three German torpedo boats, small destroyers, which were laying mines off Capraia. They were engaged by the PTs of the Scouting Group which fired their remaining torpedoes. One of the enemy boats, TA 23, was damaged by an explosion. Whether it was the result of a torpedo hit or striking a mine was not known, but as she was in a sinking condition and could not be saved she was later torpedoed and sunk by one of the other German craft.

None of the MTBs or PTs managed to make further contact with the torpedo boats. But it was a fitting conclusion to what had been a brilliantly successful operation, in which eleven enemy vessels had been sunk without any corresponding damage or casualties to the Allied craft.

In May, Coastal Forces were stepped up by the arrival at Bastia of the 7th MTB Flotilla, made up of new Vospers and American-built Higgins, and the American PT Squadron 22. A further squadron, 29, started operating from a new base at Calvi, on the west coast of Corsica, from where they could move in closer to the French coast and the Italian coast west of Genoa, and the American PT Squadron 15 was divided up between Bastia and Calvi. Lieutenant Commander Barnes, who had been awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism and leadership during the Tunisian and Sicilian campaigns, was in operational command of all three American squadrons.

Equipped with modern Mark XIII torpedoes, which could be fired from light racks instead of the old heavy torpedo tubes, and mounting 40mm guns, these boats were much more effective than the previous PTs. There were fewer incidents of torpedoes running erratically – or even turning and heading back for the boat that had fired them, as had happened in the past. From May to July, the American boats operating alone claimed two corvettes, eleven F-lighters, one cargo ship and several small craft sunk, and one motor torpedo boat, MAS 562, captured. Further craft were sunk in joint operations with British craft. Then, on 1 August, the PTs were withdrawn from operations to prepare for the part they were to play in the invasion of Southern France, scheduled for 15 August.

Meanwhile, the effectiveness of the British MTBs was also improved by the arrival of the Mark VIII Two-Star torpedoes with magnetic pistols. This device exploded a torpedo without contact with the target being necessary, and was to revolutionize attacks on shallow-draft vessels like F-lighters. The 7th MTB Flotilla, under Lieutenant A.C.B. Blomfield, was the first to use the new torpedoes. On the night of 9 May three of these boats, MTBs 378, 377 and 376, with Lieutenant R. Varvill as Senior Officer, and PT 203, torpedoed and blew up two F-lighters. This was followed up by a further success the following night when Blomfield led MTBs 420 and 421, together with PT 214, against a merchant vessel and escort of five R-boats off Vada Rocks. One certain and one probable hit was scored against the merchant vessel, and one probable hit against one of the escorts. Then on 27 May, off Spezia, Varvill again led MTBs 421, 419 and 420, and PT 218, against a force of five F-lighters escorted by an S-boat. Three of the lighters were torpedoed and blown up – each of them hit by one of Varvill’s torpedoes fired both together, a remarkable feat, and the third by a single torpedo fired by 420 (Lieutenant E.S. Good) – and a fourth was forced to beach. Resuming patrol, an hour later the MTBs sighted a 1,500-ton merchant ship escorted by a sloop or small destroyer. MTB 419 (Lieutenant A.H. Moore) scored a hit with his one remaining torpedo against the merchant ship, which broke in half and sank. Good’s boat was hit by the escort, but he managed to bluff his way out by firing recognition cartridges. As a result of firing five Mark VIII torpedoes – the four Mark XIIIs fired by the PT all missed – the bag for the night was three F-lighters and one merchant ship.

While the 7th MTB Flotilla continued to maintain these successes, other coastal craft, including the PTs and the four ML Flotillas now based in the area, joined the 56th MTB/MGB Flotilla in Operation Brassard, the landing on Elba. This was planned for 17 June, thirteen days after units of Fifth Army had entered Rome following nine months of hard fighting up from Salerno.

Because of the large number of mines laid off Elba by the Germans, it was considered too risky to use deep-draft vessels for the landing, so nearly all the surface support was provided by Coastal Forces. Again the PTs were out with their sound apparatus to simulate dummy landings on the night of 16/17 June, while the actual landing on the south coast was made by Senegalese troops of the French 9th Colonial Infantry Division. Then the MLs began the arduous task of minesweeping while the Canadian-commanded ‘Dogs’ patrolled the approaches to the island.

On the second night after the landing, while leading four boats on patrol between Elba and the mainland, Maitland ran into an enemy force of a destroyer, a torpedo boat and an F-lighter, standing off the island in preparation for making an evacuation. MTB 655 (commanded by Lieutenant Pickard with Maitland on board) made a run-in to fire her torpedoes, which missed and exploded on the shore. Almost simultaneously the destroyer turned and headed straight for the three MGBs, gathering speed as she came. There was a sharp interchange of fire, but the destroyer’s heavier guns won out. MGB 658 (Lieutenant W.O.J. Bate RCNVR) was badly damaged, with three men killed and Bate and another four men wounded. At one point in the action the steering jammed and the gunboat was almost rammed by the destroyer.

Elba was quickly overrun within two days. The subsequent establishment of heavy guns on the island denied the Germans use of the coastal waters to the south and was a great help to the Allied advance up the Italian coast.

Ever since the Adriatic had been opened up for Coastal Force operations, flotillas had been periodically transferred there from the Italian west coast area. Just before the Elba landing, the 57th MTB/MGB Flotilla had joined those which had already gone. Now with the Elba operation completed and with the remaining craft preparing for the next big operation, the invasion of Southern France on 15 August, the 56th MTB/MGB Flotilla was also transferred to the Adriatic.

Russian Heavy Frigates

Capturing of Swedish 44-gun frigate Venus by Russian 22-gun cutter Merkuriy of June 1, 1789.

Captured Swedish heavy frigate Venus.

The spring of 1789 was marked by two single-ship actions on the part of a young Irish-born Lieutenant, Commander Roman Crown, that were to have long-term consequences for Russian naval history. As commander of the 22-gun two-masted cutter Merkurii, Brown captured a 12-gun Swedish tender, ironically named Snapupp, on 29 April (10 May), a useful but unremarkable feat. He then performed the remarkable feat of surprising, engaging and capturing the much more powerful Swedish heavy frigate, the 40-gun Venus, on 21 May (1 June) of the same year. Crown would rise to become a Russian admiral in the coming years, with a record of proven valour and high accomplishment that extended into the 1820s. The captured Venus would be taken into the Russian navy under the command of the heroic young officer who had captured her. In Russian service under Crown’s command, she would accomplish great deeds against her nation of origin, fighting at Revel’ in 1789 and Vyborg in 1790 and then assisting in the capture of the Swedish 64-gun Rättvisan in the immediate aftermath of the battle. Her stout construction and excellent design characteristics would be incorporated into the designs of nearly two score Russian heavy frigates built during the nineteenth century. As for Lieutenant Commander Crown’s first command, the Merkurii, she lent her name to a 20-gun brig built in 1820 and destined for even greater fame than her name-ship by single-handedly engaging a Turkish 120 and a 74 in a four-hour battle in 1829 and emerging heavily damaged but intact.

Although the Greek Ionian Islands had been granted formal independence after the withdrawal of Russia from the war with France, they remained de facto Russian colonies. A small squadron of Russian warships made up of two ships of the line, a single battle frigate, three corvettes and two brigs remained stationed at Corfu after Ushakov’s departure. The heavy ships were veterans of Ushakov’s campaign and the small craft were all captured or converted vessels picked up in and about the Adriatic. In order to reinforce this squadron in the face of growing problems with the French, a moderately sized squadron was dispatched from the Baltic in 1804 under the command of Commodore Aleksei Greig, son of Samuel Greig. Greig’s squadron was comprised of a single Russian-built 74 and three elderly Swedish veterans of the 1788–92 war, the 62-gun Retvizan, the 44-gun Venus and the 24-gun rowing frigate Avtroil. It is unclear whether these Swedish veterans were sent because of their excellent and sturdy construction or because they were simply odd numbers in the Russian Baltic fleet. Regardless of their advancing age, they all served with distinction through the coming campaigns, with Venus acquiring the highest honours and suffering the most unusual fate.

Venus 44/50 Karlskrona

Constructor         F. Chapman

Laid down             31.3.1783 Launched 19.7.1783 Captured 21.5.1789

Dimensions          156 ft x 40 ft x 17 ft 6 in (Swedish measurement)

151 ft 6 in x 38 ft 10 in x 15 ft 9 in (Russian measurement)

Armament            Captured 26/30 x 24pdrs, 14 x 6pdrs (Veselago)

Swedish heavy frigate captured on 21.5.1789 by Russian cutter Merkurii. Attached to Vice-Adm. Kozlyaninov’s squadron at Copenhagen in 1789. Fought at Revel’ on 2.5.1790 with 1 killed and 2 wounded and 737 rounds fired. Fought at Vyborg on 22.6.1790, capturing 2 Swedish galleys. On 3.5.1790, assisted by Iziaslav (66), she captured the Swedish Rättvisan (64). Cruised in the Baltic in 1791, 1793–4, 1795–7 and 1798. To England in 1799–00. Cruised in the Baltic with naval cadets in 1801. Repaired in 1804. To the Mediterranean as flag to Commodore Greig (Adm. Greig’s son) in 1804. Involved in the capture of Tenedos in 1807. Engaged in the pursuit of Turkish squadron on 9.5.1807, leading the Russian attack and engaging a Turkish line of battle ship. Dispatched by Adm. Seniavin on 9.11.1807 in search of Commodore Baratynskiy’s division. Damaged, repaired at Palermo, blockaded by the British, and placed in Neapolitan custody to avoid bloodshed. Crew evacuated to Trieste.

Heavy frigates

A term applied to large and heavily armed 24-, 30- and 36pdr frigates found in significant numbers in both the Baltic and the Black Sea fleets. These larger ships were more numerous in both theatres than the smaller standard 18pdr frigates; but their respective popularity in the Baltic and the Black Seas arose from rather different tactical requirements and emphases. In the Black Sea, where the type was first introduced, heavy frigates were not regarded as traditional cruisers suited for scouting and raiding, but were rather the direct descendants of the previously described battle frigates and were intended to supplement the line of battle against similar Turkish ships. In the Baltic, on the other hand, heavy frigates were quite ironically the direct design descendants of the captured Swedish heavy frigate Venus, specifically designed by Fredrik Henrik af Chapman to take its place in the line of battle, and captured by the Russians during the Russo-Swedish War of 1788–91. Russian heavy frigates built along the lines of the Venus were utilized in traditional frigate roles and not as battle line adjuncts as was the case with the Black Sea heavies.

During the period between 1770 and 1860, a total of 85 heavy and battle frigates joined the two Russian fleets, almost all of them armed with 24pdr cannon and ranging between 141 ft and 174 ft in length.

Arkhangel Mikhail class (3 ships)

Arkhangel Mikhail 44 Arkhangel’sk

Constructor         M. D. Portnov

Laid down             14.7.1790 Launched 24.5.1791

Dimensions          151 ft 6 in × 38 ft 10 in × 15 ft 9 in

Armament            LD 28 × 24pdrs (short frigate guns)

FC & QD 16 × 6pdrs + carrs

398 men

Arkhangel Mikhail class. Based on the design of the captured Swedish heavy frigate Venus. Departed Arkhangel’sk on 8.7.1792. Damaged and forced to winter at Bergen. Joined Adm. Kruz’s squadron in the summer of 1793 and cruised in the North Sea. Arrived at Kronshtadt on 15.9.1793. To England in 1795–6. Wrecked while returning home on 25.10.1796 off Porkkala-udd on the coast of Finland. No casualties.

Arkhangel Rafail 44 Arkhangel’sk

Constructor         M. D. Portnov

Laid down             14.7.1790 Launched 24.5.1791

Dimensions          151 ft 6 in × 38 ft 10 in × 15 ft 9 in

Armament            LD 28 × 24pdrs (short frigate guns)

FC & QD 16 × 6pdrs + carrs

398 men

Arkhangel Mikhail class. Based on the design of the captured Swedish heavy frigate Venus. Sailed to Kronshtadt in 1794. To England in 1795–6. Operated off Holstein in 1797. Repaired in 1798. To Holland with troops with Rear-Adm. Chichagov’s squadron in 1799. Returned to Kronshtadt on 26.9.1800. Carried cargo between Baltic ports in 1802–3. Broken up in 1804.

Schastlivyi 44 Arkhangel’sk

Constructor         G. Ignatyev

Laid down             19.12.1796 Launched 19.5.1798

Dimensions          151 ft 6 in × 38 ft 10 in × 15 ft 9 in

Armament            LD 28 × 24pdrs (short frigate guns)

FC & QD 16 × 6pdrs + carrs

256/398 men

Arkhangel Mikhail class. Based on the design of the captured Swedish heavy frigate Venus. To England with Vice-Adm. Thate’s 2nd Division on 3.7.1798, arriving at the Nore on 8.8.1798. Operated in the North Sea 1798–1800. Returned to Kronshtadt on 21.7.1800. Cruised in the Baltic with naval cadets in 1801–3. Cruised to Dogger Bank with Rear-Adm. Lomen’s squadron in 1804. Participated in Vice-Adm. Thate’s landing of over 20,000 troops on the German coast in 1805. Training duties in Kronshtadt Roads in 1806. Cruised with Adm. Khanykov’s squadron in 1808 and returned to Kronshtadt in 10.1808. Stationed in Kronshtadt Roads as a guard ship in 1809. Blockship in Kronshtadt Roads in 1810–12.

Feodosii Totemskii class (2 ships)

Feodosii Totemskii 44 Arkhangel’sk

Constructor         G. Ignatyev

Laid down             9.8.1798 Launched 24.9.1798

Dimensions          150 ft × 39 ft × 16 ft

Armament            LD 28 × 24pdrs (short frigate guns)

FC & QD 16 × 6pdrs + carrs

Feodosii Totemskii class. Based on an amended design of the captured Swedish heavy frigate Venus. Departed Arkhangel’sk for England with Vice-Adm. Baratynskiy’s squadron in 9.1799. Returned to Revel’ in 9.1800. Cruised in the Baltic in 1803–4. Landed troops on the German coast with Adm. Thate’s squadron in 1805. Cruised in the Baltic with Adm. Khanykov’s squadron in 1808 and returned to Kronshtadt in 10.1808. Floating battery in Kronshtadt Roads in 1809–11. Broken up in 1819.

Tikhvinskaya Bogoroditsa 44 Arkhangel’sk

Constructor         G. Ignatyev

Laid down             19.8.1798 Launched 22.7.1799

Dimensions          150 ft × 39 ft × 16 ft

Armament            LD 28 × 24pdrs (short frigate guns)

FC & QD 16 × 6pdrs + carrs

Feodosii Totemskii class. Based on an amended design of the captured Swedish heavy frigate Venus. Departed Arkhangel’sk for England with Vice-Adm. Baratynskiy’s squadron in 9.1799. Returned to Kronshtadt in 9.1800. Cruised in the Baltic with naval cadets in 1801–3. Cruised to Dogger Bank in 1804. Landed troops on the German coast with Adm. Thate’s squadron in 1805. Fire watch ship at Revel’ in 1807. Cruised with Adm. Khanykov’s squadron in 1808. Returned to Kronshtadt in 10.1808. Stationed in Kronshtadt Roads in 1809. Fire watch ship at Riga in 1812. Broken up in 1819.

The Roman Naval War with Antiochos Part I

https://www.naval-encyclopedia.com/antique-ships

The Campaign of 191 BC (Map J (i))

Livy (34.1.1) represents Antiochos, back in Ephesos, as ‘unconcerned about the Roman war’, in the belief that the Romans would not cross to Asia, but advised by Hannibal to expect them. ‘The fact was that the Romans were not less powerful at sea than on land’. He had heard that their fleet was ‘around Malea’ and that a new fleet under a new commander was on its way from Italy. Taking his advice, Antiochos sent the ships that were ready in commission to the Thracian Chersonese to prevent a crossing there, ordering Polyxenidas to fit out and launch the rest of the ships. Scout ships were also sent around the islands to investigate all enemy movements.

(L.36.42:191 BC) The new fleet commander, Gaius Livius, set out from Rome with 50 cataphracts for Naples where he had ordered the allies of that coast to assemble the aphracts due under treaty. From there he moved to Sicily and passing through the strait of Messana he added six Carthaginian ships and exacted the ships owed by the people of Rhegion and Lokroi and suchlike allies. The Carthaginian ships may have been cataphracts, but not the others. Arriving at Kerkyra he heard that the old fleet was in Peiraieus. He first plundered Zakynthos and Same (Kephallenia) which had sided with Aitolia, and then moved round the Peloponnese ‘in a voyage of a few days under favourable conditions’ and reached Peiraieus. ‘At Skyllaion he met Attalos’s son and successor Eumenes with three ships. He had been at Aigina in doubt whether to return to defend Pergamon, since he had heard that Antiochos at Ephesos was preparing sea and land forces, or stay on with the Romans on whose fortunes his own depended’.

Atilius handed over 25 cataphracts to Livius and returned to Rome. ‘Livius with 81 cataphract ships (constratis) and many lesser ships (minoribus), either aphract ships with rams or scout ships without rams, crossed the sea to Delos’. The total of cataphracts was made up of 50 new arrivals and 25 already in Greece. The further six are some of the nine ships of which the rating is not given, six Carthaginian and three with Eumenes. Since Eumenes’ main fleet was in Asia (see below), it seems likely that his ships were aphract and that all the Carthaginian ships were cataphract. By this time Antiochos had withdrawn and the consul Acilius was besieging Naupaktos, but the ships were needed more urgently in Asia than there.

(L.36.43.1) At Delos adverse winds delayed Livius for some days; ‘that area round the Kyklades is very windy indeed’. Polyxenidas’s scout ships told him that Livius was delayed at Delos and he informed Antiochos at the Hellespont. The king returned as speedily as he could to Ephesos with his ships equipped with rams (i.e. cataphracts and ram-equipped aphracts); and held a council to decide whether to fight a pitched battle or not. Polyxenidas advised him to fight before Eumenes’s fleet and the Rhodian ships joined the Romans, ‘when they would be about the same in number (as the Syrians) but superior in everything else both speed of ships and the varied potential of their support vessels (varietate auxiliorum). The Roman ships were inexpertly built, thus clumsy (immobiles) and came as well laden with supplies as ships are coming to an enemy country. The Syrian ships on the other hand were putting out from an entirely peaceful country and would have on board nothing but soldiers and arms. Their own knowledge of the (local) sea and land conditions, as well as of the winds, would also be a great advantage. The enemy was ignorant of all these and would be confused. The proposer of the plan convinced them all, particularly as he was also the man who was going to carry it out’.

Two days were spent in preparation; and on the third they moved from Ephesos to Phokaia with 100 ships, all of smaller size (minoris formae), of which 70 were cataphract and the rest aphract. Appian (Syr.,22) gives 200 ships, ‘very much lighter than the enemy’s, which was a great advantage to Antiochos since the Romans were still inexperienced at sea’. On news of the approach of the Roman fleet, Antiochos was not minded to be present at the battle, but went inland to Magnesia (ad Sipylum) to muster his land forces, ‘while the fleet moved quickly to Kissus, the port of the Erythraeans, supposing it to be a more convenient place in which to wait for the enemy’.

(L.36.43.11) ‘As soon as the north winds dropped – they had been blowing for several days – the Romans put out from Delos towards Phanai which was a Chian port facing the Aegean (west). From there they took their ships round to the city (of Chios) and taking on victuals crossed to Phokaia, which Appian says received them through fear. Eumenes had gone to Elaia and returned a few days later with 24 cataphracts and a slightly larger number of aphracts. Appian says that he had fifty ships of which half were cataphract. He joined the Romans at Phokaia, who were preparing themselves and making ready for a naval battle’.

(L.36.43.13) ‘From Phokaia the Romans put out with 105 cataphracts and about 50 aphracts. When at first they were driven towards the shore by north winds on the beam the ships were forced to move in a thin column with ships almost in single file. When the wind abated a little they tried to cross to the harbour of Korykos which lies north of Kissus (super Cissuntem est), the harbour of the Erythraeans’ and otherwise known as Erythras.

(L.36.44.1) ‘When Polyxenidas learnt that the enemy was approaching he was delighted at the prospect of fighting. He himself extended the left wing towards the open sea and ordered the trierarchs to open out (explicare) the right wing towards the land and thus advanced to engage in an even line’.

‘When the Roman commander (of the column under sail) saw what was happening, (leaving his foresail up) he furled his mainsail and lowered his mast, and stowing away the tackle awaited the ships that were following’. (He had to stop to allow the ships in the column behind him to catch up if he was to form line a breast).’ By this time about 30 ships (of the Roman, leading, right, wing) were in line (abreast) (in fronte); and to bring the left wing (i.e. the following ships of the column) level with them (in the line) he raised (i.e. gave orders to the ships of the right wing to raise) foresails1 and stood out to sea (to cover the enemy’s left wing under Polyxenidas) while ordering the ships (of his left wing) behind him to point their prows towards the shore (and move) against the enemy’s right’.

The foregoing passage is a most accurate and detailed account of the manoeuvre by which a fleet moving under sail in column  is transformed into a line-abreast formation (frons, ). With plenty of sea room the column could all take up stations on the left of the flagship, normally at the head of the right wing, without her having to alter course; but where, as here, sea room is tight, the right wing had to move some distance to the right out to sea so that the left wing had room to fan out as it moved towards the shore. It is interesting to note that in this description of a manoeuvre, as in the description of the battle of Chios, there is no mention of a centre, only of the two wings.

(L.36.44.4) ‘Eumenes was the rearguard; but, since the process of lowering sail initially caused some confusion, he also’ (like his commander Livius) ‘urged his ships forward with the greatest possible speed’ to get them into their place at the far end of the line . The reason why Livius used his foresails is indicated. He had to move quickly; and in suitable wind conditions the foresail would add to the speed achieved by the oarsmen. Here its use also indicates that since the north wind favoured Livius’s move away from the land to his right the lines of battle must have run roughly north east and south west with the northern ends close to the shore (which here ran roughly north west and south east) and the south western ends towards the open sea. The course being set by the Roman column was then from north west to south east and Polyxenidas’s ships were drawn up in a line of battle with the right wing near the shore. Behind them and to the east was the west-facing Erythraean port of Kissus from which they had put out. Identification of the ‘harbour of Korykos’ in which the battle took place must satisfy these conditions (see note on Maps J1 and J2).

The Battle of Korykos

As the two lines faced each other, ‘now (the combatants) were visible to all’. (This last remark suggests that until the lines were formed, one or other of the fleets was, at any rate partially, hidden from the other).

There were two of the Carthaginian ships, probably fives, out ahead of the rest of the allied fleet as the line formed up. Three of Antiochos’s ships came to meet them, and as was natural with the unequal numbers, two of Antiochos’s ships (probably threes) attacked a single Carthaginian ship first, brushing off the oars on each side. Then the decksoldiers boarded and seized the ship throwing overboard or killing the defenders. The one that fought on equal terms saw that the other ship was captured and withdrew back to the fleet before it could be surrounded by 3 ships.

(L.36.44.8) ‘Livius angrily moved against the enemy with his flagship. When the two ships that had surrounded the single Carthaginian ship began to attack him in the hope of giving him the same treatment, he ordered his oarsmen to let their oars down into the water to stabilise the ship, and grappling-irons to be thrown on to the approaching enemy ships. Then when the fighting had been reduced to the level of a land battle, he told them to remember their Roman courage and refuse to treat the king’s slaves as men. The two ships were then captured by the one as easily as the one had been captured by the two’. There was then a general melee.

Eumenes, who was the last to come up, after the battle had been joined, saw that the enemy’s left wing was being thrown into confusion by Livius, and proceeded against the (enemy’s) right wing, where the battle was more evenly balanced. And it was not long before flight of enemy ships began from the left wing. In fact, the moment Polyxenidas recognised that he was undoubtedly inferior in the courage of his decksoldiers, he raised his foresails and began a precipitate flight; and soon even those who had engaged Eumenes near the shore did the same.

Note to map J (ii): Livy gives an account of the fleet movements leading up to the battle, after Antiochos had approved the decision to seek naval confrontation with the Roman and Pergamene fleets.

Polyxenidas took the Syrian fleet out of the base at Ephesos north to Phokaia. There he appears to have had intelligence that the Roman fleet at Delos was waiting for favourable weather to move on Ephesos. He chose Kissus as the best harbour in which to wait and from which to intercept the enemy. The location of Kissus has to be inferred from what follows.

The Romans, when the weather became favourable, moved first to Phanai on the south-west coast of Chios (which Strabo 14.1.35 calls a ‘deep harbour’ confirmed by Admiralty Chart 2836 B) and from there went to meet King Eumenes of Pergamon and his fleet at Phokaia. For the allied fleet to move on Ephesos it was first necessary to move due west (with a strong beam wind) before turning south through the Chios strait. The north wind slackened (and probably their scouts told them of the Syrian fleet’s ambush); and they were attempting to turn east to find shelter in the harbour of Korykos, when Polyxenidas brought his fleet out and formed line abreast with his right wing towards the land and the left extended ‘into the open sea’. The reaction of the allied fleet was to down sail and form line abreast with the right wing extended ‘to the open sea’. The references to the wings and to the open sea indicate that both Kissus and Korykos were harbours in a west-facing coastline south of the Poseideion/Argennon strait.

Strabo’s account of the relevant area (14.1.31) begins with mention of the ‘isthmus of the Chersonese (i.e. peninsula) of the Teians and Clazomenians’. The journey (from south to north) across the isthmus is, he says, 50 stades (in fact 10 km) but the passage round is more than 1000. At about the middle of this circuit lies Erythrai, an Ionian city with a harbour and four adjacent islands. (32) On the way [from the south coast of the isthmus] to Erythrai there is first Erai, then Korykos, a high mountain [2328 ft], and a harbour below it called Kasystes, and then [after rounding the Korykeian promontory] another harbour called Erythras [= Kissus: mod. Kavaki Bay] and several others in order [mod. P. Sikia, P. Mersin, P. Egrilar as marked on the Admiralty chart]. The modern P. Sikia, which is nearest to Mt Korykos on the west side, is then to be identified with Livy’s Korykos harbour, lying a little more than 4 sm north west of Kissus. (Strabo continues:33) [Northwestwards] after M. Korykos there is a small island, Halonnesos [mod. Tavales], and then the Erythraean Argennon promontory [mod. Cape Bianco], which is very close to the Chian Poseideion (promontory) making a strait about 60 stadia (10.6 km) wide (in fact 6.5 km).

The conclusion to be drawn from Livy’s and Strabo’s text and corroborated from the Admiralty chart is that the battle of Korykos took place off the west coast (running NW and SE) of the Erythraian peninsula between Korykos harbour (mod. P. Sikia) and Kissus/Erythrias (mod. Kavaki) bay, but nearer to Korykos, which accordingly gave the battle its name.

It may be noted here that, when the Roman fleet retired northwards to Kanai (Strabo 13.1.6: the promontory on the south side of the gulf of Adramyttium) after a successful demonstration off Ephesos, (Livy 36.45.4 p. 150) they ‘set course for Chios sailing past the west-facing Erythraian port of Phoinikos’. Since Kissus is the Phoenician name (Erythras being the Greek name) for the harbour, this may be the port Livy means.

The Romans and Eumenes pursued doggedly enough as long as the oarsmen held out and there was some prospect of harassing the men of the (fleeing) column. But they saw that the speed of the enemy ships, being light, enabled them to elude the allies’ own vainly struggling ships which were laden with supplies. Appian speaks of the heaviness of the ships which prevented them catching an enemy escaping in light vessels. ‘At last they gave up the pursuit, after capturing 13 enemy ships, oarsmen decksoldiers and all, and ten swamped’. Of the Roman fleet only the one Carthaginian ship was lost.

(L.36.45.4) Polyxenidas went straight back to Ephesos. The Roman fleet remained on the day of the battle at the place from which Antiochos’s fleet put out, the Erythraean port of Kissus. On the following day it followed the enemy to Ephesos, meeting on the way 24 Rhodian cataphracts (Appian Syn.22 says 27) under the  Pausistratos. Together they drew up a line of battle off the harbour of Ephesos. After the exercise had sufficiently demonstrated that the enemy fleet admitted inferiority, the Rhodians and Eumenes were sent home. The Roman fleet then, setting a course for Chios, sailed past the west-facing Erythraean port of Phoinikos (see note to Map J (ii) and anchored for the night (offshore) and on the following day crossed to the island and the city (of Chios) itself. When they had stayed there for a few days to give the oarsmen as much rest as possible they crossed to Phokaia. With four fives left there as a garrison for the city the fleet moved to Kanai, and since winter was approaching the ships were hauled up and surrounded by a ditch and a rampart.

The Roman Naval War with Antiochos Part II

Trihemiolia c. 300 BC

The Campaign of 190 BC (Maps J (iii), J (iv) and Note)

(L.37.1.10) In the winter of 191–190 both sides prepared for a further campaign on land and sea. Lucius Scipio received Greece as his consular province with his famous brother Publius Scipio Africanus as his legate. They were to lead a large army into Asia. (L.37.2.10) The maritime province was allotted to Lucius Aemilius. He was to take over from the previous praetor 20 naves longae and himself enrol 1000 socii navales and 2000 infantry ‘to serve on board the ships’ (@ 100). They would have been light warships,  with rams, i.e. liburnians, or possibly  With these he was to proceed to Asia and take over the fleet there from C. Livius. (L.37.4.5) On rumours that Antiochos after the naval battle was building a larger fleet, 30 fives and 20 threes were to be built at Rome.

(L.37.8.1) Antiochos ‘kept the whole winter free for preparations, chiefly concentrating on refitting his fleet so that he should not be driven wholly from command of the sea’. He reflected also that he had been defeated at sea in the absence of the Rhodian fleet and that the Rhodians would not let this happen again. ‘He would need then a great number of ships to equal the enemy fleet in power and size (viribus et magnitudine)’. (Polyxenidas’s fleet at Korykos had all been minoris formae) Hannibal was therefore dispatched to (Koilé) Syria (Appian Syr.22 ad fin.), Phoenicia and Kilikia to recruit Phoenician ships; and Polyxenidas, who had not been particularly successful, was ordered to take all the more pains to refit those he had, and to acquire others.

Antiochos himself wintered in Phrygia recruiting allies from all quarters. ‘He had left his son Seleukos with an army in Aeolis to prevent the defection of cities in that area which were being canvassed on the one side by Eumenes at Pergamon and on the other by the Romans from Phokaia and Erythrai’. The Roman fleet (of 30 ships) was at Kanai (Map I), from where in the middle of winter they made a successful foray after booty with Eumenes’ infanry and cavalry.

(L.37.9.5) In the early spring the Rhodians sent out a fleet of 36 ships under Pausistratos, and Livius took 30 of his ships from Kanai and moved with seven fours of Eumenes to the Hellespont to make preparations for the prospective crossing by the Roman army which was coming by land. Livius was met at Ilion by envoys from the local cities of Elaia, Dardanos and Rhoiteion offering assistance. He left 10 ships off Abydos, crossed to Sestos, which surrendered, and then returned to Abydos. Appian (Syr.23–24) says that Pausistratos, (whom he calls Pausimachos), left behind at Kanai in command of some Roman ships in addition to his own, organised various trials and exercises and devised fire-buckets. ‘He attached to long poles iron buckets containing fire, to hang the fire over the sea in such a way that it was clear of his own ships but would fall on to enemy ships as they approached’. A description of the device  employed by Pausistratos is given in a fragment of Polybios (21.7) preserved in [Suidas]. There is also a sketch of such a device in an Alexandrian tomb graffito (28).

The Panormos engagement (Note on Map J (iii))

(L.37.10.10) Polyxenidas (who was a renegade Rhodian and had a score to settle with Pausistratos) prepared a trap for him. He sent him a man, whom Pausistratos knew, with an offer to betray the king’s fleet to him if he Polyxenidas could be restored to Rhodes. Pausistratos moved to Panormos in Samian  or mainland territory and waited there to investigate the matter, carelessly splitting his fleet up, with some ships sent to get supplies at Halikarnassos and others to the city of Samos. A soldier of Antiochos’s army visiting Samos was arrested by the Rhodians as a spy and betrayed the plot, but the information was not believed.

At Ephesos Polyxenidas hauled up some ships close to the water and made preparations as if he was going to haul up others for repair. He summoned oarsmen from winter quarters not to Ephesos but secretly to Magnesia. Then quickly launching from the beach (deductis) the ships which had been hauled up (subductae) and summoning the oarsmen from Magnesia, he set out after sunset with seventy cataphract ships and in spite of a head wind arrived at the harbour of Pygela before daylight. There he rested (for the day) and crossed to the nearest part of the Samian mainland territory by night.

Meanwhile the pirate captain Nikandros had been given orders to take five cataphract ships to Palinuros and then conduct the armed men to Panormos to take the enemy in the rear, while he himself in the meantime with his fleet in two squadrons, so that he could hold the entrance to the port on both sides, made for Panormos. Pausistratos taken by surprise (and thinking that the enemy ships would try to enter the harbour) manned with his troops the horn-like promontories on each side of the entrance ‘preparing to drive off the enemy easily with missiles from both sides. But then when Nikandros’s troops appeared he ordered his men aboard the ships and tried to break out, his flagship leading the column. Polyxenidas surrounded his ship with three fives as she emerged and she was rammed and swamped. The deck-soldiers were overwhelmed with missiles and Pausistratos was killed. Some of the other ships were captured outside the harbour and some within it, others were taken by Nikandros as they were being manhandled off the beach. Only five Rhodian ships and two Coans escaped, terror produced by the flashing fire making a path for them through the press of ships. Each ship with poles projecting from her prow carried before her in iron buckets a quantity of ignited fuel’. Appian (Syr.21) says that seven ships escaped and that Polyxenidas towed 20 back to Ephesos (the number of Rhodian ships he gives is 27).

(L.37.11.14) Erythraean threes met the escaping Rhodian (and Coan) ships, which they were on their way to assist, not far from Samos and turned back to the Romans at the Hellespont. It will appear that the escaping Rhodian ships did not go north with them, but stayed on Samos, it must be assumed, with the ships which Pausistratos had sent to Halikarnassos and Samos city and which therefore had escaped the disaster. Polyxenidas, it appears, had returned to Ephesos.

Phokaia which had for some time been finding Roman occupation burdensome (P.21.6), was betrayed to Seleukos IV at this time, and other Aeolian cities, including Kyme, followed. Abydos was discussing terms of surrender with Livius when the disaster to the Rhodian fleet caused him to raise the siege and move south to protect the rest of his fleet at Kanai, which he then launched. Eumenes at the same time came down to his fleet at Elaia. (L.37.12.5) Then the whole (Roman) fleet with the addition of two threes from Mitylene moved to Phokaia. When he heard that this city was occupied by a strong royal garrison and that Seleukos’s camp was not far away, he plundered the coastal area; and quickly embarking the booty, particularly the men, he waited only until Eumenes with his fleet caught up, and then set out for Samos’.

(L.37.12.7) Rhodian grief at their disaster turned to anger when they realised that the Rhodian Polyxenidas was responsible for it. They dispatched ten ships, and shortly after ten more, under a new and more cautious commander Eudamos, presumably to join the other Rhodian (and Coan) ships probably at Samos city.

(L.37.12.10) (Map J3 and Note): ‘The Romans and Eumenes moved first to a mooring in Erythraean territory. They stayed there one night and on the following day reached (a mooring for the night at) the Korykos promontory. Since they wanted to cross from there to the nearest part of the Samian coast without waiting for sunrise when the helmsmen could take account of the condition of the sky, they put out into uncertain weather. In mid voyage the north-east wind (aquilo) veered north and the ships began to be tossed about as the sea became rough’.

(L.37.13.1) ‘Polyxenidas, thinking that the enemy would make for Samos to join the Rhodian ships, set out from Ephesos and first moored (for the night) at Myonnesos. From there (the next day) he went over to the island called Makris so that as the (allied) fleet passed by he could attack any ships that strayed from the column, or take an opportunity of attacking the rearguard. When he saw the fleet scattered by the gale (see above), he first thought that that was a good moment to attack (since they would not be in defensive formation); but a little later when the wind increased and was now raising bigger waves, since he saw that he could not reach them, he went across to the island of Aithalia, so that on the following day he could attack the ships making for Samos from the open sea’.

A small number of the Romans reached a deserted harbour on Samos at the beginning of dusk, while the rest of the fleet spent the whole night tossing on the open sea and ran into the same harbour (probably mod. Karlovassi). There they learnt from local people that the enemy’s ships were moored on Aithalia and discussed whether to engage the enemy at once or wait for the Rhodian fleet. Postponing action they went across to Korykos from where they had set out. Polyxenidas also, after waiting fruitlessly, returned to Ephesos, whereupon the Roman fleet crossed to Samos city, since the sea was clear of the enemy. The [new] Rhodian fleet also arrived there a few days later’.

(L.37.13.7) To show that they had been waiting for the Rhodians’ arrival, the allied fleet set off at once from Samos city for Ephesos either to decide the issue in a naval battle or, if the enemy refused to fight, a thing which would have most effect on opinion in the cities, to extract from him an admission of cowardice. They stood drawn up in battle order of line abreast in front of the entrance to the harbour (of Ephesos at the mouth of the river Kaystros). When no one came out to meet them, the fleet split up. Part rode at anchor in the open sea at the entrance to the harbour and part landed the decksoldiers on the coast. Since they were already collecting a vast amount of booty from the widely looted countryside, Andronikos of Macedon, one of the garrison, made a sally against them when they approached the walls and taking a large part of the booty drove them to the sea and their ships.

On the next day the Romans set an ambush at about the halfway point and marched in column up to the city’. Naturally enough there was no reaction. The men returned to their ships, and the ships to Samos, the Romans having made the point that the enemy avoided fighting by land as well as by sea.

(L.37.13.11) At this point Livius sent four threes, two from the Italian allies and two from Rhodes, with a Rhodian, Epikrates, in command, to deal with piracy in the strait of Kephallenia. Young Kephallenians led by a Spartan with the appropriate name of Hubristas (Lawless) had already succeeded in closing the supply route from Italy. The incident is interesting in showing the extent and serious effect of piracy and also indicating the wide responsibility of the praetor who held the provincia maritima.

(L.37.14.1) Epikrates did not accomplish his mission because at Peiraieus on the way he met the holder of the naval command (imperium) for 190 BC Lucius Aemilius. When Aemilius heard of the defeat of the Rhodians, anxious for his own safety since he had only two fives, he took Epikrates and his four ships back to Asia with him accompanied also by some Athenian aphracts. They crossed to Chios, where the Rhodian Timasikrates arrived on a stormy night with two fours from Samos. Brought to Aemilius he said he had been sent as escort because Antiochos’s ships in frequent raids from the Hellespont and Abydos made that stretch of the sea dangerous for supply ships. On the crossing from Chios to Samos Aemilius fell in with two Rhodian fours sent by Livius and king Eumenes with two fives.

(L.37.14.4: 191–90 BC) When Aemilius reached Samos and the fleet was formally handed over, there was a council of war. The new Roman commander, Eudamos of Rhodes and Eumenes of Pergamon had to deal with a number of demands on their limited naval resources. The Hellespont crossing had to be secured for the approaching Roman army under the Scipios, an attack on Pergamon by Seleukos had to be met; and, most important of all, the fleet of Hannibal, newly built in Phoenicia and now approaching along the coast of Asia Minor must be prevented from joining Polyxenidas’s fleet at Ephesos.

(L.37.22.2: August 190) ‘Against the fleet which was rumoured to be coming from Syria the Rhodians with 13 ships of their own, a five from Kos and another from Knidos set out (under Eudamos from Samos) to Rhodes to be on guard there’. Two days before they arrived 13 ships from Rhodes under the commander Pamphilidas, with the addition of four ships which had been on guard in Karia, had been sent against that same Syrian fleet. By attacking the Syrian forces they had relieved from siege Daidala and a number of other fortresses in the Peraia. Eudamos agreed to move on at once. Six aphract ships were assigned to him in addition to the fleet which he had. On departure (from Rhodes) he had hurried as fast as he could, and caught up with the advance ships at the harbour called Megiste. When they had reached Phaselis in one column, the best plan seemed to be to await the enemy there.

Phaselis was excellently situated for sighting the enemy from some way off, but they had not realised that it was unhealthy in midsummer. So they moved on to the mouth of the Eurymedon river. There they were told by the people of Aspendos that the enemy was at Side.

(L.37.23.4) ‘The king’s men had moved rather slowly because the season of the etesians is unfavourable, being given to north-westers (favoniis). The Rhodians had 32 fours and four threes; the royal fleet was of 37 ships of larger size including three sevens and four sixes. Besides these there were ten threes. The Rhodians saw from a watch-tower that the enemy was close’.

The Roman Naval War with Antiochos Part III

Actuarius of about 200 BC, Second Punic War, from a bas-relief of the Vatican (late empire). Note the decorative spur.

The Battle of Side [Battle of the Eurymedon]

(L.37.23.6) ‘At first light on the following day each fleet moved out of harbour ready to fight that day; and after the Rhodians had passed the promontory which stretches out to sea from Side they were immediately visible to the enemy and the enemy was visible to them. On the king’s side the left wing which blocked the way on the side of the open sea was commanded by Hannibal, on the right wing Apollonios, one of the wearers of purple, was in command; they had already (when sighted) formed their ships in line of battle (i.e. abreast). The Rhodians were approaching in a long column. The leading ship was Eudamos’s flagship. Charikleitos was rearguard and Pamphilidas commanded the centre. When Eudamos saw the enemy’s line drawn up and ready for engagement, he also (as well as Hannibal) moved out to sea and ordered those that were following him one after another preserving their station to move into line abreast’.

(L.37.23.10) ‘That movement at first caused confusion, for Eudamos had not yet moved out to sea far enough [each ship following him in making a 90° turn in succession] for it to be possible for all the ships [making a 90° left turn together] to effect a line [abreast stretching] towards the shore2. Moving too fast himself, he found himself meeting Hannibal with only five ships; the rest, having been ordered to form line abreast, were not following him. At the end of the column there were no slots left [for the rearguard ships] adjoining the shore and while the ships there were sorting themselves out in a panic (trepidantibus) the battle had already started on the right wing’.

Livy’s statement (at L.37.23.5) that the Rhodian fleet at the mouth of the Eurymedon R. consisted of 32 fours and four threes can be reconciled with his earlier account (37.22.2) of the movement of ships from Rhodes, if four of the six aphracts there mentioned were threes and if the other two, smaller than threes, are not mentioned being, in the later context, of insignificant rating; and if further the four guardships from Karia were fours and in the later account the two fives are mistakenly given as fours. With those provisos the total in both cases was 38.3 It is an interesting indication of Rhodian naval policy that her ships were all fours, in the first case 30 and in the second, with the mistaken addition of the two allied fives, 32. A squadron of fours appears to consist of 12 ships with the commander’s flagship in addition. The Carian guard-ships were a detachment of four ships on special duty.

The manoeuvre described is the normal way of forming line abreast from column with the ships in column taking up stations in line abreast by first turning successively by 90° to the right (or left) and then turning together 90° to the left (or right) to form a line of ships abreast facing the enemy. But the column in this case had not sufficient sea room, since it had been moving too close to the shore. To rectify this Eudamos moved rather too quickly seaward. The fact that he now became separated with four other ships indicates that the column was (as often cf. Thuk.2.90.1) of four files and the leading ships of each file stayed close to him leaving a gap between them and the next four who were acting as ordered. The effect of his action had not yet filtered through to the shoreward end of the line-in-making where there were not enough slots for the rearguard. The clarity and precision of this description is remarkable.

(L.37.24.1) ‘However, in a short space of time the good performance of their ships and their naval experience took away the Rhodians’ nervousness. The ships moving out to sea quickly each gave a place on the left (landward) side to the ship coming after her (in the files of the column); and if a ship had engaged an enemy with the ram either she damaged the prow or she carried away the oars or by a free (i.e. unchallenged) movement along between the files (libero inter ordines discursu praetervecta) she made an attack on the stern’.

The description is again precise. If ‘each ship gave a place on the landward side to the ship coming after her’ in the column and there were four files in the column the line abreast formation must be four longitudinal files deep, a much stronger formation than a single line abreast.

The next description, after that of the successful establishment of the battle line, is of what happened when the two lines met. This is not a particular account but a generalised statement of the various possibilities.

‘When one ship engaged another she could either smash the prow or carry away the oars or passing right through between the files would attack a ship’s stern’. The ‘files’ (ordines) here are not the longitudinal files but the short files composed of individual members of the longitudinal files ranged one behind the other (four deep) and between which ships making a  would have to pass once a gap had been made.

(L.37.24.3) ‘The greatest consternation was caused when a royal seven was swamped by a single blow of a much smaller Rhodian ship, so that now the enemy right wing in no uncertain manner turned to flight. Out at sea Eudamos was hard pressed by the number of Hannibal’s ships although he was superior in other respects. Hannibal would have surrounded him had not a signal by which a fleet is usually concentrated been displayed from the flagship; and if all the ships which had been winning on the (royal) right flank had not hurried to assist their own men. Then Hannibal and the ships with him started to withdraw, but the Rhodians could not pursue them since their oarsmen were sick (p. 102) and for that reason rather quickly tired. In the open sea where they had come to a stop they refreshed themselves with food’.

The details given in this and the following passage confirm the impression that Livy has been deriving his account from a Rhodian source; and this would also explain why the account of the royal fleet and its moves is abbreviated to the point of obscurity. Although the names of the commanders of the right and left wings of the royal fleet are given (Apollonios (R) and Hannibal (L)) there is no mention of a commander for the centre as in the case of the Rhodian fleet. Nor is it formally stated that Hannibal was the overall commander and that his ship was the flagship, although it is difficult to believe otherwise. Then, Livy says, Hannibal was on the point of surrounding Eudamos and raised a signal which meant that the fleet should come together at one spot (presumably to the flagship so that he could capture Eudamos and the Rhodian flagship). The effect of this signal was to undermine the winning posture of his left wing by withdrawing the victorious ships from there; (and thus produce a deterioration of the whole position of the royal fleet including the left wing) so that Hannibal himself began to withdraw.

The outcome of the battle for the Rhodians was the capture of the one damaged royal seven which they towed to Phaselis. (L.37.24.6) ‘Eudamos’ while his crews were recovering ‘watched the enemy towing away with their aphracts their lame and damaged ships and scarcely more than 20 (of the 37 ships of larger size and ten threes of smaller size) moving off undamaged’. Since the aphracts of the Rhodians were not mentioned in the fleet inventories, it is reasonable not to identify the aphracts mentioned here with the threes in the royal inventory but to suppose that they were not mentioned there either.

From Phaselis they returned to Rhodes ‘not so much pleased at their victory as accusing each other of missing the chance of swamping or capturing the whole enemy fleet’. The effect of their victory on Hannibal was important. Although he wanted to join Polyxenidas at Ephesos as soon as possible, ‘he did not then dare to pass Lykia’; and to prevent the possibility the Rhodians sent Charikleitos with 20 ships with rams to Patara and the harbour of Megiste, while Eudamos was sent with the seven largest ships of the fleet he had commanded (at Side) to join the Romans at Samos with instructions to use his powers of persuasion to the utmost to make the Romans attempt the capture of Patara. The seven largest ships would have been the Coan and Cnidian fives, the four threes and his own flagship, the last either a specially powerful four or a five. If the two fives were wrongly classified as fours in the inventory of the Rhodian fleet before the battle, it is possible that the two flagships of Eudamos’s and Pamphilidas’s squadrons of 12 fours were also wrongly so classified.

Antiochos’s Final Effort at Sea: The Battle of Myonnesos 190 BC (Map J (iv) and Note)

The move of Antiochos to Sardis made it impossible for the Romans to move from Samos to Patara as the Rhodians wished, (L.37.25.2–3) and ‘give up protecting Ionia and Aiolis’; but the Rhodians found it possible to send four cataphract ships to join the fleet there. The diplomacy of the consul Scipio prevented Antiochos bringing Prusias over to his side to help him keep the Romans out of Asia. Antiochos accordingly (L.37.26.1) went to Ephesos from Sardis to review the fleet which for some months had been assembled and prepared ‘more because he realised that with his land forces the Roman army and the two Scipios could not be resisted than because naval action had ever been attempted by him with much success or that he had any great or certain confidence in it’.

Antiochos thought however that with a large part of the Rhodian fleet at Patara and Eumenes having taken all his ships to the Hellespont to meet the consul there was a hopeful opportunity for him. He was encouraged also by the Rhodian disaster at Samos (Panormos). His plan was to attack Notion, a coastal town in Colophonian territory, which was uncomfortably close to Ephesos, in the hope that the Roman fleet would come to support an ally and an engagement might ensue.

The last thing Aemilius at Samos expected was that Polyxenidas, after twice refusing to fight, would now come out. He wanted to move to the Hellespont but was detained by Eudamos and all his other advisers, who urged him either to stand by his allies or, if Polyxenidas offered battle, to defeat him again and win command of the sea. This was better than abandoning the allies, surrendering Asia to Antiochos by land and sea and making a quite unnecessary voyage to the Hellespont when his role in the war was to be at Samos.

(L.37.27.1) When victuals ran out there, Aemilius set out for Chios where the Romans stored their supplies, Chios being the destination of the supply ships from Italy. The fleet first moved round to the other (i.e. south) side of the island, the (north) side towards Chios and Erythrai being open to the north wind. Samos city is on the south side; the fleet must have been beached on the north side from which Ephesos and Notion could be observed. From the south side they could first tack north east. As they were preparing to cross, Aemilius learned that a large consignment of grain had arrived at Chios from Italy but that the ships carrying wine had been storm-bound. At the same time he was told that the Teians had generously supplied the king’s fleet with victuals and promised 5000 casks of wine.

When half way to Chios (on a NW tack) Aemilius suddenly changed course (NE) for Teos, ‘intending, if the Teians were willing, himself to use the stores prepared for the enemy, or, if they were not, to treat the Teians as enemies’. However, they were diverted by the sight near Myonnesos of about fifteen ships, which they first took to be part of the royal fleet but which turned out to be pirates with booty from Chios. They pursued them fruitlessly to Myonnesos and on the next day continued their voyage to Teos; and mooring the ships in the harbour called Geraistikos behind the town, presumably on the other side of the peninsula (Strabo 14.1.30) on which the town was built, began to ravage the countryside around it.

(L.37.28.4) By chance on that day Polyxenidas with the royal fleet left the siege of Kolophon (Notion) ‘and, learning where the Roman fleet was, dropped anchor off Myonnesos at a hidden harbour in an island which sailors call Makris’. From there, reconnoitring (explorans) the enemy’s movements from close at hand (the distance from Makris to Teos being 9.72 sm), ‘he was at the outset in high hopes of destroying the Roman fleet in the same way as he had destroyed the Rhodian fleet at Samos (Panormos), by stationing his ships round the harbour passage at the point of exit. The nature of the place (Geraistikos) was not unlike, the promontories on either side of the harbour mouth coming together so closely that two ships could scarcely go out at the same time. He had devised the plan of seizing the exit by night, and of attacking, as at Panormos, from land and sea at the same time. Ten ships standing at each exit would attack the ships in the beam as they came out and armed men would be landed from the rest of the fleet’.

(L.37.28.9) ‘The plan would not have failed him if the Romans, when the Teians agreed to do as they had been told, had not moved their fleet round to the other harbour in front of the city to take the supplies on board. There was also the fact that Eudamos had pointed out a fault in the other harbour when two ships broke their oars, getting them tangled together in the narrow entrance; and among other things the fact that there was danger from the land side gave Aemilius a motive for moving the fleet over, Antiochos’s camp being not far away’.

(L.37.29.1) The fleet had moved round to the city without anyone’s knowledge and the soldiers were on shore engaged in sharing the victuals and in particular the wine among the ships, when at about midday a man from the country was brought to the praetor with the news that already for two days a fleet was moored at the island of Makris and shortly before some ships had been observed moving as if to set out. Alarmed by the sudden development the praetor ordered the trumpets to sound, giving notice to return if any men had wandered off into the country, and he sent the tribunes into the city to collect the soldiers and crewmen for embarkation.

There was the usual confusion and the conflicting orders of a hurried embarkation but (L.37.29.5) ‘in the end they were assembled at the ships. In the tumult it was difficult for a man to recognise his own ship or go on board it, and there would have been a dangerous confusion (on the ships) at sea and on the land if a division of duties had not been made (among the commanders): if Aemilius in the flagship had not first moved out of the harbour into open water taking out those that followed him and had drawn them up (in column) each in his own file (there were then several files), and if Eudamos and the Rhodian fleet had not remained in position towards the shore’.

The Roman Naval War with Antiochos Part IV

MAP J (iv). The Teos and Myonnesos Promontories. After Admiralty chart 3346

Note on Map J (iv): Teos and Myonnesos play a part in the events leading up to the battle named after the latter. Myonnesos had earlier (191 BC) featured in Polyxenidas’s plan for a surprise attack on the Roman fleet on its passage from the Korykos promontory to Samos. Livy (37.13.1) says that Polyxenidas then moored first at Myonnesos and then went over to the island called Makris with the intention of making a surprise attack (ut adoriretur) on any ships of the fleet that strayed from the column as it passed by or if opportunity offered on its rear. The island then, it appears, gave the cover for such a surprise attack which Myonnesos did not and was closer to the route which Polyxenidas appears to have expected the Roman fleet to take to Samos city.

Livy next mentions Myonnesos in the following year when a Roman fleet under Aemilius, on passage from Samos to Chios for supplies (and taking the easterly route), suddenly changed course for Teos and was diverted by the sight of about fifteen ships in the neigbourhood of Myonnesos which turned out to be fast and light pirate ships returning from a raid on Chios. They fled to Myonnesos on Aemilius’s attempt to capture them, giving Livy an opportunity to describe their refuge (37.27.6).

‘Myonnesos is a promunturium between Teos and Samos. The promunturium itself is a hill shaped like a cone and culminating in a sharp point from quite a broad base. It is approached from the mainland by a narrow path (arta semita), while its boundary seawards is formed by cliffs eroded by the waves. Livy’s description shows that what he describes is not a promontory but a peninsula to which the present island on the west side of the promontory answers. The result is that in some places the overhanging rocks reach higher than ships at their moorings. The Roman ships wasted a day, not daring to get close in case they were damaged by the pirates manning the top of the cliffs, and when night fell they gave up’. It appears then that the anchorage or mooring facility at Myonnesos was on the seaward side at any rate for the larger ships and was not therefore concealed. Strabo’s brief description (14.1.29) ‘an inhabited height forming a peninsula’ confirms Livy’s. The name Myonnesos suggests that it was once an island. These clues have enabled the makers of the Admiralty Chart 3446 to suggest that what appears now be a small island very close to the western side of the main promontory, 2 km from its end, was the ancient Myonnesos, and there seems to be no alternative. They propose also as Makris an island 500 metres SW of the end of the promontory. About 1250 m SE of Makris is another similar small island which may be the one called Aspis or Arkonnesos which Strabo (14.1.29) mentions as lying ‘between Teos and Lebedos’.

When a few days later Polyxenidas arrived in the area with the royal fleet he anchored again at Makris. On this occasion Livy describes the anchorage as hidden. He was able to reconnoitre the Roman fleet’s position without revealing his fleet’s presence.

Aemilius when his pursuit of the pirates proved fruitless had next day continued his intrrupted voyage to Teos and moored his ships ‘in the harbour at the back (a tergo) of the city and called by the inhabitants Geraistikos. He sent his troops to loot the cultivated land round Teos. The Admiralty chart shows that between the ancient city and the sea to the west there was a strip of high ground so that the cultivated area must have been to the east and north and that the bay north of the city making with the ancient harbour of Teos a peninsula must have been Geraistikos. Strabo says (14.1.30) that Teos was also (i.e. in the context like Myonnesos) settled on a peninsula and possessed of a harbour.

The harbour which appears to be Geraistikos has now an entrance about 750 metres wide. The horns which Livy says would scarcely allow two warships to enter side by side must have been artificially extended.

The Battle of Myonnesos: September 190 BC (Map J (iv))

‘The result was that the embarkation took place without undue hurry and that each ship moved out as it was ready. Thus the first ships (to emerge) extended their file under the eye of the praetor and the Rhodians brought up the rear of the column, and the battle order, drawn up as if the royal opponents were in sight, moved out to sea’. The final sentence, with a brevity which suggests an effortless and orderly manoeuvre unlike that attributed to the allied fleet at the battle of Korykos, describes the move from column (agmen) to the battle order (as if the enemy was in sight) of line abreast (acies) in the same number of files as in column.

(L.37.29.7) When the allied fleet of 80 ships (83 including 23 from Rhodes: Appian: Syr.27) was between Myonnesos and the Korykos promontory they sighted the enemy (they had moved due south about 7½ sm towards Myonnesos). ‘The royal fleet’ (L.89 ships: A.90 cataphracts) ‘came on in a long column of two files, and it likewise deployed a line to face the enemy with its left wing extending so far that it was able to embrace and go round the Roman right wing’. The fact that the royal fleet approached in ‘a long column’ of two files resulted in the line of battle being long, and two deep. It was also considerably longer than the allied line, for which the reason was partly that the royal fleet was more numerous by nine (or ten) ships, partly (and perhaps mainly) that the allied line was in more than two files, possibly four.

(L.37.29.9) ‘When Eudamos (Eudoros: Appian), who was bringing up the rear of the column, saw this, viz. that the Romans (led by Aemilius on the right wing) was unable to make the line equal (to the enemy’s) and thus not be turned on the right wing, he speeded up his (22 or 23) ships – and the Rhodian ships were far the fastest in the whole fleet – and bringing the wings equal put his own ship in the path of the flagship with Polyxenidas aboard’. Appian says that the Rhodian commander ‘on the left wing saw Polyxenidas outflanking the Roman line and quickly sailing round’ (behind the allied line) ‘since his ships were light and his oarsmen had sea-experience, sent his fire-ships against Polyxenidas, with flames blazing all round’.

The impression given in Livy’s account has been that the allied fleet completed the manoeuvre from column to line abreast before the enemy was sighted. But this impression is inconsistent with Eudamos’s manoeuvre just described. The place of his ships as the rearguard of a column deploying into line abreast to the left of the flagship was at the end of the line on the far left. But in the last paragraph Livy says that he was bringing up the rear when he saw the disparity of the battle lines and took the instant decision to move quickly to a place on the right of the right wing which would thus be extended sufficiently to bring the two lines to equality. In Appian’s description there is no such inconsistency.

(L.37.30.1) ‘Now in all the fleets at once the battle began. On the Roman side 80 ships were engaged of which 22 were Rhodian, while the enemy fleet was of 89 ships. They had, of ships of the largest size (maximae formae), three sixes and two sevens. The Romans were far superior in the sturdiness of their ships and the courage of their decksoldiers, and the Rhodian ships in agility and in the skill of their helmsmen and expertise (scientia) of their oarsmen. Yet those ships scared the enemy most which carried fire before them (27); and that which alone saved the ships surrounded at Panormos on this occasion made the greatest contribution to victory. For when the royal ships nervous at the threat of fire turned aside from an encounter prow to prow, they were unable themselves to strike the enemy with their rams and offered themselves sideways to (such) blows. They were more afraid of the fire than of the fighting. Yet, as usual, it was the courage of the decksoldiers which carried most weight in the battle’.

‘The fact was that when the Romans had broken through the middle of the enemy’s battle line, they swung round and threw themselves from behind on the royal ships which were fighting the Rhodians; and in a short space of time Antiochos’s centre and the ships on the left wing were surrounded and swamped. The undamaged part of the fleet on the right was terrified more by the destruction of their comrades than by their own peril; but after they saw others surrounded and Polyxenidas’s flagship raising sail and deserting her comrades, they quickly raised their foresails – there was a wind favourable for those bound for Ephesos – and fled’.

Appian, after describing the fireship attack on Polyxenidas, continues: ‘Polyxenidas’s ships had not the courage to attack the fireships because of the fire, but circling round them heeled over and were filled with water. They were hit on the  constantly. At last a Rhodian ship rammed a Sidonian and the blow was a strong one, so that the anchor of the Sidonian ship fell off and stuck into another ship, bonding the two together. The ships being impossible to separate the battle became like a land fight. Many ships rallying to each of the two ships there was a notable contest and as a result the Roman ships rowed through the centre of Antiochos’s line, that area being thinned out because of this incident; and they encircled the enemy before they realised what was happening. When they did there was flight and pursuit’.

It is interesting that both sources attribute the defeat to a classical ‘breakthrough’ () at the centre of the enemy’s line. Whether the weakness there was the result of the incident described by Appian or not, the abnormally long column, becoming an abnormally thin battle line in order to achieve an outflanking movement (the classical ), certainly risked offering the enemy the chance of a massive breakthrough, which was decisive. The moral which the reader is meant, by the Rhodian source, to draw is that Rhodian quick thinking and Rhodian quick rowing in light warships thwarted the  and led to the effective  of the heavier Roman vessels.

(L.37.30.7) ‘Antiochos lost 42 ships (Appian: Syr,.29), ten of which fell into possession of the enemy, the rest were burnt or swamped (demersae). Two Roman ships were smashed (fractae), a number received damage (polneratae). One Rhodian ship was captured in a remarkable manner’. Then Livy tells the story of the Sidonian ship which Appian also uses, concluding: ‘the anchor cable, (ancoróle), being pulled out and becoming entangled with the oars, carried away one side of them. The crippled ship was then captured by the very ship which had been struck by her and become attached. These were the tactics employed in the naval battle off Myonnesos’.

(L.37.31.1) The effect on Antiochos of the defeat was traumatic. ‘He doubted whether he could protect his distant fortresses and ordered his garrison to be withdrawn from Lysimacheia’. He also withdrew from the siege of Kolophon (Notion) (p. 105 and 104 above) and from Sardis, concentrating his efforts on preparation for the land battle with the Scipios which could not now be long delayed, since there was now nothing to prevent the Romans crossing the Hellespont into Asia. By the end of the year he had been heavily defeated in a great battle near Thyateira which put an end to his ambitions in the Mediterranean.

The peace treaty which followed (188 BC) the defeat contained a naval clause which is given by Polybios (21.42.13) and by Livy (38.38.8) but in both cases the text is imperfect. Walbank’s (McDonald and Walbank: 1969, Walbank: 1979 III p. 159) amended versions give the following sense: (Antiochos) must surrender both his long ships and the gear and rigging ( armamento) belonging to them, and he must keep no more than 10 aphracts (Livy: naves actuarias) and none of them rowed by more than thirty oars; and he may not keep those for the purpose of a war started by himself.

PERSEUS OF MACEDON

Under the year 185 BC Livy (39.23.5) mentions the threat of war with Perseus, the son of Philip V of Macedon. He says that the beginnings lay not with Perseus but with his father, who would have waged it if he had lived. Quintus Marcius, sent to Macedon in 183 to investigate the state of affairs there (P.23.8 and 10), reported similarly. At Rome by 172 (L.42.26.2–5) Genthios, son of Pleuratos, of Illyria was under suspicion as a Macedonian sympathiser, and Perseus was known to have sent envoys to ask for the support of Eumenes II, Antiochos IV and Ptolemy V, but all three had remained loyal to their treaties with Rome. Rhodes sent envoys to protest her loyalty in the face of suspicions to the contrary.

The reaction of the Senate (L.42.27 1–8) was to resurrect the fleet which had been laid up in the dockyards since the end of the Syrian war. 50 fives were to be inspected for seaworthiness and the Sicilian squadron was to be repaired and made ready for service if additional ships were needed. In the event 38 fives were launched at Rome and 12 in Sicily. Naval personnel were to be enrolled for the 50 ships, half from the freedmen and half from the allies, and an army of 8000 infantry and 400 cavalry put in readiness. In 171 (L.42.29.1) ‘all the kings and states in Europe and Asia were turning their minds to reflect on the Macedonian and Roman war’. Antiochus IV saw in it an opportunity, while the Roman attention was directed elsewhere, to wage war against the young Ptolemy and his guardians, who in turn were preparing for war against Antiochos to defend their right to Koile-Syria, at that time in Antiochos’s possession. The previous year (P.27.3, L.42.45) Rome had sent an embassy to Asia and among the islands to encourage her allies to join her in a war against Macedon. Rhodes was particularly important because it could provide material help, her president Hagesilochos ‘having advised the Rhodians to commission ( literally to fit hypozomata to: p. 356) 40 ships’, so that they could act instantly as the occasion arose.

(L.42.48.5) The praetor in charge of the fleet, Gaius Lucretius, left Rome with 40 ships of the fleet that had been prepared, his brother Marcus going ahead with one five to collect those due from the allies under treaty, and with orders to meet the rest of the fleet at Kephallenia. These were: one three from Rhegion, two from Lokroi and four from the district of Uria. At Dyrrachion he met ten local , 12 Issaean  and 54 belonging to king Genthios (which Marcus ‘pretended he thought had been assembled for his use’), took them with him ‘on the third day’ to Kerkyra and from there to Kephallenia. (L.42.48.10) Gaius made the voyage from Naples to Kephallenia in five days; and waited there not only until the land force had made the crossing from Italy but also for the supply ships to catch up, ‘which had been scattered from their column over the open sea’. His brother also must have joined him as ordered. Polybios says (27.7) that the Rhodian ships were also summoned at this point.

(L.42.56) Gaius then left the fleet under Marcus’s command with orders to move round the Peloponnese to Chalkis, while, with the intention of getting to Boiotia first, he took a three through the Corinthian gulf, rather slowly ‘because of illness’. Marcus reached Chalkis first and took a large military force, including a substantial Pergamene contingent, inland to besiege Haliartos, where he was joined by his brother coming up from Kreusa on the Gulf. (L.42.63.3 ff) The praetor captured it after a stubborn siege and ‘after these achievements in Boiotia returned to the sea and the fleet’. It is surprising that the ‘maritime province’ exended so far inland.

Other allied ships also assembled at Chalkis (L.42.56.6): two Carthaginian fives, two threes from Herakleia on the Euxine, four from Kalchedon, four from Samos, and then five Rhodian fours. Polybios (27.7.1) describes the mixed reaction at Rhodes to Gaius’s letter, ‘entrusted to a gym trainer’  but finally six fours were sent in support of Rome, five to Chalkis and one to Tenedos, the latter to protect commerce through the straits. The absence of Eumenes and his fleet is not significant, in view of his contribution of land forces and, together with his brother Attalos, his presence with them (L.42.57.4). In the following year his fleet took part in the naval operations off Macedonia.

However, since there was at present no naval activity anywhere, the praetor (P.27.7.16) after receiving kindly all the allies who had come by sea, relieved them of their obligations explaining that in the present state of affairs naval assistance was not required. The legate Quintus Marcius, who after he made his report had been sent back to Greece the previous year with a number of fives (L.42.47.9) and a roving mandate, appeared at Chalkis with his ships, and presumably then returned to Rome.

The assembly at Chalkis of ships of various kinds in support of Rome in 171 is interesting as indicating the standing, economic as well as political, of the various states in naval terms. The piratical  of the Adriatic, from Issa and Illyria, are at the bottom of the table. At the top are the fives of Rome and Carthage, and in between the threes of Herakleia, Chalkedon and Samos. Although Rhodes had fives, the type of ship she used most at this period was the four, from preference probably as Walbank observed (1979: III p. 336) as much as from necessity.

In 170 there is mention in Livy (43.4.8) of an assault by the fleet commander Hortensius, who had succeeded Gaius Lucretius, on the city of Abdera in northern Greece, which, being a free ally of Rome, complained to the senate. (L.43.7.10) Other cities in the area, Emathia, Amphipolis, Maroneia, Ainos, are said to have closed their gates to him. These cities must have been the objects of a naval raid similar to that reported for 169, but, perhaps because of its disreputable nature, not mentioned directly by Livy. There were complaints of the behaviour of Romans in Chalkis and the billeting of seamen in private houses.

At this time the loyalty of Genthios of Illyria was again suspect and (L.43.9.4) eight armed ships (naves ornatae) were sent from Brundisium to the island of Issa where there was a legate in charge with two Issaean ships (probably ) in support. A force of 2000 men, raised locally in that part of Italy, which had been garrisoned the previous year (L.42.36.9), was sent on board the eight ships. The type of ship is not given; they are said to be ‘armed’ in contrast to the . 250 is rather a large number of passengers even for a five used as a troopship, and it has been suggested that ‘8’ may be a scribal error for ‘18’4. The voyage is of 174 sm and at least 30 hours with favourable conditions, say a comfortable two day voyage with a stop for the night halfway on the Italian coast. In more adverse conditions speed would have been more like 4 kn overall, i.e. 45 hours or three days with stops for rest in the middle of the day.

(L.43.12.9 and 15.30) For the campaign of 169 reinforcements for the socii navales were sent, 1500 from Rome and Italy and as many from Sicily. Gaius Marcius Figulus was put in charge of the fleet at Chalkis, which went north in the spring in support of the Roman army in Thessaly and was in sight off the coast (L.44.7.10), but victualling arrangements were less effective, the supply ships having been left further south in Magnesia.

The capture of Herakleia Tracheia by the army (L.44.9.10) in the autumn provided the fleet with a forward base from which Marcius proceeded to ravage the country between there and Thessalonike, the site of the royal dockyards. It was besieged but proved too strongly garrisoned, and he moved north against the second Macedonian naval base, Kassandreia. There he was joined by Eumenes with 20 cataphracts and by five cataphracts from Bithynia. The joint forces besieged the city but abandoned the siege when it was relieved by ten  slipping along the coast at night from Thessalonike. The fleet then retired south to Iolkos for an attack, after ravaging the fields, on the third Macedonian naval base of Demetrias in the gulf of Pagasai, while the army besieged Meliboia 25 miles north (L.44.12.8–13.3) ‘conveniently theatening’ its communications. Both attacks were given up and the army went into winter quarters. While Eumenes took his ships back to Pergamon, Marcius sent part of his fleet to Skiathos for the winter and went with the rest to Oreos (in Euboia) as a good base from which to send supplies to the army in Macedon and Thessaly.

(L.44.17) Concern in Rome for the slow progress of the war in Macedonia led to a more rapid choice of the consul to hold that province, Lucius Aemilius Paulus, and of the praetor in charge of the fleet, Gnaeus Octavius. Aemilius immediately suggested that legates should be sent to Macedonia to inspect the army and the fleet and to report on the loyalty of the allies, the supply position and the achievement of army and fleet in the past year.

Their report severely criticised leadership of the army (L.44.20.2); its present position was dangerous and the supply position critical. Their report on the fleet (L.44.20.6) was that some of the socii navales had died of sickness; that some of them, especially the Sicilians, had gone home, with the result that the ships were undermanned; those in Macedonia had not been paid, and lacked suitable clothes (for the winter); Eumenes’s fleet had come and gone; he, unlike his brother Attalos, seemed wavering in his loyalty to Rome. As a result very substantial reinforcements were ordered for the army and 5000 socii navales for the fleet (L.44.21.11).

During the winter of 169/8 (L.44.23.2–10) Perseus engaged in widespread diplomatic activity, first gaining the formal adherence of Genthios through a special envoy Pentauchos (P.29.3–4) who asked him particularly to prepare for war by sea, since the Romans were entirely unprepared in this sphere in the regions of Epeiros and Illyria and he would be able to carry through easily every scheme he proposed. With Genthios he then approached Rhodes ‘with whom alone at that time resided rei navalis gloria, the prestige of seapower’. He sent letters also to Eumenes and Antiochos.

Perseus also sent his fleet commanders Antenor and Kallippos with 40 , to which were added 5  ( with rams) to protect from Tenedos the ships scattered throughout the Kyklades on their way (from the Black Sea) to Macedon with grain. These ships, launched at Kassandreia, went by way of the harbour under Mt Athos on a calm sea to Tenedos. There they came upon some aphract Rhodian ships under Eudamos which they sent away unharmed. On the other side of the island there were 50 Macedonian grain ships blockaded in a harbour by warships with rams (rostratae) belonging to Eumenes. Antenor promptly moved round and with threats removed the enemy ships. Ten  then convoyed the grain ships to Macedon with instructions to return to Tenedos when they had arrived safely. On the ninth day they rejoined the fleet which was now at Sigeion (at the entrance to the Hellespont).

From Sigeion they made a passage to Sybota, an island lying between Elaia and Chios. Next day they intercepted ‘between the cape of Erythrai and Chios where the strait is narrowest’ 35 horse transports taking Galatian horses and cavalrymen which were being sent by Eumenes from Elaia to Attalos with the Roman army in Macedonia. Eumenes’s commanders had no idea that there was a Macedonian fleet in those waters. ‘But when the lines of the approaching  were clearly visible and the acceleration of the oars and the prows pointing at them showed that enemy ships were approaching, then panic hit them’.

Resistance with ships of that nature was impossible; some who were nearer the mainland swam ashore on Erythraean territory, others raised sail for Chios and ran their ships aground. Abandoning the horses (which it would have taken too long to disembark) they fled in disorder to the city. But since they had disembarked their armed men nearer the city and at a more convenient landing place (commodiore accessu) the Macedonians caught the Galatians and cut them down, some on the road as they fled and others, shut out, in front of the gate. For the Chians, not knowing who were fleeing or who pursuing, had shut their gates. ‘Antenor ordered 20 especially fine horses and the 200 prisoners taken to be conveyed to Thessalonike by the same ten  that had been sent back before’. If the horses were taken on two of the , the remaining eight  would have taken 25 prisoners each. They must have been substantial light craft. He said he would wait for them at Phanai. The fleet moored for nearly three days before the city of Chios and then moved on to Phanai. When the ten  arrived back sooner than they had expected they put out and crossed the Aegean to Delos.

(L.44.29.1) Three Roman envoys who had been sent by the Senate to Alexandria apprehensive of an invasion of Egypt by Antiochos (p. 109) set out from Chalkis in three fives and, arriving at Delos, found there Antenor’s 40  and five fives of Eumenes. ‘The Roman, Macedonian and Pergamene seamen mixed freely under the truce afforded by the sanctity of the place’. Nevertheless Antenor sent his ships out commerce raiding ‘at night mostly in detachments of two or three ships’. His operations had their effect at Rhodes.

At this time (P.29.11 cf. L.44.29.6) envoys from Perseus and Genthios came to Rhodes. The pro-Roman party were ‘dismayed at what was happening. The presence of the  (of Antenor), the size of the (Roman) losses of cavalry (in the previous year) and Genthios’s change of allegiance, were wearing them down’. The Rhodian answer was that they were determined to bring about peace.

In the spring of 168 (L.44.30.1) Aemilius was in Macedon facing Perseus, the praetor Gnaeus Octavius at Oreos with some of the fleet and the rest at Skiathos, and Anicius with Appius Claudius at Apollonia to deal with Genthios. The latter (L.44.30.13–14) had 80  plundering the coast of Epeiros. At 44.30.15 Livy’s text is faulty, but supplemented by Appian (Illyr.9) it appears to indicate that Anicius captured some of Genthios’s ships, defeated him on land and shut him up in a fortress in which he captured him and all his family, thus ending the war on that front (L.45.43.4) ‘in a few days’.

In the meantime (L.44.32.5) Perseus was in great fear not only of the new consul on land but also of the new praetor at sea. ‘He had no less fear of the Roman fleet and the dangerous situation of the sea coast’ as a result of the admittedly often unsuccessful raids in the previous two years. He accordingly diverted forces to strengthen the garrisons of Thessalonike and other cities of the area. (L.44.35.1) When Aemilius was ready to move he planned a feint towards Thessalonike employing the fleet, when his attack was inland. It culminated in the battle of Pydna in which Perseus was heavily defeated and the war brought to an end. (L.44.44.3) Perseus fled to Samothraké from where Octavius brought him to Aemilius at Amphipolis. By this time the end of the campaigning season was reached and the army and fleet went into winter quarters.

As a postscript to the naval war it may be noted (L.45.35.3) that in the following year when Aemilius Paulus returned in triumph to Rome it was on board ‘a royal ship of huge size, which was rowed by sixteen oar-files (versus remorum), up the Tiber to the city’. This was (L.33.30.5) the ‘ship of almost unmanageable size with sixteen oar-files’ which Philip V was allowed to keep after his defeat nearly thirty years before (cf. Plutarch Aemilius Paulus 30.2–3).

(L.45.42.12) Also a number of royal ships seized from the Macedonians ‘of a size not previously seen’ were hauled up on to the Campus Martius. (L.45.43.10) 220  formed part of the booty from Illyria. Genthios seems to have taken seriously Perseus’s advice to concentrate on sea power.