Saturday, March 06, 2021

Can a Civilian Fleet Be Used for Military Purposes?

When it comes to ships, civilian ships are considered separate from a country’s naval power, as these are not used for military purposes for evident reasons. However, sometimes when a country finds itself in a dire situation, this is the last resort that not many think of. It is evident that civilian boats can virtually only carry out transportation duties, but it can mean a Hail Mary for a military that finds itself out of options. This was the case in 1940 when the Axis powers had cornered the Allied powers at Dunkirk. Hundreds of thousands of troops had nowhere to go and were waiting just to be annihilated or captured by the Axis powers, as transportation from the French territory to the British Isles was limited to nonexistent.

These conditions were less than ideal for the Allies and losing the troops that were stuck in Northern France would mean loss of human capital that could not be afforded. This is when Operation Dynamo comes to play. In an act of desperation and audacity, the Allied powers went for a Hail Mary in which a fleet of hundreds of civilian boats sailed across the English Strait to save the stranded troops little by little. After days of constant sailing from England to France, these civilian boats managed to save 198,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian troops, totaling 338,000 troops (“Dunkirk”).

As reckless, desperate, or precipitated Operation Dynamo might have been, the Hail Mary the Allied powers managed to execute was extremely significant in terms of human capital, and a great morale boost even though they had just been expelled from the European mainland. 

Overall, as distinct the division between military naval power and the civilian fleet of a country, the Battle of Dunkirk demonstrated how pertinent creativity might blur or erase this division for the best on the battlefield.

Works Cited:

“Dunkirk Evacuation.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 

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