The British Mediterranean Squadron during the Great Eastern Crisis of 1876-9
During the latter half of the 19th century the world’s navies were in the midst of profound change, not only in ships’ design, construction, propulsion, and tactics, but also in the strategic purposes to which these ships and fleets would – or could – be applied. This article examines the question of strategic usefulness by a detailed study of the use of the British Mediterranean Squadron during the Great Eastern Crisis of 1876-9. Using extensive primary and secondary sources, the author traces political decisions, Admiralty responses, Squadron movements, and concomitant enemy reactions chronologically through the entire crisis. He concludes that although the squadron’s actual usefulness in battle (it was never needed) was unclear given the circumstances, its presence and readiness, for over two years, provided significant support to British diplomatic efforts that were ultimately instrumental in resolving the conflict.