Sep 23

“They Considered Our Squadrons as One.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010 12:01 AM


Cooperation with coalition partners in the protection of the sea lanes is nothing new to the Navy. We were practicing such cooperation from the early days of our history.

During 1823, for example, the United States Navy’s West Indies Squadron, under command of Commodore David Porter, and the Royal Navy squadron, under command of Sir Edward W. C. R. Owen, worked harmoniously together to put down piracies along the coast of the island of Cuba. The two squadrons exchanged recognition signals to prevent misidentifications and avoid unnecessary sea chases. They gave each other intelligence about pirate activity. They loaned each other medical supplies. During one particular antipiracy operation, the British commander politely declined the offer of a small U.S. detachment to place itself under his orders.

When sailors of the two nations cooperated in the salvaging of a pair of American merchantmen that had run aground, Sir Edward Owen reported, “the officers observed each others’ orders according to rank, and our respective crews went to the senior officer for orders and to make their reports while employed personally on board the wrecks or on shore.

The American commander invariably came to me before commencing any new service, for my sanction. They got their vessels under weigh to pick our boats up, let us make use of their pilots, and considered our squadrons as one.”