The naval and the beginning of the Nuclear Age Since the 1950s
The years between 1906 and 1935 were marked by undreamed of technological innovation. Destroyers, once little more than coastal craft, were turned into hardy, seawortilY vessels with a role to play on the world's oceans, and World War I proved the destructive capability of the submarine beyond all doubt. During that war,
took the first tentative steps in the development of the aircraft carrier, the vessel that was to become the capital ship of the future. Britain
The carrier, perhaps, was the most significant naval design to emerge from the period; not only did it enable fleets to engage one another at distances far beyond visual range but it also became a primary tool in hunting down the two greatest naval threats of World War II, the commerce raider and the submarine. The six years of World War II put an end to centuries of conventional thinking on naval forces. The gun armed capital ship was no longer the master of war at sea.
North Atlantic and in the Pacific, the supremacy of the battleship ended when air power defeated sea power. The aircraft carrier brought a whole new dimensIOn to naval warfare and it has been the dominant element of every major application of sea power since 1945.
Since the 1950s, the advent of nuclear power has revolutionized underwater warfare, enabling submarines to remain submerged for many months at a time. In the shape of the ballistic missile submarine, it has made possible the ultimate in weapons.
Progress in merchant shipping since 1900 has also been tremendous. Steam propulsion gave way to the more efficient diesel, and the resultant decline in the number of seafarers was multiplied by the development of automated ship handling systems, while the introduction of containerization and the streamlining of bulk cargo handling changed the nature of port operation beyond recognition. Such changes were vital to accommodate the increase in worldwide trade, of which 90 percent still moves by sea, and the world's mercantile fleet grew to keep pace with the demand, going from 130m tons in 1960 to over 500rn tons in 2000 .. a twenty-fold increase since 1900.
Older styles of cargo boats have almost disappeared with bulk cargo carriers and container ships taking their place.
Ocean liners disappeared in the 1950s and 1960s as a result of expanding air travel but now their successors are cruise ships whose passengers are sailing the oceans for pleasure; these huge floating hotels include in their number some of the largest vessels in the world today.