The Battle of the Otranto Straits

The Battle of the Otranto Straits

Controlling the Gateway to the Adriatic in World War I
Paul G. Halpern
Distribution: World
Publication date: 5/24/2004
ISBN: 978-0-253-11019-0
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Called by some a “Mediterranean Jutland,” the Battle of the Otranto Straits involved warships from Austria, Germany, Italy, Britain, and France. Although fought by light units with no dreadnoughts involved, Otranto was a battle in three dimensions—engaging surface vessels, aircraft, and subsurface weapons (both submarines and mines). An attempt to halt the movement of submarines into the Adriatic using British drifters armed with nets and mines led to a raid by Austrian light cruisers. The Austrians inflicted heavy damage on the drifters, but Allied naval forces based at Brindisi cut off their withdrawal. The daylight hours saw a running battle, with the Austrians at considerable risk. Heavier Austrian units put out from Cattaro in support, and at the climactic moment the Allied light forces had to turn away, permitting the Austrians to escape. In the end, the Austrians had inflicted more damage than they suffered themselves. The Otranto action shows the difficulties of waging coalition warfare in which diplomatic and national jealousies override military efficiency.

Author Bio

Paul G. Halpern, Professor of History at Florida State University, is author of A Naval History of World War I; The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1914–1918; The Mediterranean Naval Situation, 1908–1914; and Anton Haus: Österreich-Ungarns Großadmiral. He has served on the Council of the Navy Records Society (Great Britain) and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society


"Prof. Halpern, one of the premier students of World War I at sea, not only gives the reader a rattling good account of the actual battle, but fits it firmly into the overall framework of the Great War. . ." —NYMAS Review , Fall-Winter 2009

"In this work, Prof. Halpern, long a thoughtful specialist in World War I in the Mediterranean, not only gives the reader a rattling good account of the actual battle, but fits it firmly within the overall framework of the Great War, takes a look at the opposing navies, and provides useful profiles of the respective commanders . . . and much more." — , February 2010

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. The Naval War in the Adriatic
2. The Allies in the Southern Adriatic
3. The Austrians Prepare an Attack
4. The Attack of the Drifters
5. The Pursuit
6. The Forces Return
7. The Results of the Battle
Appendix A: Glossary of Geographic Names
Appendix B: Equivalent Ranks
Select Bibliography