How Much do You Know About Famous American Naval Battles?



By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki commons

About This Quiz

Since World War II, America has had the world's most powerful navy. This branch of the military has had major roles in the country's armed conflicts -- can you name them?

Which naval battle dragged the United States into World War II?

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor it the hopes of permanently disabling the American fleet. But several major American ships were absent, a turn of fate that preserved U.S. naval firepower as it dived into World War II.


Operation Neptune was a large amphibious landing that happened during which war?

On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched Operation Neptune, the attempted invasion of Normandy. Had this enormous amphibious assault failed, WWII may have ended much differently.


What was the largest naval battle not just in American history, but in all of naval history?

In October of 1944, the Japanese were refusing to surrender, and they sent many of their remaining warships to fight America at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. By some estimates, it was the biggest naval battle in history, and the U.S. handed the Japanese another resounding defeat.


Which long battle pitted German U-boats against pretty much everyone else?

During WWII, German U-boats blasted merchant and military ships by the hundreds, decimating the Allies' ability to supply troops in Europe. It took years for the Allies to tweak their approach to stamp out the Nazi sea threat.


What was the first battle in history to feature ironclad ships?

In 1862, at the Battle of Hampton Roads, the Union and Confederacy faced off in an ususual situation -- they both had a single ironclad ship, the first in history. The battle was indecisive but it immediately changed warship building practices around the world.


The Guadalcanal Campaign was a long battle that leveraged the American Navy during which war?

Starting in late 1942, American forces -- relying heavily on the Navy -- began the Guadalcanal Campaign in an effort to roll back Japan's imperialistic gains. The battle raged until February 1943, costing tens of thousands of lives.


The Siege of Veracruz was a major fight during which war?

In 1847, American naval forces started a siege against Veracruz. After 20 days, the first-ever American amphibious attack stormed ashore and captured the Mexican city.


Which great naval battle turned the tide in favor of the Americans in World War II?

At a tiny atoll in the Pacific, the Americans lured the Japanese fleet into a trap and pounced. By the time the fight ended, the Japanese were recoiling in defeat and the Americans seized the momentum in the Pacific theater.


The Battle of Inchon featured large naval forces during which war?

In 1950, United Nations forces including American ships landed a major amphibious assault at Inchon during the Korean War. It was a critical victory for the U.N.


Which major naval battle came six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor?

Just six months after the Japanese horrified America at Pearl Harbor, the United States gathered its ships for a sneak attack of its own. At the Battle of Midway, the Americans fought an overconfident foe and sent some of her most important ships to the bottom of the sea.


Which WWII battle started with the biggest amphibious landing of the entire Pacific War?

In 1945, America was resigned to its task of extricating fanatical Japanese forces on Okinawa. After a naval bombardment, they sent an enormous amphibious landing ashore. The landing was successful, but the land battle turned into one of the bloodiest and most savage fights of the entire war.


The Battle of the Coral Sea was a pivotal clash during which war?

In 1942, Japan and America clashed at the Battle of the Coral Sea, which featured the first carrier-on-carrier combat. Japan won a tactical victory at the battle, but the Americans scored bigger long-term successes.


D-Day started with a major naval attack near which country?

In 1944, the Allies began pounding German forces dug into the beaches of western France. The naval bombardment softened the way for ground troops that made heroic amphibious landings.


The Battle of Leyte Gulf was one of the biggest naval clashes in history. Why is it not as famous as Pearl Harbor?

The Battle of Leyte Gulf came at the end of 1944, as an American victory over Japan seemed imminent. Also, by the time this gargantuan clash happened, America was numbed by years of gigantic battles.


The Battle of Mobile Bay was a battle that happened during which war?

In August 1854, Union forces attacked a Confederate stronghold near Mobile Bay. The decisive Union win gave the North control of the Gulf of Mexico.


The U.S. win at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher was a crushing blow for the enemy during which war?

In early 1865, the Union was on a roll. At the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, the Union captured the last seaport controlled by the Confederates. For Southern rebels, the end was near.


What was special about the Union Navy in 1865?

In 1865, after years of the Civil War, the Union Navy had more than 600 ships. It was the largest navy in the entire world, created largely to crush the Confederacy.


At which important WWII naval battle did America stop a major Japanese incursion for the first time?

In 1942, the Americans finally stopped the Japanese navy in its tracks at the Battle of the Coral Sea. The results here later had a profound effect on the Battle of Midway, which proved to be a critical juncture of the war.


The Battle of Valcour Island was important during which war?

In 1776, a small fleet of rebel boats fought with the British Navy by Valcour Island, near New York. The Americans lost, but effectively delayed the British advance ... buying the colonists months of time to prepare for more assaults.


During which WWII fight did the Japanese lose their remaining ability to launch carrier attacks, thus crippling their ability to attack American forces?

In mid-1944, at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, American ships sank three Japanese carriers and killed thousands of enemy sailors. The rousing victory made it impossible for Japan to launch more major naval attacks in the Pacific.


Which enemy did America face in the Battle of Flamborough Head?

In 1779, a famous American named John Paul Jones took a fleet of American ships all the way to Britain to attack a British fleet. Although it was a small battle, the audacity of attacking the world's most powerful navy became a symbolic act that has echoed for hundreds of years.


Operation Custom Tailor was a major American naval offensive during which war?

During the Vietnam War, the Americans launched a massive naval strike on North Vietnam. The strike happened in 1972, just as America was giving up on the war.


During which battle did the Japanese initiate nearly 2,000 suicide plane attacks on American ships?

In 1945, American forces invaded Okinawa, but the Japanese didn't go meekly. They hurled nearly 2,000 kamikaze plane attacks on American forces, sinking more than two dozen ships.


The Battle of Lake Erie was a major turning point during which war?

In 1813, American ships confronted the British Navy on Lake Erie. The tremendous victory helped America take control of the lake and vital surrounding areas later in the war.


Why didn't American naval forces engage in any major battles during World War I?

America didn't jump into WWI until the naval operations in the Atlantic were winding down. However, U.S. ground troops got their fill of European combat.


The Gulf of Tonkin Incident sparked greater American military involvement in which war?

In 1964, North Vietnamese ships (reportedly) fired on American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. American officials seized on the event as an excuse to ratchet up American involvement in Vietnam.


Which WWII naval battle effectively ended Japan's chances to win the war?

At the Battle of Leyte Gulf, America scored a lopsided victory that crushed the Japanese navy. America sank dozens of Japanese ships and killed perhaps 13,000 Japanese sailors


During WWII, the Japanese won a tactical victory at the Battle of the Coral Sea. So why did they withdraw their forces?

The Japanese inflicted tremendous suffering on the Americans at the Battle of the Coral Sea. But in the process, they lost too many warplanes, meaning they couldn't cover any sort of advance ... so instead, they withdrew from the area.


Commodore George Dewey played a heroic role in which naval battle?

In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, George Dewey led outnumbered American forces to a slap-down defeat of the Spanish, sinking seven Spanish ships while suffering zero combat casualties. Dewey was given the rank of Admiral of the Navy, the highest possible rank that no one else has ever achieved.


The Japanese loss at the Battle of Leyte Gulf meant that Japan would definitely lose control of which vital area?

After America crushed Japan at Leyte Gulf, there was no longer any doubt that the United States would soon retake the Philippines. The Pacific War was all but over.


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