The Romans needed to control the Mediterranean Sea to get their
needed shipments of goods from around the empire, especially from Egypt. "There
were two main fleets for the defense of Italy and other fleets based at key
ports in the Black Sea, the Adriatic, at Alexandria in Egypt, Crete and Britain"
(Williams, 2003) Roman ships were equipped with sails and two to three banks
of oars. The ships also had a metal ram on front and were equipped with catapults
and ballistas to fire on enemy vessels. Hooks were used to pull down sails,
and javelins were thrown at the opposing crews when they were in range. A captain
would attempt to ram an enemy ship and then back away forcing the other ship
to sink. Another tactic was to use a ramp to board a ship for hand-to-hand combat.
Another sea battle tactic used by the Romans was the fire ship. For this method
of battle a ship was loaded with tar and other flammable materials and set on
fire. The ship then was sent into an enemy harbor to cause confusion and to
set the enemies ships on fire.