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Roman Navy

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.


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