When and where has the last battle between sail-powered ships been fought? If possible, please include the countries involved as well as the armament and types of ships.

  • I assume you're discounting steam ships which still carried full sail rigging as well as mainly ship-to-shore actions, else the Battle Of Port Royal in 1861 would qualify.
    – Schwern
    Jan 5, 2015 at 22:09
  • As @Schwern said, if you count steam ships with sails, they were also the main force on all battles in the Paraguayan War en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraguayan_War
    – Luiz
    Oct 20, 2021 at 18:31

5 Answers 5


Battle of Sinop between Ottoman and Russian empires during Crimean war seems to be the last major naval battle with sail-powered ships. There were three steamboats in Russian fleet, and one steam boat in Ottoman fleet, but their firepower was negligible compared to sail-powered ships involed in the battle.

It was in 1853, Russian fleet destroyed Ottoman fleet in a bay of Sinop, and it was one of factors that brought England and France into the war with Russia.


http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Синопское_сражение (more detailed description of battle course in Russian)

  • 2
    According to Wikipedia, Russians had three steamers and the Ottoman two. So it was no longer sailing vessels only. Then again, maybe 8 out of 11 still counts as "mainly sail-powered ships". Oct 21, 2011 at 6:02
  • Yeah, I mentioned it in my answer. Note the firepower of these boats. Russian steamers had 12 cannons each (4 according to English wiki), while they had three ships with 120 cannons and three more with 84 cannons. Oct 21, 2011 at 6:11
  • @NikitaBarsukov, gun count isn't everything. The CSS Virginia, a steamer of ten guns, managed to demolish a pair of 50-gun frigates.
    – Mark
    Jan 20, 2023 at 1:31

That would the Battle of Navarino fought during the Greek War for Independence in 1827. It was the last battle feature entirely sail fleets. Navarino is known as Pylos now. Sailing ships have come back into vogue recently so who knows how long they will be around and what was they might be involved in. The last active sailing warship appears to have been the Valmy. Modern Pirates are known to sometimes use sailing vessels.


It wasn't much of a battle, but according to Morison's history of the US Navy in WWII, the last engagement was between a couple of Chinese junks, and was settled by boarding. The bazooka did make it seem less like a 19th Century battle.


I agree that the battle of Sinop was the last significant battle with sailing ships on both sides. However, if we are talking of a military use of sailing ships, the last one was probably the German commerce raider Seeadler. It sank or captured 16 Entente ships in WW I.

See Wikipedia, and references there.

  • 2
    Seeadler is a noteworthy anomaly, but I don't think it really qualifies. While primarily a sailing ship, it had an auxiliary diesel engine which diminishes the problems of being fully reliant on the wind in combat. And they could hardly be called battles, "[her] weapons were rarely fired, and many of the 15 ships encountered by the Seeadler were sunk with only one single accidental casualty on either side during the entire journey."
    – Schwern
    Jan 5, 2015 at 22:14

Yes, Navarino on 20th October 1827 must indeed rank as the last major all-sailing-ship battle, though smaller encounters took place later and also mixed steam and sail clashes, as mentioned by others here. It was the last significant battle fought only between traditional wooden sailing ships.

  • 3
    Welcome to HSE. This looks like a comment, not an answer. Oct 20, 2021 at 16:16

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