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 '15 at 22:09

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 '11 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 '11 at 6:11

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.

  • 1
    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 '15 at 22:14

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