Naval War College Review


J. L. Shuford


The King's orders to Nelson underscore the remarkable degree of independence and latitude historically exercised by a captain at sea. By tradition, ships have roamed freely on the high seas and responded as events dictated without further guidance. As a matter of practice driven by limits of communications at sea, mariners of previous generations seldom relied upon consultation, cooperation, or collaboration. Indeed, the U.S. Navy successfully organized itself and operated this way for most of its history.