Life on board: the Americans and the Ottoman Navy in the Levant during the first half of the XIX century
Between the Congress of Vienna and the Crimean War the Levantine Mediterranean was the theatre of several European countries’ Navies, interested not only in trading with the Porte, but also in the political changes happening in that area. A new and relevant object was represented by the presence of the U.S. war frigates that watched the evolution of the events, in a period when the Ottoman Empire, mostly after the defeat at Navarino, became more and more conscious of the need of renewing the fleet. Through the military and civil U.S. surveys written on board of those war frigates, this study aims at build a new image of the Ottoman Navy, not as much considered as those of other countries even before the Sinope disaster, when it was destroyed by the Russian squadron. The U.S. sources, with the description of moves, ships, mariners and uses, help us better understand the reasons why the Ottomans, so feared ashore, «at sea, they are a mere name: their admirals know nothing of maneuvering, or, indie, even of sailing ships; and the mismanagement and disorder that would prevail, would lay them open an easy prey to the ships of any other nation» (Jones, 1829, II).