Dardanelles Operation

The Dardanelles Operation was the Royal Navy's unsuccessful attempt to impose British demands on the Ottoman Empire as part of the Anglo-Turkish War (1807-1809).

In 1806, the French envoy Sebastiani had been dispatched to Constantinople with orders to bring about Turkey's re-entry into the war. Sultan Selim III set about preparations for war with Russia after positively receiving Sebastiani. The Russian emperor, Alexander I, was alarmed by these developments as he had already deployed a significant force to Poland and East Prussia to fight the advancing French forces under Emperor Napoleon I. Alexander requested British assistance in keeping Turkey out of the war.

The British army was far too small and inadequate to impose the will of the Coalition on the Ottomans, so it naturally fell to the powerful Royal Navy to meet Russia's requests. The ships immediately available for the task were HMS Canopus, HMS Standard, HMS Thunderer, HMS Glatton, and the two bomb ships HMS Lucifer, HMS Meteor, under the command of Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, commander-in-chief of the British Mediterranean Fleet, sailed for the Dardanelles and made preparations for the upcoming assault.

In the meantime, the British ambassador to Constantinople, Arbuthnot, demanded that the Ottoman government evict Sebastiani, and added that should the Ottomans resist the ultimatum, the Mediterranean fleet would attack.

The actual force that had been chosen by Collingwood to carry out the operation was small—only eight ships-of-the-line and four frigates. In addition, four Russian ships-of-the-line under Admiral Dmitry Senyavin were sent to support the British, but did not join Duckworth until after the exit from Dardanelles was made. Admiral Duckworth, who commanded the British, was under orders to bombard Constantinople and seize the Turkish battle fleet.

Read more about Dardanelles OperationBackground, The Battle, Aftermath, Fleet

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