Greatest Admirals in History

The Top Ten
1 Yi Sun-sin

In the face of an overwhelming adversary and corrupt allies, he still managed to win just about every battle he fought and near single-handedly stopped the Japanese invasion. Not only was he a brilliant tactician, but he was also an excellent strategist, setting up his own factory for producing war equipment on an island so it was safe from Japanese attack.

It was the incredibly personal hardship he endured that made his military achievements that much more unbelievable. He endured imprisonment, torture, and being stripped of his rank to a mere sailor. It was his replacement's death and the destruction of the vast majority of Joseon's fleet that allowed Yi to return to his original position as Admiral.

Miraculous victory of 23 times with no defeat. Faced strong checks from the king and high officials.

Had to master not only tactics but also strategy and logistics. Devised the most advanced forms of formations and maritime communications.

The world has never seen such difficulties that Admiral Yi faced during his seven years of war.

2 Karl Dönitz

The greatest naval admiral of all time must be on no one's list. First, make wolf pack tactics like him and then compare this legend with other novices.

Karl Dönitz was a German admiral who played a major role in the naval history of World War II. Dönitz briefly succeeded Adolf Hitler as the head of state of Germany. He began his career in the Imperial German Navy before World War I.

3 Isoroku Yamamoto

Isoroku Yamamoto was a Japanese Marshal Admiral of the Navy and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II until his death.

The best admiral, he already predicted that Japan couldn't fight for more than 7 months, although that is still controversial.

Brilliant tactician, unfairly blamed for the demise of the Japanese navy.

4 Hayreddin Barbarossa

The greatest tactician and admiral of all times. He defeated much larger fleets composed of the Holy Alliance of Europe with his comparably smaller (one fifth in numbers) fleet. He was not only a great soldier but a very admirable human being who ruled some of the most difficult tribes in Algeria and Tunisia.

He was the most successful pirate and later admiral in the Ottoman Navy. He ruled his own country, which is now called Algeria. His success against the Venice navy with a small fleet made the Mediterranean Sea a Turkish lake in history.

Brilliant tactician, fearless commander. His success at the Battle of Preveza is the high point in his Ottoman career.

5 Horatio Nelson Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté KB was a British flag officer in the Royal Navy.

The first naval commander in history to fully train his subordinate officers and then trust them to make the right decisions in the height of battle. Nelson invented the 20th century Western model of victory.

Not only an outstanding tactician, but a leader who could inspire his people to rise to great heights. His personal courage inspired his entire generation. He put his life on the line for his country, died doing it, and made his last words an inspiration to others.

One arm, one eye, a tendency to be seasick, and a sense of duty strong enough to corral an elephant. Nelson served his country successfully right until the end.

6 Heihachiro

The perfect model for a 29th-century admiral. His detailed reports covering his observations of other navies show high intelligence and attention to all aspects of his potential opponents. Starting as a samurai with a sword in his hand, he rose to be a modern commander who was the first to use radio telegraph communications to successfully position his fleet at Tsushima. If Beatty had applied the same lesson at Jutland, he may not have lost contact with his fast battleships. A master of his craft, he proved to be better than his Royal Navy teachers.

He started his seagoing combat career under the command of the great Tsuboi Kozo as a ruthless but decisive cruiser captain, fighting at the great Battle of the Yalu in 1894. Admiral Togo later applied the lessons of his first war and showed a great willingness to take his battlefleet to sea, actively seeking out the enemy and displaying an ability to fight under the most advantageous conditions possible. He understood the importance of asymmetric warfare in the form of torpedoes. His perfectly-realized ambush and destruction of the Russians at Tsushima in 1905 is one of the most decisive naval battles of all time and marks Togo out as one of the all-time greats.

7 Andrea Doria
8 Francis Drake
9 Louis-René Levassor de Latouche Tréville

Louis-René Madelaine Le Vassor, Comte de La Touche-Tréville, was a French Vice-admiral. He fought in the American War of Independence and became a prominent figure of the French Revolutionary Wars and of the Napoleonic Wars.

10 John Paul Jones

I think of John Paul Jones as a real hero to the American colonies. He proved himself as the bravest man when his ship was in danger. Despite the danger, he won the battle and showed he doesn't give up as soon as he won the battle.

Not only was he the most formidable Brit in history, John Paul Jones was also very skilled and, to be honest, handsome.

John Paul Jones was the United States' first well-known naval commander in the American Revolutionary War.

The Contenders
11 Michiel de Ruyter

This is by far an admiral to land in the top 5 of the greatest admirals in history. He did not pick a side between the unstable leadership in the Netherlands back in the years but chose to protect the people. He literally won the most important naval battles for the Netherlands and probably the most important naval battles on the whole continent of Europe. Give this admiral at least the fifth spot.

Without him, the Netherlands would probably belong to the French or the British now. With a smaller number of ships, he was able to beat many hostile fleets multiple times. Even though he was born as a normal citizen, he worked his way up through the ranks and obtained the highest position in the Dutch marine. In the third Dutch-Anglo war, he defended the Dutch from a French-English fleet four times, even though he had a smaller amount of ships. De Ruyter used tactics that, for example, Nelson later reinvented (on his own, of course, but still).

12 Peter Tordenskjold
13 Zheng He
14 Chester W. Nimitz

Chester William Nimitz, Sr., was a Fleet Admiral of the United States Navy. He played a major role in the naval history of World War II as Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, and Commander...

Should be ranked way higher. This man was a legend in maneuver and rightfully defeated the Japanese Navy. Losers should not rank so high.

The opinions here are horrible. Chester Nimitz, however, is pure.

15 Anne Hilarion de Costentin, Comte de Tourville

Versatile, courageous, and cunning, Tourville was one of the few French admirals who could get the best of the Royal Navy time and again. He made the 'English' Channel into the French Channel after the Battle of Beachy Head. He fought a numerically superior allied fleet almost to a standstill at Barfleur and, though subsequently defeated, was able to change his strategy afterwards. The very next year, he outsmarted the British to fall upon the Smyrna Convoy and took a hundred enemy ships with ease.

16 Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov

The most renowned and revered Russian admiral in the 18th century and one of the most competent officers in the Napoleonic Wars, his talent was often overlooked by the internet community. He had scored multiple victories against the Ottoman Empire in the face of larger opponent fleets, many of them with an unbelievable loss exchange ratio, the likes that can be matched by Yi Sun-Sin at times. He devised maneuver tactics that Horatio Nelson would later use in Trafalgar, the most famous victory of the legendary British admiral. While putting him in the first spot might bring about great debate, Ushakov definitely deserved a Top 3 or Top 5 on this list.

He never lost a ship nor a naval battle. He fought enemies that greatly outnumbered him while having equal tech cannons. People like Yi and Nelson had superior guns. Meanwhile, Ushakov would fight with guns of the same level as his enemy. Nelson even used some of Ushakov's tactics later on in his engagements. Ushakov destroyed the bulk of the French Navy too. He should be top 5, if not top 1.

17 Henry Morgan

I mean, he was pretty darn successful... just saying.

18 William Halsey Jr.

Best of the best. His tactics were outstanding. His men loved him and held him in high regard. Also a pilot. Although Spruance got the credit for Midway, a lot of the victory belonged to Halsey even though he was in the hospital.

Bill Halsey was aggressive, unlike many other US Navy admirals during WW2.

19 Raymond A. Spruance

The admiral who led the US forces during the Battle of Midway, the turning point in the war against the Japanese. His thinking and leading skills are amazing, always keeping calm during situations of crisis.

Architect of Midway and his choice of a defensive stance in the Philippine Sea destroyed the rebuilt Japanese air power.

Brains behind the turning point of WW2, the Battle of Midway.

20 Maarten Tromp
21 Piet Hein
22 Afonso de Albuquerque

Beat the Ottoman Empire's navy multiple times in the 15th century. Led the first European expedition into the Persian Sea. Conquered parts of India. Was known to engage larger armies and navies and beat them. Pioneered sea trade with the Ming Dynasty (China), Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Nicknamed "the Great," "the Terrible," "the Caesar of the East," "the Lion of the Seas," and Portuguese Mars.

23 Arthur Phillip

Admiral Arthur Phillip was a Royal Navy officer and the first Governor of New South Wales, who founded the British penal colony that later became the city of Sydney, Australia.

24 Samuel Hood

HMS Hood was named after him, and that ship has an entire cult to it. If not, then Google "the Mighty Hood".

25 Pierre André de Suffren
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