A naval battle is a battle fought using ships or other waterborne vessels. Most naval battles have occurred at sea, but a few have taken place on lakes or rivers. The earliest recorded naval battle took place in 1210 BC near Cyprus. Most naval battles are undertaken in indirect support of land operations - either to obtain local command of the area so that a seaborne invasion or bombardment can take place, or to destroy or damage an enemy fleet so that he cannot do these things at some time in the future. Numbers of vessels involved range from 1 on each side to many hundreds; modern naval battles usually involve fewer, more powerful ships. There have been few large naval battles since World War II for several reasons. Few nations can afford large fleets or afford to risk their ships; most wars have not involved great powers fighting against each other; and aircraft operating from shore can destroy ships without the need for one's own.

Although the nature of the ships involved in battles has changed drastically, from triremes to sailing ships to battleships, submarines and aircraft carriers, many of the tactical principles remain the same, such as the importance of manoeuvre before the engagement proper, and the desirability of breaking off combat rather than risking the complete loss of a fleet.

There are several contenders for the largest naval battle of all time.

Battles during WW1

Battle of Heligoland Bight

Battle of Coronel

Battle of the Falkland Islands

Raid on Scarborough and Hartlepool

Battle of Dogger Bank

Battle of Jutland

Battle of Otranto Straits

Raid on Zeebrugge

Battles during WW2

Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

Sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse, December 10, 1941

Raids into the Indian Ocean, March 31 - April 9, 1942

Battle of the Coral Sea, May 7-8, 1942

Battle of Midway, June 4, 1942

Battle of the Komandorski Islands, March 26, 1943

Destruction of Truk, February 17-18, 1944

Battle of the Phillipine Sea, June 19-20, 1944

Sinking of Yamato, April 7, 1945

Final Destruction, July 24 & 28, 1945

Aftermath of the Pacific War

Battle of Eastern Solomons, August 23-25, 1942

Battle of Santa Cruz, October 25-27, 1942

Battle of the Bismarck Sea, March 3-4, 1943

Battle of Kula Gulf, July 6, 1943

Battle of Vella Gulf, August 6-7, 1943

Battle off Horaniu, August 18, 1943

Battle of Vella Lavella, October 6, 1943

Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, November 2, 1943

Carrier Raid on Rabaul, November 5, 1943

Battle of Cape St. George, November 26, 1943

Guadalcanal Naval Battles

Aftermath of Solomons Campaign

Battle of Makassar Strait, February 4, 1942

Battle of Badung Strait, February 19-20, 1942

Battle of the Java Sea, February 27 - March 1, 1942

Battle of Sunda Strait, March 1, 1942

Aftermath of Java Campaign

Battle of Savo Island, August 9, 1942

Battle of Cape Esperance, October 11, 1942

First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13, 1942

Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 14, 1942

Battle of Tassafaronga, November 30, 1942

Aftermath of Guadalcanal Campaign

Ambush in the Palawan Passage, October 23, 1944

Battle of Sibuyan Sea, October 24, 1944

Battle of Surigao Strait, October 24-25, 1944

Battle off Samar, October 25, 1944

Battle of Cape Engano, October 25, 1944

Battle of Ormoc Bay, November 11, 1944