Monday, April 20, 2009

Alter-Nations - Kingdom of Hawaii Part 4

When designing an independent island nation the navy of that nation has to be a central consideration to the project. Without a strong navy the independence of a nation, especially one that is completely accessible by water, is tenuous at best in the face of naval juggernauts both fictional and historical. My fictional Kingdom of Hawaii will have to be able to hold its own on the waves.

We know, from history, that Hawaii had amassed a sizable fleet of ships under Kamehameha I. Details on this fleet have been scarce and difficult to find, especially considering the fact that I have not gone out of my way to secure dedicated resources for this project (I'm not willing to throw that much into this gaming lark). What I have found indicates that their navy was a combination of advanced war canoes and on up through the naval spectrum. The Hawaiian navy included European style war ships in history and we can assume that my fictional Hawaii might do the same, especially if it was able to maintain its military base following the death of Kamehameha I.

I do not think that they would have ever gone so far as to build full-on battleships but smaller warships from cruiser size and down would be reasonable with most of the fleet being fast-moving lighter vessels that would allow them to patrol the open waters and maneuver through and around the islands that made up their home. There would, of course, be transports and other commercial vessels, no doubt built on the same scale as other nations, but my Hawaii's military vessels would be focused on protecting sovereignty and maintaining commerce.

Gunboats, torpedo boats, and floating batteries would be used close to the shore and in the harbors with frigates and corvettes sailing along with their commerce vessels. At home, you might even see the continuation of the armed war canoe, especially with provincial and home defense units. This latter design would allow ill-trained islanders with a part-time military service to use their civilian sea-fairing skills in the service of defending their home.

This of course is all a quick overview and as I am not a naval wargamer there are bound to be things that I have overlooked. I will say that the naval considerations have little bearing on most of the gaming I will be doing but they do add to the background of this version of a Hawaii that might have been.

As usual, I am open to comments and welcome suggestions and ideas.

Thanks again,


[Image Note: The image with this text depicts the private yacht of King Kamehameha II c. 1821. This was a real vessel and shows that the historical Hawaiians did have modern sailing vessels. ]


  1. What about monitors? You can have coastal monitors (like the Monitor itself) and larger "ocean going" monitors like the Amphitrite and Arkansas-class ships. Relatively cheap and can be useful in a lot of situations.

    Just an idea...

  2. An excellent idea. And certainly something that I could see.

  3. As for defense, coastal batteries were common everywhere and used until after WWII.


  4. Oh yes,

    I had planned for the harbors to be protected by costal forts, especially Pearl which would end up with a nice network of forts facing into the harbor itelf.


  5. Coastal batteries are nice, because you can mount very heavy guns and protect them with thick walls, but monitors and other coastal vessels have the advantage of mobility.

    They also tended towards heavy armor, as they were not intended to get far from shore and would stay in harbor if the seas got ugly. (That's how Monitor was lost, you know...)

  6. Coastal forts would be ideal for Hawaii too, considering it is all coast. You could have the islands ringed with outposts and lookouts.

    Also, monitors are less expensive if I recall and can be converted from surplused and out of date vessels.



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