Contemporary British maritime doctrine defines naval diplomacy as ‘The use of naval force in support of diplomacy to support, persuade, deter or compel’. It involves action designed to ‘influence the will and decision-making apparatus of a state or group of states in peacetime and all sitations short of full hostilities’.1 In essence, naval diplomacy is about the use of naval forces to provide power and influence in situations short of war. This does not imply an absence of force. The exercise of naval diplomacy may require navies to undertake active military operations. However, in such circumstances the use of force is deliberately restricted to the achievement of specific, limited objectives and has symbolic as much as physical effect. As with all forms of coercion, perception is critical and the key target is the opponent’s mindset rather than their armed forces. The use of the term ‘naval diplomacy’ may be misleading. In reality, in many circumstances navies will be only one element in a much wider diplomatic effort. Even when navies play the lead role in an operation the force employed is liable to be maritime in nature rather than strictly naval.2 In an influential study of such activity James Cable used the traditional phrase of ‘gunboat diplomacy’ as shorthand for the use of limited naval force in order to secure advantage or avert loss in the furtherance of an international dispute in situations short of war.3 Those responsible for writing contemporary doctrine have avoided this rather provocative term. Nevertheless, in essence they are writing about the same thing.