As technology grew, national armies began to expand to the high seas, establishing their dominance and extending their reach across the globe. Some of the biggest powers to take advantage of this were the Spanish, British and French, who were often locked in a constant arms race to perfect their naval forces and sink their foes.
Suddenly, the world's superpowers were forced to adapt to a new theater of war with very different tactics to conventional land battles. Some two or three centuries later, these exploits have played host to a wide range of film productions - titles that adapt age old conflicts and create exhilarating rides for modern audiences.
For this list, it's time to look at films that dedicate their stories to combat and other escapades at sea, so that means bigger franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean are out. But full on naval warfare is definitely in - whether it's galleons clashing in the Napoleonic Wars, desperate survival at sea or the more modern innovation of submarine warfare.
Here are ten of the best naval war films you can find from past and present.
10. Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World
To start off the list, we have Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, a truly excellent effort from Peter Weir that offers an unparalleled glimpse into the Napoleonic Wars.
We follow British Captain Jack Aubrey (played by Russel Crowe) and the crew of the HMS Surprise as they're ordered to track down and eliminate the French privateer Archeron off the coasts of South America. While the central protagonist may be fictional, the action that unfolds comes closer to the real thing than any other film in its sub-genre.
Through of series of unconventional tactics and clever thinking, Aubrey and his men are able to outwit and defeat their French opponents time and time again. That's the film's greatest strength; not only are the battle scenes a thrill to watch, but the lives of the sailors at sea brilliantly conveyed through a collection of great performances and standout production design.
Of all the movies to depict naval warfare, Master and Commander could be considered the best. It's absolutely relentless in its commitment to authenticity and the crew of sailors we follow boasts great camaraderie and likeability. Aside from the more recent "In the Heart of the Sea", we haven't seen many films about classical naval warfare today.