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The Roman Navy or, more accurately, the naval forces of the Roman state, is more often than not consigned to little more than a couple of paragraphs in many accounts of Roman military endeavour. In fact, it was for over 800 years an integral part of the armed forces of that Roman state and became the world's first ;super-power: navy. It was the instrument by which Rome achieved domination of the western Mediterranean, which enabled her expansion into the lands surrounding it and the foundation of her empire; it was naval forces that enabled the Romans to intervene and eventually to dominate the Eastern Mediterranean and the lands of the near east. It was a naval campaign and a sea battle that established and secured power for the first of the emperors of Rome; it was the navy's domination that enabled trade and the economy of the empire to grow and to flourish, free from the scourge of piracy and to an extent not equalled until the twentieth century. Finally, it was the loss of that domination that was a vital factor in the disintegration and ending of the Western Roman Empire. Cicero's dictum that 'The master of the sea must inevitably be master of the empire' has proved to be true in every Europe-wide war since. At its height, during the Punic Wars, the navy accounted for fully a third of the total Roman military effort and during imperial times it averaged rather more than a tenth of it...