Fisher, John Arbuthnot Fisher, 1st Baron

Fisher, John Arbuthnot Fisher, 1st Baron

(ärbŭth`nət), 1841–1920, British admiral. Entering the navy in 1854, he specialized in gunnery and in 1872 was responsible for instituting the developmental work that perfected the torpedo. He was director of ordnance and torpedoes at the admiralty (1886–90), third sea lord and controller of the navy (1892–97), and commander in chief of the Mediterranean fleet (1899–1902). As second sea lord (1902–3) he reorganized and improved the method of training naval officers. Returning to the admiralty as first sea lord (1904), Fisher redistributed British naval forces to meet the newly recognized threat from Germany. In 1905 he began construction of the Dreadnought (see battleshipbattleship,
large, armored warship equipped with the heaviest naval guns. The evolution of the battleship, from the ironclad warship of the mid-19th cent., received great impetus from the Civil War.
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) and thereafter pressed hard for an expanded program of naval construction. He encouraged the development of submarines and supervised the conversion of the navy from coal-fired to oil-fired steam power. Created a baron in 1909, Fisher resigned as first sea lord in 1910 but returned to that position after the outbreak (1914) of World War I. He advocated an amphibious strike against Germany in the Baltic but opposed the Dardanelles expedition and resigned (1915) because of it. His reforms proved crucial to Britain's wartime naval supremacy.

Bibliography

See his correspondence, ed. by A. J. Marder (3 vol., 1952–59); biographies by R. H. Bacon (1929), R. A. Hough (1969), R. F. Mackay (1973), and J. Morris (1995); A. J. Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow (5 vol., 1961–70).

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