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Born 1728; died 1812. Author of works on the tactics of sailing-ship fleets.
Clerk was a minor official in Eldin, Scotland. In his work An Essay on Naval Tactics (1782; translated into Russian under the title Dvizhenie flotov [The Maneuver of Fleets] in 1803) he showed that most of the naval battles of the mid-18th century, which were based on line tactics, did not achieve decisive results. Clerk’s work was the first theoretical attempt to develop maneuver tactics in naval battles. He proposed maneuvering to break up the formation of enemy ships and attacking part of the divided enemy fleet with superior forces. Admirals J. Jervis and H. Nelson are considered followers of Clerk in the British Navy. In the Russian Navy, maneuver tactics were applied for the first time by Admiral G. A. Spiridov and Admiral F. F. Ushakov in the 1770’s through the 1790’s.