Order’s Naval Crew
Malta’s strategic location in the Mediterranean provided a vital naval base and safe haven for the many navies operating within these waters. To this effect Malta gained a rich and eventful maritime history.
Maltese seafarers were famed throughout the world for their excellent seamanship skills. These highly efficient sailors manned the famous galleys of the Order of St John, entrusted with the patrolling and policing of the whole Mediterranean. Maltese sailors also rendered their services to the notorious ‘Corsa’, naval operations by a small but effective fleet of Maltese corsair ships tasked with raiding Barbary shipping and coastal towns. These worldwide acclaimed Maltese corsairs were also frequently involved in major sea battles fighting side-by-side with other European navies against the often unfortunate ‘infidel’.
Malta’s harbours were on several an occasion the stepping stone for those Maltese men seeking service within foreign navies. Proof of this foreign employment were the 1000 Maltese sailors taken aboard the French Navy in the late 1770s and the setting-up locally of a Royal Navy recruiting station in the mid 1790s during the Grand Mastership of De Rohan. Moreover our Islands once again welcomed the return of the mighty Royal Navy towards the end of 1798. Nelson promptly aided the Maltese in their national insurgency and blockade efforts against Napoleon’s French Army then occupying the Islands.