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Independent Naval Historian
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Fighting in the Dark
Naval Combat at Night, 1904-1944

from Naval Institute April 2023.

Fighting in the Dark tells the story of surface naval combat at night from the Russo-Japanese War through World War II. The book is about the process of confronting and mastering problems brought on by technological change during war. It does this by examining seven periods focusing on the Imperial Russian Navy in 1904–1905, the Imperial German Navy from 1914–1918, the Royal Navy from 1916–1939, the Regia Marina from 1940–1943, the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1942, the U.S. Navy in 1943–1944, and the Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy from 1943–1944.The chapters are written by authors hailing from Australia, Canada, Italy, and the United States, all recognized masters in their subject. 


Lotta per il mare di mezzo

In 2022 the Ufficio Storia della Marina Militare published a translation of Struggle for the Middle Sea (translation by Alessandra Poli) The reception in Italy has been uniformly positive and the book is a beautiful production with a section of  color illustrations and a fold out, color map. It is a great honor to be published by USMM and to reach a larger audience in Italy.

WNHA YouTube channel. O'Hara talks about the Mediterranean in late 1941

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Interview with the congenial Naval Historigrapher, Drachinifel

The WHNA's 6th annual symposium, Expanding Naval History VI, was held on 17 and 18 February 2024.  The event was in person and also streamed live from the USS Midway museum. The keynote speaker was Evan Mawdsley,  Please see the Western Naval History Association's website, for more information. We will post the presentations and workshops on the WNHA's Youtube channel. 

Livestream with Naval History Magazine Editor Eric Mills, 8 November 2022

Overview of Operation Torch given at the Harold C. Deutsch WWII History Roundtable Minneapolis, October 2017

brief biography

Vincent P. O’Hara is an independent historian who specializes in early and mid-20th century naval warfare. He is the author of a eighteen books or edited volumes, most recently, Innovating Victory: Naval Technology in Three Wars (with Leonard R. Heinz, 2022) and Six Victories: North Africa, Malta and the War on Traffic,(2019). He has written extensively about naval warfare in the Mediterranean in works including Six Victories, Torch, Struggle for the Middle Sea, In Passage Perilous  and  Dark Navy and Black Phoenix (both with Enrico Cernuschi). He was assistant editor of World War II at Sea: an encyclopedia and has contributed to other encyclopedias published by ABC-CLIO. O'Hara has also published articles in many magazines and journals including Naval War College Review, Naval History, Warship, MHQ, Storia MILITARE, World War II, and others.


O’Hara was the Naval  Institute Press author of the year for 2015. He represented the United States at 75th Anniversary ceremonies for Operation Torch held in Algiers and Oran, Algeria in November 2017. He has presented papers or spoken at venues including the Institut National d’Etudes Strategiques, Algiers; the Harold C. Deutsch WWII Round Table, Minneapolis; the USS Midway Museum, San Diego; the U.S. Navy Hampton Roads Museum, Norfolk; the U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Association, San Diego; and the Center for Maghreb Studies, Oran, Algeria.


O’Hara holds a history degree from the University of California, Berkeley and lives in Chula Vista, California.


Naval Institute Press (2004)

A history of the German navy's 69 surface actions

Indiana Univ Press (2012)

Mediterranean March through August 1943

Naval Institute Press (2007)

USN surface combat in WWII, all fronts.

Nimble (2009) w/Enrico Cernuschi.  Regia Marina & the armistice of Sep. 1943

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NIP  (2019) Mediterranean War from November 1942-April 1943. 

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Naval History Special Edition. NIP  (2021). The bibliography of a battleship

Naval Institute Press (2009)

Surface combat in the Mediterranean 1940 -1945..

Propeller (2013) w/ Enrico Cernuschi. Post-armistice navy of the Italian Republic

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Naval History Special Edition. NIP  (2022). The German battleship's career. 

NIP (2010) w/ David Dickson and Richard Worth eds.  Major WW II navies

NIP  (2015) World War II's  first major amphibious assault. 

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NIP (2022) w/ Leonard Heinz. Development & use of naval technology

NIP (20103) ed. w/ David Dickson and Richard Worth Major WW I navies

NIP (2017) w/ Leonard Heinz. Naval  surface combat WWI. . 

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Naval History Special Edition. NIP  (2022). The German heavy cruiser's career. 

My Books


OF: Struggle for the Middle Sea


"This is an important work which will be a necessary point of reference for any serious student of the operational history of the Mediterranean sea war. It achieves its goal of reassessing sea battles on the basis of the evidence and not through long standing and unquestioned prejudice."

-Derek G. Law, University. of Strathclyde

OF: US Navy against the Axis


“I strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Pacific War, and in surface naval combat in the 20th century in general…. For academic purposes the book is a godsend.… I was extremely happy with the book, and heartily recommend it.”

-Dr. Robert M. Farley, University of Kentucky

OF: Torch


“It’s hard to imagine a more complete treatment of Operation Torch. Although not an academic, O’Hara is a formidable scholar who apparently investigated every shred of extant documentation from all belligerents in the campaign. The narrative is probably the most comprehensive treatment of early operations in North Africa during World War II.

-John R. Satterfield: Naval History Foundation

OF: In Passage Perilous


"A very readable account of the convoy battles fought inside the Mediterranean in 1942. Drawing heavily on Italian sources, In  Passage Perilous is carefully researched, objective, balanced and well written. It is likely to become the standard account of the critical phase of the Mediterranean conflict."

-H. P. Willmott, author of The Last Century of Seapower

OF: Innovating Victory

Vincent O'Hara and Leonard Heinz approach an important current problem in a valuable an innovative way: they look at key technological advances and ask how and why the different major navies did or did not benefit. In an age of technological innovation, it is too easy to avoid going beyond the sizzle to ask what should or should not be adopted, and how. The authors' comparative approach is both unusual and extremely valuable." --Norman Friedman, author of U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History

OF: Clash of  Fleets

Authors O’Hara and Heinz clearly show their scholarship through attention to detail and the book is both an excellent primer for newcomers to the naval history of the First World War and a handy reference for the veteran historian. . . .  It will provide an on-going ready reference for study or occasional dipping into as the mood arises and so is highly recommended.”

-Tim Coyle. Australian Naval Institute

OF: German Fleet at War


"O'Hara did everything right with this book. He picked an interesting, seldom discussed topic. He wrote polished, engaging prose that practically puts the reader on the bridge in the middle of each battle. He packed the book with a heavy dose of hard data, fully documented. He included clean maps, clear graphs, and a solid bibliography. He analyzed the battles and drew conclusions about the whole which transcend each separate action. And he left us looking forward to his next book. Highly recommended.

-Stone & Stone books

articles and other writings
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---. Attack and Sink. World War II. March 2004, 44-48

---. Defiant Until the End: German Navy in the Channel Islands. World War II. May 2005, 42-48. 

---. The Battles of Buenos Aires. MHQ 17(4). Summer 2005, 42-51.

---. A Most Remarkable Effort: The Battle of Balikpapan. Pacific War. 2(2) 2005, 3-7.

---. The Royal Navy’s Revenge. World War II. May 2006, 50-56. 

---. Ironclad Huáscar's Mastery in the Guano War. MHQ Autumn 2006, 84-93. 

---. La battaglia delle isole Komandorski.  STORIA Militare, November 2006, 38-48. (in Italian).  

---. Mystery Battle off Imperia, 1 October 1944. World War II Quarterly August 2007. 24-33.

---. Destroyers off Sidon: The Marine Nationale against the Royal Navy. The Tin Can Sailor. Jan-Mar-2008. 1-3.

---.  The Action off Calabria and the Myth of Moral Ascendancy. Warship 2008. 26-39.

---. The Unintended Revolution. MHQ Winter 2009, 62-71.

---. America's Historian Takes Casablanca. America in WWII, May-June 2011, 26-35. 

---. The Battle of Casablanca: The Marine Nationale versus the US Navy. Warship 2011.

---. Risk vs. Reward off the Italian Rivera. Naval History. 27(5). October 2013, 56-61.

---. Landing the Troops . . . Across the Rhine. Naval History, April 2015, 34-41.

---. Lessons from a Lost Fleet. Naval History, June 2017, 48-53.

---. A Sailor's Letters Home. Naval History, August 2017, 44-59.

---. Operation Torch November 1942. Revue Algerienne de

      Prospective & d'Etudes Strategiques. 2017, 27-54. 

---. D-Day, a Year too Late? Naval History, June 2019, 15-19.

---. A Tale of Two Invasions. Naval History, June 2019, 20-23.

---. Operation Iceberg's Mixed Legacy. Naval History, April, 2020, 12-17.

---. The Greatest Naval War Ever Fought. Naval History, October 2020, 12-19.

---. Operation Torch: The Allies Strike Back. Naval History. December 2022, 12-19

---. Touch Race to Tunisia. Naval History. December 2022, 20-25. 

With Enrico Cernuschi

---. Unknown Victory. World War II. March 2006, 36-41.

---. The World's Worst Warships: Round Three. Warship 2006. 158-163.

---. Red Sea Naval War. WWII History. March 2010, 54-59.

---. The Other Ultra: Naval War College Review, Summer 2013, 117-138.  

---. Frogmen Against a Fleet. Naval War College Review, Summer 2015, 119-137. 

---. A Century Long Dream: Single Purpose Engine Submarines of the Italian Navy. Warship 2004. 76-91.

---. The Star-Crossed Split: the Troubled Story of an Unlucky Flagship. Warship 2005. 97-110.

---. The Breakout Fleet: the Oceanic Programs of the Italian Navy. Warship 2006.  86-101.

---. Italy and the Pacific War. World War II Quarterly, 2006. 14-19.

---. The Search for a Flattop: The Italian Navy and the Aircraft Carrier, 1907-2007. Warship 2007

---. The Aircraft Carrier Cavour: Doctrine and Sea Power in the Italian Navy. Seaforth Naval Review 2009. 116-131.

---. Taranto: the Raid and the Aftermath. Warship 2010. London: Conway, 2010. 77-95.

---. Mas Contro Destroyers.  STORIA Militare (213). June 2011, 16-26. (in Italian)

---. Italy: The Marina Militare: A Well-balanced Force in Time of Crisis. Seaforth World Naval Review 2013, 79-89.

---. Toulon: The Self-destruction and Salvage of the French Fleet. Warship 2013. 132-46.

---. The Naval War in the Adriatic. Warship 2015. 161-173 and Warship 2016. 62-75.

---. Italian Fast Coastal Forces: Development, Doctrine and Campaigns, 1914-1986: Warship 2008 and Warship 2009.


With Leonard Heinz.

Surface Actions of the Great War and What They Tell Us. Warship 2017.  

With Stephen McLaughlin

Forgotten Victor:  Naval History, June 2021, 26-33.


Morison, Samuel Eliot. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 2. Operations in North African Waters. October 1942-June 1943. Naval Institute Press, 2009. New Introduction by Vincent P. O'Hara

Morison, Samuel Eliot. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 6. Breaking the

Bismarcks Barrier. 22 July 1942- 1 May 1943. Naval Institute Press, 2010. New Introduction by Vincent P. O'Hara


World War II At Sea. ABC-CLIO 2012. Assistant Editor and Contributor. 

World War I: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection. ABC-CLIO 2014. Editorial Advisory Board and         Contributor

World War II: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection. ABC-CLIO 2016. Contributor


"Italy: The Regia Marina." With Enrico Cernuschi. In O'Hara, Dickson and Worth, eds. On Sea Contested, 123-56.

"Italy: Regia Marina." With Enrico Cernuschi. In O'Hara Dickson and Worth eds. To Crown the Waves, 178-212.

"After the Battle: Sea Power and the Ormoc Campaign." In Thomas Cutler, ed. The Battle of Leyte Gulf at 75,

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2019, 155-168. 


The Royal Navy's Revenge and Other Little-Known Encounter of the War at Sea: Nimble Books, 2013.

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