English Channel

English Channel

Overview
The English Channel often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm
Arm (geography)
In geography, an arm is a narrow extension, inlet, or smaller reach, of water from a much larger body of water, like an ocean, sea, or lake. Although different geographically, a sound or bay may be called an arm....

 of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 that separates southern England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 from northern France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and joins the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 to the Atlantic. It is about 560 km (348 mi) long and varies in width from 240 km (149.1 mi) at its widest to 34 km (21.1 mi) in the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South Foreland, 6 kilometres northeast of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French of...

. It is the smallest of the shallow seas around the continental shelf of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, covering an area of some 75000 km² (28,957.7 sq mi).



The International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
The International Hydrographic Organization is the inter-governmental organisation representing the hydrographic community. It enjoys observer status at the UN and is the recognised competent authority on hydrographic surveying and nautical charting...

 defines the limits of the English Channel as follows:

On the West. A line joining Isle Vierge (48°38′23"N 4°34′13"W) to Lands End
Land's End
Land's End is a headland and small settlement in west Cornwall, England, within the United Kingdom. It is located on the Penwith peninsula approximately eight miles west-southwest of Penzance....

 (50°04′N 5°43′W).

On the East. The Southwestern limit of the North Sea

North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

.

The IHO defines the southwestern limit of the North Sea as "a line joining the Walde Lighthouse (France, 1°55'E) and Leathercoat Point (England, 51°10'N)".
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Timeline

1120   The ''White Ship'' sinks in the English Channel, drowning William Adelin, son of Henry I of England.

1588   The Spanish Armada, with 130 ships and 30,000 men, sets sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel. (It will take until May 30 for all ships to leave port).

1588   The last ship of the Spanish Armada sets sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel.

1785   Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, co-pilot of the first-ever manned flight (1783), and his companion, Pierre Romain, become the first-ever casualties of an air crash when their hot air balloon explodes during their attempt to cross the English Channel.

1875   Captain Matthew Webb became first person to swim the English Channel

1909   Louis Blériot makes the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier-than-air machine from (Calais to Dover) in 37 minutes.

1912   Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to fly an airplane across the English Channel.

1926   Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

1928   Juan de la Cierva makes the first autogyro crossing of the English Channel.

1959   SR-N1 hovercraft crosses the English Channel from Calais to Dover in just over 2 hours.

 
Encyclopedia
The English Channel often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm
Arm (geography)
In geography, an arm is a narrow extension, inlet, or smaller reach, of water from a much larger body of water, like an ocean, sea, or lake. Although different geographically, a sound or bay may be called an arm....

 of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 that separates southern England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 from northern France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and joins the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 to the Atlantic. It is about 560 km (348 mi) long and varies in width from 240 km (149.1 mi) at its widest to 34 km (21.1 mi) in the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South Foreland, 6 kilometres northeast of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French of...

. It is the smallest of the shallow seas around the continental shelf of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, covering an area of some 75000 km² (28,957.7 sq mi).

Geography




The International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
The International Hydrographic Organization is the inter-governmental organisation representing the hydrographic community. It enjoys observer status at the UN and is the recognised competent authority on hydrographic surveying and nautical charting...

 defines the limits of the English Channel as follows:

On the West. A line joining Isle Vierge (48°38′23"N 4°34′13"W) to Lands End
Land's End
Land's End is a headland and small settlement in west Cornwall, England, within the United Kingdom. It is located on the Penwith peninsula approximately eight miles west-southwest of Penzance....

 (50°04′N 5°43′W).

On the East. The Southwestern limit of the North Sea

North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

.

The IHO defines the southwestern limit of the North Sea as "a line joining the Walde Lighthouse (France, 1°55'E) and Leathercoat Point (England, 51°10'N)". The Walde Lighthouse is 6 km east of Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

 (50°59′06"N 1°55′00"E), and Leathercoat Point is at the north end of St Margaret's Bay, Kent (51°10′00"N 1°24′00"E).

The Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South Foreland, 6 kilometres northeast of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French of...

, at the Channel's eastern end is its narrowest point, while its widest point lies between Lyme Bay
Lyme Bay
Lyme Bay is an area of the English Channel situated in the southwest of England between Torbay in the west and Portland in the east. The counties of Devon and Dorset front onto the bay,-Geology:...

 and the Gulf of Saint Malo near its midpoint. It is relatively shallow, with an average depth of about 120 m (393.7 ft) at its widest part, reducing to a depth of about 45 m (147.6 ft) between Dover
Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

 and Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

. From there eastwards the adjoining North Sea continues to shallow to about 26 m (85.3 ft) in the Broad Fourteens
Broad Fourteens
thumb|200px|right|The Broad Fourteens on a map by Delisle The Broad Fourteens is an area of the southern North Sea that is fairly consistently fourteen fathoms deep...

 where it lies over the watershed of the former land bridge between East Anglia
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

 and the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

. It reaches a maximum depth of 180 m (590.6 ft) in the submerged valley of Hurds Deep
Hurds Deep
Hurd's Deep is a deep underwater valley in the English Channel, north west of the Channel Islands, at position 49 degrees 30 minutes North, 3 degrees 34 minutes West. From marine navigational charts, the maximum depth is 172 metres, and lies to the north of the isle of Alderney.It is most probable...

, 30 mi (48.3 km) west-northwest of Guernsey
Guernsey
Guernsey, officially the Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British Crown dependency in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy.The Bailiwick, as a governing entity, embraces not only all 10 parishes on the Island of Guernsey, but also the islands of Herm, Jethou, Burhou, and Lihou and their islet...

.

The eastern region along the French coast between Cherbourg and the mouth of the Seine river at Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

 is frequently referred to as the Bay of the Seine .

There are several major islands in the Channel, the most notable being the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

 off the English coast, and the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey...

, British Crown Dependencies off the coast of France. The Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly form an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. The islands have had a unitary authority council since 1890, and are separate from the Cornwall unitary authority, but some services are combined with Cornwall and the islands are still part...

 off the far southwest coast of England are not generally counted as being in the Channel. The coastline, particularly on the French shore, is deeply indented; several small islands close to the coastline, including Chausey
Chausey
Chausey is a group of small islands, islets and rocks off the coast of Normandy, in the English Channel. It lies from Granville, and forms a quartier of the Granville commune, in the Manche département...

 and Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island and a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre off the country's north-western coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches...

, are within French jurisdiction. The Cotentin Peninsula
Cotentin Peninsula
The Cotentin Peninsula, also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula, is a peninsula in Normandy, forming part of the north-western coast of France. It juts out north-westwards into the English Channel, towards Great Britain...

 in France juts out into the Channel, and the Isle of Wight creates a small parallel channel known as the Solent
Solent
The Solent is a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England.The Solent is a major shipping route for passengers, freight and military vessels. It is an important recreational area for water sports, particularly yachting, hosting the Cowes Week sailing event annually...

 in English waters. The Celtic Sea
Celtic Sea
The Celtic Sea is the area of the Atlantic Ocean off the south coast of Ireland bounded to the east by Saint George's Channel; other limits include the Bristol Channel, the English Channel, and the Bay of Biscay, as well as adjacent portions of Wales, Cornwall, Devon, and Brittany...

 is to the west of the Channel.

The Channel is of geologically recent origins, having been dry land for most of the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 period. It is thought to have been created between 450,000 and 180,000 years ago by two catastrophic glacial lake outburst flood
Glacial lake outburst flood
A glacial lake outburst flood is a type of outburst flood that occurs when the dam containing a glacial lake fails. The dam can consist of glacier ice or a terminal moraine...

s caused by the breaching of the Weald–Artois anticline, a ridge that held back a large proglacial lake
Proglacial lake
In geology, a proglacial lake is a lake formed either by the damming action of a moraine or ice dam during the retreat of a melting glacier, or by meltwater trapped against an ice sheet due to isostatic depression of the crust around the ice...

 in the Doggerland
Doggerland
Doggerland is a name given by archaeologists and geologists to a former landmass in the southern North Sea that connected the island of Great Britain to mainland Europe during and after the last Ice Age, surviving until about 6,500 or 6,200 BCE, though gradually being swallowed by rising sea levels...

 region, now submerged under the North Sea. The flood would have lasted for several months, releasing as much as one million cubic metres of water per second. The cause of the breach is not known but may have been an earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

 or the build-up of water pressure in the lake. The flood carved a large bedrock-floored valley down the length of the Channel, leaving behind streamlined islands and longitudinal erosional grooves characteristic of catastrophic megaflood events. It destroyed the isthmus that connected Britain to continental Europe, although a land bridge
Doggerland
Doggerland is a name given by archaeologists and geologists to a former landmass in the southern North Sea that connected the island of Great Britain to mainland Europe during and after the last Ice Age, surviving until about 6,500 or 6,200 BCE, though gradually being swallowed by rising sea levels...

 across the southern North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 would have existed intermittently at later times after periods of glaciation resulted in lower sea levels.

For the UK Shipping Forecast
Shipping Forecast
The Shipping Forecast is a four-times-daily BBC Radio broadcast of weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the coasts of the British Isles. It is produced by the Met Office and broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The forecasts sent over the Navtex...

 the Channel is divided into the following areas, from the west:
  • Plymouth
    Plymouth
    Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

  • Portland
    Isle of Portland
    The Isle of Portland is a limestone tied island, long by wide, in the English Channel. Portland is south of the resort of Weymouth, forming the southernmost point of the county of Dorset, England. A tombolo over which runs the A354 road connects it to Chesil Beach and the mainland. Portland and...

  • Wight
    Isle of Wight
    The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

  • Dover
    Dover
    Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...


Name



The name "English Channel" has been widely used since the early 18th century, possibly originating from the designation "Engelse Kanaal" in Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 sea maps from the 16th century onwards. It has also been known as the "British Channel". Prior to then it was known as the British Sea, and it was called the "Oceanus Britannicus" by the 2nd-century geographer Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

. The same name is used on an Italian map of about 1450, which gives the alternative name of "canalites Anglie"—possibly the first recorded use of the "Channel" designation.

The French name "(la) Manche" has been in use since at least the 17th century. The name is usually said to refer to the Channel's sleeve (French: "manche") shape. However, it is sometimes claimed to derive from a Celtic
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

 word meaning "channel" that is also the source of the name for The Minch
The Minch
The Minch , also called The North Minch, is a strait in north-west Scotland, separating the north-west Highlands, and the northern Inner Hebrides, from Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides...

, in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. In Spain and most Spanish speaking countries the Channel is referred to as "El Canal de la Mancha". In Portuguese it is known as "Canal da Mancha". (This is not a translation from French: in Portuguese and Spanish, "mancha" means "stain", while the word for sleeve is "manga" - which prompts an early phonetic bad translation from French). Other languages also use this name, such as Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 (Κανάλι της Μάγχης) and Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 (la Manica). Germans translate to “Ärmelkanal”, i. e. sleeve channel.

History


Before the end of the Devensian glaciation (the most recent ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

) around 10,000 years ago, the British Isles were part of continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

. During this period the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 and almost all of the British Isles were covered with ice. The sea level was about 120 m lower than it is today, and the channel was an expanse of low-lying tundra
Tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

, through which passed a river which drained the Rhine and Thames towards the Atlantic to the west. As the ice sheet
Ice sheet
An ice sheet is a mass of glacier ice that covers surrounding terrain and is greater than 50,000 km² , thus also known as continental glacier...

 melted, a large freshwater lake formed in the southern part of what is now the North Sea. As the meltwater
Meltwater
Meltwater is the water released by the melting of snow or ice, including glacial ice and ice shelfs over oceans. Meltwater is often found in the ablation zone of glaciers, where the rate of snow cover is reducing...

 could still not escape to the north (as the northern North Sea was still frozen) the outflow channel from the lake entered the Atlantic Ocean in the region of Dover and Calais.
The Channel has been the key natural defence for Britain, halting invading armies while in conjunction with control of the North Sea allowing Britain to blockade the continent. The most significant failed invasion threats came when the Dutch and Belgian ports were held by a major continental power, e.g. from the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 in 1588, Napoleon
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, and Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Successful invasions include the Roman conquest of Britain
Roman conquest of Britain
The Roman conquest of Britain was a gradual process, beginning effectively in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, whose general Aulus Plautius served as first governor of Britannia. Great Britain had already frequently been the target of invasions, planned and actual, by forces of the Roman Republic and...

, the Norman Conquest in 1066 and the invasion and conquest of Britain by Dutch troops under William III
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

 in 1688, while the concentration of excellent harbours in the Western Channel on Britain's south coast made possible the largest invasion of all time, the Normandy landings in 1944. Channel naval battles include the Battle of Goodwin Sands
Battle of Goodwin Sands
The naval Battle of Goodwin Sands , fought on 29 May 1652 , was the first engagement of the First Anglo-Dutch War between the navies of the Commonwealth of England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands.- Background :The English Parliament had passed the first of the Navigation...

 (1652), the Battle of Portland
Battle of Portland
The naval Battle of Portland, or Three Days' Battle took place during 28 February-2 March 1653 , during the First Anglo-Dutch War, when the fleet of the Commonwealth of England under General at Sea Robert Blake was attacked by a fleet of the Dutch Republic under Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp...

 (1653), the Battle of La Hougue (1692) and the engagement between USS Kearsarge
USS Kearsarge (1861)
USS Kearsarge, a Mohican-class sloop-of-war, is best known for her defeat of the Confederate commerce raider CSS Alabama during the American Civil War. The Kearsarge was the only ship of the United States Navy named for Mount Kearsarge in New Hampshire...

 and CSS Alabama
CSS Alabama
CSS Alabama was a screw sloop-of-war built for the Confederate States Navy at Birkenhead, United Kingdom, in 1862 by John Laird Sons and Company. Alabama served as a commerce raider, attacking Union merchant and naval ships over the course of her two-year career, during which she never anchored in...

 (1864).

In more peaceful times the Channel served as a link joining shared cultures and political structures, particularly the huge Angevin Empire
Angevin Empire
The term Angevin Empire is a modern term describing the collection of states once ruled by the Angevin Plantagenet dynasty.The Plantagenets ruled over an area stretching from the Pyrenees to Ireland during the 12th and early 13th centuries, located north of Moorish Iberia. This "empire" extended...

 from 1135 to 1217. For nearly a thousand years, the Channel also provided a link between the Modern Celtic
Modern Celts
A Celtic identity emerged in the "Celtic" nations of Western Europe, following the identification of the native peoples of the Atlantic fringe as "Celts" by Edward Lhuyd in the 18th century and during the course of the 19th-century Celtic Revival, taking the form of ethnic nationalism particularly...

 regions and languages of Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 and Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

. Brittany was founded by Britons who fled Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 and Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

 after Anglo-Saxon encroachment. In Brittany, there is a region known as "Cornouaille
Cornouaille
Cornouaille is a historic region in Brittany, in northwest France. The name is identical to the French name for the Duchy of Cornwall, since the area was settled by migrant princes from Cornwall...

" (Cornwall) in French and "Kernev" in Breton
Breton language
Breton is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany , France. Breton is a Brythonic language, descended from the Celtic British language brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages. Like the other Brythonic languages, Welsh and Cornish, it is classified as...

 In ancient times there was also a "Domnonia
Domnonia
Domnonée is the modern French version of the Latin name Dumnonia , which denoted a kingdom in northern Brittany founded by migrants from Dumnonia in Great Britain...

" (Devon) in Brittany as well.

In February 1684 (New style
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

)
, ice formed on the sea in a belt 3 miles (4.8 km) wide off the coast of Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

 and 2 miles (3.2 km) wide on the French side.

Route to the British Isles


Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 and Pliny both suggest trade between the rebel celtic tribes of Armorica
Armorica
Armorica or Aremorica is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul that includes the Brittany peninsula and the territory between the Seine and Loire rivers, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic coast...

 and Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 Britain flourished. In 55 BC Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 invaded, claiming that the Britons had aided the Veneti
Veneti (Gaul)
The Veneti were a seafaring Celtic people who lived in the Brittany peninsula , which in Roman times formed part of an area called Armorica...

 against him the previous year. He was more successful in 54 BC, but Britain was not fully established as part of the Roman Empire until completion of the invasion by Aulus Plautius
Aulus Plautius
Aulus Plautius was a Roman politician and general of the mid-1st century. He began the Roman conquest of Britain in 43, and became the first governor of the new province, serving from 43 to 47.-Career:...

 in 43 AD. A brisk and regular trade began between ports in Roman Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and those in Britain. This traffic continued until the end of Roman rule in Britain in 410 AD, after which the early Anglo-Saxons
History of Anglo-Saxon England
Anglo-Saxon England refers to the period of the history of that part of Britain, that became known as England, lasting from the end of Roman occupation and establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th century until the Norman conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror...

 left less clear historical records.

In the power vacuum left by the retreating Romans, the Germanic Angles
Angles
The Angles is a modern English term for a Germanic people who took their name from the ancestral cultural region of Angeln, a district located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany...

, Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

, and Jutes
Jutes
The Jutes, Iuti, or Iutæ were a Germanic people who, according to Bede, were one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time, the other two being the Saxons and the Angles...

 began the next great migration across the North Sea. Having already been used as mercenaries in Britain by the Romans, many people from these tribes crossed during the Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

, conquering and perhaps displacing the native Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic populations.

Norsemen and Normans


The attack on Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the north-east coast of England. It is also known as Holy Island and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland...

 in 793 is generally considered the beginning of the Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

. For the next 250 years the Scandinavian raiders of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark dominated the North Sea, raiding monasteries, homes, and towns along the coast and along the rivers that ran inland. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great...

 they began to settle in Britain in 851. They continued to settle in the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

 and the continent until around 1050.

The fiefdom of Normandy
Duchy of Normandy
The Duchy of Normandy stems from various Danish, Norwegian, Hiberno-Norse, Orkney Viking and Anglo-Danish invasions of France in the 9th century...

 was created for the Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 leader Rollo
Rollo of Normandy
Rollo , baptised Robert and so sometimes numbered Robert I to distinguish him from his descendants, was a Norse nobleman of Norwegian or Danish descent and founder and first ruler of the Viking principality in what soon became known as Normandy...

 (also known as Robert of Normandy). Rollo had besieged Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 but in 911 entered vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

age to the king
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 of the West Franks
Western Francia
West Francia, also known as the West Frankish Kingdom or Francia Occidentalis, was a short-lived kingdom encompassing the lands of the western part of the Carolingian Empire that came under the undisputed control of Charlemagne's grandson, Charles the Bald, as a result of the Treaty of Verdun of...

 Charles the Simple
Charles the Simple
Charles III , called the Simple or the Straightforward , was the undisputed King of France from 898 until 922 and the King of Lotharingia from 911 until 919/23...

 through the Treaty of St.-Claire-sur-Epte. In exchange for his homage
Homage
Homage is a show or demonstration of respect or dedication to someone or something, sometimes by simple declaration but often by some more oblique reference, artistic or poetic....

 and fealty
Fealty
An oath of fealty, from the Latin fidelitas , is a pledge of allegiance of one person to another. Typically the oath is made upon a religious object such as a Bible or saint's relic, often contained within an altar, thus binding the oath-taker before God.In medieval Europe, fealty was sworn between...

, Rollo legally gained the territory he and his Viking allies had previously conquered. The name "Normandy" reflects Rollo's Viking (i.e. "Northman") origins.

The descendants of Rollo and his followers adopted the local Gallo-Romantic language and intermarried with the area’s inhabitants and became the Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 – a Norman French
Norman language
Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. Norman can be classified as one of the northern Oïl languages along with Picard and Walloon...

-speaking mixture of Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

ns, Hiberno-Norse, Orcadians, Anglo-Danish
Danelaw
The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

, and indigenous Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 and Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

.

Rollo's descendant William, Duke of Normandy
William I of England
William I , also known as William the Conqueror , was the first Norman King of England from Christmas 1066 until his death. He was also Duke of Normandy from 3 July 1035 until his death, under the name William II...

 became king of England in 1066 in the Norman Conquest culminating at the Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings occurred on 14 October 1066 during the Norman conquest of England, between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army under King Harold II...

, while retaining the fiefdom of Normandy for himself and his descendants. In 1204, during the reign of King John
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

, mainland Normandy was taken from England by France under Philip II
Philip II of France
Philip II Augustus was the King of France from 1180 until his death. A member of the House of Capet, Philip Augustus was born at Gonesse in the Val-d'Oise, the son of Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne...

, while insular Normandy (the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey...

) remained under English control. In 1259, Henry III of England
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

 recognised the legality of French possession of mainland Normandy under the Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1259)
The Treaty of Paris was a treaty between Louis IX of France and Henry III of England, agreed to on December 4, 1259....

. His successors, however, often fought to regain control of mainland Normandy.

With the rise of William the Conqueror the North Sea and Channel began to lose some of their importance. The new order oriented most of England and Scandinavia's trade south, toward the Mediterranean and the Orient.

Although the British surrendered claims to mainland Normandy and other French possessions in 1801, the monarch of the United Kingdom retains the title Duke of Normandy in respect to the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands (except for Chausey
Chausey
Chausey is a group of small islands, islets and rocks off the coast of Normandy, in the English Channel. It lies from Granville, and forms a quartier of the Granville commune, in the Manche département...

) are a Crown dependency
Crown dependency
The Crown Dependencies are British possessions of the Crown, as opposed to overseas territories of the United Kingdom. They comprise the Channel Island Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey in the English Channel, and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea....

 of the British Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

. Thus the Loyal Toast
Loyal toast
A loyal toast is a salute given to the head of state of the country in which a formal gathering is being given, or by expatriates of that country, whether or not the particular head of state is present. It is usually a matter of protocol at state and military occasions, and a display of patriotic...

 in the Channel Islands is La Reine, notre Duc ("The Queen, our Duke"). The British monarch is understood to not be the Duke of Normandy in regards of the French region of Normandy described herein, by virtue of the Treaty of Paris of 1259
Treaty of Paris (1259)
The Treaty of Paris was a treaty between Louis IX of France and Henry III of England, agreed to on December 4, 1259....

, the surrender of French possessions in 1801, and the belief that the rights of succession to that title are subject to Salic Law
Salic law
Salic law was a body of traditional law codified for governing the Salian Franks in the early Middle Ages during the reign of King Clovis I in the 6th century...

 which excludes inheritance through female heirs.

French Normandy was occupied by English forces during the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 in 1346–1360 and again in 1415–1450.

England & Britain: The naval superpowers


From the reign of Elizabeth I, English foreign policy concentrated on preventing invasion across the Channel by ensuring no major European power controlled the potential Dutch and Flemish invasion ports. Her climb to the pre-eminent sea power of the world began in 1588 as the attempted invasion of the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 was defeated by the combination of outstanding naval tactics by the English under command of Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham
Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham
Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham , known as Howard of Effingham, was an English statesman and Lord High Admiral under Elizabeth I and James I...

 with Sir Francis Drake second in command, and the following stormy weather. Over the centuries the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 slowly grew to be the most powerful in the world.

The building of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 was possible only because the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 exercised unquestioned control over the seas around Europe, especially the Channel and the North Sea. During the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

, France attempted to launch an invasion of Britain
Planned French Invasion of Britain (1759)
A French invasion of Great Britain was planned to take place in 1759 during the Seven Years' War, but due to various factors including naval defeats at the Battle of Lagos and the Battle of Quiberon Bay was never launched. The French planned to land 100,000 French soldiers in Britain to end British...

. To achieve this France needed to gain control of the Channel for several weeks, but was thwarted following the British naval victory at the Battle of Quiberon Bay
Battle of Quiberon Bay
The naval Battle of Quiberon Bay took place on 20 November 1759 during the Seven Years' War in Quiberon Bay, off the coast of France near St. Nazaire...

 in 1759.

Another significant challenge to British domination of the seas came during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

. The Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

 took place off the coast of Spain against a combined French and Spanish fleet and was won by Admiral Horatio Nelson
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, KB was a flag officer famous for his service in the Royal Navy, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He was noted for his inspirational leadership and superb grasp of strategy and unconventional tactics, which resulted in a number of...

, ending Napoleon
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

's plans for a cross-Channel invasion and securing British dominance of the seas for over a century.

First World War


The exceptional strategic importance of the Channel as a tool for blockade was recognised by the First Sea Lord Admiral Fisher in the years before World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. "Five keys lock up the world! Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, the Cape, Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, Gibraltar, Dover." However on July 25, 1909 Louis Blériot
Louis Blériot
Louis Charles Joseph Blériot was a French aviator, inventor and engineer. In 1909 he completed the first flight across a large body of water in a heavier-than-air craft, when he crossed the English Channel. For this achievement, he received a prize of £1,000...

 successfully made the first Channel crossing from Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

 to Dover
Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

 in an aeroplane. Blériot's crossing signalled the end of the Channel as a barrier-moat for England against foreign enemies.

Because the Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...

 surface fleet could not match the British Grand Fleet, the Germans
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 developed submarine warfare
Submarine warfare
Naval warfare is divided into three operational areas: surface warfare, air warfare and underwater warfare. The latter may be subdivided into submarine warfare and anti-submarine warfare as well as mine warfare and mine countermeasures...

, which was to become a far greater threat to Britain. The Dover Patrol
Dover Patrol
The Dover Patrol was a Royal Navy command of the First World War, notable for its involvement in the Zeebrugge Raid on 22 April 1918. The Dover Patrol formed a discrete unit of the Royal Navy based at Dover and Dunkirk for the duration of the First World War...

 was set up just before war started to escort cross-Channel troopships and to prevent submarines from accessing the Channel, thereby obliging them to travel to the Atlantic via the much longer route around Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

.

On land, the German army attempted to capture Channel ports (see "Race to the Sea
Race to the Sea
The Race to the Sea is a name given to the period early in the First World War when the two sides were still engaged in mobile warfare on the Western Front. With the German advance stalled at the First Battle of the Marne, the opponents continually attempted to outflank each other through...

"), but although the trenches are often said to have stretched "from the frontier of Switzerland to the English Channel", they reached the coast at the North Sea. Much of the British war effort in Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 was a bloody but successful strategy to prevent the Germans reaching the Channel coast.

On 31 January 1917, the Germans restarted unrestricted submarine warfare
Unrestricted submarine warfare
Unrestricted submarine warfare is a type of naval warfare in which submarines sink merchantmen without warning, as opposed to attacks per prize rules...

 leading to dire Admiralty predictions that submarines would defeat Britain by November, the most dangerous situation Britain faced in either World War.

The Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 was fought to reduce the threat by capturing the submarine bases on the Belgian coast, though it was the introduction of convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

s and not capture of the bases that averted defeat. In April 1918 the Dover Patrol
Dover Patrol
The Dover Patrol was a Royal Navy command of the First World War, notable for its involvement in the Zeebrugge Raid on 22 April 1918. The Dover Patrol formed a discrete unit of the Royal Navy based at Dover and Dunkirk for the duration of the First World War...

 carried out the famous Zeebrugge Raid
Zeebrugge Raid
The Zeebrugge Raid, which took place on 23 April 1918, was an attempt by the British Royal Navy to neutralize the key Belgian port of Bruges-Zeebrugge...

 against the U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 bases. The naval blockade effected via the Channel and North Sea was one of the decisive factors in the German defeat in 1918.

Second World War


During the Second World War, naval activity in the European theatre
European Theatre of World War II
The European Theatre of World War II was a huge area of heavy fighting across Europe from Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 until the end of the war with the German unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945...

 was primarily limited to the Atlantic. The early stages of the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

 featured air attacks on Channel shipping and ports, and until the Normandy landings (with the exception of the Channel Dash
Operation Cerberus
The Channel Dash, , was a major naval engagement during World War II in which a German Kriegsmarine squadron consisting of both Scharnhorst class battleships, and heavy cruiser along with escorts, ran a British blockade and successfully sailed from Brest in Brittany to their home bases in Germany...

) the narrow waters were too dangerous for major warships. Despite these early successes against shipping, the Germans did not win the air supremacy necessary for a cross Channel invasion.

The Channel subsequently became the stage for an intensive coastal war, featuring submarines, minesweepers
Minesweeper (ship)
A minesweeper is a small naval warship designed to counter the threat posed by naval mines. Minesweepers generally detect then neutralize mines in advance of other naval operations.-History:...

, and Fast Attack Craft
Fast Attack Craft
Fast Attack Craft are small, fast, agile and offensive warships, that are armed with anti-ship missiles, guns or torpedoes. These are usually operated in close proximity to land as they lack both the sea-keeping and all-round defensive capabilities to survive in blue water. The size of the vessel...

.

Dieppe
Dieppe, Seine-Maritime
Dieppe is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in France. In 1999, the population of the whole Dieppe urban area was 81,419.A port on the English Channel, famous for its scallops, and with a regular ferry service from the Gare Maritime to Newhaven in England, Dieppe also has a popular pebbled...

 was the site of an ill-fated raid
Dieppe Raid
The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter or later on Operation Jubilee, during the Second World War, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 AM and by 10:50 AM the Allied...

 by Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 armed forces. More successful was the later Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

 (D-Day
D-Day
D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar...

), a massive invasion of German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

-occupied France by Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 troops. Caen
Caen
Caen is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region. It is located inland from the English Channel....

, Cherbourg, Carentan
Carentan
Carentan is a small rural town near the north-eastern base of the French Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy in north-western France near the port city of Cherbourg-Octeville. Carentan has a population somewhat over 6,000 and is now administratively organized as a commune in the Manche department...

, Falaise
Falaise, Calvados
Falaise is a commune in the Calvados department in the Basse-Normandie region in northwestern France.-History:The town was the birthplace of William I the Conqueror, first of the Norman Kings of England. The Château de Falaise , which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of...

 and other Norman towns endured many casualties in the fight for the province, which continued until the closing of the so-called Falaise gap
Falaise pocket
The battle of the Falaise Pocket, fought during the Second World War from 12 to 21 August 1944, was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy...

 between Chambois
Chambois
Chambois is a commune in the Orne département in north-western France. The city is remarkable for its Norman keep and was part of the Falaise pocket in 1944.-Norman keep:The Norman keep or Donjon was built in the 12th century...

 and Montormel, then liberation of Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

.

The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 occupied by Germany
Occupation of the Channel Islands
The Channel Islands were occupied by Nazi Germany for much of World War II, from 30 June 1940 until the liberation on 9 May 1945. The Channel Islands are two British Crown dependencies and include the bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey as well as the smaller islands of Alderney and Sark...

 (excepting the part of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 occupied by the Afrika Korps
Afrika Korps
The German Africa Corps , or the Afrika Korps as it was popularly called, was the German expeditionary force in Libya and Tunisia during the North African Campaign of World War II...

 at the time of the Second Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

, which was a protectorate and not part of the Commonwealth). The German occupation of 1940–1945 was harsh, with some island residents being taken for slave labour
Unfree labour
Unfree labour includes all forms of slavery as well as all other related institutions .-Payment for unfree labour:If payment occurs, it may be in one or more of the following forms:...

 on the Continent; native Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 sent to concentration camps; partisan
Partisan (military)
A partisan is a member of an irregular military force formed to oppose control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation by some kind of insurgent activity...

 resistance and retribution; accusations of collaboration
Collaborationism
Collaborationism is cooperation with enemy forces against one's country. Legally, it may be considered as a form of treason. Collaborationism may be associated with criminal deeds in the service of the occupying power, which may include complicity with the occupying power in murder, persecutions,...

; and slave labour (primarily Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

ns and eastern Europeans) being brought to the islands to build fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s. The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 blockade
Blockade
A blockade is an effort to cut off food, supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade, and is distinct from a siege in that a blockade is usually...

d the islands from time to time, particularly following the liberation of mainland Normandy in 1944. Intense negotiations resulted in some Red Cross humanitarian aid, but there was considerable hunger and privation during the occupation, particularly in the final months, when the population was close to starvation. The German troops on the islands surrendered on 9 May 1945, a few days after the final surrender in mainland Europe.

Population


The Channel is densely populated on both shores, with major ports and resorts having a combined population of over 3.5 million people. The most significant towns and cities along the Channel (each with more than 20,000 inhabitants, ranked in descending order; populations are the urban area populations from the 1999 French census, 2001 UK census, and 2001 Jersey census) are as follows:

England




  • Brighton
    Brighton
    Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

    Worthing
    Worthing
    Worthing is a large seaside town with borough status in West Sussex, within the historic County of Sussex, forming part of the Brighton/Worthing/Littlehampton conurbation. It is situated at the foot of the South Downs, west of Brighton, and east of the county town of Chichester...

    Littlehampton
    Littlehampton
    Littlehampton is a seaside resort town and civil parish in the Arun District of West Sussex, England, on the east bank at the mouth of the River Arun. It lies south southwest of London, west of Brighton and east of the county town of Chichester....

    : 461,181 inhabitants, made up of:
    • Brighton
      Brighton
      Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

      : 155,919
    • Worthing
      Worthing
      Worthing is a large seaside town with borough status in West Sussex, within the historic County of Sussex, forming part of the Brighton/Worthing/Littlehampton conurbation. It is situated at the foot of the South Downs, west of Brighton, and east of the county town of Chichester...

      : 96,964
    • Hove
      Hove
      Hove is a town on the south coast of England, immediately to the west of its larger neighbour Brighton, with which it forms the unitary authority Brighton and Hove. It forms a single conurbation together with Brighton and some smaller towns and villages running along the coast...

      : 72,335
    • Littlehampton
      Littlehampton
      Littlehampton is a seaside resort town and civil parish in the Arun District of West Sussex, England, on the east bank at the mouth of the River Arun. It lies south southwest of London, west of Brighton and east of the county town of Chichester....

      : 55,716
    • Lancing
      Lancing, West Sussex
      Lancing is a town and civil parish in the Adur district of West Sussex, England, on the western edge of the Adur Valley. It lies on the coastal plain between Sompting to the west, Shoreham-by-Sea to the east and the parish of Coombes to the north...

      Sompting
      Sompting
      Sompting is a village and civil parish in the Adur District of West Sussex, England, located between Lancing and Worthing, at the foot of the southern slope of the South Downs. Twentieth century development has linked it to Lancing. The civil parish covers an area of 10.35 square kilometres and has...

      : 30,360
  • Portsmouth
    Portsmouth
    Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

    : 442,252, including
    • Gosport
      Gosport
      Gosport is a town, district and borough situated on the south coast of England, within the county of Hampshire. It has approximately 80,000 permanent residents with a further 5,000-10,000 during the summer months...

      : 79,200
  • Bournemouth
    Bournemouth
    Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the ceremonial county of Dorset, England. According to the 2001 Census the town has a population of 163,444, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth...

     & Poole
    Poole
    Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is east of Dorchester, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The Borough of Poole was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council...

    : 383,713
  • Southampton
    Southampton
    Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

    : 304,400
  • Plymouth
    Plymouth
    Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

    : 243,795
  • Torbay
    Torbay
    Torbay is an east-facing bay and natural harbour, at the western most end of Lyme Bay in the south-west of England, situated roughly midway between the cities of Exeter and Plymouth. Part of the ceremonial county of Devon, Torbay was made a unitary authority on 1 April 1998...

     (Torquay
    Torquay
    Torquay is a town in the unitary authority area of Torbay and ceremonial county of Devon, England. It lies south of Exeter along the A380 on the north of Torbay, north-east of Plymouth and adjoins the neighbouring town of Paignton on the west of the bay. Torquay’s population of 63,998 during the...

    ): 129,702
  • Hastings
    Hastings
    Hastings is a town and borough in the county of East Sussex on the south coast of England. The town is located east of the county town of Lewes and south east of London, and has an estimated population of 86,900....

    Bexhill
    Bexhill-on-Sea
    Bexhill-on-Sea is a town and seaside resort in the county of East Sussex, in the south of England, within the District of Rother. It has a population of approximately 40,000...

    : 126,386
  • Eastbourne
    Eastbourne
    Eastbourne is a large town and borough in East Sussex, on the south coast of England between Brighton and Hastings. The town is situated at the eastern end of the chalk South Downs alongside the high cliff at Beachy Head...

    : 106,562
  • Bognor Regis
    Bognor Regis
    Bognor Regis is a seaside resort town and civil parish in the Arun district of West Sussex, on the south coast of England. It is south-south-west of London, west of Brighton, and south-east of the city of Chichester. Other nearby towns include Littlehampton east-north-east and Selsey to the...

    : 62,141
  • Folkestone
    Folkestone
    Folkestone is the principal town in the Shepway District of Kent, England. Its original site was in a valley in the sea cliffs and it developed through fishing and its closeness to the Continent as a landing place and trading port. The coming of the railways, the building of a ferry port, and its...

    Hythe
    Hythe, Kent
    Hythe , is a small coastal market town on the edge of Romney Marsh, in the District of Shepway on the south coast of Kent. The word Hythe or Hithe is an Old English word meaning Haven or Landing Place....

    : 60,039
  • Weymouth: 56,043
  • Dover
    Dover
    Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

    : 39,078
  • Exmouth
    Exmouth, Devon
    Exmouth is a port town, civil parish and seaside resort in East Devon, England, sited on the east bank of the mouth of the River Exe. In 2001, it had a population of 32,972.-History:...

    : 32,972
  • Falmouth
    Falmouth, Cornwall
    Falmouth is a town, civil parish and port on the River Fal on the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It has a total resident population of 21,635.Falmouth is the terminus of the A39, which begins some 200 miles away in Bath, Somerset....

    Penryn
    Penryn, Cornwall
    Penryn is a civil parish and town in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is situated on the Penryn River about one mile northwest of Falmouth...

    : 28,801
  • Ryde
    Ryde
    Ryde is a British seaside town, civil parish and the most populous town and urban area on the Isle of Wight, with a population of approximately 30,000. It is situated on the north-east coast. The town grew in size as a seaside resort following the joining of the villages of Upper Ryde and Lower...

    : 22,806
  • St Austell
    St Austell
    St Austell is a civil parish and a major town in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is situated on the south coast approximately ten miles south of Bodmin and 30 miles west of the border with Devon at Saltash...

    : 22,658
  • Seaford
    Seaford, East Sussex
    Seaford is a coastal town in the county of East Sussex, on the south coast of England. Lying east of Newhaven and Brighton and west of Eastbourne, it is the largest town in Lewes district, with a population of about 23,000....

    : 21,851
  • Falmouth
    Falmouth, Cornwall
    Falmouth is a town, civil parish and port on the River Fal on the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It has a total resident population of 21,635.Falmouth is the terminus of the A39, which begins some 200 miles away in Bath, Somerset....

    : 21,635
  • Penzance
    Penzance
    Penzance is a town, civil parish, and port in Cornwall, England, in the United Kingdom. It is the most westerly major town in Cornwall and is approximately 75 miles west of Plymouth and 300 miles west-southwest of London...

    : 20,255

France

  • Le Havre
    Le Havre
    Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

    : 248,547 inhabitants
  • Calais
    Calais
    Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

    : 104,852
  • Boulogne-sur-Mer
    Boulogne-sur-Mer
    -Road:* Metropolitan bus services are operated by the TCRB* Coach services to Calais and Dunkerque* A16 motorway-Rail:* The main railway station is Gare de Boulogne-Ville and located in the south of the city....

    : 92,704
  • Cherbourg: 89,704
  • Saint-Brieuc
    Saint-Brieuc
    Saint-Brieuc is a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department in Brittany in northwestern France.-History:Saint-Brieuc is named after a Welsh monk Brioc, who evangelized the region in the 6th century and established an oratory there...

    : 85,849
  • Saint-Malo
    Saint-Malo
    Saint-Malo is a walled port city in Brittany in northwestern France on the English Channel. It is a sub-prefecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine.-Demographics:The population can increase to up to 200,000 in the summer tourist season...

    : 50,675
  • Lannion
    Lannion
    Lannion is a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department in Brittany in northwestern France. It is a subpréfecture of Côtes-d'Armor, the capital of Trégor and the center of an urban area of almost 60,000 inhabitants.-Population:...

    Perros-Guirec
    Perros-Guirec
    Perros-Guirec is a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department in Brittany in northwestern France.-Population:Inhabitants of Perros-Guirec are called perrosiens.-Tourism:...

    : 48,990
  • Dieppe
    Dieppe, Seine-Maritime
    Dieppe is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in France. In 1999, the population of the whole Dieppe urban area was 81,419.A port on the English Channel, famous for its scallops, and with a regular ferry service from the Gare Maritime to Newhaven in England, Dieppe also has a popular pebbled...

    : 42,202
  • Morlaix
    Morlaix
    Morlaix is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in northwestern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.-Leisure and tourism:...

    : 35,996
  • Dinard
    Dinard
    Dinard is a commune in the Ille-et-Vilaine department in Brittany in north-western France.Dinard is on the Côte d'Émeraude of Brittany. Its beaches and mild climate make it a popular holiday destination, and this has resulted in the town having a variety of famous visitors and residents...

    : 25,006
  • Étaples
    Étaples
    Étaples or Étaples-sur-Mer is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. It is a fishing and leisure port on the Canche river.There is a separate commune named Staple, Nord.-History:...

    Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
    Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
    Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, commonly referred to as Le Touquet, is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. It has a population of 5,355....

    : 23,994
  • Fécamp
    Fécamp
    Fécamp is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:Fécamp is situated in the valley of the river Valmont, at the heart of the Pays de Caux, on the Albaster Coast...

    : 22,717
  • Eu
    Eu, Seine-Maritime
    Eu is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.Eu is located near the coast in the eastern part of the department, near the border with Picardie.Its inhabitants are known as the Eudois.-Geography:...

    Le Tréport
    Le Tréport
    Le Tréport is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:A small fishing port and light industrial town situated in the Pays de Caux, some northeast of Dieppe at the junction of the D940, the D78 and the D1015 roads...

    : 22,019
  • Trouville-sur-Mer
    Trouville-sur-Mer
    Trouville-sur-Mer, commonly referred to as Trouville, is a commune in the Calvados department in the Basse-Normandie region in northwestern France.Trouville-sur-Mer borders Deauville...

    Deauville
    Deauville
    Deauville is a commune in the Calvados département in the Basse-Normandie region in northwestern France.With its racecourse, harbour, international film festival, marinas, conference centre, villas, Grand Casino and sumptuous hotels, Deauville is regarded as the "queen of the Norman beaches" and...

    : 20,406
  • Berck
    Berck
    Berck, sometimes referred to as Berck-sur-Mer, is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France and lies within the Marquenterre regional park, an ornithological nature reserve...

    : 20,113

Channel Islands

  • Saint Helier
    Saint Helier
    Saint Helier is one of the twelve parishes of Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands in the English Channel. St. Helier has a population of about 28,000, roughly 31.2% of the total population of Jersey, and is the capital of the Island . The urban area of the parish of St...

    : 28,310 inhabitants
  • Saint Peter Port: 16,488 inhabitants

Shipping


The Channel has traffic on both the UK-Europe and North Sea-Atlantic routes, and is the world's busiest seaway, with over 500 ships per day. Following an accident in January 1971 and a series of disastrous collisions with wreckage in February, the Dover Traffic Separation System (TSS) the world's first radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 controlled TSS was set up by the International Maritime Organization
International Maritime Organization
The International Maritime Organization , formerly known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization , was established in Geneva in 1948, and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959...

. The scheme mandates that vessels travelling north must use the French side, travelling south the English side. There is a separation zone between the two lanes.

In December 2002 the MV Tricolor
MV Tricolor
MV Tricolor was a 50,000 tonne Norwegian-flagged vehicle carrier built in 1987, notable for having been involved in three English Channel collisions within a fortnight.-Collision and sinking, 14 December 2002:...

, carrying £30m of luxury cars sank 32 km (20 mi) northwest of Dunkirk after collision in fog with the container ship Kariba. The cargo ship Nicola ran into the wreckage the next day. There was no loss of life.

The shore-based long range traffic control system was updated in 2003 and there is a series of Traffic Separation Systems in operation. Though the system is inherently incapable of reaching the levels of safety obtained from aviation systems such as the Traffic Collision Avoidance System
Traffic Collision Avoidance System
A traffic collision avoidance system or traffic alert and collision avoidance system is an aircraft collision avoidance system designed to reduce the incidence of mid-air collisions between aircraft...

, it has reduced accidents to one or two per year.

Marine GPS systems allow ships to be preprogrammed to follow navigational channels accurately and automatically, further avoiding risk of running aground, but following the fatal collision between Dutch Aquamarine and Ash in October 2001, Britain's Marine Accident Investigation Branch
Marine Accident Investigation Branch
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch established in 1989 following the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster is a branch of the United Kingdom Department for Transport which can investigate any accident occurring in UK waters, regardless of the nationality of the vessel involved, and accidents...

 (MAIB) issued a safety bulletin saying it believed that in these most unusual circumstances GPS use had actually contributed to the collision. The ships were maintaining a very precise automated course, one directly behind the other, rather than making use of the full width of the traffic lanes as a human navigator would.

A combination of radar difficulties in monitoring areas near cliffs, a failure of a CCTV system, incorrect operation of the anchor, the inability of the crew to follow standard procedures of using a GPS to provide early warning of the ship dragging the anchor and reluctance to admit the mistake and start the engine led to the MV Willy running aground in Cawsand bay, Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 in January 2002. The MAIB report makes it clear that the harbour controllers were informed of impending disaster by shore observers before the crew were themselves aware. The village of Kingsand
Kingsand
Kingsand and Cawsand are twin villages in southeast Cornwall, United Kingdom. The villages are situated on the Rame Peninsula and in the parish of Maker-with-Rame....

 was evacuated for three days because of the risk of explosion, and the ship was stranded for 11 days.

Ecology


As a busy shipping lane, the Channel experiences environmental problems following accidents involving ships with toxic cargo and oil spills. Indeed over 40% of the UK incidents threatening pollution occur in or very near the Channel. One of the most infamous was the MSC Napoli
MSC Napoli
MSC Napoli was a United Kingdom-flagged container ship that was deliberately broken up by salvors after she ran into difficulty in the English Channel on 18 January 2007.-Early history:...

, which with nearly 1700 tonnes of dangerous cargo was controversially beached in Lyme Bay, a protected World Heritage Site coastline. The ship had been damaged and was en route to Portland Harbour
Portland Harbour
Portland Harbour is located beside the Isle of Portland, off Dorset, on the south coast of England. It is one of the largest man-made harbours in the world. Grid reference: .-History:...

 when much nearer harbours were available.

Transportation



Ferry



Important ferry routes are:
  • Dover-Calais
  • Dover
    Dover
    Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

    -Boulogne
    Boulogne-sur-Mer
    -Road:* Metropolitan bus services are operated by the TCRB* Coach services to Calais and Dunkerque* A16 motorway-Rail:* The main railway station is Gare de Boulogne-Ville and located in the south of the city....

  • Dover-Dunkerque
  • Newhaven
    Newhaven, East Sussex
    Newhaven is a town in the Lewes District of East Sussex in England. It lies at the mouth of the River Ouse, on the English Channel coast, and is a ferry port for services to France.-Origins:...

    -Dieppe
    Dieppe, Seine-Maritime
    Dieppe is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in France. In 1999, the population of the whole Dieppe urban area was 81,419.A port on the English Channel, famous for its scallops, and with a regular ferry service from the Gare Maritime to Newhaven in England, Dieppe also has a popular pebbled...

  • Portsmouth
    Portsmouth
    Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

    -Caen
    Caen
    Caen is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region. It is located inland from the English Channel....

     (Ouistreham)
  • Portsmouth-Cherbourg
  • Portsmouth-Le Havre
    Le Havre
    Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

  • Portsmouth-Saint Malo
  • Portsmouth-Jersey
    Jersey
    Jersey, officially the Bailiwick of Jersey is a British Crown Dependency off the coast of Normandy, France. As well as the island of Jersey itself, the bailiwick includes two groups of small islands that are no longer permanently inhabited, the Minquiers and Écréhous, and the Pierres de Lecq and...

     & Guernsey
    Guernsey
    Guernsey, officially the Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British Crown dependency in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy.The Bailiwick, as a governing entity, embraces not only all 10 parishes on the Island of Guernsey, but also the islands of Herm, Jethou, Burhou, and Lihou and their islet...

  • Poole
    Poole
    Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is east of Dorchester, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The Borough of Poole was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council...

    -Saint Malo
  • Poole-Cherbourg
  • Weymouth-Saint Malo
  • Plymouth
    Plymouth
    Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

    -Roscoff

Channel Tunnel


Many travellers cross beneath the Channel using the Channel Tunnel
Channel Tunnel
The Channel Tunnel is a undersea rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent in the United Kingdom with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais near Calais in northern France beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. At its lowest point, it is deep...

, first proposed in the early 19th century and finally realised in 1994, connecting the UK and France by rail
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

. It is now routine to travel between Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 or Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 and London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 on the Eurostar train. Cars can also be carried on special trains
Eurotunnel Shuttle
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is a shuttle service between Calais/Coquelles in France and Folkestone in Britain. It conveys road vehicles by rail through the Channel Tunnel...

 between Folkestone
Folkestone
Folkestone is the principal town in the Shepway District of Kent, England. Its original site was in a valley in the sea cliffs and it developed through fishing and its closeness to the Continent as a landing place and trading port. The coming of the railways, the building of a ferry port, and its...

 and Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

.

Tourism


The coastal resorts of the Channel, such as Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

 and Deauville
Deauville
Deauville is a commune in the Calvados département in the Basse-Normandie region in northwestern France.With its racecourse, harbour, international film festival, marinas, conference centre, villas, Grand Casino and sumptuous hotels, Deauville is regarded as the "queen of the Norman beaches" and...

, inaugurated an era of aristocratic tourism in the early 19th century, which developed into the seaside tourism that has shaped resorts around the world. Short trips across the Channel for leisure purposes are often referred to as Channel Hopping
Channel Hopping
Channel hopping is a slang term used by Britons making short trips across the English Channel. It is most commonly used for trips to France, often for the purposes of a booze cruise, but may also apply to trips to other countries such as The Netherlands or Belgium.Although it commonly denotes a...

.

Culture and languages


The two dominant cultures are English on the north shore of the Channel, French on the south. However, there are also a number of minority languages that are or were found on the shores and islands of the English Channel, which are listed here, with the Channel's name following them.

Celtic Languages
  • Breton
    Breton language
    Breton is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany , France. Breton is a Brythonic language, descended from the Celtic British language brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages. Like the other Brythonic languages, Welsh and Cornish, it is classified as...

     - "Mor Breizh" (Sea of Brittany)
  • Cornish
    Cornish language
    Cornish is a Brythonic Celtic language and a recognised minority language of the United Kingdom. Along with Welsh and Breton, it is directly descended from the ancient British language spoken throughout much of Britain before the English language came to dominate...

     - "Mor Bretannek"


Germanic languages
  • English
  • Dutch
    Dutch language
    Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

     - "het Kanaal" (the Channel)
  • German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

     - "der Ärmelkanal" (the Sleeve Channel)


Dutch previously had a larger range, and extended into parts of modern-day France. For more information, please see French Flemish.

Romance languages
  • French - "La Manche"
  • Gallo
    Gallo language
    Gallo is a regional language of France. Gallo is a Romance language, one of the Oïl languages. It is the historic language of the region of Upper Brittany and some neighboring portions of Normandy, but today is spoken by only a small minority of the population, having been largely superseded by...

  • Norman
    Norman language
    Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. Norman can be classified as one of the northern Oïl languages along with Picard and Walloon...

    , including the Channel Island vernaculars:
    • Anglo-Norman
      Anglo-Norman language
      Anglo-Norman is the name traditionally given to the kind of Old Norman used in England and to some extent elsewhere in the British Isles during the Anglo-Norman period....

       (extinct, but fossilised in certain English law phrases)
    • Auregnais
      Auregnais
      Auregnais, Aoeur'gnaeux or Aurignais is the Norman dialect of the Channel Island of Alderney . It is estimated that there are now possibly only 20 people still fluent in the language....

       (extinct)
    • Cotentinais
      Cotentinais
      Cotentinais is the dialect of the Norman language spoken in the Cotentin Peninsula. It is one of the strongest dialects of the language on the mainland.-Dialects:...

       - "Maunche"
    • Guernesiais - "Ch'nal"
    • Jèrriais
      Jèrriais
      Jèrriais is the form of the Norman language spoken in Jersey, in the Channel Islands, off the coast of France. It has been in decline over the past century as English has increasingly become the language of education, commerce and administration...

       - "Ch'na"
    • Sercquais
  • Picard
    Picard language
    Picard is a language closely related to French, and as such is one of the larger group of Romance languages. It is spoken in two regions in the far north of France – Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy – and in parts of the Belgian region of Wallonia, the district of Tournai and a part of...



Most other languages tend towards variants of the French and English forms, but notably Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

 has "Môr Udd".

Notable channel crossings


As one of the narrowest but most famous international waterways lacking dangerous currents, the Channel has been the first objective of numerous innovative sea, air and human power
Human power
Human power is work or energy that is produced from the human body. It can also refer to the power of a human. Power comes primarily from muscles, but body heat is also used to do work like warming shelters, food, or other humans....

ed crossing technologies.

{| class="wikitable"
!style="text-align:left"| Date
!style="text-align:left"| Crossing
!style="text-align:left"| Participant(s)
!style="text-align:left"| Notes
|-
| 7 January 1785
| First crossing by air (in balloon
Balloon (aircraft)
A balloon is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. It is distinct from an airship, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner....

, from Dover to Calais)
| Jean Pierre François Blanchard
Jean-Pierre Blanchard
Jean-Pierre Blanchard , aka Jean Pierre François Blanchard, was a French inventor, most remembered as a pioneer in aviation and ballooning....

 (France)
John Jeffries
John Jeffries
John Jeffries was a Boston physician, scientist, and a military surgeon with the British Army in Nova Scotia and New York during the American Revolution. Born in Boston, Jeffries graduated from Harvard College and obtained his medical degree at the University of Aberdeen...

 (US)
| —
|-
| 15 June 1785
| First air crash
(in combination hydrogen / hot-air balloon)
| Pilâtre de Rozier
Pilâtre de Rozier
Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier was a French chemistry and physics teacher, and one of the first pioneers of aviation. He and the Marquis d'Arlandes made the first manned free balloon flight on 21 November 1783, in a Montgolfier balloon. He later died when his balloon crashed near Wimereux in...

 (France) Pierre Romain (France)
| Attempted crossing similar to Blanchard/Jeffries
|-
| March 1816
| the French paddle steamer Elise (ex Scottish-built Margery or Margory) was the first steamer to cross the Channel.
|
|
|-
| 9 May 1816
| Paddle steamer Defiance, Captain William Wager, was the first steamer to cross the Channel to Holland
|
|
|-
| 10 June 1821
| Paddle steamer Rob Roy, first passenger ferry to cross channel.
|
| The steamer was purchased subsequently by the French postal administration and renamed Henri IV.
|-
| June 1843
| First ferry connection through Folkestone-Boulogne
|
| Commanding officer Captain Hayward
Captain Hayward
Captain Hayward was an English sailor. He was in command of the first ferry to cross the English Channel from Folkestone to Boulogne-sur-Mer in June 1843....


|-
| 25 August 1875
| First person known to swim the channel (Dover to Calais, 21 hrs, 45 min)
| Matthew Webb
Matthew Webb
Captain Matthew Webb was the first recorded person to swim the English Channel without the use of artificial aids. On 25 August 1875 he swam from Dover to Calais in less than 22 hours.-Early life and career:...

 (UK)
| Attempted crossing on 12 August the same year; forced to abandon swim because of strong winds/rough sea conditions
|-
| 27 March 1899
| First radio transmission across the Channel (from Wimereux
Wimereux
Wimereux is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:Wimereux is a coastal town situated some north of Boulogne, at the junction of the D233 and the D940 roads, on the banks of the river Wimereux. The river Slack forms the northern boundary of...

 to South Foreland Lighthouse
South Foreland Lighthouse
South Foreland Lighthouse is a Victorian lighthouse on the South Foreland in St. Margaret's Bay, Dover, Kent, England, used to warn ships approaching the nearby Goodwin Sands. It went out of service in 1988 and is currently owned by the National Trust...

)
| Guglielmo Marconi
Guglielmo Marconi
Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian inventor, known as the father of long distance radio transmission and for his development of Marconi's law and a radio telegraph system. Marconi is often credited as the inventor of radio, and indeed he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand...

 (Italy)
|
|-
| 25 July 1909
| First person to cross the channel in a heavier-than-air aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 (the Blériot XI
Blériot XI
The Blériot XI is the aircraft in which, on 25 July 1909, Louis Blériot made the first flight across the English Channel made in a heavier-than-air aircraft . This achievement is one of the most famous accomplishments of the early years of aviation, and not only won Blériot a lasting place in...

) (Calais to Dover, 37 minutes)
| Louis Blériot
Louis Blériot
Louis Charles Joseph Blériot was a French aviator, inventor and engineer. In 1909 he completed the first flight across a large body of water in a heavier-than-air craft, when he crossed the English Channel. For this achievement, he received a prize of £1,000...

 (France)
| Encouraged by £1000 prize offered by the Daily Mail
Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982...

for first successful flight across the Channel
|-
| June 1910
| First person to make a double crossing of the Channel in a heavier-than-air aircraft (a Short Wright biplane).
| Charles Stewart Rolls (UK)
| From Swingfield Downs, Kent to Sangatte
Sangatte
Sangatte is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department on the northern coast of France on the English Channel.Like many place names in French Flanders, the name is of Flemish origin and means "gap in the sand".-Engineering:...

, France, returning to Eastchurch
Eastchurch
Eastchurch is a village on the Isle of Sheppey, in the English county of Kent, two miles east of Minster.The village website claims "... it has a history steeped in stories of piracy and smugglers".- Aviation history :...

, Kent.
|-
| 23 August 1910
| First aircraft flight with passengers
| John Bevins Moisant (US)
| Passengers were mechanic Albert Fileux and Moisant's cat.
|-
| 16 April 1912
| First woman to fly across the Channel (Dover to Calais, 59 minutes)
| Harriet Quimby
Harriet Quimby
Harriet Quimby was an early American aviator and a movie screenwriter. In 1911 she was awarded a U.S. pilot's certificate by the Aero Club of America, becoming the first woman to gain a pilot's license in the United States. In 1912 she became the first woman to fly across the English Channel...

 (US)
| Her accomplishment did not receive much media attention, as the RMS Titanic sank the evening before.
|-
| 23 August 1926
| First woman to swim across the channel (Cap Gris Nez
Cap Gris Nez
Cap Gris Nez is a cape on the Côte d'Opale in the Pas-de-Calais département in northern France....

 to Kingsdown
Kingsdown, Kent
Kingsdown is a village immediately to the south of Walmer, itself south of Deal, on the English Channel coast of Kent. Parts of the village are built on or behind the shingle beach that runs north to Deal and beyond, while other parts are on the cliffs and hills inland...

, 14 hours 39 minutes)
| Gertrude Ederle
Gertrude Ederle
Gertrude Caroline Ederle was an American competitive swimmer. In 1926, she became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Gertrude Ederle was the daughter of a German immigrant who ran a butcher shop on Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan; she was born in New York City. She was known as...

 (US)
| Five men had swum the channel before Ederle. Ederle beat their best time by two hours, creating a record for a female swimmer that stood until Florence Chadwick
Florence Chadwick
Florence May Chadwick was an American swimmer who was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. She also made contributions to various youth groups.- Biography :...

 swam it in 13 hours 20 minutes in 1950.
|-
| 18 September 1928
| First flight across the Channel by autogyro
Autogyro
An autogyro , also known as gyroplane, gyrocopter, or rotaplane, is a type of rotorcraft which uses an unpowered rotor in autorotation to develop lift, and an engine-powered propeller, similar to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, to provide thrust...


| Juan de la Cierva
Juan de la Cierva
Juan de la Cierva y Codorníu, 1st Count of De La Cierva was a Spanish civil engineer, pilot and aeronuatical engineer. His most famous accomplishment was the invention in 1920 of the Autogiro, a single-rotor type of aircraft that came to be called autogyro in the English language...

 (SPA)
| Achieved as part of the first flight by autogyro between London and Paris.
|-
| 19 June 1931
| First crossing in a glider
Glider aircraft
Glider aircraft are heavier-than-air craft that are supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against their lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. Mostly these types of aircraft are intended for routine operation without engines, though engine failure can...


| Lissant Beardmore (UK)
| Aero-tow from Lympne
Lympne Airport
Lympne Airport , , was a military and later civil airfield at Lympne, Kent, United Kingdom, which operated from 1916 to 1984. RFC Lympne was originally an acceptance point for aircraft being delivered to, and returning from, France during the First World War...

 to an altitude of 14000 feet (4,267.2 m). Landed at Saint-Inglevert Airfield
Saint-Inglevert Airfield
Saint-Inglevert Airfield is a general aviation airfield at Saint-Inglevert, Pas-de-Calais, France. In the First World War an airfield was established near Saint-Inglevert by the Royal Flying Corps, later passing to the Royal Air Force on formation and thus becoming RAF Saint Inglevert...

, Pas-de-Calais.
|-
| 25 July 1959
| Hovercraft crossing (Calais to Dover, 2 hours 3 minutes)
| SR-N1
SR-N1
The Saunders-Roe SR.N1 was the first practical hovercraft.-Design:It was designed by Christopher Cockerell and built by Saunders-Roe on the Isle of Wight under the auspices of the National Research and Development Corporation...


| Sir Christopher Cockerell
Christopher Cockerell
Sir Christopher Sydney Cockerell CBE FRS was an English engineer, inventor of the hovercraft.-Life:Cockerell was born in Cambridge, where his father, Sir Sydney Cockerell, was curator of the Fitzwilliam Museum, having previously been the secretary of William Morris. Christopher Cockerell was...

 was on board
|-
| 22 August 1972
| First solo hovercraft crossing (same route as SR-N1; 2 hours 20 minutes)
| Nigel Beale (UK)
|
|-
| 1974
| Coracle
Coracle
The coracle is a small, lightweight boat of the sort traditionally used in Wales but also in parts of Western and South Western England, Ireland , and Scotland ; the word is also used of similar boats found in India, Vietnam, Iraq and Tibet...

 (13½ hours)
| Bernard Thomas (UK)
| As part of a publicity stunt, the journey was undertaken to demonstrate how the Bull Boats of the Mandan Indians of North Dakota could have been copied from Welsh coracles introduced by Prince Madog in the 12th century.
|-
| 12 June 1979
| First human-powered aircraft
Human-powered aircraft
A human-powered aircraft is an aircraft powered by direct human energy and the force of gravity; the thrust provided by the human may be the only source; however, a hang glider that is partially powered by pilot power is a human-powered aircraft where the flight path can be enhanced more than if...

 to fly over the Channel
(in 55-pound (25 kg) Gossamer Albatross
Gossamer Albatross
-See also:-Further reading:*Allen, Bryan. Winged Victory of "Gossamer Albatross". National Geographic, November 1979, vol. 156, n. 5, p. 640-651...

)
| Bryan Allen
Bryan Allen (cyclist)
Bryan L. Allen is self-taught hang glider pilot and bicyclist. He achieved fame when he piloted the aircraft that won the first two Kremer prizes for human-powered flight, the Gossamer Condor and Gossamer Albatross...

 (US)
| Won a £100,000 Kremer Prize
Kremer prizes
The Kremer prizes are a series of monetary awards, established in 1959 by the industrialist Henry Kremer, that are given to pioneers of human-powered flight. The competitions and prize awards are administered by the Royal Aeronautical Society's Human Powered Aircraft Group. .The first Kremer prize...

; Allen pedalled for three hours
|-
|14 September 1995
|Fastest crossing by hovercraft
Hovercraft
A hovercraft is a craft capable of traveling over surfaces while supported by a cushion of slow moving, high-pressure air which is ejected against the surface below and contained within a "skirt." Although supported by air, a hovercraft is not considered an aircraft.Hovercraft are used throughout...

, 22 minutes by "Princess Anne"
|MCH
MCH
MCH can refer to:* Machala, Ecuador * March, in National Rail abbreviations.* March railway station, England; National Rail station code MCH.* Mean corpuscular hemoglobin or Mean cell hemoglobin* Maternal and child health...

 SR-N4 MkIII
|Craft was designed as a ferry
|-
| 1997
| First vessel to complete a solar-powered crossing using photovoltaic cells.
| SB Collinda
| —
|-
| 14 June 2004
| New record time for crossing in amphibious vehicle (the Gibbs Aquada
Gibbs Aquada
The Gibbs Aquada is a high speed amphibious vehicle developed by Gibbs Technologies, an Alan Gibbs company. It is capable of speeds over 160 km/h on land and 50 km/h on water...

, two-seater open-top sports car
Sports car
A sports car is a small, usually two seat, two door automobile designed for high speed driving and maneuverability....

)
| Richard Branson
Richard Branson
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, best known for his Virgin Group of more than 400 companies....

 (UK)
| Completed crossing in 1 hour 40 minutes 6 seconds - previous record was 6 hours.
|-
| 31 July 2003
| Crossing in a 20 miles (32.2 km) long freefall using a wingsuit and a carbon fibre wing
| Felix Baumgartner
Felix Baumgartner
Felix Baumgartner is a skydiver and a BASE jumper. He is renowned for the particularly dangerous nature of the stunts he has performed during his career...

 (Austria)
|
|-
| 26 July 2006
| New record time for crossing in hydrofoil
Hydrofoil
A hydrofoil is a foil which operates in water. They are similar in appearance and purpose to airfoils.Hydrofoils can be artificial, such as the rudder or keel on a boat, the diving planes on a submarine, a surfboard fin, or occur naturally, as with fish fins, the flippers of aquatic mammals, the...

 car (the Rinspeed Splash, two-seater open-top sports car
Sports car
A sports car is a small, usually two seat, two door automobile designed for high speed driving and maneuverability....

)
| Frank M. Rinderknecht (SUI)
| Completed crossing in 3 hours 14 minutes
|-
| 25 September 2006
| First crossing on a towed inflatable object (not a powered inflatable boat
Inflatable boat
An inflatable boat is a lightweight boat constructed with its sides and bow made of flexible tubes containing pressurised gas. For smaller boats, the floor and hull beneath it is often flexible. On boats longer than , the floor often consists of three to five rigid plywood or aluminium sheets fixed...

)
| Stephen Preston (UK)
| Completed crossing in 180 min
|-
| July 2007
| BBC Top Gear presenters drive to France in amphibious cars.
| Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Charles Robert Clarkson is an English broadcaster, journalist and writer who specialises in motoring. He is best known for his role on the BBC TV show Top Gear along with co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May...

, Richard Hammond
Richard Hammond
Richard Mark Hammond is an English broadcaster, writer, and journalist most noted for co-hosting car programme Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson and James May, as well as presenting Brainiac: Science Abuse on Sky 1.-Early life:...

, James May
James May
James Daniel May is an English television presenter, journalist and writer. He is best known for his role as co-presenter of the award-winning motoring programme Top Gear alongside Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond....

 (UK)
| Completed the crossing in a 1996 Nissan D21
Nissan Hardbody Truck
-Nissan Hardbody:The D21 generation was the successor to the Datsun "720". The company used the name "Datsun" from 1980 to 1983 then renamed itself "Nissan" beginning with the 1983.5 model year line of trucks and cars alike. The D21 series were unofficially called Nissan Hardbody in the United...

 pick-up (the "Nissank"), fitted with a Honda outboard engine.
|-
| 26 September 2008
| First crossing with a jetpack
| Yves Rossy
Yves Rossy
Yves Rossy is a Swiss pilot, inventor and aviation enthusiast. He is the first person to achieve sustained human flight using a jet-powered fixed wing strapped to his back...

 (SUI)
| Crossing completed in less than ten minutes
|-
|12 March 2010
|First crossing by water ski
Water skiing
thumb|right|A slalom skier making a turn on a slalom waterski.Waterskiing is a sport where an individual is pulled behind a boat or a cable ski installation on a body of water, skimming the surface.-History:...


|Christine Bleakley
Christine Bleakley
Christine Louise Bleakley is a television presenter from Northern Ireland. She joined Daybreak on ITV as co-presenter with Adrian Chiles in September 2010...

 (UK)
|Completed in just over 1 hour 40 minutes. She completed the challenge for BBC Sport Relief
Sport Relief
Sport Relief is a biennial charity event from Comic Relief, in association with BBC Sport, which brings together the worlds of sport and entertainment to raise money to help vulnerable people in both the UK and the world's poorest countries...

, falling eight times during the crossing.
|-
|28 May 2010
|First crossing by helium
Helium
Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

 balloon
Balloon
A balloon is an inflatable flexible bag filled with a gas, such as helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, or air. Modern balloons can be made from materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric, while some early balloons were made of dried animal bladders, such as the pig...


|Jonathan Trappe (US)
|Completed in 4 hours. He crossed the Channel dangling beneath a cloud of coloured helium balloons and controlled his altitude by cutting the balloons free one by one, with a pair of scissors.
|-
|18 July 2010
|First crossing by RS Tera
RS Tera
The RS Tera is a one man monohull dinghy in the RS Sailing range of sailing boats. It is recognised by the International Sailing Federation as an international class, and is a popular boat for beginners.-Performance and design:...


|Children aged 7 to 16 from CCSC, DSC and Downs SC (UK)
|Crossing made in single-handed 9' sailing dinghies. Dover to Boulogne (27 miles) in 5 hours.
|-
|20 August 2011
|First Crossing by Sea Scooters
|A four-man relay team from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, headed by Heath Samples LL.B Hons, crossed from Shakespeare Beach to Wissant.
|It took 12 hours 26 minutes 39 seconds. It set a new Guinness World Record.
|-

By boat


Pierre Andriel crossed the English Channel aboard the Élise
Steam ship Élise
The Élise was the first steamship to cross the English Channel.She was bought in England 1814 by Pierre Andriel as Margery, and renamed Élise. Andriel intended to accomplish a spectacular crossing of the Channel to convince public opinion that steam ships could be ocean-worthy.The Élise departed...

, ex the Scottish p.s. "Margery" in March 1816, one of the earliest sea going voyages by steam ship
Steamboat
A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels...

.

The paddle steamer Defiance, Captain William Wager, was the first steamer to cross the Channel to Holland, arriving there on 9 May 1816.

On June 10, 1821 English-built paddle steamer
Paddle steamer
A paddle steamer is a steamship or riverboat, powered by a steam engine, using paddle wheels to propel it through the water. In antiquity, Paddle wheelers followed the development of poles, oars and sails, where the first uses were wheelers driven by animals or humans...

 Rob Roy was the first passenger ferry to cross channel. The steamer was purchased subsequently by the French postal administration and renamed Henri IV and put into regular passenger service a year later. It was able to make the journey across the Straits of Dover in around three hours.

In June 1843 because of difficulties with Dover harbour, the South Eastern Railway company developed the Boulogne-sur-Mer
Boulogne-sur-Mer
-Road:* Metropolitan bus services are operated by the TCRB* Coach services to Calais and Dunkerque* A16 motorway-Rail:* The main railway station is Gare de Boulogne-Ville and located in the south of the city....

-Folkestone
Folkestone
Folkestone is the principal town in the Shepway District of Kent, England. Its original site was in a valley in the sea cliffs and it developed through fishing and its closeness to the Continent as a landing place and trading port. The coming of the railways, the building of a ferry port, and its...

 route as an alternative to Calais-Dover. The first ferry crossed under the command of Captain Hayward
Captain Hayward
Captain Hayward was an English sailor. He was in command of the first ferry to cross the English Channel from Folkestone to Boulogne-sur-Mer in June 1843....

.

The Mountbatten class hovercraft
Mountbatten class hovercraft
The SR.N4 hovercraft was a large passenger and vehicle carrying hovercraft built by the British Hovercraft Corporation . BHC was formed by the merger of Saunders-Roe and Vickers Supermarine in 1966...

 (MCH) entered commercial service in August 1968, initially between Dover and Boulogne but later also Ramsgate
Ramsgate
Ramsgate is a seaside town in the district of Thanet in east Kent, England. It was one of the great English seaside towns of the 19th century and is a member of the ancient confederation of Cinque Ports. It has a population of around 40,000. Ramsgate's main attraction is its coastline and its main...

 (Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay is a shallow inlet in the English Channel coast at the estuary of the River Stour between Ramsgate and Sandwich in Kent. Situated in the bay is a large nature reserve, known for its migrating waders and wildfowl, with a complete series of seashore habitats including extensive mudflats...

) to Calais. The journey time Dover to Boulogne was roughly 35 minutes, with six trips per day at peak times. The fastest crossing of the English Channel by a commercial car-carrying hovercraft was 22 minutes, recorded by the Princess Anne MCH SR-N4 Mk3 on 14 September 1995, for the 10:00 am service .

The youngest recorded sailors to cross the Channel were a team of eight with ages ranging from 7 to 16 on 18 July 2010. They sailed their single-handed RS Tera dinghies 27 miles from Dover to Boulogne in 5 hours and were tracked by Dover Coastguard Radar, who retain a record of the passage. They were from three UK clubs: Castle Cove SC, Dabchicks SC and Downs SC.

By swimming



The sport of Channel swimming traces its origins to the latter part of the 19th century when Captain Matthew Webb
Matthew Webb
Captain Matthew Webb was the first recorded person to swim the English Channel without the use of artificial aids. On 25 August 1875 he swam from Dover to Calais in less than 22 hours.-Early life and career:...

 made the first observed and unassisted swim across the Strait of Dover, swimming from England to France on 24-25 August 1875 in 21 hours 45 minutes.

In 1927, at a time when fewer than ten swimmers had managed to emulate the feat and many dubious claims were being made, the Channel Swimming Association (CSA) was founded to authenticate and ratify swimmers' claims to have swum the Channel and to verify crossing times. The CSA was dissolved in 1999 and was succeeded by two separate organisations: CSA (Ltd) and the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CSPF). Both observe and authenticate cross-Channel swims in the Strait of Dover. The Channel Crossing Association was set up at about this time to cater for unorthodox crossings.

The team with the most number of Channel swims to its credit is the International Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, with 35 crossings by 25 members (by 2005).

By the end of 2005, 811 people had completed 1,185 verified crossings under the rules of the CSA, the CSA (Ltd), the CSPF and Butlins.

The number of swims conducted under and ratified by the Channel Swimming Association to 2005 was 982 by 665 people. This includes 24 two-way crossings and three three-way crossings.

The number of ratified swims to 2004 was 948 by 675 people (456 men, 214 women). There have been 16 two-way crossings (9 by men and 7 by women). There have been three three-way crossings (2 by men and 1 by a woman). (It is unclear whether this last set of data is comprehensive or CSA only.)

The Strait of Dover is the busiest stretch of water in the world. It is governed by International Law as described in this document. It states,, "However, in exceptional cases the French Maritime Authorities may grant authority for unorthodox craft to cross French territorial waters within the Traffic Separation Scheme when these craft set off from the British coast, on condition that the request for authorisation is sent to them with the opinion of the British Maritime Authorities". It is therefore theoretically possible to hire a non CSA or CS&PF pilot boat when swimming the channel, though it would be difficult to convince the MCA to endorse the trip.

The CCA, CSA and CS&PF are the organisations escorting channel swims, because their pilots have the experience, qualifications and equipment to guarantee the safety of the swimmers they escort.

The fastest verified swim of the Channel was by the Bulgarian Petar Stoychev
Petar Stoychev
Petar Stoychev is a Bulgarian swimmer who is the most successful long distance marathon swimmer of the last decade. He is one of the greatest marathon swimmers of all time and an honor swimmer in the...

 on 24 August 2007, in 6 hours 57 minutes 50 seconds.

By car


On 16 September 1965 two Amphicars crossed from Dover to Calais. One was crewed by two Army Officers, Captain Mike Bailey REME and Captain Peter Tappenden RAOC, the other by Tim Dill-Russell and Sgt Joe Minto RASC. The crossing took 7 hours 20 minutes. Conditions in mid channel were up to force 5. The cars went on to the Frankfurt Motor Show of that year where they were put on display.

In 2007 the presenters of the BBC programme Top Gear (Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Charles Robert Clarkson is an English broadcaster, journalist and writer who specialises in motoring. He is best known for his role on the BBC TV show Top Gear along with co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May...

, Richard Hammond
Richard Hammond
Richard Mark Hammond is an English broadcaster, writer, and journalist most noted for co-hosting car programme Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson and James May, as well as presenting Brainiac: Science Abuse on Sky 1.-Early life:...

 and James May
James May
James Daniel May is an English television presenter, journalist and writer. He is best known for his role as co-presenter of the award-winning motoring programme Top Gear alongside Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond....

) "drove" across the Channel from England to France. They did it by designing 'Amphibious Cars' which could be driven on land and also operate in water.
After four attempts - twice failing to leave Dover Harbour - they reached the coast of France in a Nissan pick-up with an outboard motor and oil drums attached to the back to aid stability in the open water. The other two vehicles that attempted the crossing (a Triumph Herald with a sail and a Volkswagen Campervan with a propeller attached to the flywheel) both sank.

Clarkson believed it might be possible to break the world record for crossing the channel in this manner, but the team were unsuccessful.

The Daily Mail
Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982...

 claimed that the BBC received criticism from the coastguard who claimed that they had not been told that the stunt was going to take place, and allegedly branded it "completely irresponsible", despite the aired episode showing the co-operation of the coastguard.

See also

  • Doggerland
    Doggerland
    Doggerland is a name given by archaeologists and geologists to a former landmass in the southern North Sea that connected the island of Great Britain to mainland Europe during and after the last Ice Age, surviving until about 6,500 or 6,200 BCE, though gradually being swallowed by rising sea levels...

  • Booze cruise
    Booze cruise
    Booze cruise is a British colloquial term for a brief trip from Britain to France or Belgium with the intent of taking advantage of lower prices, and buying personal supplies of alcohol or tobacco in bulk quantities...

  • Phoenix breakwaters
    Phoenix breakwaters
    The Phoenix breakwaters were a set of reinforced concrete caissons built as part of the artificial Mulberry harbours that were assembled as part of the follow-up to the Normandy landings during World War II. They were constructed by civil engineering contractors around the coast of Britain...

  • List of firsts in aviation
  • List of successful English Channel swimmers

External links