Commerce raiding or guerre de course is a naval strategy of attacking an opponent's commercial shipping rather than contending for control of the seas with its naval forces. The objective is to make the war too expensive for the opponent to continue it.
Usually, commerce raiding is chosen by the weaker naval power who has little chance to succeed against the naval forces of its opponent.
During Britain's wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France, the Royal Navy dominated the seas. France adopted a guerre de course strategy by licensing civilian privateers to seize British shipping.
During World War II, the United States Navy used its submarines against Japanese shipping. The bulk of the Japanese merchant marine was sunk by American submarines. By the end of the war, Japan only had 12% of the tonnage of her pre-war shipping afloat.
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