Warships have long had a role in projecting power below the threshold of war. While critics of the value of surface warships may question the vulnerability of such ships in war, it may be that it is not necessarily in war where they can have the greatest impact. The tension in projecting some force but not too much is profound. Protecting sovereignty or asserting freedom of navigation without starting a war can mean seeking to prevent the loss of something important in peace on the one hand, without precipitating the loss of so much more through war on the other. Any of these intentions, or all of them together, place considerable pressure on warship commanders to make decisions which neither concede nor escalate. This state of affairs may persist for a long time, with tensions at sea rising and falling in line with political tensions, but not dissipating.