At least since the seventeenth century, science has been used in Europe to aid armed forces in making war. Both in Britain and in France, the fellows of the Royal Societies were employed to produce advantages for their respective countries. Social barriers handicapped these efforts and the British navy benefitted more from those in its own ranks who practised science. The appointment of Samuel Bentham to be Inspector General of Naval Works in 1796 aimed at using his interest in science, his experience and enthusiasm to advance shipbuilding, dockyard facilities and mechanisation. He was motivated by a Utilitarian ideology which committed him to improvement both physical and administrative. His ideas contributed to the strengthening of central control and economy in the dockyards as well as their physical reconstruction, especially in the navy’s principal yard at Portsmouth. However, although similar in many ways to private industry, the dockyards suffered from a culture that was indifferent to modernisation and induced Bentham to become involved in changing their organisation. He made enemies and has remained a controversial figure. Reassessment in this book argues that the process of mechanisation, to which Bentham gave impetus, entered naval management in thinking not only about the provisions of physical facilities available to the fleet but about the conduct of their operations. It was a new attitude which made for greater efficiency of central control and permitted the support of a fleet of unprecedented size which, after 1812, was able to operate in both European and American waters.