For centuries, oceangoing ships sailed along the Mediterranean coast. Mediterranean countries were the breeding ground of many great civilisations, starting with the Minoan and Phoenician prehistoric civilisations which were succeeded by the Greeks who, starting from 800 BC, founded colonies there. In Hellenistic times great value was attached to the fleet. The Romans attributed great importance to trade and in Roman times the Mediterranean sea was called “the Roman lake”. The Byzantine naval force was launched in the 6th century under Justinian’s rule, and with the decline of the Byzantine empire,naval supremacy in the Mediterranean passed over to the West. The Greek navy once again rallied its forces together in the 19th century with the war of liberation against the Turks.