Battle of Cape Ecnomus

The Battle of Cape Ecnomus or Eknomos (Ancient Greek: Ἔκνομος) was a naval battle, fought off southern Sicily, in 256 BC, between the fleets of Carthage and the Roman Republic, during the First Punic War (264–241 BC). The Carthaginian fleet was commanded by Hanno[note 1] and Hamilcar; the Roman fleet jointly by the consuls for the year, Marcus Atilius Regulus and Lucius Manlius Vulso Longus. It resulted in a clear victory for the Romans.

Battle of Cape Ecnomus
Part of the First Punic War

The Naval Battle Near Ecnomus (256 BC)
by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, circa 1763
Date256 BC
Off southern Sicily
37.0500°N 13.9000°E / 37.0500; 13.9000
Result Roman victory
Roman Republic Carthage
Commanders and leaders
Marcus Atilius Regulus
Lucius Manlius Vulso Longus
330 ships
140,000 crew and marines
350 ships
150,000 crew and marines
Casualties and losses
24 ships sunk
10,000 men killed
30 ships sunk
64 ships captured
30,000–40,000 men killed or captured
Cape Ecnomus
Location of the battle, off the south coast of Sicily

The Roman fleet of 330 warships plus an unknown number of transports had sailed from Ostia, the port of Rome, and had embarked approximately 26,000 picked legionaries shortly before the battle. They planned to cross to Africa and invade the Carthaginian homeland, in what is now Tunisia. The Carthaginians were aware of the Romans' intentions and mustered all available warships, 350, off the south coast of Sicily to intercept them. With a combined total of about 680 warships carrying up to 290,000 crew and marines, the battle was possibly the largest naval battle in history by the number of combatants involved.

When the fleets met, the Carthaginians took the initiative and the battle devolved into three separate conflicts, where the Carthaginians hoped that their superior ship-handling skills would win the day. After a prolonged and confusing day of fighting, the Carthaginians were decisively defeated, losing 30 ships sunk and 64 captured to Roman losses of 24 ships sunk.