The naval Battle of Palermo took place on 2 June 1676 during the Franco-Dutch War, between a French force sent to support a revolt in the city of Messina against the Spanish rule in Sicily, and a Spanish force supported by a Dutch maritime expedition force.
The Dutch and Spanish ships were at bay making repairs from an earlier Battle of Augusta where Dutch Lt. Admiral General de Ruyter suffered lethal injuries. His death caused a severe impact on morale of the Dutch. The command of their fleet was transferred to Vice Admiral den Haen while the general command was assumed by Spanish Admiral de Ibarra. The French fleet under nominal command of Comte de Vivonne arrived from Messina. The actual planning of the battle belonged to Vice Admiral Duquesne, Rear Admiral de Tourville and Rear Admiral Gabaret. The Dutch were inclined to meet the French at sea, but they were disappointed greatly by the Spanish conduct in the previous battle. The Dutch and Spanish ships of the line and frigates were springed in a battle line order across the bay with the Spanish galleys in front of them to protect from enemy fireships. The French fleet was larger and more powerful. Many Spanish ships were of older designs equipped with low calibre cannons and incomplete untrained crews. The Dutch crews were very well trained, though also incomplete due to irrecoverable losses in the previous battles and a dysentery epidemic. The French plan was to engage in combat with the Spanish ships first, continue with the Dutch ships and coastal batteries until the bay got covered with gunpowder smoke under which the fireships should attack.
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