The Battle of Drepana in 249 b.c. marks the most significant defeat of Roman naval forces at the hands of their Carthaginian opponents during the First Punic War. Attempting to take the Punic fleet in the harbour of Drepana by surprise, the consul P. Claudius Pulcher sailed with his ships from Lilybaeum (a Carthaginian stronghold under Roman siege since the previous year) about midnight, and reached Drepana at dawn. Yet, owing to swift and level-headed counter-measures taken by the Punic commander, Adherbal, the unfolding fight – partly in the harbour, mostly off the shore – turned into a fiasco for the Romans. The consul got away; he returned to Rome, where the Senate instructed him to appoint a dictator. How soon he returned, and by what route, is the question.