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A History of Sea Power by Stevens and Westcott

And demoralized the surface fleet to secure personnel


[Illustration:

GERMAN BARRED ZONES

British mined area and North Sea mine barrage.]

In thus announcing her intention to sink all ships on sight in European waters, Germany burned her bridges behind her. She staked everything on this move. Fully anticipating the hostility of the United States, she hoped to win the war before that country could complete its preparations and give effective support to the Allies. General von Hindenburg's statement has already been quoted. It meant that the army was to assume the defensive, while the navy carried out its attack on Allied communications. Admiral von Capelle, head of the German Admiralty, declared that America's aid would be "absolutely negligible." "My personal view," he added, "is that the U-boat will bring peace within six months."

As it turned out, Germany's disregard of neutral rights in 1917, like the violation of Belgium in 1914, reacted upon her and proved the salvation of the Western Powers. After the defection of Russia, France was in imperative need of men. Great Britain needed ships. Neither of these needs could have been supplied save by America's throwing her utmost energies into active participation in the war. This was precisely the result of the proclamation of Feb. 1, 1917. The United States at once broke off diplomatic relations, armed her merchant vessels in March, and on April 6 declared a state of war.

justify;">Having traced the development of submarine warfare to this critical period, we may now turn to the methods and weapons employed by both sides at a time when victory or defeat hinged on the outcome of the war at sea.

Germany's submarine construction and losses appear in the following table from official German sources, the columns showing first the total number built up to the date given, next the total losses to date, and finally the remainder with which Germany started out at the beginning of each year.

After 1916 Germany devoted the facilities of her shipyards entirely to submarine construction, and demoralized the surface fleet to secure personnel. Of the entire number built, not more than a score were over 850 tons. The U C boats were small mine-layers about 160 feet in length, with not more than two weeks' cruising period. The U B'g were of various sizes, mostly small, and some of them were built in sections for transportation by rail. The U boats proper, which constituted the largest and most important class, had a speed of about 16 knots on the surface and 9 knots submerged, and could remain at sea for a period of 5 or 6 weeks, the duration of the cruise depending chiefly upon the supply of torpedoes. In addition there were a half dozen large submarine merchantmen of the type of the _Deutschland_, which made two voyages to America in 1916; and a similar number of big cruisers of 2000 tons or more were completed in 1918, mounting two 6-inch guns and capable of remaining at sea for several months. The 372 boats built totaled 209,000 tons and had a personnel of over 11,000 officers and men. There were seldom more than 20 or 30 submarines in active operation at one time. One third of the total number were always in port, and the remainder in training.


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