Submarine Warfare (02:16)
Prior to World War I and German U-Boats, Great Britain thought little of the threat from submarines. Small boats patrolled the British coast equipped with hammers to smash submarine periscope lenses. By 1916, Britain realized submarines would win the war's naval battles.
Cargo Ship (04:23)
When a German U-Boat sunk British merchant ship Glitra, soldiers helped the sailors to shore. Shortly after, the British Royal Navy announced it was seizing control of all naval activity in the North Sea; the U-Boat fleet targeted ships heading for Britain’s western coast.
U-Boat Fleet (03:21)
U-Boats could spend five weeks at sea, cruising on the surface and targeting ships with its guns. They could dive to avoid larger vessels and attack with torpedoes. In February 1915, Kaiser Wilhelm II declared all ships in the water surrounding Britain as enemy vessels.
On May 7, 1915, a German U-Boat sank the passenger ship carrying 2,000 people. Of the nearly 1,200 victims, 128 where from the neutral United States. Outrage caused the Kaiser to restrict his U-Boat warfare; the British were forced to look to new defenses.
Submarine Defenses (05:36)
The British introduced depth charges in 1915. A research station at Aberdour on the River Forth developed the hydrophone. Dazzle camouflage paint was used to trick U-Boats into thinking navy gun boats were unarmed merchant ships.
HMS Hampshire (06:23)
Herbert Kitchener visited Admiral John Jellicoe and the main fleet at Scapa Flow in 1916. While leaving on the HMS Hampshire, the ship was hit by mines left by a German U-Boat. Rescue efforts by locals were stopped by navy officials.
British Airships (06:38)
The British began using airships and primitive airplanes as lookouts for naval ships. About 1,000 men were part of the air defenses for the royal fleet when David Richard Beatty was made admiral.
Unrestricted U-Boat Attacks (07:18)
By February 1917, Germany had over 100 U-Boats and launched an unrestricted campaign against all ships suspected of carrying goods to Britain. The British naval blockade was starving Germany. One in four British merchant ships were sunk during the campaign until conveying was introduced.
North Sea Mine Barrage (07:27)
After months of losing merchant ships to U-Boat attacks, the United States entered the war and sailed dreadnoughts to Scapa Flow. The Americans had the idea to build an underwater mine field where the North Sea met the Atlantic Ocean; the project was ineffective.
Final U-Boat Attack (06:02)
In October 1918, a U-Boat carrying 11 orpedoes entered Scapa Flow and was detected crossing Hawsker Sound; it was destroyed by an electronic mine. The armistice ended the land war on November 11 and the naval war ended in Fife, Scotland a few days later.
End of German Fleet (04:40)
The German surface fleet was sent to Scapa Flow and divided among the Allied Forces after the Paris Peace Accords ended. The remaining German officers were frustrated and intentionally sunk the entire fleet on June 21, 1919.
Credits: The War at Sea: The Battle of the U-Boats (00:29)
Credits: The War at Sea: The Battle of the U-Boats
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