The Effectiveness of Submarine Warfare in World War I
Plan of Investigation
The selected topic for this investigation was: To what extent did submarine warfare in World War I help the central powers? I chose this topic because World War I is sometimes a misunderstood war in that the specifics of such a war are not always well known. So I took it upon myself to understand the war better myself and investigate the details of the war. I did a little research on World War I and found that submarines had an effective role in the war. Thus, I arrived at my topic.
To reach a successful conclusion to the investigation, I will be examining how submarines became a part of the war, the Central Powers’ use of submarines, US intervention in the war in relation to submarine warfare, how US intervention led to the overpowering of central powers, and lastly, how the Central Powers lost WWI.
I will analyze such concepts by determining the extent of each, what the cause was, and the outcome of each.
Summary of Evidence
-economic warfare role/commerce trading
-enforced naval blockade against enemy shipping (exhibited by Germany)
-could have been useful fleet weapons against enemy naval warships
-submarine was a new weapon at the outbreak of the war
-little was known about the affectivity in leading German naval circles 1914-The beginning
-Germany sent 10 U-Boats in August to attack Royal Navy Warships in the North Sea in August -Germany had the idea of reducing the quantity of the Grand Fleet -By the end of the campaign, the U-Boats had sunk 9 warships while losing 5 of their own -The U-boat could sink an armoured warship with one shot
-It was virtually blind and immobile while submerged
-The first attacks on merchant ships started October 1914, when there was no plan for a concerted U-Boat offensive against allied trade. -The U-Boat had several cons as a commerce disrupter
-By February 1915, U-Boats had sunk 19 ships
-relied on food and supplies from US, Canada, Australia, and more, brought by merchant ships -started carrying hidden guns on cargo ships to fire at U-Boats Germany:
-tried to sink as many merchant ships as they could, hoping to starve the British -sunk ships crossing the Atlantic with food from Canada and the US -The U-Boats used to surface first, warn British cargo ships, allowed the passengers to take lifeboats, then sank their victim with gunfire -Germans adopted “sink on sight” campaign because of Britain’s technique of carrying guns on cargo ships, and used torpedoes, sinking ships from below -1915 a German U boat sank the British liner, Lusitania
-US almost got involved but Germany started backing off
-October 1916- the U-boats returned to British waters with the obligation of applying prize rules. -sank 337,000 tons during this month, followed by 961,000 tons of shipping sunk between November 1916 and January 1917. -1917-idea of unrestricted submarine warfare before US entry could make a difference -February 1917- the Germans announced that unrestricted submarine warfare would be resumed and that announcement plus German plans to offer Texas to the Mexicans led to the American declaration of war on Germany in April 1917. -solved this problem by using convoys-large groups of cargo ships travelling together with war ships leading the way - convoy system reduced Great Britain’s losses to U-Boats
-food supplies seriously damaged in Great Britain
-rationing- government rationed for everyone; rich people got most of the food
-fat people became a disgrace to Great Britain through propaganda, as they were displayed as food hoarders and weren’t careful with it
-dig for victory- people were encouraged to use all their land for farming and other agricultural means -their submarines became more numerous and effective
-Britain sought ways to protect their merchant ships, and came up with the idea of Q-Ships, which were attack vessels designed at civilian ships,...
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