First Battle of the Atlantic

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Battle of the Atlantic
Part of World War I
Date July 28, 1914November 11, 1918
Location Atlantic Ocean, North Sea
Result Decisive Allied Victory
Participants
United Kingdom British Navy,
Royal Canadian Navy,
United States Navy
Navy of France
Navy of the German Empire
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Sir John Jellicoe Reinhard Scheer

The First Battle of the Atlantic (19141918) was a naval campaign of World War I, largely fought in the seas around the British Isles and in the Atlantic Ocean. Both the German Empire and United Kingdom relied heavily on imports to feed their population and supply their war industry; thus both aimed to blockade each other. The British had the Royal Navy which was superior in numbers and could operate within the British Empire. The German fleet mainly used unrestricted submarine warfare. The successful blockade of Germany contributed to its military defeat in 1918, and still in effect, enforced also the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in mid-1919.

German U-Boat U 14

The Battle in Numbers[change | change source]

Allied and Neutral Tonnage sunk by submarines in World War I[change | change source]

Month 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918
January 47,981 81,259 368,521 306,658
February 59,921 117,547 540,006 318,957
March 80,775 167,097 593,841 342,597
April 55,725 191,667 881,027 278,719
May 120,058 129,175 596,629 295,520
June 131,428 108,855 687,507 255,587
July 109,640 118,215 557,988 260,967
August 62,767 185,866 162,744 511,730 283,815
September 98,378 151,884 230,460 351,748 187,881
October 87,917 88,534 353,660 458,558 118,559
November 19,413 153,043 311,508 289,212 17,682
December 44,197 123,141 355,139 399,212
Total 312,672 1,307,996 2,327,326 6,235,878 2,666,942

Grand Total 12,850,814 gross tons

Note that unrestricted submarine warfare was resumed in February 1917 and the British began full-scale convoying in September 1917. The heaviest losses were suffered in April 1917 when a record 881,027 tons were sunk by the U-boats.

Source: Fayle, C. Ernest, Seaborn Trade, Vol. 3, p. 465, Table I[a]; London: John Murray, 1924.

German Submarine Force 1914-1918[change | change source]

1914 1915 1916 1917 1918
On hand 24 29 54 133 142
Gains 10 52 108 87 70
Battle losses 5 19 22 63 69
Other losses 8 7 15 9??
Years end 29 54 133 142 134
  • Total operational boats: 351
  • Total sunk in combat (50%): 178
  • Other losses (11%): 39
  • Completed after Armistice: 45
  • Surrendered to Allied: 179

Other websites[change | change source]