Submarine in World War I

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Military submarines first made a significant impact in World War I. Forces such as the U-boats of Germany saw action in the First Battle of the Atlantic, and were responsible for the sinking of Lusitania, which was sunk as a result of unrestricted submarine warfare and is often cited among the reasons for the entry of the United States into the war.

In August 1914, a flotilla of ten U-boats sailed from their base in Heligoland to attack Royal Navy warships in the North Sea in the first submarine war patrol in history. Their aim was to sink capital ships of the British Grand Fleet, and so reduce the Grand Fleet's numerical superiority over the German High Seas Fleet. With much depending more on luck than strategy, the first sortie was not a success. Only one attack was carried out, when U-15 fired a torpedo (which missed) at HMS Monarch, while two of the ten U-boats were lost. The U-9 had better luck. On 22 September 1914 while patrolling the Broad Fourteens, a region of the southern North Sea, U-9 found a squadron of three obsolescent British Cressy-class armoured cruisers (HMS Aboukir, HMS Hogue, and HMS Cressy), which were assigned to prevent German surface vessels from entering the eastern end of the English Channel. She fired all six of her torpedoes, reloading while submerged, and sank all three in less than an hour.

The U-boats' ability to function as practical war machines relied on new tactics, their numbers, and submarine technologies such as combination diesel-electric power system developed in the preceding years. More submersibles than true submarines, U-boats operated primarily on the surface using regular engines, submerging occasionally to attack under battery power. They were roughly triangular in cross-section, with a distinct keel to control rolling while surfaced, and a distinct bow. During World War I more than 5,000 Allied ships were sunk by U-boats.

Submarine in World War I:
SubmarinePictureSpecificationsCountryYear
British R class submarine

UK1918
H

US1918
L

US1918
M1

US1918
N

US1918
O

US1918
R

US1918
British L class submarine

UK1917
British K class submarine

UK1917
American Holland class submarine

Russia1916
British J class submarine

UK1916
Bars class submarine

Russia1915
British G class submarine

UK1915
British H class submarine

UK1915
CC class submarine

Canada1914
Norwegian A class submarine

Norway1914
Morzh class submarine

Russia1914
Russian Narval class submarine

Russia1914
Nautilus class submarine

UK1914
G

US1914
British F class submarine

UK1913
F

US1913
British E class submarine

UK1912
E

US1912
K

US1912
Kaiman class submarine

Russia1910
C

US1910
D

US1910
British D class submarine

UK1909
Russian submarine Pochtovy

Russia1908
Russian submarine Minoga

Russia1908
Russian submarine Akula

Russia1908
Karp class submarine

Russia1907
Karp class submarine

Russia1907
B

US1907
British C class submarine

UK1906
Som class submarine

Russia1905
Osetr class submarine

Russia1905
British B class submarine

UK1905
Kasatka class submarine

Russia1904
Russian submarine Forel

Russia1904
Russian submarine Delfin

Russia1903
Holland class submarine

UK1903
Plunger

US1903
Holland SS1

US1900
Gymnote (Q1)

France1888
Alligator

US1862

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