WW1 Submarines

In the First Word War military submarines made a significant impact for the first time. The German U-Boats enjoyed a great deal of success and were responsible for destroying around half of all the food and supplies transported by the British Merchant Navy.

Painting of a German U-Boat


U- Boat is an abbreviation of ‘unterseeboot’, which when translated into English means ‘undersea boat’.

When the First World War began the German armed forces had 29 U-Boats at their disposal.

In the first 10 weeks of the conflict they sank five British cruisers.

Between October 1916 and January 1917 a grand total of 1.4 million tons of allied shipping was lost to the U-Boats.

These losses were eventually curtailed when the allies introduced escorted convoys with merchant ships surrounded by military vessels.

During WW1 Germany built 360 U-Boat submarines, 178 of which were lost. In total they were responsible for the loss of more than 11 million tons of allied shipping.