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Time Team Special: Lost Submarines of World War I | Classic Special (Full Episode) 2013

May 27, 2024
Hello, you're watching "Lost Submarines of World War I" on the official Time Team YouTube channel with me, Tony Robinson. Submarines: mechanical leviathans that patrol the depths. Today, they are high-tech, nuclear-powered monsters, costing more than a billion pounds each and having the destructive force to level cities. Every major military power has its fleet. But the first operational military submarine was built here in Britain.  The story of Britain's first

submarines

begins just over a century ago, with inventors risking life and limb on a series of strange contraptions, launching an undersea arms race, which had a vital role to play in the First World War.
time team special lost submarines of world war i classic special full episode 2013
Submarines would change the nature of warfare as dramatically as the tank or the machine gun. They go from harebrained death traps to ruthless ship killers and bring Britain within weeks of losing the war with Germany. In this

special

programme, we will tell this little-known story by exploring a series of shipwrecks found deep in the English Channel. We'll dive to explore the remains of some of the earliest naval

submarines

and, as we uncover their secrets, test out cutting-edge Edwardian technology and conduct some experiments of our own. This is a forgotten chapter of underwater history, the birth of a weapon that changed the

world

.
time team special lost submarines of world war i classic special full episode 2013

More Interesting Facts About,

time team special lost submarines of world war i classic special full episode 2013...

Our story begins with the latest in underwater technology. We sail to an undisclosed destination somewhere off the Isle of Skye. It's mid-December, a very cold, incredibly cloudy day, and we're headed to a place most of us never get the chance to see. It is HMS Ambush, a nuclear-powered Astute-class submarine. She measures 97 m from bow to stern and displaces 7,400 tons. It's quite extraordinary what seems like science fiction. We have crossed this very rough sea and we arrive at the submarine and the landscape is static and very, very black, with the sailors really very formal, those black berets.
time team special lost submarines of world war i classic special full episode 2013
It's quite sinister. Modern submarines are packed with technology and HMS Ambush doesn't even have a conventional periscope. Instead, video periscopes provide a 360° view of your surroundings, even in total darkness. Okay, ready EXO, go ahead, dive into the submarine. Go ahead and dive into the submarine. The aft casing is now underwater and you can see the rudder there, which will slowly disappear under the water.  I can really feel that we are leaning now, your feet have to grip a little to stop you. Yeah, I mean, obviously, I'm sitting down, but yeah, you can definitely feel the sense of... actually, now we're, now we're 11° down, we're not going much further than this.
time team special lost submarines of world war i classic special full episode 2013
But you know, now we're driving underwater. You will feel that the playing field comes away little by little, you will descend to about 30 m and then you will feel that the playing field returns to the other side. The HMS Ambush can purify her own air and water and she could fly around the

world

without surfacing. Her nuclear power plant will not require refueling during the 25 years she is expected to be in service, and the ship moves through the water in almost total silence.  Its sonar system can detect ships at a distance of up to 3,000 nautical miles.
But all this spectacular technology did not come out of nowhere. The dream of underwater machines goes back centuries. In the 19th century, some submarine designs were getting closer to success. Inventors were building extraordinary new prototypes, but most of them were still downright dangerous. The Nordenfelt swayed violently up and down with any change in weight. The slow, s

team

-powered Resurgam sank while under tow, and the hand-cranked Hunley, the first submarine to sink a ship in 1864 during the American Civil War. But the explosion of her primitive weapon also sank the submarine with the loss of the entire crew. It is believed that he was still too close to her target when her weapon detonated.
All of these ships lacked a combination of three vital elements: reliable steering controls, decent engines, and effective weapons. But then, at the beginning of the 20th century, a machine built in Britain would be an incredible advance. This machine is currently languishing at the bottom of the English Channel and, to find the pioneering ship, a crack

team

of mari

time

archaeologists are preparing to set sail from Eastbourne Harbour. Oh, I don't know, this is just the best part of the day, it really is, and e

special

ly on a glorious day. Look, the sun is rising there, absolutely perfect. It really makes me envious that I'm not carrying my own kit there, it really does.
Time Team's Phil Harding is not only an archaeologist, he is also president of the Nautical Archaeological Society. But today's dive is too deep for him to attempt, so he will sail to the wreck with mari

time

archaeologists Mark Beattie Edwards and Innes McCartney. When dawn breaks, the team heads to open water. The submarine we are looking for sank while being towed back at the end of its useful life, supposedly when the cable pulling it tow broke and remained there for more than a century. The few plans that survive are known to be inaccurate, so the team must dive the wreck to see if it reveals its secrets.
Innes is Britain's leading expert on submarine archeology of the First and Second World Wars. He has dived hundreds of shipwreck sites across the country, exploring and cataloging all the submarines

lost

in British waters. Let's look at the record of the Holland 5 submarine, which was the first submarine put into service in the Royal Navy. Wait, you say the Holland 5 was the first submarine to enter service with the Royal Navy. What happened to 1, 2, 3 and 4? Well, they were built and they were constant, they were reworked to reach some kind of point of perfection and the Holland 5 was the last one to come off the production line in the way the Navy wanted, so it was the first. one that they could accept.
The fact that she is part of that embryonic study of submarines makes her crucially important, enormously important. In the early 1900s, to many in the Royal Navy, submarine vessels seemed irrelevant, but some farsighted admirals saw the potential of the submarine and realized that these machines could one day change the entire nature of warfare at sea.  So, the race was on to develop reliable underwater technology and prove its worth. The diving team is approaching the wreck. At 6 miles away, this is the furthest protected offshore wreck in Britain and lies at a depth of around 35 metres. There are only a few days a year when visibility is good enough to dive here.
Even then, there's no guarantee it won't stir in the background. But we're in luck! The

full

length of the Holland 5 emerges from the gloom. What was once a shiny high-tech machine is now teeming with marine life, from hermit crabs to cuttlefish. There was no time to waste and Innes and Mark got to work. The submarine is 63 feet long and had a top speed of seven knots when submerged, could descend safely to about 100 feet, and had enough battery power to spend three hours traveling underwater. It was a piece of cutting-edge technology. All the elements that sub-designers have since taken for granted were first brought together in Holland's submarines.
While Innes and Mark take their measurements, I will explore another part of the Holland 5's extraordinary story and reveal how this Royal Navy asset began life as an anti-British terrorist weapon. If you want us to investigate more sites, you can make it happen. So, help us reach 10,000 members on Patreon. We are diving a truly extraordinary deep water wreck. The world's first

full

y functional naval submarine. This innovative vessel pioneered submarine warfare but, incredibly, Britain's radical new weapon was designed by a committed Irish republican, a submarine-obsessed engineer called John Holland, who left Ireland for the United States in the 1880s. .When he comes out and starts working seriously on the concept, he is trying to work with the Irish republican movement.
This is the Fenian Brotherhood.  That's right, yes, the Phenian Brotherhood is effectively like the American arm of the IRA and he develops a working prototype and calls it Phenian Ram, which is a tremendous name. You wear your colors on your sleeve, right? Absolutely, and it is to allow them to practice a form of what we would call asymmetric warfare. What do you mean by that? Well, they are a small insurgent organization, they cannot build a fleet of battleships and defeat the Royal Navy in open waters, but with a small, cheap and stealthy weapon, if you will, the maritime equivalent of an improvised explosive device.
They could sink a ship and achieve a significant political victory. And the Fenian Brotherhood made one and sank battleships? They didn't do it. What they did do was fall out with John Holland in an unspecified dispute over money. Then they stole the Fenian ram. He got it back, but he never had anything to do with the Fenian Brotherhood again. The irony is that his business partner comes to the UK and he negotiates a contract with Vickers to license the construction of these things for the great enemy, the Royal Navy. And in 1901 the first of these experimental submarines was launched.
This first prototype has survived much better than later models. Believe it or not, this battered old hull is the Holland 1, which was pulled from the seabed 30 years ago in a daring Admiralty-led mission. The remains of Holland 1 were recovered in 1982. The ship has now been fully restored and is on display at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. George Malcolmson, the museum's archivist, is showing me around. George, this submarine seems almost comical to us today, doesn't it? It's so heavy and bulbous. It's actually quite efficiently shaped, it's very hydrodynamically efficient. Presumably they removed all her guts when they picked her up?
Many of the interior features had deteriorated to the point where they could not be saved, so we have decided to leave it as it is now. So wouldn't there have been a big void in the middle like there is now? It would have been a cramped, cramped interior, filled with compressed air tanks for spare torpedoes and all sorts of mechanical equipment, not to mention the human beings needed to operate the submarine. How many crew members were there? Normally there would be eight crew members, but they would always have carried an extra one or two for training purposes.
Working in quite difficult conditions.  Quite a challenge, you had the exhaust gases from the engine, the gasoline gases, you had the gas from the batteries, very difficult conditions. You say there were eight crew members, but in reality there were several very small ones, right? Yes, we had some extra crew members: some white mice and we used them almost similar to canaries in a well, where they were used to detect carbon monoxide. Do you think the boys treated them like pets? Yes, they were often loved, overfed, and well cared for. They had their own rations, they were on the ship's books, and the naval stores provided them with a ration.
The Holland 1 embarked on sea trials, but the Navy was not completely satisfied with the design. So the following Hollands were gradually modified and improved. All records of these refinements have been

lost

, so to understand exactly what the modifications were, we will have to dive into the last of the line, the Holland 5. Perhaps the most important of all the technological advances made in class submarines Holland in question. stability. The first submarines dived vertically by opening their ballast tanks. Air came out of the water with the extra weight in the tanks and then caused the submarine to sink, but when it submerged, the water in the tank sloshed around, making it unstable.
Holland designed innovative ballast tanks in which water could not flow freely, keeping the tank unstable. She added a propeller system to propel the submarine down at an angle. These advances meant that, for the first time, a submarine could perform a safe and controlled dive. But there were still two other elements that Holland had to solve: propulsion, the right engine to drive the propeller and, above all, a reliable weapon. This invention changed the world. It was built by British engineer Robert Whitehead, with a little help from his 12-year-old son.  It is the first effective self-propelled torpedo and weapons like it made even the most modern high-tech armored warships vulnerable.
The best chances of sinking one of the new generation armored ships came from hitting them below the waterline; exactly what a torpedo was designed for. The submarine is the perfect torpedo launching system.  You can approach your target covertly underwater, but you need to find a way to fire the torpedounderwater. The only problem was that at the beginning of the 20th century no one had found a way to do it effectively. When the submarines fired, the change in weight caused them to pitch suddenly and the torpedo to deviate from its course. At the bottom of the English Channel, archaeologists Innes and Mark are attempting to insert a camera into the Holland 5's torpedo tube.
They must be careful, as a large conger eel is rumored to have taken up residence here. Mark, up here, come in. Hello upstairs, I'm Mark. Now I'm in the torpedo tube. Mark was the conger at home? It hasn't come out yet. Mark has difficulty inserting the endoscopic camera. The tube is almost 18 feet long and you wonder if the hatch at the other end has been left open. If so, this would explain why the Holland sank under the trailer.  The water would have flooded and capsized the submarine. Mark, up. Understood. You can't easily see what you're filming, but in the video, we spot something hidden inside the tube.
It's the Conger. Mark decides to remove the camera and wait until the conger eel leaves. The design of the Holland's firing system was absolutely key to demonstrating that the submarine could be an effective war machine. Holland came up with an auxiliary ballast system, basically more air tanks that prevented the submarine from moving up and down with sudden changes in weight, which meant that, for the first time, a torpedo would fire straight and accurately. The door may be closed from the inside. The video confirms that the hatch is closed, so it cannot have caused the ship to sink.
Nevertheless, it is a great moment for archaeologists. The first time anyone has seen the inside of the torpedo tube in 100 years. It's been a good dive and Phil is eager to find out what we've learned. Now, this is a very detailed drawing, meaning it lists all the components in great detail. He also lists them as ships one through five, surely that means they were all the same, weren't they all the same? What we have learned is that this is very much a theoretical representation and that there are many very subtle differences between this and the Holland 1, and I mean, what would have arisen from the need to change the design through the results of trials at sea?
The Hollands were in service for several years and were tested extensively. In fact, they were even used in battle exercises and they actually sailed angry on one occasion in 1905, so a lot was learned about what they were like, how to operate these submarines and you also had to remember that there were no accidents with these. There were no fatalities or accidents in service with Holland, so they were successful. But its main purpose was to serve as a testbed in which to test underwater technology and practice, and then move forward from there. Thanks to the archaeologists' inspection and measurements, they obtained a much more accurate picture of the Holland 5 than they could have obtained with the unreliable surviving plans, but they were unable to see inside the submarine.
So Phil Harding has to pursue another line of research. He wants to know what Holland did to solve the problem of propulsion: moving a submarine through water. So he travels to the National Motor Collection, just outside Manchester. The first engines ran on steam or gas, but imagine trying to adapt this heavy Victorian technology to a submarine. The biggest problem was fuel. Coal was too bulky to transport and gas could not be easily compressed. So Phil is here to examine the engine that made this breakthrough possible. I guess it's not just a static motor, I guess it actually works?
Works. Let's see it. Alright, are you going to start with a blowtorch? Yes, yes, this is a hot bulb engine, and the radical difference with this engine was that it ran on a new type of fuel. The hot bulb is located inside the ignition chamber and once it is hot enough, it will ignite the fuel as soon as it comes into contact with it. So when it's warm enough, I just lift this lever and let air into the cylinders to start it. So what's so special about this engine? Well, this actual engine is a paraffin engine, so we are talking about liquid fuel and that is the most important thing.  Whether it's gasoline or paraffin, you suddenly have a source of liquid fuel to use inside an engine and then you can store it relatively easily in a tank.
But Holland also had to solve the problem of powering the submarine underwater. An internal combustion engine like this needs air and when a submarine dives, air is very scarce. Then Holland incorporated another relatively new technology: a battery-powered electric motor. This would activate as soon as the submarine submerged and, more importantly, the new liquid fuel engines would produce enough additional power to recharge the batteries while propelling the submarine to the surface. John Holland was the first engineer to effectively assemble this hybrid propulsion system. That was absolutely amazing, I just stood there looking at that thing, I was mesmerized.
It really is like a heartbeat. They have often been referred to as the heartbeat. Yes, and I suppose in a way the engine was the heart of the submarine. It really was, it was, yes. In one fell swoop, this new system solved the propulsion problem. Holland had almost arrived at a fully effective submarine. But there was another piece of technology that he didn't include in his original plans, despite his design genius. There is one final piece of equipment that was installed in Holland's design surprisingly late, although it has become the most iconic piece of submarine equipment. , and it is this: the periscope.
It was only launched at the insistence of Captain Reginald Bacon, who was the first captain inspector of submarine ships. Now, you might think that something like this is absolutely vital. Certainly all later submarine designers thought this way because without a periscope you can't locate let alone hit your enemy, and you keep crashing into things, and with World War I approaching, the ability to find and hit your enemy was becoming becoming quite important. . With this latest addition to Holland's design, the Royal Navy had a submarine ready for war, but not everyone thought these early stealth weapons had any place in the arsenal of a civilized nation.
In 1903, Admiral Wilson wrote that submarines were "underwater, clandestine, and damned un-English." But regardless of what anyone might think about their morality, the submarines were definitely here now. They could be controlled effectively, had viable engines and, in the torpedo, had the perfect weapon. Submarine warfare was now inevitable. Whoever could build the best submarines would potentially gain a huge advantage in the next big war. Britain may have been the first to complete a reliable naval submarine, but now, with war looming, Germany was quickly catching up. So together we brought Time Team back and now we're going to take it to the next level.
Help us get 10,000 permanent members on Patreon. At the beginning of the 20th century there was a huge accumulation of weapons and armies throughout Europe. New technologies were emerging everywhere. Among them, the world's first effective war-ready submarines, the Royal Navy's Hollands. But after the first five experimental ships, no more Hollands were ordered. Almost as soon as Holland's submarines were finished, they disappeared. Technology was now developing incredibly fast. It was an underwater arms race, with new innovations emerging every year. The Royal Navy immediately began building the next generation of submarines, but they were unlikely to have the new underwater battlefield to themselves.
Having witnessed the rise of the Royal Navy's Hollands, the German Navy was also investing heavily in submarines. Phil Harding and Innes McCartney travel to Munich to observe Germany's attempt to catch up. Built in 1906, it is the U (submarine) ship 1. Wow, it's huge! So, presumably this is the main nerve center of the submarine, the control room. Correct, this is where all the technical aspects are controlled and where orders are given to the rest of the ship. There are at least seven people here, including the official engineer and all operational staff. And I mean, what if I just mean bodily functions?
Where is the head? Well, submarine heads are traditionally right in the gut, as they are here. So the whole team is using one bathroom, and you can imagine what the conditions are like, especially after meals and everything else. We know that officers were encouraged to take opium to constipate themselves, essentially they didn't have to use the bathroom and could focus more on commanding the ship. So what you get the impression is how tight this area must have been, people were in each other's way, but they would have had to have been incredibly disciplined to work together efficiently.
All it takes is for one man to lose his temper and then all the discipline of the ship will be lost. It is a fighting machine and everyone depends on each other, but there was a common saying: when these ships were designed, the designers mainly focused on the technical aspects and simply forgot about the crews, so once the ship was ready, It was designed in a Technically they had the problem of putting the crews in too, and they put them in the leftover spaces. This means that comfort was very low even by the standards of the time.
So there really is a genuine idea of ​​realizing the potential of underwater warfare and designing a ship to fit that pattern. Definitely. German engineering skill meant that they soon caught up and built a fleet of 29 submarines. Britain still had the numerical advantage: 75 new D-class submarines, the successors to the Hollands. But the German submarines had a clear advantage. From the beginning, they prioritized reach. These were boats designed and built to go into the ocean in search of ships.  In 1914 they had the opportunity to prove themselves. World War I broke out and Britain immediately established a blockade against Germany, in an attempt to prevent German merchant ships from bringing in supplies.
How did the Royal Navy operate this blockade? Well, Britain is in a very good geographical position. The entrances to the North Sea and German ports were blocked here in the English Channel and, most importantly, up here, the entrance to the North Sea. So the Germans have no other access to the Atlantic, if you put a blockade here then they will be stuck in the North Sea. You excluded them completely. But the German high command discovered that, to their surprise, their submarines were even more capable than they had imagined. They were easily able to submerge themselves under the British blockade, slipping through the net and emerging into the Atlantic.
Here they could freely hunt the masses of British ships entering or leaving their home ports. And in the first ten weeks of the war, submarines sank five British cruisers. First they sank a cruiser called Pathfinder, a small cruiser that caused much loss of life. But then, in a few minutes, they sank three large armored cruisers, the capital ships of the previous era, three cruisers, three huge 12,000-ton cruisers. In a commitment? In a commitment. The reason it was so fast was because every cruiser had stopped to pick up the survivors of the one that had been hit, that's the last thing you do, you become an easy target.
This must have been a shock wave to the Royal Navy. Huge shock yes and, suddenly, an order comes out if a ship accompanying you is torpedoed do not stop to pick up survivors. Did the German successes continue? They didn't have to because everyone was now very sensitive to the underwater threat. Anything you saw in the water, a broomstick, suddenly became a periscope. Did this mean that already so early in the war the submarines had managed to force a change of strategy in the Royal Navy? The entire British Grand Fleet, the linchpin of British maritime strategy, is forced to move its base away from the enemy, decreasing the chances of inflicting serious damage on the enemy fleet.
And throughout the war, the submarine threat would prevent the British from using their fleet as aggressively as before the war they thought they could. But the British blockade remained. Small warships and minefields continued to prevent German ships from bringing supplies. An attempt was also made to stop the submarines. Huge fishing nets dragged through the Strait of Dover. It may seem far-fetched, but this was long before the invention of sonar and there were simply no other means of detecting a submarine at the time. To find out how, Innes McCartney will dive into a second shipwreck: a German submarine captured in the Strait in 1915, it is the U8 successor to the U1 we saw inMunich.
The U8 is now 9 miles off the coast of Dover and the team set off early to catch the best tide of the year. The wreck site is more than 100 feet deep and Innes is eager to take advantage of the dive to discover exactly how this submarine came to its end. No plans of the U8 survive, so archaeologists must inspect the submarine to discover how far German technology had advanced by this stage of the war. At 9:00 we are in position and ready to go. Up, up, we're in the wreck, over. It's immediately obvious that the U8 was a huge improvement over the U1.
She is much larger, so she has greater reach and stamina. She has two additional torpedo tubes and her attack periscope is now an extendable tube, easier to use than the Holland's folding pole. This is definitely a submarine that is ready for war. Up, up, we're in the command tower, over. As Innes moves around the submarine, he sees a pile of lead weights.  They have fallen out the back and may have been used as ballast. It's a clue that suggests there may have been problems with the submarine's stability, further evidence that the technology was far from fully evolved at this point in the war.
Up, up, we leave the stern and head towards the bow, over. Unusually, the submarine has three periscopes and, to Innes, they appear much wider than the periscopes mounted on later submarines. A large telescope like this was easily detected, and that appears to be exactly what happened, but it has always been unclear whether the submarine became trapped in a net or was hit by some other anti-submarine device. Regardless of how it was captured, the crew managed to evacuate safely before the submarine sank beneath the waves. Innes is now focusing on signs of explosive damage that are visible on the side of the submarine.
He is focusing on a few large sections of the damaged hull to try to figure out exactly how the Navy began addressing the submarine threat. If he can record the precise pattern of the explosion, the team can try to reproduce it in the laboratory and diagnose its origin. But it's going to require detective work of an explosive nature. Join a thriving global community of Time Team fans on Patreon. Your continued membership allows us to develop more sites and more

episode

s. Early morning, Salisbury Plain.  Phil Harding is on his way to solving an underwater mystery. He has come to Cranfield University's ordinance testing facility to blow up a submarine.
But we are miles from the sea, you don't have a submarine, do you? It would be nice if we did. Now we're going to have to do something on a slightly smaller scale, just to demonstrate it. So what do we have? What we're going to use is this, this is my submarine. Come on, that doesn't look anything like a submarine. It is not like that, it is true, but it does represent what we need to see in a submarine. It is cylindrical, metallic, the only difference between this and the older type of submarine like the U8 is that this is a solid construction, a monocock, whereas the U8 would have been riveted plate.
Crucially, it will simulate what would have happened at U8. A lot, yes. Okay, we have a submarine, where is the sea? Come this way. Trevor fills a large explosion-proof tank with water. We will capture the explosion with a high-speed camera, taking 4,000 images per second. When set up, Trevor places the load close to the container, but not in contact with it. We want to know how close an underwater explosion must be to reproduce the damage pattern seen on U8. Are we ready to go then, Trevor? Okay, we're ready to find our line if everyone is undercover. Okay, okay, whenever you're ready, Daniel.
Do we have free range?  Clear range, Roger. Range clear, standby 3 2 1 firing. You could actually hear a loud bang, even with a small charge it was a real bang. Yes, that was only about a gram of explosive. Incredible, it's almost like a nuclear explosion. It's a white ball. There is. Now, at that point it still hasn't affected the submarine, it just hit it. What's all this white stuff over here? The blast waves now hit it and expel the air from inside the can. Oh yeah, and this thing, look, it's literally pulsing in and out, it's like beating like a heart, it's almost really, it's going in and out and you have all this air that's literally being squeezed out. of the submarine, they just seem to blow the can.
Tests show that an underwater explosion can occur some distance from a submarine and still cause fatal damage. In World War I, the Navy used this idea in its fight against submarines. They developed several anti-submarine weapons that could have caused damage like that seen on the U8 and, after reviewing historical records, Innes now believes he knows which type was actually used. I think that has to do with the use of the explosive sweep.  We have a large drawing, a modified sweep of what this enormous contraption was like. Well, these are all TNT 1 2 3 4 charges, about nine or 10 of them in a line that is towed behind the Destroyer, they are anticipating where U8 is. is going and then when they think they have the submarine in the right area, they have these charges now, from what you can see from the damage on U8, it was probably above the charges, actually inside them, or under them?
I think it's probably underneath. I think the submarine somewhere is down here. The charges are placed about 30m apart and we can see the wreck very clearly if I understand that the damage we are seeing is actually on both sides. Next to the conning tower there is an area through where the outer skin is being completely removed. I mean, you see, this is exactly what I saw when we exploded that charge on our simulated submarine, that explosion and then the water pressure was the water. The pressure that damaged the sub, not the explosion, and I can imagine that would actually push and cause exactly the kind of damage you're describing to the U8.
Inside the submarine, what the surviving witnesses say is that the water entered everywhere, entered through the tubes, entered through the conning tower, entered through the sides, so the impact moved, moved, you know, did things. I moved things out of place and allowed the water currents to enter many different places and then the only thing the commander can do is go up. It was a pretty lucky shot. I know that we know, for example, that the only glory the explosive sweep ever had was the sinking of the U8. So, understanding now how that happened is something that pleases me very much.
But this was a rare success. Most of the submarines easily escaped the British blockade and wreaked havoc on merchant ships, and the submarines were becoming increasingly ruthless. They were now prepared to violate international law and sink merchant ships without warning. It became known as Unrestricted Naval Warfare. For the German Navy, the gloves were off. They now had many more submarines and have been building them in large numbers. So this was, as they say in games of chance, va banque! This was the last step and the last step was to try to sink enough Allied ships, drive away enough neutral ships that the British economy would collapse.
How successful were they? It makes the British Admiralty go to the Prime Minister and say, "Sorry, Prime Minister, we're losing the war." But that's extraordinary: Are the Germans about to win the war because we're losing so many merchant ships to U-boats? Exactly correct. You could say that the alliance of Great Britain, France and the United States could have lost the war in 1917. In one month alone, April 1917, Great Britain lost more than 860,000 tons of shipping (about 150 ships). It forced the Royal Navy to try a new tactic: the use of convoys. Under the convoy system, merchant ships would travel in groups escorted by destroyers.
Merchant ship losses immediately plummeted and Britain held firm. And with the entry of the United States into the war, the situation really began to change. The German high command knew that the game was decided. The ships had always been a big gamble and it almost paid off, but in the end it never managed to break Britain and finally, in November 1918, the Germans surrendered. The submarine fared much better since then. To this day it has remained a Lynch pin of naval strategy and, despite all the subsequent advances in technology, the fundamental principles and tactics debated by the early pioneers have not changed much;
It has been more than 100 years since Holland became the Royal Navy's first submarine vessels, but even today submarines play a vital role in the country's defense. Although now, of course, they carry not only torpedoes, but also cruise missiles that can hit deep into the ground. So they are still the silent, stealthy assassins that Holland originally dreamed of. Join the Time team on Patreon for access to exclusive masterclasses on 3D models and valuable behind-the-scenes insights.

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