World Battle Fleets and Major Naval Bases 1914


Map Code: Ax00404

The relative strengths and dispositions of naval forces at the outset of World War I favoured an Allied strategy of containment. Outside the European seaboards, the Central Powers had only one significant naval presence, the German East Asia squadron headquartered at Tsingtao in China (it would be destroyed attempting to return to German waters in December 1914). By blockading egress from the Baltic, Black Sea and Adriatic, the Allies could starve the Central Powers of supplies, and prevent their lending naval support to engagements beyond these confines. On the other hand, these dispositions made a Central Powers blockade of Russia (except via the Arctic in summer) relatively easy, leading to the ill-fated Gallipoli landings. Germany rapidly developed its submarine fleet to counter Allied naval dominance, and made attempts to seize Suez. Its U-boat depredations were key to US entry to the war on the Allied side.

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