VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > B. World War I, 1914–1918 > 11. The War at Sea, 1916–1917
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See Sept. 1)
11. The War at Sea, 1916–1917
The second half of 1915 and the first half of 1916 were not marked by any striking events of naval warfare. The Germans continued their efforts to reduce British preponderance by submarine and mine destruction, and at the same time extended their operations against merchant shipping.  1
1916, Feb. 21
The German government notified the U.S. government that thenceforth armed merchantmen would be treated as cruisers. The “extended” submarine campaign began March 1.  2
March 24
The Sussex sunk by torpedo in the English Channel with the loss of American lives. Acrimonious debate between Washington and Berlin, culminating in an American ultimatum. The Germans agreed to give up unrestricted submarine warfare for the time being (May 10).  3
Meanwhile (Jan. 1916) Adm. Reinhardt Scheer had succeeded Adm. Hugo von Pohl in the command of the German High Seas Fleet. The famous minister of the navy, Adm. von Tirpitz, resigned (March 14) in protest against the emperor's unwillingness to make full use of German sea power. He was succeeded by Adm. Eduard von Capelle.  4
May 31–June 1
The German high command reckoned confidently on winning the war through the destruction of the British food supply. The prospects were indeed excellent. Already in the last months of 1916 German submarines had destroyed 300,000 tons of shipping a month. By the beginning of 1917 the Germans had about 120 submarines, the number being increased to 134 by Oct. 1917.  6
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.