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The First World War at Sea

Britain was a maritime power in 1914, with territories and trade routes which spanned the globe. The British Empire relied on the military might of the Royal Navy - the most powerful maritime force in the world.

From the Western Front to battlefields outside Europe, the war on land depended on sea-borne supplies of troops and equipment. Civilians in Britain relied on merchant ships to deliver food and supplies to sustain the home front.

The naval war was fought with vast warships and small fishing boats, submarines and even aircraft. Royal Navy vessels established a blockade to restrict the Central Powers' access to overseas resources, while the German navy used submarines to target merchant shipping, and the warships of her surface fleet attempted to isolate and destroy smaller groups of British vessels in order to erode the Royal Navy's superiority.

Learn about the Sailors at war >