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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

World War I 1917-1918

Recognizing the dependence of Great Britain on ocean communications, Germany launched an intense submarine campaign to bring the British to terms, and very nearly did so. Indiscriminate sinkings with accompanying loss of life led the United States into war.

After American entry, the outcome hinged upon m a steady flow of troops and supplies across the ocean to the battlefields of France. A vast convoy system of merchant ships, destroyers, and cruisers, went into operation and dramatically reduced ship losses. Naval aircraft, flying from European bases, aided in the antisubmarine effort including the bombing of Zeebrugge and Ostend. Large U. S. Navy minelayers laid some 60,000 mines in the great North Sea mine barrier designed to deny German submarines access to the open sea.

A variety of craft were mobilized in opposition to U-boats which had deployed to the U. S. Atlantic coast. Escorted by destroyers, the Cruiser Transportation Force and the Naval Overseas Transportation Service participated in carrying over 2 million soldiers and 6.5 million tons of cargo to Europe.

Not one American soldier on his way to France was lost to submarine action. A division of U. S. battleships joined the British Grand Fleet in the North Sea to contain the German High Seas Fleet and thus prevent its contesting the control of the sea. In the Mediterranean, U.S. subchasers distinguished themselves in protecting allied ships from submarine attack. And U. S. naval elements fought ashore in France when 14-inch guns, mounted on railroad cars and served by seaman gunners, effectively bombarded enemy concentrations at long range.

In the final analysis, control of the sea approaches to Europe made victory possible.

1 Silver Star

1. Atlantic convoy operations
2. Western Atlantic operations
3. Operations in Northern European waters
4. Mediterranean operations
5. Operations on the European continent

15 July 1996