World War One: Surface Fleet

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Follow the links to find out more about the key personnel, technological changes and major actions of the surface fleet of the Royal Navy during World War One.

The build up to World War One.

Kaiser Wilhelm II came to power in Germany in 1888. He was an ambitious man and envisioned Germany as a world power with colonies in Africa and South East Asia. He considered that a key part of achieving this goal lay in the controlling a powerful navy, specifically one that could threaten the British Royal Navy. In June 1897 Rear-Admiral Alfred Tirpitz was appointed as State Secretary for the Navy. He shared Wilhelm's vision for the Navy and was able to secure funding from the parliament for a massive construction programme for ships. Britain saw this programme as a threat and because of this began an arms race that led a expansion within the Royal Navy fleet.

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