Pax Britannica pp 246-259 | Cite as

The Trident Bearers: The Navy as Britannia’s Instrument

  • Barry Gough
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


The closing years of Pax Britannica were marked by long shadows over the imperial scene and darkening clouds forming on the horizon. The story of the rise of the imperial Germany navy with Wilhelm II’s support and under the energetic building programme of Admiral von Tirpitz has often been told, and has already been alluded to in these pages. Less well known but of signal importance was the rise of German commerce on the seas, and a realization at the British Admiralty that in order to win a rapid victory in any future war with Germany, a plan would be needed to wage economic warfare on an unprecedented scale.1 Dealing with German commerce raiders would be one thing; establishing an effective blockade would be another. Bringing the High Seas Fleet to account would be a primary task of British fleet units, while dealing with “fitful raids” by enemy cruiser squadrons would be equally necessary. By October 1901 the first lord of the Admiralty, the Earl of Selborne, had recognized the implications, for the calculations regarding British naval supremacy now hinged more than ever on relations with France and Russia, with whom permanent peaceful accommodations would have to be made.2 In the circumstances, the selection of a new second sea lord who would soon rise to the top professional spot in the Service became one of urgency.


Colonial Society Naval Power Seaborne Trade Capital Ship Economic Warfare 
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© Barry Gough 2014

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  • Barry Gough

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