Talk:Unrestricted submarine warfare

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Unrestricted submarine warfare:
  • Find and add information on British Admiralty orders regarding submarine warfare, outlining if and if so, when unrestricted submarine warfare was introduced.
  • Find and add similar information for other nations participating in the war, e.g. Soviet Union, Italy, Japan, USA, France.

"It was obsolete from the start" lacks neutrality as much as "half-hearted attempt". Get-back-world-respect 16:47, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Kriegsmarine the only Navy not to engage in unrestricted from the start?[edit]

Can we please see some documentation for that claim? Preferably in the form of British Admiralty orders from 3 September 1939 or shortly after outlining the rules of the game for their subs. Until such evidence is forthcoming, I have changed it to a more neutral wording. Thanks. Andreas 06:48, 16 February 2006 (UTC)


I don't think that is correct. I did some research yesterday, and it seems they were quite serious about it. But I am as always willing to be swayed by some documentation. Until then I have changed it to a more neutral wording. Andreas 06:51, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

NPOV - no longer needed?[edit]

I think this page can be considered neutral now. Andreas 16:06, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

At present there is little pov but the british one. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:40, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Judgement on Doenitz[edit]

See:Judgement : Doenitz

"Doenitz is charged with waging unrestricted submarine warfare contrary to the Naval Protocol of 1936 to which Germany acceded, and which reaffirmed the rules of submarine warfare laid down in the London Naval Agreement of 1930.Doenitz is charged with waging unrestricted submarine warfare contrary to the Naval Protocol of 1936 to which Germany acceded, and which reaffirmed the rules of submarine warfare laid down in the London Naval Agreement of 1930. ... The order of Doenitz to sink neutral ships without warning when found within these zones was, therefore, in the opinion of the Tribunal, violation of the Protocol. ... the sentence of Doenitz is not assessed on the ground of his breaches of the international law of submarine warfare."

So he was found guilty, but no sentence was passed for this war crime:

"In view of all the facts proved and in particular of an order of the British Admiralty announced on the 8th May, 1940, according to which all vessels should be sunk at sight in the Skagerrak, and the answers to interrogatories by Admiral Nimitz stating that unrestricted submarine warfare was carried on in the Pacific Ocean by the United States from the first day that nation entered the war".

--Philip Baird Shearer 23:45, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

Jip, the Germans were accused and "convicted" for stuff the Allies violated as quite normative themselves. Can that be contrasted in the article? (talk) 17:50, 11 April 2017 (UTC)

2 Articles?[edit]

Most of this article seems to better fit under the heading "Naval Treaties and Rules of Engagement." Just a thought... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) pschemp | talk 21:12, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

I do not think it needs moving. What I think it needs is a big expansion, because at the moment it only looks at the law and little else. --Philip Baird Shearer 16:22, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Article semi-protected for 3 weeks[edit]

Due to ongoing IP address vandalism, I have semi-protected this article (no IP or brand new account edits) for 3 weeks from today. I've also blocked the most recent IP vandal for a week and warned them, etc.

If this semi-protection causes problems with legitimate editing please let me know or find another administrator and have the protection deactivated early. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 03:05, 15 December 2007 (UTC)


Our false flag article says "British Q-boats were notorious for this behaviour during World War One, which Germany used as a reason for its own use of unrestricted submarine warfare." This is unsourced so I didn't add it myself but it seems relevant to this article to me Nil Einne (talk) 22:53, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Maybe, if it was true. Germany commenced Unrestricted Submarine Warfare in February 1915; the first Q-ships weren’t operating until the summer. Xyl 54 (talk) 02:23, 7 December 2009 (UTC)


I’ve removed this;
"Despite unrestricted warfare in later years, the majority of submarine-caused shipping losses sustained by the Allies were via 'restricted' (Prize Regulations) warfare.(ref Willmott, p. 172)
despite having a source, it’s patent nonsense.
The period of USW was from February 1915 to August 1915, and from February 1917 to November 1918, ie more than half (28 out of 52 months) of the war. And it was during that period that three-quarters (9 million, out of a total of 12 million tons) of the total shipping lost was sunk. Also, the period between August 1915 and February 1917 wasn’t marked by a return to Prize Rules; it merely saw the re-intoduction of the minimum restrictions felt necessary to avoid giving neutral nations (principally the USA) cause for war. Xyl 54 (talk) 14:22, 18 January 2010 (UTC)


I was reading Theodore Ropp's The Development of a Modern Navy and came across a couple of places where he compared the Jeune École's ideas on "unrestricted torpedo boat warfare" (Admiral Aube is quoted as saying that torpedo boats will sink their targets without warning; Admiral Hopkins thought that merchant ships would perhaps be given a stop-or-be-sunk warning. These are clearly prefiguring the German campaigns of WWI (and Ropp explicitly compares Aube's ideas with German practice at pp. 170-1). But does this belong here? And if it doesn't, where does it belong? Angus McLellan (Talk) 00:58, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

"Treat Holwitt as less Authoritative"[edit]

While Holwitt's thesis and subsequent book are great scholarship, they are hardly authoritative. We need a more second-sourced article here. To start with, I would certainly change the phrase "...they are considered by many[7] to be a breach..." to replace "many" with "some", since there aren't any others besides Holwitt cited as thinking this way. I'm going to make this minor change to the article, as I think there's no real dispute that a single-sourced opinion can be called "many".

Also it should be noted that the objections to unrestricted submarine warfare based on classical naval practices are decidedly biased in favor of the status quo, and aren't in any way consistent with the new technology of submarines, and certainly aren't consistent with "acceptable" contemporary practices. E.g. why would submarines be held to cruiser rules, while aircraft wouldn't be?

We also might want to include the Mediterranean theater in 1941-43 as a major unrestricted submarine warfare instance, as both Allied and Axis submarines never pretended to adhere to the "cruiser rules" method during that period of time (and, particularly with respect to the Allies, sank a large number of enemy merchantmen).

Finally, the article should note the difference in conduct in different areas falling under unrestricted submarine warfare. That is, USW as practiced considered as legitimate targets ALL shipping (including that of neutral countries) inside a declared War Zone (which might be significant in size), but outside the specified geographic zone, only vessels of belligerent countries were valid targets. This distinction is rather explicitly noted in both the rules of engagement issued to US submarine forces in WW2, and the political and military pronouncements of both the British and German governments around submarine warfare in both WW1 and WW2. Trims2u (talk) 09:34, 30 January 2012 (UTC)

Reason for unrestricted submarine warfare[edit]

Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare was in response to Britain's illegal naval blockade. ( (talk) 11:41, 16 July 2016 (UTC))

Illegal according to whom? Greglocock (talk) 11:48, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
The blockade was clearly illegal under the Hague Convention of 1907. ( (talk) 11:49, 16 July 2016 (UTC))
Which article? Was the UK a signatory to it? Had it been superseded? Greglocock (talk) 11:55, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
The UK signed the Hague Convention and it had not been superseded by any other treaty during World War I. The Royal Navy's starvation blockades of Germany in both world wars were illegal under international law. ( (talk) 12:01, 16 July 2016 (UTC))
You need to check your claims. The UK did not ratify the articles concerning naval blockade Greglocock (talk) 12:58, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
That doesn't matter at all. The blockade was clearly illegal under international law. ( (talk) 18:42, 16 July 2016 (UTC))
Or in Realpolitik terms, the losers were unable to impose their preferences on the winners. Yup, that's how it works. I think we've reached the end of this conversation since you obviously don't understand ratification. Greglocock (talk) 06:16, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
The blockade was internationally regarded as illegal except by the United States. You can't sign a treaty but not accept a certain clause. ( (talk) 12:16, 17 July 2016 (UTC))
Which is exactly where you are wrong. Countries ratified each article sperately. Go and read the wiki page on it. Greglocock (talk) 12:36, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
The British claimed the Atlantic Charter only promised self-determination to countries under Axis control, even though it clearly referred to all countries. Had the United States objected to the blockade it could not have happened, and if the Central Powers had won those responsible for it would have been put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. ( (talk) 14:37, 17 July 2016 (UTC))
I gather you concede my point since you now bring up some new argument,about which I know nothing and care less. Greglocock (talk) 15:36, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
The only reason people try to deny the blockade was illegal is because the Entente Powers won. ( (talk) 15:57, 17 July 2016 (UTC))
It doesn't matter if the UK ratified the tenth article or not. The blockade was clearly illegal under international law, as well as a crime against humanity. ( (talk) 23:15, 24 July 2016 (UTC))
If a country can held to account for a treaty it did not sign then why not get 51% of the poorest countries on earth to create a treaty that taxes the richest 49%? Greglocock (talk) 07:42, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
The UK did sign the treaty. You cannot sign a treaty and then decide you don't want to accept one part of it. The starvation blockade was 100% illegal just like the aerial bombing of cities. ( (talk) 09:04, 25 July 2016 (UTC))
The UK did not ratify article X. Greglocock (talk) 14:26, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
So? Britain was illegally occupying half the world by force in 1914-1919. ( (talk) 14:37, 25 July 2016 (UTC))
Good.Greglocock (talk) 14:43, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
The only reason the UK didn't ratify the 10th article was because it knew its long-planned blockade of Germany would be illegal under international law. ( (talk) 16:12, 25 July 2016 (UTC))
Yup, the uk knew that its most effective tactic against uppity europeans was blockade. So they did not ratify the article making it illegal. Your point is?Greglocock (talk) 20:02, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
The UK started World War I to preserve its empire. ( (talk) 20:59, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
I think you'll find a-h threatened serbia, germany mobilised in support and invaded belgium to attack france, and then the uk joined in. But in your world I'm sure it is different!

Greglocock (talk) 21:25, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

It wasn't a world war until the British Empire declared war on Germany on 4 August. ( (talk) 21:53, 25 July 2016 (UTC))
The semantics are not of great interest to me, so ok I'll agree with that for the time being. Yes if germany hadnt attacked belgium and france then the English would not have brought the empire in to sort Europe 's stupid squabbles out, but since the germans did invade then by the treaty that hac been signed by the English they had to support france. So you are trying to argue that perfidious Albion should have abided by an agreement it didn't ratify, and not have done what it had ratified. Do you have logic in your alternate reality?Greglocock (talk) 05:37, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
It would have been far better for the UK if it had remained neutral in 1914, as it did during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71. There would have been no Irish Free State, no Soviet Union, no Nazi Germany, no Fascist Italy etc. ( (talk) 11:18, 26 July 2016 (UTC))
With hindsight yes. Equally it would have been better if germany had not invaded Belgium. Hindsight is really useless unfortunately. Greglocock (talk) 14:57, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
Germany is situated on a continent with what was even then an excellent railway network and with the resources of that entire continent to draw upon, so it is not solely reliant on its merchant shipping for supplies such as food. Britain is not, and was. Thus the implementation of a blockade or of unrestricted submarine warfare by either side, with the other then responding likewise, was more likely to badly affect the British than it was the Germans.
Germany's situation in 1918 was entirely die to having antagonised or scared the s**t out of so many of its continental neighbours that few, if any, of them would sell Germany supplies, such that it had to rely instead on suppliers that were far enough away across an ocean not to have to worry about being attacked or invaded by their customer.
So the Royal Navy's blockade of Germany wasn't illegal, as Germany wasn't physically dependent on food or supplies brought in by ship. Britain, OTOH, was. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:09, 28 October 2016 (UTC)