In Britain, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill was livid, and started spouting off war talk
and General von Moltke responded from Berlin in 1912 , "I consider war unavoidable....". Churchill
announced an intention to build two capital ships for every one constructed by Germany, and he
reorganized the fleet to move battleships from the Mediterranean to channel waters. By 1913, the
French and British had plans in place for joint naval action against Germany, and France moved its
Atlantic fleet from Brest to Toulon, replacing British ships. Britain also escalated the arms race by
expanding the capabilities of its new battleships. Experiments with planes in Britain had already been
proceeding, again with the support of Winston Churchill in 1912, when Tirpitz agreed to buy the first
dirigible for naval reconnaissance and authorize funding for seaplane trials.
The Imperial German Navy was greatly expanded by Kaiser Wilhelm II. Ships of the Kaiserliche
Marine were designated SMS, for Seiner Majestät Schiff (His Majesty's Ship). It was the first
navy to successfully operate submarines on a large scale at war and it also operated zeppelins. It
never lost a ship to a catastrophic magazine explosion from an above-water attack.
With the unification of Germany, the new constitution recognised the existence of the navy as an
independent organization, but until 1888 it was commanded by army officers. Its first appointed chief
was General der Infanterie Albrecht von Stosch. Kiel at the Baltic Sea and Wilhelmshaven at the
North Sea served as the primary naval bases. In 1872, a Naval academy for training officers was
created at Kiel, followed by a Machine Engineer Corps and a Medical Corps. In July, 1879 a
separate Torpedo Engineer Corps was created. By 1888, the navy had 534 officers and 15,480 men,
and in 1892, Germany launched the first navy ships to have triple propellers. Rear-Admiral Alfred
von Tirpitz was appointed State Secretary of the Navy in 1897, and remained so for nineteen years.
He advocated expanding the navy and began a publicity campaign aimed at garnering public support
for the navy, and he lobbied on the navy's behalf for spending bills.
By 1898, the German fleet posed a challenge for France or Russia, but it still lagged behind the
British Royal Navy. As it got closer to its goal of being equal, British public opinion was turned
against Germany by a campaign of fear propaganda. British policy as stated in the Naval Defence Act
of 1889 was to maintain a navy superior to Britain's two largest rivals combined, and they guessed
that the German navy would be the world's second largest by 1906. This led to major reforms of the
British fleet, mainly from 1904 to 1909. By 1906, Britain had cleaned up its act in foreign ports
through a series of treaties and Ententes, and Germany, whose fleet was improving, was considered
her only likely naval enemy. As German expenditure on ships rose steadily, so did Britain's,
becoming extremely costly for both. The German navy began to experiment with the submarine and
the first, U-1, was delivered in December, 1906. Then came innovative guns and aiming devices.