Published Resources Details Journal Article

Hurd, A.
British sea-power, 1900-1930
Transactions of the Institution of Naval Architects
vol. 73, 38456, pp. 1-29

Accession No.1255


Sir Archibald Hurd paints a depressing picture in "British sea-power, 1900-1930.' Both the Navy and Mercantile Marine had suffered a partial eclipse since the turn of the century. At that time Britain had an undoubted two-power standard and could afford to distribute its forces over the oceans of the world. The rise of German naval power and its implicit threat had led to a concentration of British warships in home waters. This "radical change in the distribution of the fleet was carried out in the face of considerable criticism, for who could not recognize the parallel with the calling home of the Roman Legions in the Empire's hour of emergency." Hurd then compared the strengths of the various navies and the dire effects that the Washington Treaty had had. He concluded that, although the Royal Navy was relatively as strong in home waters as in 1900, it had lost its strength outside home waters. "The Empire, so far as naval forces can defend it now exists on sufferance …yet those who rule the destinies of the Empire are apparently content." Nor could Hurd find any great satisfaction with the position of the mercantile marine. In 1900 British shipowners were carrying practically the whole of Britain's coastal trade, 90 percent of the inter-Empire trade, more than half the trade between the United Kingdom and foreign countries and about one-half of the remaining trade of the world. "Crippled by the war, the British shipping industry had done little more than replace the tonnage destroyed. The progressive expansion of the Merchant Navy was inevitably checked by the mistaken policy pursued by successive Chancellors of the Exchequer after the war. Whilst the growth of the merchant navies of other countries had proceeded at an accelerated pace."