The German Empire was the historical German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 to the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918, when Germany became a federal republic. The German Empire consisted of 26 constituent territories, with most being ruled by royal families and this included four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies, seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, and one imperial territory. Although Prussia became one of kingdoms in the new realm, it contained most of its population and territory. Its influence helped define modern German culture, after 1850, the states of Germany had rapidly become industrialized, with particular strengths in coal, iron and railways. In 1871, it had a population of 41 million people, and by 1913, a heavily rural collection of states in 1815, now united Germany became predominantly urban. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire operated as an industrial, Germany became a great power, boasting a rapidly growing rail network, the worlds strongest army, and a fast-growing industrial base.
In less than a decade, its navy became second only to Britains Royal Navy, after the removal of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck by Wilhelm II, the Empire embarked on a bellicose new course that ultimately led to World War I. When the great crisis of 1914 arrived, the German Empire had two allies and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, however, left the once the First World War started in August 1914. In the First World War, German plans to capture Paris quickly in autumn 1914 failed, the Allied naval blockade caused severe shortages of food. Germany was repeatedly forced to send troops to bolster Austria and Turkey on other fronts, Germany had great success on the Eastern Front, it occupied large Eastern territories following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917 was designed to strangle the British, it failed, but the declaration—along with the Zimmermann Telegram—did bring the United States into the war. Meanwhile, German civilians and soldiers had become war-weary and radicalised by the Russian Revolution and this failed, and by October the armies were in retreat, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire had collapsed, Bulgaria had surrendered and the German people had lost faith in their political system.
The Empire collapsed in the November 1918 Revolution as the Emperor and all the ruling monarchs abdicated, and a republic took over. The German Confederation had been created by an act of the Congress of Vienna on 8 June 1815 as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, German nationalism rapidly shifted from its liberal and democratic character in 1848, called Pan-Germanism, to Prussian prime minister Otto von Bismarcks pragmatic Realpolitik. He envisioned a conservative, Prussian-dominated Germany, the war resulted in the Confederation being partially replaced by a North German Confederation in 1867, comprising the 22 states north of the Main. The new constitution and the title Emperor came into effect on 1 January 1871, during the Siege of Paris on 18 January 1871, William accepted to be proclaimed Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. The second German Constitution was adopted by the Reichstag on 14 April 1871 and proclaimed by the Emperor on 16 April, the political system remained the same.
The empire had a parliament called the Reichstag, which was elected by universal male suffrage, the original constituencies drawn in 1871 were never redrawn to reflect the growth of urban areas
In the age of sail, a gunboat was usually a small undecked vessel carrying a single smoothbore cannon in the bow, or just two or three such cannons. A gunboat could carry one or two masts or be oar-powered only, but the version of about 15 m length was most typical. Some types of gunboat carried two cannons, or else mounted a number of guns on the railings. The gun that such boats carried could be heavy, a 32-pounder for instance. For example, in the Battle of Alvøen during the Gunboat War of 1807-1814, Gunboats used in the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain during the American Revolutionary War were mostly built on the spot, attesting to the speed of their construction. All navies of the era kept a number of gunboats on hand. Gunboats saw extensive use in the Baltic Sea during the late 18th century as they were well-suited for the extensive coastal skerries and archipelagoes of Sweden and Russia. The rivalry between Sweden and Russia in particular led to an expansion of gunboat fleets and the development of new gunboat types.
The majority of these were developed from the 1770s and onwards by the naval architect Fredrik Henrik af Chapman for the Swedish archipelago fleet. The designs and refined by the rival Danish and Russian navies, spread to the Mediterranean, British ships engaged larger 22 m Russian gunboats off Turku in southeast Finland in 1854 during the Crimean War. The Russian vessels had the distinction of being the last oared vessels of war in history to fire their guns in anger, Gunboats played a key role in Napoleon Bonapartes plan for the invasion of England in 1804. Denmark-Norway used them heavily in the Gunboat War, between 1803 and 1812 the United States Navy had a policy of basing its navy on coastal gunboats, experimenting with a variety of designs. President Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican Party opposed a strong navy and they proved useless against the British blockade during the War of 1812. With the introduction of power in the early 19th century. Initially, these vessels retained full sailing rigs and used steam engines for auxiliary propulsion, the British Royal Navy deployed two wooden paddle-gunboats in the Lower Great Lakes and St.
Lawrence River during the Rebellions of 1837 in Upper and Lower Canada. The United States Navy deployed an iron-hulled paddle gunboat, the USS Michigan, the Von der Tann became the first propeller-driven gunboat in the world. Conradi shipyards in Kiel built the steam-powered 120 long tons gunboat in 1849 for the navy of Schleswig-Holstein. 1, Von der Tann was the most modern ship in the navy and she participated successfully in the First Schleswig War of 1848-1851
Action of 10 March 1917
The Action of 10 March 1917 was a single-ship action during the First World War fought between the German merchant raider SMS Möwe, and the armed New Zealand Shipping Company cargo ship SS Otaki. Although Otaki was sunk, Möwe was badly damaged and her commander, Korvettenkapitän Count Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien, had taken Möwe around the world in 1915 and early 1916, sinking several vessels and fighting one engagement with the British. With a veteran crew and ship, Kapitän Dohna-Schlodien ran the British blockade of Germany in December 1916 and headed for the mid-Atlantic, on 10 March 1917, after months at sea and now returning to Germany, Möwe was in open ocean. At about 02,00, she encountered the 4, 491-ton Pacific Steam Navigation Company vessel SS Esmerelda, Esmerelda was stopped, her crew was taken off and she was scuttled with explosives. Just then, a merchant ship, SS Otaki, appeared on the horizon. She was a 7, 420-gross-ton refrigerated cargo ship of the New Zealand Shipping Company sailing from London to New York City and her defence was a single 4.7 inch gun mounted aft with a Royal Navy commander and gun crew of two.
Otaki carried a wireless and could have alerted the British to Möwes position, in heavy seas and squalls Dohna-Schlodien immediately gave chase, and when she drew near, Dohna-Schlodien signalled Otaki to stop. Her master, Archibald Bisset Smith, refused to surrender his ship, the Germans fired warning shots and were answered with heavy fire from Otakis bow 155-millimeter gun. Shot after shot pounded Möwe at a range of 2,000 yd, when Möwe began counter firing, her 150-millimeter shells were accurately directed. Several shells struck Otaki, and after a battle lasted around 20 minutes, she capsized. The British colours were never struck, Lieutenant Smith directed his crew to abandon ship, by the end of the action, the German auxiliary cruiser was on fire, so her crew had to extinguish the flames as a matter of priority. Five crewmen and Smith went down with Otaki, the survivors were rescued by the Germans. One of the dead was a 15-year-old midshipman, a plaque in Scotland commemorates his falling in action, well over 200 prisoners were taken from Esmerelda and Otaki.
Möwe suffered heavily as well, most of Otakis rounds striking topside, five men were killed, the damage caused by Otaki started fires in Möwes coal bunkers, which burned for two days and nearly reached the ships magazine. She had already suffered serious flooding after being holed by Otakis shells, this had required counter-flooding to correct the list, due to the damage his ship sustained, Dohna-Schlodien was forced to consider returning to Germany. Within a month the raider was back in friendly waters after running the British blockade a fourth, once again Dohna-Schlodien was rewarded accordingly. The survivors of Otaki and the crew of Esmerelda were taken to Brandenburg, Möwe spent the remainder of the war serving with the German fleet in the Baltic Sea as a minelayer. Archibald Smiths actions were not fully recognized until after the end of the war, Naval warfare of World War I Bridgland, Tony
Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby
The Raid on Scarborough and Whitby on 16 December 1914, was an attack by the Imperial German Navy on the British seaport towns of Scarborough, West Hartlepool and Whitby. The attack resulted in 137 fatalities and 592 casualties, many of whom were civilians, the attack resulted in public outrage towards the German navy for an attack against civilians and against the Royal Navy for its failure to prevent the raid. The German Navy had been seeking opportunities to draw out small sections of the British fleet which it could trap, shortly before, a raid on Yarmouth had produced few results but demonstrated the potential for fast raiding into British waters. On 16 November, Rear Admiral Franz Hipper—commander of the German battlecruiser squadron—persuaded his superior, Admiral Friedrich von Ingenohl, u-17 was sent to investigate the area near Scarborough and Hartlepool for coastal defences. The submarine reported little onshore defence, no mines within 12 mi of the shore, the German fleet avoided any open engagement with the British fleet because it was smaller, but the difference between the two was less at this period in the war than at any other.
Later, Britain improved its position by building ships, particularly dreadnought battleships which were considered decisive in any major engagement. The British fleet had the disadvantage of maintaining continuous patrols, whereas the German one remained mainly in home port, after several months of war, British ships were reaching the point where urgent repairs were needed and several had to be withdrawn from the Grand Fleet. Three battlecruisers had been sent to South America, and the new dreadnought HMS Audacious had been lost to a mine. HMS Thunderer, another battleship, was undergoing repairs. The British had one important advantage, German ships used three main codes for which codebooks were issued to their ships, copies of these books had been obtained from sunk or captured vessels without the Germans knowledge. British code breakers had now reached the point where they could read German messages within a few hours of receiving them, sufficient information had been gathered on the evening of 14 December to tell that the German battlecruiser squadron would shortly be leaving port.
However, the information did not suggest that the whole German fleet might be involved, commodore Tyrwhitt at Harwich was ordered to take to sea his two light cruisers, HMS Aurora and Undaunted and 42 destroyers. Jellicoe protested that such a force should be sufficient to deal with Hipper. The Third Cruiser Squadron from Rosyth were added to the force, with the armoured cruisers HMS Devonshire, Argyll, Jellicoe chose the point for this fleet to assemble,25 mi south-east of the Dogger Bank. The intention was to allow the raid to take place, ambush the German ships as they returned, Admiral Hipper left the Jade River at 03,00 on 15 December. During the following night, SMS S33 one of the escorts, became separated from the rest. This risked giving away the presence of the ships and the destroyer was ordered to be silent, still lost, it headed for home but on the way, sighted four British destroyers which it reported by radio. Hipper noted radio traffic from British ships which caused concern that the British might be aware something was happening and he attributed this to possible spying by trawlers which were encountered during the day
F. Laeisz, is an old established and today still active shipping company The firm was established by Ferdinand Laeisz on 24 March 1824 as a production company for tall hats. Expansion to overseas markets enabled him to purchase in 1839 the brig “Carl”, named after his son,1857 the first new building was commissioned, a wooden barque named “Pudel” after Carl’s wife Sophie Laeisz. All following own new buildings after 1861 were christened with names starting with a “P” and this is the reason why British seamen called the company “P-Line”. Carl Laeisz credo was “My ships can and must perform fast voyages. ”,1892 F. Laeisz purchased its first iron steamship from the Hamburg-Südamerikanischen Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft which was employed by Deutsche Levante Linie. 1897/98 the Laeiszhof was built at Trostbrücke 1 in Hamburg, a landmark building,1914 the first banana reefer ships “Pioneer” and “Pungo” were ordered for the Afrikanische Frucht-Companie established 1912 by F. Laeisz. The outbreak of World War Ⅰ made it impossible for the company to commission these two ships for employment in its own banana trade.
With “Poseidon” Laeisz commissioned 1923 its first Steamer for its own service to the SAWC and 1926 the last four-masted barque Padua was built for FL. This newbuilding signaled the end of the Flying P-Liner area which terminated with the end of World War II when “Padua” was given to the USSR, the company owns since 1904 shares of the Brazilian BRAHMA, forerunner of today’s brewery AMBEV. The shares were confiscated by the Brazilian government 1942 as security for war damages, the release from the blockage the government still delays. Owners of the new company are Schües and – for a few years - F. Laeisz,2004 Schües purchased the 1824 founded partnership F. Laeisz with all legal rights of its history. Reederei F. Laeisz, Rostock, is today the company, F. Laeisz GmbH, Hamburg. Today the company operates container ships, bulk carriers, gas-, almost all ships are named with the P-names. MV “Peene Ore” the company’s flagship, is the largest vessel flying the German flag, january 2005 the Musikhalle Hamburg is again called “Laeiszhalle”.
Carl Laeisz had instructed the company in his will to pay 1.2 Million Mark for the construction of a music hall, when in 1908 the building was opened it was the largest and most modern concert hall in Germany and was known as Laeiszhalle until 1933. Die Segelschiffe der Reederei F. Laeisz, verlag „Die Hanse“, Hamburg 1998 u.2000, ISBN 3-434-52562-9. Hans Georg Prager, „F. Laeisz“ vom Frachtsegler bis zum Bulk Carrier, koehlers Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Herford 1974, ISBN 3-7822-0096-9. Reederei F. Laeisz GmbH LAEISZ-Flotte Ferdinand Laeisz
Armed merchantman is a term that has come to mean a merchant ship equipped with guns, usually for defensive purposes, either by design or after the fact. In the days of sail and privateers, many merchantmen would be armed, especially those engaging in long distance. In more modern times, auxiliary cruisers were used offensively to disrupt trade chiefly during both World War I and World War II, particularly by Germany, while armed merchantmen are clearly inferior to regular warships, sometimes they have scored successes in combat against them. East Indiamen of various European countries were heavily armed for their journeys to the Far East. In particularly dangerous times, such as when the countries were at war. However, many East Indiamen travelled on their own, and therefore were heavily armed in order to defend themselves against pirates and they defended themselves against warships, scoring signal victories at the Battle of Pulo Aura and the Action of 4 August 1800. The British Royal Navy purchased several that it converted to ships of the line, in 1856, privateering lost international sanction under the Declaration of Paris.
From 1861–65 European countries built high speed ships to run the Union Blockade during the American Civil War, some of these were armed and served as Confederate States Navy raiders. Russia purchased three ships in 1878 of 6,000 long tons armed with 6-inch guns for use as auxiliary cruisers for a Russian Volunteer Fleet. Germany and the United Kingdom responded to the precedent by asking their shipping companies to design fast steamers with provision for mounting guns in time of war, in 1892 Russia likewise built two more auxiliary cruisers. In both World Wars, both Germany and the United Kingdom used auxiliary cruisers, while the British used armed passenger liners defensively for protecting their shipping, the German approach was to use them offensively to attack enemy shipping. The armed merchant cruisers of the British Royal Navy were employed for protection against enemy warships. They ultimately proved to have limited value and many, particularly ocean liners, were converted into troopships.
Documentary evidence quoted by the BBC researched from the stages of the First World War suggests that the express liners had greater speed than most warships. The downside proved to be their high consumption, and that using them in a purely AMC role would have burned through the Admiralty reserve supplies of steam coal in less than three months. The ships were vulnerable to fire, because they lacked warship armour and they used local control of guns, rather than director fire-control systems. By coincidence, Cap Trafalgar was disguised as Carmania, in World War II, HMS Jervis Bay — the sole escort for convoy HX84 in November 1940 — stood off the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer, when the German ship attacked the convoy. Though she was sunk alonside 5 vessels, this enabled the rest of the convoy to escape and her master, Acting Captain Edward Fegen was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions
Action of 16 March 1917
After leaving port in March disguised as the Norwegian freighter Rena Norge, Leopard set sail on its mission to disrupt Allied commerce. On 17 March, the cruiser HMS Achilles stopped Leopard in the Atlantic, out-gunned, Laffert had no option but to proceed to the boarding vessel. Day dispatched a launch containing a boarding party of an officer, Laffert realised that he was about to be discovered, detained the party, and after about an hour fired two torpedoes at Dundee. Dundee manoeuvred out of the way just in time and the torpedoes missed by 20 yards, day ordered his gun crews to open fire and shells hit Leopard from the stern at such close range that every shot was a hit and steam rising from Leopard. Leopard turned to starboard but Dundee turned to port to avoid a broadside, by this time Leopard had been hit forty times. Achilles was 4 nautical miles to the east-north-east and opened fire on the raider about five minutes after Dundee had commenced firing, as Dundee avoided another broadside, Leopards gunners fired wild as she sailed straight for Achilles to avoid the fall of shot.
Leopard continued to fire for about an hour more, while shells from Achilless heavy guns caused explosions and jets of flame. Leopard began to sink but the continued to fire, at 4,30 p. m. Leopard sank with all 319 hands. Damage to the British vessels was light and the casualties were the six members of the boarding party members on Leopard when it sank. Action of H. M. Ships Achilles and Dundee - Naval Despatch dated 21st March 1917
Imperial German Navy
The Imperial German Navy was the navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy, which primarily had the mission of coastal defence, Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded the navy, and enlarged its mission. The key leader was Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, who expanded the size and quality of the navy. The result was an arms race with Britain as the German navy grew to become one of the greatest maritime forces in the world. The German surface navy proved ineffective during World War I, its only major engagement, the submarine fleet was greatly expanded and posed a major threat to the British supply system. The Imperial Navys main ships were turned over to the Allies, all ships of the Imperial Navy were designated SMS, for Seiner Majestät Schiff. The Imperial Navy achieved some important operational feats, the Navy emerged from the fleet action of the Battle of Jutland having destroyed more ships than it lost, although the strategic value of both of these encounters was minimal.
The Imperial Navy was the first to operate successfully on a large scale in wartime, with 375 submarines commissioned by the end of the First World War. The unification of Germany under Prussian leadership was the point for the creation of the Imperial Navy in 1871. The newly created emperor, Wilhelm I, as King of Prussia, had previously been head of state of the strongest state forming part of the new empire, supreme command was vested in the emperor, but its first appointed chief was General der Infanterie Albrecht von Stosch. Kiel on the Baltic Sea and Wilhelmshaven on the North Sea served as the Navys principal naval bases, the former Navy Ministry became the Imperial Admiralty on 1 February 1872, while Stosch became formally an admiral in 1875. Initially the main task of the new Imperial Navy was coastal protection, with France, the Imperial Navys tasks were to prevent any invasion force from landing and to protect coastal towns from possible bombardment. In March 1872 a German Imperial Naval Academy was created at Kiel for training officers, followed in May by the creation of a Machine Engineer Corps, in July 1879 a separate Torpedo Engineer Corps was created dealing with torpedoes and mines.
In May 1872 a ten-year building programme was instituted to modernise the fleet, the building plan had to be approved by the Reichstag, which controlled the allocation of funds, although one-quarter of the money came from French war reparations. In 1883 Stosch was replaced by general, Count Leo von Caprivi. At this point the navy had seven armoured frigates and four armoured corvettes,400 officers and 5,000 ratings, in October 1887 the first torpedo division was created at Wilhelmshaven and the second torpedo division based at Kiel. In 1887 Caprivi requested the construction of ten armoured frigates, greater importance was placed at this time on development of the army, which was expected to be more important in any war. This shortened the journey for commercial ships, but specifically united the two areas principally of concern to the German navy, at a cost of 150 million marks, the protection of German maritime trade routes became important
In the latter-day history of Poland after World War II, the insurrections were celebrated as centrepieces of national pride. Much of Silesia had belonged to the Polish Crown in medieval times, frederick the Great of Prussia seized Silesia from Maria Theresa of Austria in 1742 in the War of Austrian Succession, after which it became a part of Prussia and in 1871 the German Empire. Although the province had by now become overwhelmingly German speaking, a large Polish minority remained in Upper Silesia, Upper Silesia was bountiful in mineral resources and heavy industry, with mines and iron and steel mills. The Silesian mines were responsible for almost a quarter of Germanys annual output of coal,81 percent of its zinc and 34 percent of its lead, the area in Upper Silesia east of the Oder was dominated by ethnic Poles, most of whom were working class. Most spoke a dialect of Polish, but many felt they were a Slavic group of their own called Silesians. In contrast, most of the middle and upper classes – the landowners, factory owners, local government, police.
There was a division along religious lines. The German Silesians were almost all Protestant, while the Polish Silesians were invariably Roman Catholic, in the German census of 1900, 65% of the population of the eastern part of Silesia was recorded as Polish speaking, which decreased to 57% in 1910. This was partly a result of forced Germanization, but was due to the creation of a bilingual category. The Treaty of Versailles had ordered a plebiscite in Upper Silesia to determine whether the territory should be a part of Germany or Poland. Thus the plebiscite took place in all of Upper Silesia, including the predominantly Polish-speaking areas in the east, the Upper Silesian plebiscite was to be conducted on March 20,1921. In the meantime, the German administration and police remained in place, meanwhile and strong arm tactics by both sides led to increasing unrest. The German authorities warned that those voting for Poland might forfeit their jobs, pro-Polish activists argued that, under Polish rule, Silesian Poles would no longer be discriminated against.
Poland promised to honour their German state social benefits, such as the old age pensions, many German Army veterans joined the Freikorps, a paramilitary organization whose troops fought any pro-Polish activists. The pro-Poland side employed the Polish Military Organisation – a secret military organisation, the deteriorating situation resulted in Upper Silesian Uprisings conducted by Poles in 1919 and 1920. The right to vote was granted to all aged 20 and older who either had been born in or lived in the plebiscite area, a result was the mass migration of both Germans and Poles. The German newcomers accounted for 179,910, the Polish newcomers numbering over 10,000, without these new voters, the pro-German vote would have had a majority of 58,336 instead of the final 228,246. The plebiscite took place as arranged on March 20, two days after the signing of the Treaty of Riga, which ended the Polish–Soviet War of 1919/1920, a total of 707,605 votes were cast for Germany and 479,359 for Poland
Province of Silesia
As a Prussian province, Silesia became part of the German Empire during the Prussian-led unification of Germany in 1871. The territory on both sides of the Oder river formed the part of the Prussian kingdom. It furthermore included the part of Upper Lusatia around Görlitz and Lauban. In the northeast, Upper Silesia bordered on remaining Congress Poland, the incorporated Upper Lusatian strip of land in the west touched the remaining territory of the Saxon kingdom. Immediately after the coronation of Maria Theresa as Bohemian queen regnant, King Frederick the Great of Prussia had invaded Silesia, attempts by Maria Theresa to regain the crown land in the Second Silesian War failed and she ultimately had to relinquish her claims by the Treaty of Dresden. As the lands had been part of the Holy Roman Empire until 1806, the character of the provinces eastern third, Upper Silesia, had been much lesser shaped by the medieval German Ostsiedlung. According to the census of 1905, about three-quarters of the Silesian inhabitants were German–speaking, the Upper Silesian Industrial Region was the second largest industrial agglomeration of the German Empire after the Ruhr area.
Ethnic tensions rose on the eve of World War I, with politicians like Wojciech Korfanty separating from the Centre Party, after the war, the parts remaining in Weimar Germany were re-organized into the two provinces of Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia in 1919. Further, in 1920 the Hlučín Region was ceded to Czechoslovakia according to the Treaty of Versailles, after the Nazi Germany conquest of Poland in late 1939, the Province of Silesia was extended when a part of Poland was merged into that province. In 1941, the Province was divided again, the German-speaking population left or was expelled following World War II, though a minority remains. A smaller western part of the former Silesia Province lies within modern German states of Saxony, coats of arms of Upper Silesian towns while part of the Province of Silesia Administrative subdivision and population breakdown of the Province of Silesia in 1900/1900
Minelaying is the act of deploying explosive mines. Historically this has carried out by ships and aircraft. Additionally, since World War I the term refers specifically to a naval ship used for deploying naval mines. Before World War I, mine ships were termed mine planters generally and after that war the term mine planter became particularly associated with defensive coastal fortifications. The term minelayer was applied to vessels deploying both defensive- and offensive mine barrages and large scale sea mining, minelayer lasted well past the last common use of mine planter in the late 1940s. An armys special-purpose combat engineering vehicles used to lay landmines are sometimes called minelayers, the most common use of the term minelayer is a naval ship used for deploying sea mines. In the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I, mines laid by the Ottoman Empires Navys Nusret sank HMS Irresistible, HMS Ocean, Russian minelayers were efficient, sinking the Japanese battleships Hatsuse and Yashima in 1904 in the Russo-Japanese War.
In World War II, the British employed the Abdiel minelayers both as minelayers and as transports to isolated garrisons, such as Malta and Tobruk and their combination of high speed and carrying capacity was highly valued. The French used the concept for the cruiser Pluton. A naval minelayer can vary considerably in size, from boats of several hundred tonnes in displacement to destroyer-like ships of several thousand tonnes displacement. Apart from their loads of sea mines, most would carry weapons for self-defense. The first submarine to be designed as such was the Russian submarine Krab, USS Argonaut was another such minelaying submarine. Although there are no modern submarine minelayers, mines sized to be deployed from a submarines torpedo tubes, such as the Stonefish, in modern times, few navies worldwide still possess minelaying vessels. The United States Navy, for example, uses aircraft to lay sea mines instead, mines themselves have evolved from purely passive to active, for example the US CAPTOR that sits as a mine until detecting a target upon which a torpedo is launched.
A few navies still have dedicated minelayers in commission, including those of South Korea, Poland and Finland, countries with long, shallow coastlines where sea mines are most effective. Other navies have plans to create extemporised minelayers in times of war, beginning in World War II, military aircraft were used to deliver naval mines by dropping them, attached to a parachute. Germany and the USA made significant use of aerial minelaying, the British Royal Air Force minelaying operations were codenamed Gardening. In the Pacific, the US dropped thousands of mines in Japanese home waters, aerial mining was used in the Korean and Vietnam Wars