This chapter first sets out the current lines of debate over British naval policy before the First World War. The traditional or orthodox school of thought, typified by the works of Arthur Marder, argues that around 1902 the growing German navy replaced the navies of France and Russia to become the main threat to British maritime security in the eyes of the British Admiralty. A revisionist school argues that, because the German navy was composed of battleships and could not, therefore, target British trade, France and Russia remained the main opponents. This introduction contests both of these views. It proposes that Germany became a danger around 1902, not because of the growth of the German battle fleet but because Germany had a means of attacking British trade by arming its fleet of fast transatlantic liners. The Admiralty recognized this and devoted the next decade to developing countermeasures.
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