Logistics for Commerce War in the Atlantic during the First World War: the German Etappe System in Action

By Javier Ponce Marrero, published November 2006


At the beginning of WW1, Germany planned to disrupt British Atlantic supply routes with cruiser warfare. Light cruisers and armed merchant steamers were supported by a system of supply areas, Etappen, organised in neutral countries with fast steamships carrying supplies to agreed rendezvous points. The importance of the Canary Islands is discussed together with the difficulties the Germans experienced in communication, intelligence and re-coaling due to British diplomatic pressure and naval dominance. A number of voyages and raids are described, as well as the recall of the armed cruiser fleet to Germany.

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Filed under: Atlantic | WW1
Subjects include: Strategy & Diplomacy

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