North Sea Mine Barrage

North Sea Mine Barrage

North Sea Mine Barrage

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The North Sea Mine Barrage, also known as the Northern Barrage, was a large minefield laid by the United States Navy (assisted by the Royal Navy) between Scotland and Norway during World War I. The objective was to inhibit the movement of the German U-boat fleet.

Origin of the Barrage

The idea of mine barrage across the North Sea was first proposed in the summer of 1916 by Admiral Reginald Bacon and was agreed at the Allied Naval Conference on 5 September 1917. The Royal Navy—and in particular Admiral Beatty as Commander in Chief of the Grand Fleet—was sceptical about the value of the operation and did not feel it justified the large logistical and manufacturing commitment required.

The United States was altogether more enthusiastic about the operation as the loss of transatlantic shipping was a major domestic concern and this plan allowed the United States to play an active part in tackling this while playing to their industrial strength and with minimal risk of American casualties.


The objective was to prevent U-boats from operating in the North Atlantic and preying on trans-Atlantic shipping. A similar barrage had already been placed across the English Channel, which had resulted in U-boats diverting north around Scotland. The North Sea Mine Barrage was intended to close this alternative route, and it also made it hard for the U-boats to get supplies.

Laying the minefield

In October 1917, the U.S. Navy tendered an order for the 100,000 mines necessary...
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