Built in 1905–1906, the British battleship H.M.S. Dreadnought, literally “Fear Nothing,” revolutionized the world’s navies because of its powerful turbine-driven propulsion and heavy armament and thereby gave its name to a whole class of battleships. The launching of H.M.S. Dreadnought sparked a new phase in the naval arms race between Britain and the German Reich, which was a major factor in pre-World War I Anglo-German antagonism. The first of a series of dreadnoughts displaced a total of 18,000 tons, was 527 feet long, and carried a crew of about 800 men. Because it was equipped with modern steam turbines instead of traditional steam pistons, the Dreadnought was as fast as 21 knots. Its mighty armament of ten 12-inch guns and torpedo tubes was designed to fight enemy ships from considerably long distances. The name “Dreadnought” quickly became synonymous for a new type of battleship, because when it was launched in 1906, it made all preceding warships obsolete.
   The launching of the Dreadnought can be considered as the British response to the challenge posed by the increasing output of German battleships under what later came to be called the Tirpitz Plan. Germany’s apparent strategy to outstrip or at least neutralize the Royal Navy’s impressive superiority fueled a costly arms race between the Reich and the United Kingdom. Although the parliaments in both countries repeatedly showed reluctance to finance the escalating costs of navy expenditure, they were unable to stop the arms race. Most important, German efforts to keep up with British dreadnought-style production both in terms of quality and quantity increasingly poisoned Anglo-German relations. By the beginning of World War I, the original Dreadnought became obsolete, but it was soon succeeded by faster and still heavier armed “superdreadnoughts.” These new battleships continued to dominate the navies of the world until around 1940.
   See also <>; <>; <>, <>.
    Berghahn, V. R. Der Tirpitz-Plan: Genesis und Verfall einer innenpolitischen Krisenstrategie unter Wilhelm II . Düsseldorf: Droste, 1971;
    Herwig, H. H. Luxury Fleet . London: Allen & Unwin, 1980;
    Kennedy, Paul M. The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism . London: Allen & Unwin, 1980;
    Lambert, Nicholas A. Sir John Fisher’s Naval Revolution . Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999;
    Massie, Robert K. Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War . London: Pimlico, 2004; - Roberts, John. The Battleship Dreadnought . London: Conway Maritime, 1992.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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