(British Royal Navy, 1914)
The Germans called it the Battle of Skagerrak, while history recorded it at the Battle of Jutland (BOJ) of 1916 in North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle between opposing battleships during the war between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet. British forces maintained a blockade of mercentile shipping into German ports, the reason the German's planned a rouge to lure out, ambush, and destroy some or all of the opposition.
The British flotilla was comprised of 151 British, Australian, and Canadian ships. The composition included 28 battleships, 9 battlecruisers, 8 armoured cruisers, 26 light cruisers, 78 destroyers, 1 minelayer, and 1 seaplane.
The Imperial German Navy was comprised of 99 ships. The composition included 16 battleships, 5 battle cruisers, 6 pre-dreadnoughts, 11 light cruisers, and 61 torpedo boats.
German's strategy was to lure out British ships using fast-scouting battlecruisers, while laying an ambush of submarines. However, the British intercepted radio signals, and determined a major fleet operation was imminent. On May 30th, the British sailed out, passing over unprepared German submarines, and making steam for the Imperial German Fleet, to engage and destory, at the very least, contain the threat against its own shipping lanes.
Sir John Jellicoe commanded the Grand Fleet, while Vice-Admiral Reihnard Scheer, the High Seas Fleet. Franz Hipper commanded the fast-scouting group, while Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, the British battlecruiser squadrons.
On the afternoon of May 31, leading the British flotilla, Beatty spotted Hipper's forces, engaging and following the German rouge towards the awaiting trap. Beatty sighted the large German force, but not in time before losing 2 battlecruisers, 4 battleships versus Hipper's losses of 5 ships. Sir Hugh Evan-Thomas, commander of the last battleship to turn around, formed a rearguard as Beatty withdrew. At this point, British strategy was to retreat into its main fleet, drawing German forces towards British positions. As the sun lowered on the western horizon, backlit German forces closed on the retreating Beatty. About 8:30 PM, the combined two fleets of 250 ships - directly engaged twice.
In the aftermath, both sides suffered massive losses during the night battle. At the conclusion of the battle, the British flotilla lost 6,094 sailors, 674 wounded, and 177 captured. In addition, ship losses included 3 battlecruisers, 3 armoured cruisers, and 8 destroyers. In contrast, the German lost 2,551 sailors with 507 wounded. Ship losses included 1 pre-dreadnought, 1 battlecruiser, 4 light cruisers, and 5 torpedo-boats.
Jellicoe moved to remove the German's retreat, in hopes of continuing the engagement in the morning. However, under the cover of darkness, Scheer managed to break out and returned to port.
To this day, both sides debate the claim of victory, that while the British lost more ships and sailors, the German's had failed remove the blockade. Additionally, do the Germany's inability to remove the blockade, let alone reduce the British advantage, they realigned their goal and resources to developing unrestrictive submarine warfare with the strategy of destroying Allied and neutral shipping.
This brief obviousely does not address the details of each nation's strategy, deployment, Order of battle, and fleet actions, as that data is monumental and lengthy in scope. Yet, it should be noted that while this was the largest naval battle, it was only the third-ever fleet action between steel battleships, namely the Battle of the Yellow Sea in 1904 and Tsushima in 1905.
Edited by t42592, 22 September 2012 - 10:33 AM.