As of May 2009, the National Record for the Historic Environment lists 1358 known wrecks lost during the period 1914-1938, the majority of which occurred during the First World War, 1914-1918.
Additional information about 269 vessels on the National Small Boat Register and 550 on the National Historic Ships Register was included in the thematic review.
The First World War saw a massive development in new technologies and methods of fighting at sea including the first widespread use of submarines and mines. As well as the birth of naval aviation.
During the First World War Britain relied heavily on merchant shipping to receive food and raw materials. German submarines began targeting the shipping route bringing supplies from the US. This eventually led the US to enter the war in 1917. Merchant ships were put into defended convoys, a method that proved very successful throughout the rest of the war.
The interwar period saw an initial boom in merchant shipbuilding followed by a decline during the worldwide depression in the 1930s. This decline was also mirrored by the slow down in development of naval fleets.
Some areas of maritime activity did continue to prosper in the interwar period, such as leisure sailing in what came to be known as the “Golden Age of the Liner”.

163 The stern frames, armoured cruiser, HMS Drake.

The stern frames, armoured cruiser, HMS Drake. On 2nd October 1917 she had just escorted a convoy across the Atlantic when she was torpedoed by U-79. © Crown copyright, photo taken by Wessex Archaeology.