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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

War Over Seas

With most of the German navy bottled up in the North Sea by the British fleet, the United States never engaged in any major naval battles with the Central Powers. However, the U.S. Navy played a vital role in the extraordinary movement of a massive army across an ocean. By the end of the war, the Allies had shipped two million American military personnel to Europe. Because of the comparatively small size of the U.S. merchant marine fleet, a majority of these Americans were transported by British ships or ships confiscated from the Central Powers. The Navy escorted these troop and supply convoys while under constant threat of German submarine attacks. This successful sealift operation allowed the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), commanded by General John J. Pershing, to become the largest U.S. force deployed overseas to that point.