Up to this point, we have tracked the main thrust of the story of the KuK Marine—which meant basically that of the surface navy. We have made reference to the Marine’s submarine arm only when it impacted our narrative. But an important U-boat story lay alongside this. Here, we shall go back to the beginning and tell the essential of the parallel, semiautonomous U-boat story, with occasional reference to the surface fleet when it impacted the U-boats. In the next chapter we shall pick up the combined story.
The KuK fleet had always considered its submarines full members of the club. They specifically included them in their tactical plans, and continued to do so. But as the war ground on, as U-boat numbers mushroomed, as their strategic potential became clearer, the U-boats began to assume a life of their own. When it became evident that the Marine could not build or man enough U-boats to satisfy alliance needs on its own, its German ally sent units of its own to help. Here is the story.