Building the Naval Bases and
Fortifying the Coast
The MarineKorps Flandern was initially created to give Germany a geographic advantage in a naval war with Great Britain by occupying the harbors along the Belgian and French coasts. Von Tirpitz intended to have it to construct naval bases along the coast that would aid the German navy in the prosecution of the war; in particular the Kleinkrieg, by which the Germans intended to whittle away at Britain's superiority in battleships with an aggressive campaign of minelaying and subsidiary operations by submarines. The Germans were particularly interested in the harbors along the northern French coast, especially Calais, but due to the setbacks in the west they were never able to reach them. As a result the MarineKorps concentrated its efforts on the Flanders harbors.
These harbors had a number of advantages over the main German fleet bases in the Helgoland Bight. The first and most obvious was simply their geographic position. The bases in the Helgoland Bight were roughly 450 nautical miles from the main British harbors on the west coast of England. The Flanders harbors, on the other hand, were only 250 nautical miles from those ports.1 The advantage is obvious. The closer German ships and submarines were to their area of operations, the less time they would have to spend in transit; therefore more time could be spent on station.