Until the late 1890s Germany relied on his large German Army for defence. However, in 1897, Germany's new head of the Imperial German Navy, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, advised the Kaiser Wilhelm II that the country needed a large modern navy. Tirpitz argued that this would help protect Germany's growing overseas empire and its northern coastline from enemy attack. In 1898 the German Navy Laws authorized the massive expansion of the country's navy.
By 1914 the German Navy was the second largest in the world. This included 17 modern dreadnoughts, 5 battlecruisers, 25 cruisers and 20 battleships (pre-dreadnought design). Germany also had 10 diesel-powered U-boats (17 more under construction) and 30 petrol-powered submarines.