Kaiser Wilhelm’s vision, indeed obsession, with building a vast fleet of dreadnoughts came to nought during the Great War. He knew that his excellent fleet could not risk significant battles with the Royal Navy, it was a one-shot weapon. The lighter units, particularly the U Boats, did most of the real work on a weekly basis.
The German Navy was only raised in 1871, with a brief to concentrate on the North Sea and Baltic Coasts. Perhaps because of its youth, the Kriegsmarine was quick to appreciate the power of the humble torpedo that could cripple or kill a vessel worth millions of marks. They were thus also keen to develop the promise of the torpedo boat, cheap, potentially deadly and of great use in restricted waters.