10 NOVEMBER 1939, Page 3

The War at Sea

If the war on land seems to be marking time, there has been never a moment's respite in intensive war at sea. More men have lost their lives in the Royal Navy than in the other services put together. Mr. Churchill's power- ful statement last Wednesday served to reveal the continuity and ubiquity of the struggle, and the need for unrelaxing vigilance. He did not conceal the fact that a too easy valuation of the dangers at a time when the defences of Scapa Flow were not completed contributed to the disaster to ' Royal Oak.' He gave an inspiring account of the far- flung activities at sea which have led to the capture of enemy vessels, to the efficiency of the blocade, and the hunting down of U-boats—which remain a menace to our traders. The balance of shipping losses up to date is in our favour. The toll levied on our shipping by enemy submarines has steadily diminished. Mr. Churchill very wisely refuses to underestimate the damage that will continue to be done by U-boats, or the possible damage from the surface raiders that are still at large. But the situation is fully under our control. Cur powers for dealing with the U-boat will outpace the enemy's capacity for building them—and the skill of her lost officers and crews she cannot replace.