At 1057:30 on 11 November 1918, Battery 4 of the U.S. Navy Railway Gun Unit fired a 14-inch shell timed to hit a German target over 20 miles away seconds before the cease-fire went into effect at 1100 that day, thus bringing an end to the most bloody, costly, and destructive war in human history, to that point.
US Navy & WW1 After the Germans reinstituted unrestricted submarine warfare in the spring of 1917, British and Allied ship losses were reaching catastrophic levels — 430 merchant ships (about a million tons) were sent to the bottom in the month of April, the month that the United States entered the war. Yet by the end of 2018, over two million American troops had been transported safely to France with almost no loss to German U-boats. Nothing in the history of the world (to that time) came close to the movement of that many troops across a major body of water in so short of a time. Although nothing can or should diminish the British Royal Navy’s predominant role in preventing a victory by the German navy (of 178 German U-boats lost in the war, the U.S. Navy sank only one [confirmed] while 44,000 British sailors perished at sea) the U.S. Navy’s contribution came at a particularly perilous and critical time, and made a decisive difference in the transport of so many troops to France without loss. It was the rapid arrival of U.S. troops, along with a collapsing internal situation (caused in significant part by the British naval blockade of Germany) that caused the Germans to sue for an armistice in 1918, ending four years of carnage in Europe and to a lesser extent around the world.
With the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet on 21 November 1918, under the draconian terms of the armistice, the U.S. Navy became the second most powerful navy in the world. And, since every other major power in the world except the United States had been bankrupted by the war, within a few years after the war, the United States could demand parity in battleship numbers with the United Kingdom in the Washington Naval Treaty, and the British could not afford to do anything but agree. Before the war, the British had maintained an enormously expensive policy that their navy would be at least equal to the size of the next two largest navies in the world. The Germans had engaged in a costly naval arms race with the British, but were unable to catch up (although in qualitative terms, newer German warships were extremely good).