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On November 5, 1940, the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer encountered the convoy.
From a tactical point of view, World War I–era submarines were similar to privateers in the age of sail.
Ships sailing in convoys were far less likely to be sunk, even when not provided with an escort.
The loss of productivity due to convoy delays was small compared with the loss of productivity due to ships being sunk.
These submarines were only a little faster than the merchant ships they were attacking, and capable of sinking only a small number of vessels in a convoy because of their limited supply of torpedoes and shells.
The Admiralty took a long time to respond to this change in the tactical position, and in April 1917 convoy was trialled, before being officially introduced in the Atlantic in September 1917. The primary issue was the loss of productivity, as merchant shipping in convoy has to travel at the speed of the slowest vessel in the convoy and spent a considerable amount of time in ports waiting for the next convoy to depart.