Since the oubreak of the war, there had been a threat to British shipping from German submarines. Then, on 4 February 1915, a communiqué issued by the Imperial German Admiralty declared that: “All the waters surrounding Great Britain and Ireland, are hereby declared to be a war zone. From February 18 onwards every enemy merchant vessel found within this war zone will be destroyed.”
The Admiralty sensing the severity of the situation, recognised that airships could be effective at spotting submarines and providing a continuous air patrol for home waters. Unfortunately, Britain’s airship fleet consisted of just seven craft. Consequently, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord Fisher met today with meeting with Commander E A D Masterman (Officer Commanding the Naval Airship Section) and representatives from Vickers and the London-based firm of Airships Limited to discuss the possibilities of creating a fleet of small fairly fast airships to hunt submarines, quickly and cheaply.
The group agreed to develop prototypes at RNAS Kingsnorth under Wing-Commander N. F. Usborne, who would assist in the design of the airship.