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The most daunting problem for Germany in protecting an invasion fleet was the small size of its navy. The Kriegsmarine, already numerically far inferior to Britain's Royal Navy, had lost a sizeable portion of its large modern surface ships in April 1940 during the Norwegian campaign, either as complete losses or due to battle damage. In particular, the loss of two light cruisers and ten destroyers was crippling, as these were the very warships most suited to operating in the Channel narrows where the invasion would likely take place. Most U-boats, the most powerful arm of the Kriegsmarine, were meant for destroying ships, not supporting an invasion.
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As a consequence of employing all of their available cruisers in the North Sea deception operation, there would have been only light forces available to protect the vulnerable transport fleets. The plan revised on 14 September 1940 by Admiral Günther Lütjens called for three groups of five U-boats, all seven destroyers, and seventeen torpedo boats to operate to the west of the mine barrier in the Channel, while two groups of three U-boats and all the available E-boats to operate north of it. Lütjens suggested the inclusion of the old battleships SMS Schlesien and SMS Schleswig-Holstein which were used for training. They were considered too vulnerable to send into action without improvement, especially considering the fate of their sister ship, SMS Pommern, which had blown up at the Battle of Jutland. The Blohm und Voss shipyard considered that it would take six weeks for a minimal upgrade of armour and armament and the idea was dropped, as was a suggestion that they be used as troopships. Four coasters were converted to auxiliary gunboats by the addition of a single 15 cm naval gun and another was fitted with two 10.5 cm guns, while a further twenty-seven smaller vessels were converted into light gunboats by attaching a single ex-French 75 mm field gun to an improvised platform; these were expected to provide naval gunfire support as well as fleet defence against modern British cruisers and destroyers. 041b061a72