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The capability of a heavily armed warship against a convoy was dramatically illustrated by the fate of Convoy HX-84.On November 5, 1940, the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer encountered the convoy.Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support.
Further, large convoys were thought to overload port resources.In his book On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, Norman Dixon suggested that the hostility towards convoys in the naval establishment were in part caused by a (sub-conscious) perception of convoys as effeminating, due to warships having to care for civilian merchant ships.The British adopted a convoy system, initially voluntary and later compulsory for almost all merchant ships, the moment that World War II was declared.The deterrence value of a battleship in protecting a convoy was also dramatically illustrated when the German light battleships (referred by some as battlecruisers) Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, mounting 11 in (28 cm) guns, came upon an eastbound British convoy (HX-106, with 41 ships) in the North Atlantic on February 8, 1941.When the Germans detected the slow but well-protected battleship HMS Ramillies escorting the convoy, they fled the scene rather than risk damage from her 15 in (38 cm) guns.
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The loss of productivity due to convoy delays was small compared with the loss of productivity due to ships being sunk.