Lavery was an official war artist during the First World War and he concentrated on naval subjects. This led to his being chosen with seven other artists by the Admiralty subcommittee of the Imperial War Museum to represent 'every branch of the British Navy'. He spent much of 1917 travelling around British ports including Richborough, Harwich, Southampton and Dover and his paintings of the British Fleet led to his knighthood in the New Year's Honours List in 1918.
'American Troops embarking, Southampton' is in the collection of the Imperial War Museum, London (no.1279).
(see K. McConkey, Sir John Lavery, Edinburgh, 1993, pp.136-42).