Imágenes de páginas


including the various benefits at which so many actors work for one another. Oh, if only half were known of the expense, the knowledge, the industry, the patience, the goodwill exercised behind the scenes before that little curtain rolls up every evening at the same hour precisely, people would be astonished, I think. They would rejoice when every success was made, and sympathise with all the failures.

A holiday in view towards the end of a hard-working season is a treat to be looked forward to. I shall, perhaps, never again experience in my life the excitement and exhilaration of my first long sea voyage.

It was to America. I am not a very good sailornor a very bad one,—but oh, that voyage—the delight of it! Looking back now I am only surprised I did not either jump overboard, murder the captain, or hang myself to the top of the mainmast, out of sheer excitement and exaltation! Out-of-door life without fatigue acts magically, it brings strength and peace to me.

At the present moment I am thinking of my next holiday, and my "memory” is "straying” off to the fresh green fields and

” dainty hedgerow's.




[ocr errors]

T is proposed in the present paper to review the general policy

of construction for the Navy under the existing Board of Admiralty, and to consider how far the general preparations we are now making are adequate to our needs. The programme of shipbuilding under the Naval Defence Act of 1889 comprised thirty-eight ships to be built in the dockyards, and thirty-two to be built by contract.

The former were estimated to cost €11,500,000, and were to be paid for by moneys annually voted by Parliament. The expenditure on the thirty-two ships to be built by contract was to be defrayed by a fund of £10,000,000, placed at the disposal of the Admiralty by Act of Parliament. No part of this sum is borne on the votes submitted for the approval of the House of Commons in Navy Estimates.

The seventy vessels laid down under the Naval Defence Act include eight first-class battle ships, nine first-class protected cruisers, twenty-nine second-class protected cruisers, four thirdclass protected cruisers, Pandora type, eighteen first-class torpedo gunboats.

Such being the proposals of the Admiralty in 1889, let us see with what measure of success they have been carried out. The official report is contained in Lord George Hamilton's statement explanatory of the Navy Estimates for 1891-92.

The work contemplated by the Naval Defence Act is now sufficiently advanced to enable a reliable forecast to be made both of the date at which it will be completed, as well as of its actual as compared with its estimated cost. The number of ships to be built was seventy, of an estimated displacement of 316,000 tons, and carrying 540 guns, exclusive of machine guns and guns of small calibre. The whole of these vessels with

their armament and equipment were to be completed and ready for commission before April 1st, 1894. With the single exception of one contract-built ship, whose progress has been slow, there is every reason to believe, upon our present data, that the remaining sixty-nine will, with their armament and reserve guns, be finished before the date named.

The sketch estimate made in 1889 of their prospective cost made an allowance of £10,000,000 for thirty-two contract-built ships and £11,500,000 for thirty-eight dockyard-built ships. This was inclusive of armament and equipment.

The thirty-two contract ships will so far as we can foresee be finished, armed, and equipped for that sum. The extra guns for reserve will also be provided, but owing to certain additional charges which I will subsequently enumerate, we shall not be able to supply in addition the amount of reserve ammunition we have originally contemplated.

On the armament of the dockyard-built ships there is a saving of £ 313,000, and an excess of £920,000 on the hulls, boilers, a nd machinery, making a net excess of £607,000.

This excess over the original estimate is due to a remarkable rise in prices, to the substitution of larger and heavier boilers in the cruisers, necessitating an increase in their dimensions, to the strengthening of the gun mountings and gun pedestals to meet the recoil of the higher velocity imparted by smokeless powder, and to certain modifications and improvements in the later of the dockyard ships suggested by the experience gained at the manoeuvres and elsewhere afloat.

Taking the actual cost of the larger ships built for the ten years previous to 1885, they show an excess on the average over their original estimates, as presented to Parliament, of from 20 to 30 per cent. The excess here shown is less than 3.per cent., and including the amount of the reserve ammunition, less than 5 per cent.

The dockyards have been busily engaged during the last two years in completing ships laid down previous to the adoption by Parliament of the Hamilton programme. During the last three years the following vessels, laid down under the old programme, have been completed and passed into the First Reserve :

1889-90. FIRST-CLASS BATTLESHIPS.-- Trafalgar, Victoria, Camperdown. PROTECTED SHIPS.—Three second-class cruisers, Magicienne type.

UNPROTECTED SHIPS.--Two sloops, Basilisk and Beagle, 1,170 tons. Five first-class gunboats, 805 tons. Three torpedo gunboats , Sharpshooters, 1890-91. FIRST CLASS BATTLESHIP.—Sanspareil.

One training brig.

735 tons.

PROTECTED Ships.-Two Barbara type, 1,830 tons. Four Blanne type, 1,580 tons.

UNPROTECTED SHIPS.-Four first-class gun boats, 805 tons. Six torpedo gunboats, 735 tons.

1891-92. FIRST-CLASS SHIP.—Nile.

PROTECTED SHIPS.- Vulian, torpedo depôt ship. Blake and Blenheim, first-class cruisers, 9,000 tons. Bellona, 1,830.

In addition to these vessels of the old programme, cighteen second-class cruisers, Apollo type, 3,400 tons, and four third-class cruisers, Pallas type, 2,575 tons, laid down under the new programme, are estimated to be passed into the First Reserve in the ensuing financial year.

Having given a general sketch of the work on which the Admiralty have been engaged, we may briefly consider the several types in construction.

The first-class battleships were intended to possess in the highest practical development both offensive and defensive power. Their main armament consists of four heavy guns mounted in two protected stations, at a considerable distance apart. The auxiliary armament is distributed as widely as possible, partly in a long central battery, situated between the two heavy gun stations, and partly on a spar-deck.

In determining the length of the armour belt, a middle course has been taken between the French system of complete protection and the short belts of the Admiral class. The Royal Sovereign, the ship recently launched by the Queen, was carefully described in the columns of the Times, The displacement is 14,150 tons. The protection consists of a belt at the water-line, 8! ft. broad, extending over two-thirds of the length of the ship, and having a maximum thickness of iSin. The belt is terminated by transverse armoured bulkheads. Above it is a zin. steel deck. The broadside above the belt is protected by 5in. armour to a height of 9.!ft. above the water, over a considerable length. The armour on the barbettes is of 17in. The armament consists of four 67-ton guns, ten bin., five joopr., sixteen Ápr., and eight 3pr. quick-firing guns, and seven torpedo tubes. The speed is sixteen knots with natural, and seventeen knots with forced draught. Coal supply 900 tons, equal to 5,000 knots at ten knots, and 1,800 knots at maximum speed.

While the new first-class battleship offers a powerful and impressive combination of all the elements of fighting efficiency, the size and cost constitute a serious objection to the type. It is satisfactory to know that a design for a second-class battleship has recently been approved by the Admiralty, in which the displacement and the cost show a marked reduction on the larger ships first laid down. The following are the leading particulars of the new type, as given in Lord George Hamilton's memorandum :

Speed, forced draught

Coal supply at designed load draught

10,500 tons.
18 to 18. knots.
17 knots.
750 tons.

The armament of each ship will include 4 coin. 29-ton guns in two barbettes, 10 4.7in. quick-firing guns, and 17 6pr. and 3pr, quick-firing guns, 5 torpedo tubes, above water, and 2 torpedo tubes, submerged.

The disposition of the armament is very similar to that of the first-class battleships.

The roin. guns are mounted in pairs in armoured barbettes which extend down to the steel protective deck at the top of the armour belt. "These guns will be capable of being worked entirely by manual power, and, in addition, steam power will be supplied for the training of the guns and the supply of the ammunition.

The armour protection of the hull proper consists of a belt of armour, having a maximum thickness of izin., extending over a length exceeding 200ft. amidships, being completed by armoured bulkheads, with a steel deck from zin. to 2ļin. in thickness at the top of the belt. Before and abast the armour belt a strong protective under-water deck completes the protection to the bow and stern.

Above the thick belt the broadside will be protected to a height of 9 ft. above water by steel armour and wood backing equivalent to a total thickness of 4in. of steel.

Screen bulkheads, similarly armoured, complete the protection to the sides of the barbettes.

The barbette armour has a maximum thickness of gin.


« AnteriorContinuar »