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LETTER FROM LONDON
FOREIGN NAVAL CORRESPONDENCE
(Special Correspondence of THE NAVY)
The Hawke-Olympic Collision.
The cruiser Hawke was acquitted of blame in connection with her recent collision with the Olympic, the suction theory being upheld. Out of the incident the question of special regulations for very large liners in the Solent has again risen, but it is not likely to eventuate in anything more than talk. It is interesting to note, by the way, that when the Hawke was repaired, instead of being given a new ram bow like her old one, she was fitted with a straight stem.
The Declaration of London.
With the throwing out of the Naval Prize Bill by the House of Lords, the last of that measure has probably been heard for some time. Although the government at one time announced its intention of carrying the Declaration of London, regardless of all opposition, its enthusiasm since then has considerably abated, owing to the violent opposition which the Declaration of London encountered. Those principally opposed were the Imperial Maritime League, the Bristol Branch of the Navy League, and most Chambers of Commerce. The first named secured the signatures of practically every retired admiral in the country. At about the eleventh hour, the Navy League, which, except for its Bristol Branch, had maintained an entirely neutral attitude,- announced that, having gone very fully into the matter, its executive committee had decided to oppose the Declaration.
It is not to be supposed that all those who protested against this measure are entirely opposed to it in general principle, but certain points were fatally disadvantageous to this country in the event of war. Particular exception was taken to the proposed Prize Court, in which the vast British marine interests would have been exactly on a par with those of some of the smaller Central American republics. This was the point most emphasized by the opposition, and the argument proved fatal.
The New Sea Lords.
The retirement of three of the four Sea Lords came as a general surprise to everybody, as Admiral Wilson's period of service was not due to expire until next March, when it had been generally understood that he would be replaced by Admiral May. The sweep that has been made is in many quarters connected with a presumed in
tention to reverse the Fisher policy, which has not proved so successful as was at one time expected.
Admiral Wilson, the retiring First Sea Lord, who is known throughout the British Navy as "the Tug," is the last officer of the old school. No one is surprised that he declined to be made a lord. He was always an extremely strict disciplinarian and generally unpopular, but at the same time thoroughly believed in by all who served under him.
The new Sea Lords are (1) Admiral Sir F. Bridgeman (recently commanding the Home Fleet), (2) Vice Admiral Prince Louis of Battenberg (recently commanding the 3d and 4th divisions of the Home Fleet), (3) Captain Pakenham.
Of these, Prince Louis is the best known. He is a remarkably able tactician, popular forward as well as aft, and generally regarded as our best admiral, "despite the fact that he is a Prince." He will be remembered in America as having been in command of the Second Cruiser Squadron and having brought it into New York Harbor at 18 knots. Curiously enough, though so highly esteemed afloat, Prince Louis is little regarded by the general public, with whom his appointment is unpopular 1ather than otherwise.
Captain Pakenham served as our naval attaché in the Russo-Japanese war, during which he succeeded in securing and sending home the personal account of the experiences of a Japanese officer in the Port Arthur torpedo attack. The Russians, on hearing of this, took it to be the captain's own experiences, and demanded his recall on the grounds that he, a British officer, had planned and led the attack. Not till Captain Pakenham came home was it made clear that he was about a thousand miles away at the time.
Lower Deck Appeals.
The usual annual list of bluejackets' grievances, known as the Lower Deck Magna Charta, has just been issued. As on previous occasions, it suffers from an undue diffuseness, which tends to confuse would-be reformers and sympathizers. The point of most importance is the request for a 20 per cent. all-round increase of pay. The reason given for this is the increased cost of living in recent years. Such an increase has undoubtedly occurred, and has been provided for by increased wages in most civil employments, whereas naval pay has remained stationary.
Some of the other requests would be of doubtful advantage if granted. For example, the request has again been put forward that no petty officer shall be disrated, except by court-martial. The theory generally held by naval officers is that as a captain makes the petty officer, the right to unmake him should remain vested in him. One of the grounds for this opinion is that a man of doubtful ability would never be promoted to petty officer if the complicated procedure of court-martial were necessary before he could be disrated. As things work in actual practice at present, most captains tend to be lenient towards efficient petty officers who come up before them for small offences, while should a man after test have proved inefficient, they use the circumstance to put a better man in his place. The trouble is that here and there. there are captains who disrate petty officers for the most trivial offences without regard to the efficiency aspect of the question. Such officers, however, are in the minority, and it is an open question whether in avoiding the lesser evil the greater might not be arrived at, because, whereas now a disrated man is able to work back to his old position, it is taken for granted that the career of a petty officer disrated by court-martial would be permanently closed.
The 1912 Naval Estimates.
Speculation is rife as to the Shipbuilding Program for the Financial Year 1912-13. It is generally understood that the British Program will not consist of more than four big ships at the outside, while there have been rumors of three only.
A great deal of nonsense has lately been talked in statistical socities about the "financial burden" of British naval expenditure. As a matter of fact, the cost of the navy does not amount to more than 3 per cent. of the actual value of the mercantile marine - which, to say the least of it, is an economical insurance. It has further been estimated that about 7 per cent. to 10 per cent. of the industrial population directly or indirectly obtain employment through the warship industry.
A curious sidelight has been thrown on this by a violent agitation (supported in many cases by some of the very people who attack naval expenditure, with a view to censuring the government) because a battleship has not been ordered to be built at the Thames Ironworks in East London. This historical yard is at present in a parlous state and thousands of men will be out of work unless some government work be secured. The yard, owing to the higher wages obtaining in London and the higher rates, is unable to compete on equal terms with other yards more conveniently located; but the government is told
that it must sweep aside considerations of this sort in order to assist the workers of a London industry. Demands of this sort, coming from those who preach in season and out that "naval expenditure pauperizes and impoverishes the workers," almost verge upon the ludicrous." Fred T. Jane.
LETTER FROM PARIS
ORGANIZATION OF THE SUPREME COMMAND afloat
We have already remarked that France, in spite of her three sea fronts, two of which are separated by the Spanish Peninsula, should not divide her fleet, but, on the contrary, should apply the strategic principle of concen tration.
Tago, in his Memoirs, has dwelt on the importance of that principle.
At the beginning of the Russo-Japanese war, the two opposing naval forces were about equal in total strength; but the greater the care taken by the Japanese to concentrate their units in order to hurl them in mass against the enemy, the more imprudent the indifference of the Russians in scattering their forces at Port Arthur, Chemulpo, and Vladivostock. In spite of the impending hostilities, Russia made no effort to assemble her ships at any rendezvous. Furthermore, she left at Chemulpo, with no apparent object, the Koreïltz and Variag. We know well the results of the operations justified the famous formula: "Blunders committed at the beginning of a campaign cannot be easily repaired."
In order to enable the squadrons to attempt in mass a serious offensive, they must first have been thoroughly drilled in units and thus permit the commander-in-chief to wield with precision every one of his units. In time of peace, he should be in a position to be able to take advantage of every opportunity of study and organization, and to prepare at leisure everything that may be prepared in advance in accordance with the laws of strategy, which, after all, is only the art of foresight. Thus he will leave to chance or to inspiration only that which can not possibly be foreseen and provided for. Even so, there will still be enough contingencies to be met.
Are those conditions anticipated in France?
Every year the minister causes to be assembled two squadrons for the grand maneuvers, and he places at their head a temporary commander-in-chief whose functions last only from 15 to 20 days. The admiral who exercises that command has a chief of staff, several aids-decamp, and one secretary, only temporary like himself; his flagship itself is only a temporary one, for never is it
used in that capacity twice in succession. At the end of the maneuvers, the unit which served as a flagship resumes its place in the squadron; often, even, it is changed to a different squadron on another station. The cruiser of the "amiralissime" in the maneuvers of 1911 was ordered to Crete. The personnel is dispersed at the same time that the commander-in-chief is relieved, and the results of the feverish work of the maneuvers in the end amount to very little, at most, probably, to a few reports which the next "amiralissime" may perhaps consult, for the commander-in-chief never commands the maneuvers twice in succession.
Those perpetual changes, bad enough in time of peace, might prove perilous in war time; all the more so as the period of political tension might be extremely short, or there might even be none at all; for it is not impossible to see the first onset precede the declaration of war instead of following it, as was the case between Russia and Japan in 1904.
The ideal, of course, would be the ability to pass without transition or effort from the sham maneuvers to actual war operations, and to go into combat formation with the same serene disposition that obtains in daily exercises.
But to accomplish this it would be necessary that the admiral who was in supreme command in time of peace, should continue in that position when war breaks out; Instead of being superseded at that very moment by another commander-in-chief.
It is therefore evident that a new organization of the French naval forces is imperative; and, in order not to waste any time, the example being set by the war department is worthy of imitation. Hardly, indeed, had the new War Minister assumed charge before he had that very question brought up.
The principle of the organization briefly stated is this: The chief of the general staff is designated to be, in time of war, the head of the armies operating in the northeast of France, which constitutes the principal groups of the land forces. He is aided in his work by an assistant chief of staff, and under his orders are permanently placed those officers that are to surround and aid him in the gravest circumstances. With the assistance of that personnel in time of peace, he arranges the details of mobilization and draws the plans of the campaign.
By analogy with the condition that obtains in the War Department, the admiral who in war time is to assume the supreme command of the fleet should be designated in the time of peace. It is important that some sort of parallel, if not an exactly similar organization, should be established in the navy, and thus make it possible for the designated admiral in chief to organize in advance all of his means at his command, and be as ready as his war colleague to set them working when the hour comes.
In order to put his idea into practice, the Minister of Marine at first thought of copying our neighbor. The German and English solution both attracted him, especially the former, which seemed preferable, because a greater liberty of action is allowed the commander-inchief. All of the German squadrons, each composed of eight battleships with full crews all the year round, is commanded by an admiral who would be continued in command should war be declared. The special battleship carrying his flag has his complete staff on board. In that organization nothing is left to chance, as both personnel and matérial are permanent. It is an excellent arrangement, which adapts itself perfectly to any cir
On the other hand, the chief of staff of the army who in time of peace aids the chief of the general staff in his work, is to remain at the Department in Paris, serving during the war as the pivot of the situation and an aid to the minister in questions of mobilization, supplies, and armament, with which he is perfectly familiar.
The "amiralissime" has all the leisure necessary to prepare himself for the onerous duty in case of war. He maneuvers constantly; he drills his squadrons, and frequently puts to the test every one of his means of attack and defense; he follows with a critical eye every movement of his cruisers, scouts and destroyers, in order to assure himself of the use to which he can put each one according to its endurance and distinctive quality.
The British Admiralty follows a somewhat different practice, but has a tendency, it is reported, to follow the German system, which is more practical and definite. The admiral in command of the Home Fleet of 32 battleships has also under his orders the Atlantic squadron. He is the commander-in-chief, selected from among admirals who have already commanded squadrons, and is familiar with every difficulty and the heaviest responsibilities.
In France, a vice-admiral is placed, often for the first time, at the head of an important group of large ships, when he has everything to learn. As a rear admiral he may have only exercised a fictitious command, when any sort of vessel, sometimes even a simple destroyer. may have carried his flag. The naval divisions of Tunisia, Cochin-China and Algeria are examples of this kind. The rear admirals perform great services in those important functions, especially in Tunisia, where the Bizerta navy yard absorbs all their time and energy. Those who serve in those conditions become vice admirals when chance
presents a vacancy before they reach the age limit. a reward is justifiable, but the exercise of one of those functions hardly predisposes to the command of a squadron.
The necessity of proceeding by selection then imposes itself, and the "amirallissime" must be taken from among vice admirals who have commanded a real naval division in the grade of rear admiral, or a squadron as a viceadmiral. It is with this in view that the minister is now studying the question of prime importance of the supreme command.
The chairman of the naval appropriations for 1912 is considering if it would not be the proper thing to place under the orders of the designated commander-in-chief the bureaus having special charge of the preparedness for war, as is done in the war department.
A decree of October 31, 1911, constituted in one naval fleet the combined first and second squadrons, under command of Vice-Admiral de Lapeyrère, former minister of marine. Besides grouping in time of peace the forces of
MOBILIZATION PROBLEM, NAVAL MILITIA, NEW YORK
Adjutant General William Verbeck issued to Headquarters of the Naval Militia of New York a problem involving the immediate mobilization of the entire force at Fort Pond Bay, Long Island, under the following general outline:
On November 20 orders were issued by the Adjutant General's Office to Naval Militia Headquarters, with the request that their orders be transmitted in such a way as to avoid any advance information and to insure receipt of the orders by each of the three battalion commanders at the same time. On November 22 the general orders from Naval Militia Headquarters were received by the three battalion commanders in the middle of the afternoon, stating the proposition and explaining as follows:
"The method of solution will be the preparation of all necessary orders and reports, and it is desired that within a period fixed by the solution of this problem (10 days) all necessary, data be forwarded to these headquarters. The reports and estimates will be based on an attendance of 80 per cent. of the actual strength."
1. Copies of orders of commanding officers of battalions and reports of action taken by all staff officers.
2. Copies of orders and reports of action taken by commanding officers of the units and heads of departments in each battalion.
3. Lines of travel and routing of organizations in movement to rendezvous.
the first line intended to strike the first blow, it is to be supposed that Admiral de Lapeyrère would continue in his command in time of war. He will know his crews, and his crews will know him. There is no better means to obtain the best results from both personnel and matériel. This is a first step towards a reform which is preoccupying the public mind; but it is only one step. What we really want is the adoption of definite rules. It is of the greatest importance that, at the moment of mobilization, the Minister of Marine be prevented from placing at the head of the naval forces an admiral who is not prepared for his great task, and who may be opposed to an adversary that is in possession of a complete organization which has at its head a commander fitted by long experience to perform the task devolving upon him.
The decree which will be evolved from the present studies will have its fulfillment when the battleships of 23,000 tons will be numerous enough to constitute a squadron.
4. Copies of all hypothetical contracts entered into in the execution of orders.
In the carrying out of this problem, Headquarters Naval Militia and the officers of the three battalions were most active and painstaking in their work, some of the reports having been carried out to the minutest detail, and, in the case of the First Battalion, actual telephonic communication was had with every supply house and transportation company, whose quotations were used in submitting reports of expense upon which the requisitions were made. Two battalions carried on the problem by the immediate actual attendance of their officers, confining the theoretical attendance of the enlisted strength to communicating with them by telephone or mail; one battalion carried out the problem by the actual attendance of both officers and men.
So enthusiastic was the support given to this problem by the personnel of the Naval Militia, that the entire brigade was in theoretical readiness to move by the following evening, including the commissioning of the converted yachts assigned to the State and the putting overboard and commissioning of half a dozen steam launches. The rapidity and completeness with which this theoretical mobilization was effected so interested the Adjutant General that he desired a practical demonstration, to determine whether this theoretical efficiency could possibly be put into practice on such a short notice. He therefore
selected the First Battalion for an actual mobilization on twenty-four hours' notice, and on Friday, December 15, at S P.M., without any advance word of warning, had the following Special Orders delivered to the Commanding Officer, First Battalion, by the hand of his Assistant Adjutant General:
I. For purposes of instruction, the Commodore commanding the Naval Militia, is hereby directed to cause the 1st Battalion of his command to be assembled Saturday evening, December 16, armed and equipped as infantry, for shore duty, and proceed, with all necessary tentage and camp equipage, to the armory of the 22nd Engineers, N. G., N. Y., for inspection at 9 o'clock P. M. Ammunition will be transported with the baggage, and the men will carry one day's ration in their haversacks.
Camp baggage need not be unloaded from vehicles for inspection, but responsible staff officers will submit at inspection lists of the several classes of property so transported and not carried by the men.
Transportation for the Battalion, if necessary, hire of necessary transport vehicles, and the ration, will be allowed.
The ration directed to be carried shall be, if possible, the emergency ration prescribed in R. 1093.
By command of the Governor :
STATE OF NEW YORK,
ALLAN L. REAGAN,
Lieutent-Colonel, Assistant Adjutant-General.
How well these orders were carried out can best be shown by the plain statement that at two minutes of nine on the evening of December 16, Commander Raynor marched into the 22d Regiment Armory with 87 per cent. of his command fully equipped and armed for distant service, including complete outfit of clothing, mess gear,
The report is signed by Rear Admiral C. E. Vreeland, U.S.N., the senior member of the Board; Chief Constructor R. M. Watt, U.S.N., Colonel W. M. Black, En
ammunition, and three days' rations, and had properly requisitioned and engaged three motor trucks upon which he had loaded the proper tentage and field equipment, together with additional ammunition, buzzacotts, food, and other supplies. The preparations for this mobilization were carried on with such accuracy and detail that actual requisitions were put through, and within that twentyfour hours had been honored by the Navy Department and pay stores to the extent of $700 obtained from the Brooklyn Navy Yard and delivered on board the Granite State at Ninety-seventh Street, Manhatta
REPORT OF JOINT ARMY AND NAVY BOARD ON THE MAINE EXPLOSION
The Joint Army and Navy Board appointed by the President to determine the cause of the explosion of the Battleship Maine, has made its report.
gineer Corps, U.S.A.; Commander Joseph Strauss, U.S.N.; and Commander C. F. Hughes, U.S.N.
In a message to Congress on December 14, President Taft transmits this report, which, he points out, is unanimous from the entire Board.
In its report, the Board finds that "The injuries to the bottom of the Maine were caused by the explosion of a charge of low form explosive exterior to the ship. between frames 28 and 31, strake B, port side. This resulted in igniting and exploding the contents of the 6-inch reserve magazine, A-14-M, these contents including a large quantity of black powder. The more or