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Battleship Contracts Awarded
WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY, 1912
NOTE AND COMMENT
THE Navy Department has awarded to the Fore River Shipbuilding Company, at a cost of $5,935,000, a contract for one of the two new battleships authorized at the last session of Congress, and to the New York Shipbuilding Company, at a cost of $5,926,000, the contract for the other. These contracts are for the vessels exclusive of armor and armament.
THE Collision of the British submarine A-3 with the British gunboat Hazard, at the entrance to Spithead, on February 2, resulted in the death of four offiLoss of cers and ten men of the A-3, and the total British loss of the vessel. Salvagers have raised "A-3" what is left of the submarine, in order to recover the bodies and for the purpose of investigation from naval construction points of view.
The collision occurred as the A-3 was engaged in practice with a flotilla of sister ships. The Hazard, passing over the water where the submarine was just coming to the surface, struck her from above and on her side, causing her to sink.
The A-3 belonged to the earlier type of British submarines, these vessels having been used during the past year for harbor and coast defense maneuvers.
Although no detailed information as to the particular case of the A-3 has been given out by the British Admiralty, this, like similar accidents to other submarines, in both the British and French navies, was undoubtedly simply an accident. There has been no question involved in these accidents that would tend to place upon British
or French constructors any degree of responsibility for an accident to a submarine coming at speed to the surface of the water where a larger vessel was passing over.
THE torpedo-boat destroyer Fanning, authorized by Act of Congress of June 24, 1910, was launched at the yards of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, on January 11, 1912.
The destroyer's normal displacement is 742 tons; full load displacement, 883 tons; highest speed on trial (estimated), 29.50 knots; length, over all, 293 feet, 10 inches; breadth on load water line, 26 feet 11⁄2 inches; mean hull draft, 8 feet, 4 inches; estimated bunker capacity for fuel oil, 65,974 gallons. She will have three masts and two funnels. The contract price was $630,500.
The Fanning has Parsons turbines, with 4 Thornycroft boilers. Her generating sets were built by the Terry-Diehl Company, and are 2 K. W., 5-volt sets. She is armed with five 3-inch, 50-caliber, R. F. guns, and three twin 18-inch torpedo tubes, carrying six torpedoes; and will have a complement of 4 officers and 79 men.
The Fanning is named for Nathaniel Fanning, of Stonington, Connecticut. He was appointed lieutenant in the United States Navy, December 5, 1804; died, October 24, 1805.
Fanning was a midshipman on the Bonhomme Richard, and was commended by John Paul Jones for his bravery and prompt obedience to orders; captain of the maintop in the engagement between the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis, September 23, 1779. When the most of his men had been killed, he took a fresh gang into the top and succeeded in clearing the tops of the Serapis of her men; passed, with his men, when the yards of the ships were locked, from the Bonhomme Richard to the Serapis; and, directing the fire of his men with hand grenades and other missiles, drove the British seamen from their stations. When recommending Fanning for promotion, Jones said, "He was one cause among the prominent in obtaining the victory."
He accompanied John Paul Jones from the Bonhomme Richard to the Serapis, and, when Jones was obliged to give up that ship, to the Alliance. Jones obtained a position for him on one of the French privateers,
THE British battle-cruiser Lion had her eight-hour fullpower trial, in the English Channel, on January 8. The contract called for the development of the designed horse-power, rather than for a given speed on this trial. The vessel's turbines developed the required horse-power, with coal only, though the weather was so bad that the Lion did not return to Devonport till the morning of January 9.
The Lion will be the flagship of the First Cruiser Squadron, commanded by Rear Admiral Lewis Bayly. She was laid down at Devonport, November 29, 1909, launched on August 8, 1910, and completed in November, 1911. She is fitted with Parsons turbines and forty-two Yarrow water-tube boilers. The length of the vessel is 660 feet; beam, 88.5 feet; displacement, 26,360 tons; designed horse-power, 70,000; designed speed, 28 knots, though it is reported that she made over 29 knots on her trials. Her main armament is eight 13.5-inch guns, mounted on the center line and so arranged that all can fire on either broadside. She has sixteen 4-inch guns, and three 21-inch submerged torpedo tubes. The armor extends from the upper deck to about seven feet below the water line.
The development of the British armored cruiser has been rapid in recent years. The Invincible class (Invincible, Inflexible, and Indomitable), laid down in 1906, were 560 feet long, 78.5 feet beam with a displacement of 17,250 tons. Then came the Indefatigable, laid down in 1909 and completed in 1911, 578 feet in length, 79.5 feet beam, with a displacement of 19,200 tons. This was followed by the Lion and the Princess Royal, the latter of which was laid down in April, 1910, and is to be completed this year.
APPARENTLY the rebellion in China has been successful, and the intentions of its leaders for the establishment of a Chinese Republic have been carried out. The letters of the present Chinese President, Sun Yat Sen, show that these results were the fulfillment of plans carefully prepared by the leading instigators of the revolt. But, even so, the sinking of all personal differences, such as must necessarily exist among the rebel leaders, exhibits a patriotism and unanimity of purpose which compares favorably with that shown anywhere in the world under similar circumstances, and argues well for the final success of the new republic.
During the past month, President Sun has been organ
The Chinese Situation
izing his provisional government, and on January 10 notified the representatives of the foreign governments at Nankin that that organization was completed.
As far as finances are concerned, the republican government seems to be remarkably well fixed. It is said that the control of the China Merchants' Steam Navigation Company's stock has been secured by the republican government, which proposes mortgaging the fleet for $7,000,000; besides this, the agent of one of the large American bankers is reported to have had several interviews with President Sun, and the financing of the republican government by American capitalists is a current rumor. The paper money issued by the rebels is current everywhere and it is said that bonds for a loan of 70,000,000 taels, which has been proposed, would be readily subscribed for. All this shows confidence in the new government.
A fleet of thirteen transports for the despatch of troops, conveyed by six cruisers, has been arranged for. But it is doubtful if any extended military operations will be instituted before spring.
The usual conflicting reports continue to emanate from Pekin, one of which states that Prince Ching is to resume the regency and that Yuan Shi Kai and his cabinet will be ignored; another, that the radical Manchus are preparing a massacre of the Chinese in the imperial city; while still another says that an imperial edict will be issued announcing the abdication of the throne.
Yuan is said to be awaiting the first favorable opportunity to leave Pekin and take refuge in the British concession at Tientsin.
The action of the foreign missionaries in Southern China, in urging the abdication of the throne, is regretable, as their activity in behalf of the rebels may lead to retaliatory acts, by the Manchus, against the missions in Northern China.
The American troops along the line of the PekinTienstin railway have been gradually increased, until now the United States has its full quota as allowed by the terms of the Boxer treaty.
The severest test of the new regimé will come after the Manchu government at Pekin has been extinguished. For then the jealousies of the republican leaders, previously held in check, will be freed from the restraining influence of their mutual hatred of the Manchu.,
In the event of a failure to establish a permanent form of republican government, there would probably ensue a period of anarchy and civil war, bringing about foreign intervention followed by the partition of Chinese territory among the powers, even as Persia is about to be partitioned between England and Russia,
Jan, 1, 1915
Jan. 1, 1915
PROFESSIONAL OR AMATEUR PEACEMAKERS:
TWO BATTLESHIPS OR NONE?
On January 30, at a caucus of the majority party of the House of Representatives, it was voted to cut out from the Naval Appropriation bill the authorization of any new battleships.
It is hardly likely that those who voted against this authorization would care to see the Monroe Doctrine ignored by foreign nations, or not vigorously upheld and defended by the United States. To uphold the Monroe Doctrine, we must have an adequate Navy. That the force of the Monroe Doctrine is no greater than the strength of the United States Navy, is now so well understood as to require no elaboration.
To justify their action, then, those who voted against the battleships must believe that we now have too many battleships; for the failure to provide a certain number of ships in any one year means, not a standing still, but an ultimate decrease in our naval forces.
It is self-evident that, in order to maintain our present naval strength, ships must be replaced as they become obsolete. To do less than this means a decrease; to do more, an increase in our naval strength. If we provide for two ships every year, and strike off from the effective list those that have become obsolete, it will take until 1920 before we have a total of 40 battleships. We now have only 31 battleships completed, with six more building and authorized. Three of the 31 will become obsolete next year; so, if their substitutes are not provided for this year and launched next year, the effect will be a reduction of our naval force. To make up for the failure to provide any battleships this year, it would be necessary to provide double the number next year, or three times as the after. year The only justification, then, for the failure to provide these ships which are not an addition to our naval force, but simply the necessary substitutes to maintain the present strength - would be a corresponding decrease in the strength of the other naval powers of the world.
Considerations of economy will sooner or later put an end to war; but so long as other powers have failed to realize this, and have prepared, or are preparing, for war, it is folly for us not to be equally prepared.
England's annual naval program is determined solely by a consideration of the strength of the other powers; she builds enough to maintain the British navy equal or superior to the combined navies of any other two powers.
France has a program which involves the laying down of two ships a year for at least the next eight years. That there is little likelihood of a failure to carry out this program this year, is shown by a recent order of the Minister of Marine to the government dockyards at Brest and Lorient, directing them to make all possible plans and preparations in advance for the construction and equipment of the two. battleships "to be laid down in 1912” in order "to avoid delay in naval construction." It does not appear, then, that France is lagging behind.
Russia last year launched four Dreadnoughts and laid down three more.
Italy launched three ships and laid down one, while work is to be begun on two more in 1912.
Japan laid down two ships last year and is to lay down three more this year.
In Germany, the fleet law is being carried out with perfect regularity. The number of ships to be laid down each year was fixed when the law was passed twelve years ago, and this program has been strictly adhered to ever since; the only departure from its original provisions being in the nature of further increases provided for by amendments to the law, which were passed in 1906 and 1908. For the last four years, Germany has laid down each year three battleships and one battle cruiser,- exactly twice as many ships as we have built. With the ships laid down last year, Germany reached the sum total of battleships and armored cruisers provided for by her law, namely, 38 battleships and 20 armored cruisers,and henceforth, to maintain this strength, she has only to build enough ships to replace those that each year become obsolete. But the Germans are not satisfied with this. Last spring at the annual convention of the German Navy League at Nürnberg, a resolution, introduced by the President of the League, Gross Admiral von Köster, and unanimously passed amidst great enthusiasm, recommended,- in view of the fact that the six oldest ships classed as "large cruisers" were already obsolescent, and according to the program only one of these ships were to be replaced each year, and that it would be six years before they all would disappear from the effective list, that therefore not one, but two, of these ships should be replaced per annum. That this resolution had the full approval of the German Admiralty, if indeed it was not inspired by it, there can be very little doubt. To carry out the provisions of this resolution would require another amendment to the German fleet law. When such an amendment is passed, it will undoubtedly provide not only for an increase in the number of armored cruisers, but also in the number of battleships; and that there is a very good chance of such an amendment being brought before the Reichstag at the present session is indicated by the constant agitation in its favor in the German press.
We see, then, that the other nations of the world are not reducing their naval armaments. The tendency is everywhere for an increase, or, at the very least, for a maintenance of the present strength by the timely building
of substitutes for vessels that have outlived their period of usefulness. If, then, we fail to do the same, it follows that we drop behind; that we become relatively weaker at sea, compared to the other nations; that to guard our interests at home and abroad, to uphold the Monroe Doctrine, and to be prepared for the many complications in which the completion of the Panama Canal may involve us, we must, at the very least, maintain our navy at its present strength.
It is easy to be misled by mere figures; and those who are prone to judge the strength of our navy by comparing the number of its ships, or the total of their displacement, with that of other countries, can thus be most easily led into error. A modern Dreadnought is easily equivalent to three or four ships of the pre-Dreadnought era; therefore the character of the ships should be considered, as well as their number or their aggregate tonnage. For example, if we compare the total number of ships in the German navy with the total number of ships in ours, or their aggregate displacements, we find that, apparently, the two navies are of nearly the same strength. This, however, is a case where more than the figures by themselves are necessary to arrive at the truth. While it is true that we have as many ships as Germany, and that their aggregate tonnage is about the same, the rate at which Germany has been building Dreadnoughts during the last six years has resulted in making her strength in capital ships battleships and battle cruisers — more than double that of ours. Germany has 21 Dreadnoughts -battleships and battle cruisers built and building, while we have but ten. At the rate of two ships per year, it will still be many years before we can consider our battle fleet as strong as Germany's. To let a year go by without laying down a single battleship will result in the disparity becoming even greater.
Compared to the other leading nations, our battleship strength is at a minimum. We are weaker in battleships than England, weaker than Germany, and, at our present rate of construction, will soon be overhauled by other
The foundation of a navy's strength is its battleships. Therefore, to speak of our navy being "top heavy," because we have not enough auxiliaries, is absurd on the