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WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY, 1912
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Jan. 1, 1912 Jan. 1, 1913 Jan. 1, 1914 Jan, 1, 1915 17 10
DIAGRAM SHOWING COMPARATIVE DECREASE IN NUMBER OF CAPITAL SHIPS OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY COMPARED WITH THE NUMBER OF CAPITAL SHIPS OF THE NAVIES OF GREAT BRITAIN AND GERMANY. INCLUDING BATTLE CRUISERS AND U.S.S. MICHIGAN AND SOUTH CAROLINA
November 1, 1909
December 1, 1911
January 1, 1915
WANTED: A NAVY STRONGER THAN THAT OF ANY OTHER NATION EXCEPT ENGLAND
THE NAVY, from time to time, will have further to say in regard to the proposed naval policy of the United States,-i. e. that we shall have "A navy stronger than that of any other nation except England."
Meantime, it is proposed that our readers shall not forget that through these columns, the way being pointed out by the Hon. Swagar Sherley,-Commander F. A. Traut, U.S.N., proposed such a policy.
We invite development of this idea and comment upon it by any of our-readers.
SAFETY IN OCEAN TRAVEL
No one man or set of men-certainly not the various casual paragraphers who have been offering comment on the loss of the Titanic-is capable of solving the question of safety of ocean travel, except after most careful study. Absolute immunity from danger is of course impossible; and, in the present state of the various arts. involved, with the increase in number and kind of safety devices and more rigorous requirements as to precautions in navigation, there will be a considerable real sacrifice of the public interest and convenience.
It is doubtful to just what extent safety can be increased. The recent somewhat hysterical piling of boats aboard our ocean steamers has, in most cases, probably not increased safety of passengers one particle. It is more than a question of having the boats; it is a question of being able to use them; and a mere sufficiency of boats, with insufficiency of means for their use, may result in preventing the lowering, loading, and manning of boats that, under the old system, might have been available. Certain dangers of ocean travel have been very much exaggerated. The question of high speed and fog is far from being understood by the travelling public. Travelling with the definite east and west lanes used by the steamships, there is very little to be gained, when not near ice or nearing the coast, as on the Newfoundland banks, in reducing speed.
One thing is clear, and that is, that the public is entitled to know what measures of safety are necessary and what measures are taken. They must not be deceived about these. There is still the question whether the public, in another six months from now, will seriously care about this. But the managers of the steamship companies, nevertheless, owe it to themselves that the public may be in a position to know.
PRACTICE IN OCEAN TRAVEL
In all fairness it should be said that the White Star Line and its various responsible officers, from the directors to the captain of the Titanic, as well as the crew, in controlling the conditions that led up to the loss of the ship and the subsequent loss of lives, were neither better nor worse than the average of the best of our transatlantic passenger-carrying systems. It is admitted that custom in the transatlantic trade has countenanced many practices that are dangerous and wrong. And these practices have not only been countenanced, but the demands of business and pleasure have created many, if not all, of them. There is this one possible exception: it was doubtless bad navigation and doubtless not in accord with even vitiated practice, that the Titanic should be proceeding at night at high speed when it was known that she was near heavy ice. But even this same fault, whether from error or carelessness, has doubtless occurred before. There should be no scapegoats made.
FORETHOUGHT AND AFTERTHOUGHT
In November, 1910, THE NAVY published an article,"Luxury-or Safety?"-by Captain E. K. Roden. This article discussed at length and in detail the question of the safety of the modern transatlantic passenger steamer, her various safety and life-saving appliances, showed that it was folly to consider these steamers unsinkable, and pointed out the inadequacy of life-boat equipment, both as to number of passengers provided for and as to means of lowering. Captain Roden took as specific examples the Olympic and Titanic, then in course of con
In the loss of the Titanic on April 15, 1912, the very conditions that Captain Roden pointed out have been brought to the attention of the world with appalling force. In an article entitled, "The Price of Unpreparedness, in the present issue, Captain Roden discusses the loss of the Titanic and its lessons. Now, however, the world is alive to this question. A somewhat random, largely untechnical, but nevertheless productive, Senatorial investigation has served to put on record many facts con
nected with this accident. Unfortunately, these facts are obscured by a large amount of useless information and by considerable misinformation. The British authorities are conducting an investigation, which may or may not prove of more value than our own Senatorial investigation. It will, however, doubtless elicit further facts in the case.
There are several proposals for an international conference on the question of life-saving appliances for passenger vessels, precautions as to navigation, and regulations for the equipment of the vessels and the drill of the crews. Wiseacres are telling us that the Titanic should not have proceeded at such a high speed at night; that she should have had more lifeboats; that her watertight bulkheads were not strong enough; that the crew should have been drilled, and the passengers informed as to their stations in "abandon ship;" and so on ad infinitum. There is not the slightest question that all of these measures and many others are highly desirable. There is a grave doubt as to whether or not it is practical to adopt all of them. Nothing but a disaster of the magnitude of that which befell the Titanic could possibly have got for these questions the serious attention that they deserve.
It is not altogether strange that Captain Roden's article did not command attention at the time it was published; but it is strange that at least one periodical to which he offered that article, before he offered it to THE NAVY, declined it on the ground that the business policy of the paper would not permit its publication.
I hus was Captain Roden's forethought of no avail, and hundreds of lives had to be sacrificed to produce the afterthought that may result in some permanent good.
From among the many items that have been published commenting on Captain Roden's article on safety at sea, published in THE NAVY, for November, 1910, the following are selected:
SCRANTON, Pa., April 17.-Captain E. K. Roden of this city, whose article in THE NAVY of November, 1910, foretelling disaster to big ships, was published in to-day's SUN, exhibited today a letter that he received from the late Admiral Robley D. Evans complimenting him on his article.
Captain Roden said to-day that he had submitted the article to several big magazines, and that each had declined to publish it, privately stating that it would "hurt business." One magazine editor declared that he "would not dare" publish the article, although he knew the "facts to be right."
The letter from Admiral Evans was written after the Admiral had read Captain Roden's manuscript at the time he was trying to get it published. He peddled it for two years.
-New York Sun.
A striking article, written some time ago for THE NAVY by Captain E. K. Roden, has been widely quoted by the press since the loss of the Titanic. The writer asserts that improvements in safety appliances on passenger ships are not keeping pace with the growing demand for luxury and comfort in ocean travel.
Reading like the expression of a premonition, an article entitled, "Luxury-or Safety?" appearing in THE NAVY for November, 1910, . . . after minutely describing the luxurious appointments and superior accommodations of the Olympic and the Titanic, . . . states that
In order to insure the safety of the passengers and the crew in case of a ship actually on the point of sinking, or when a dangerous fire is in progress, common sense will tell us that there should be on hand boats and rafts of sufficient number and capacity to accommodate every person on board.
Captain Roden, in his article, discusses the building of the Titanic. . . . Captain Roden, who is known in marine circles as an expert on ships, got inspiration for his article from the ill-fated liner, which was then in course of construction. He reviews other shipwrecks, and calls attention to circumstances that, according to wireless reports, caused the horror that has set the world aghast.
No one can estimate how greatly the world has been impoverished by the loss of those lives. . . . That this sacrifice was needless is plain. In THE NAVY for November, 1910,-a year and a half ago,-Captain E. K. Roden . . . called attention to the equipment of the two steamers then planned. One of these was the vessel that has gone to the bottom on its first voyage. He pointed out that these vessels were to be equipped with every conceivable comfort-private shower baths, a swimming pool, a ball-room and skating rink, a gymnasium, a cafe to represent a seaside resort, a grill-room to represent a chop house, a deck representing a tropical flower garden; but he raised the question whether there would be lifeboats enough. Said Captain Roden:
But how, in these days of water-tight compartments, can a ship of modern construction sink? Such a calamity would seem improbable, but it is far from being so. Notwithstanding the many water-tight compartments, with their equipment of "longarm' and other systems for closing the water-tight doors, experience teaches us that up to date no one can guarantee to build an unsinkable ship, even when such superior construction and design as adopted in modern war vessels is considered. This is corroborated by the fact that no one would deem it advisable to send a ship to sea without lifeboats, life rafts, and life preservers, even though the various Governments might
sanction such a course. Unsinkable ships, like fire-proof buildings, are dreams we hope some time to realize.
All that Captain Roden has written has been proved true, at a cost of life that has horrified the world.
The article by Captain Roden was in certain features prophetic, referring directly to the Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic, as ships of such fascinating equipment as to lull the travelling public into a sense of indifference as to the steps taken or omitted in providing against the dangers of the deep. The fallibility of the much-vaunted bulkhead, as it is constructed to-day, was declared illustrated in the loss of the White Star Liner Republic, and the inadequacy of the number of lifeboats carried by such ships was asserted. . . .
In calling attention to the .need of sufficient boats or rafts, Captain Roden declared:
In this respect a ship should be rendered absolutely independent of assistance from without, because conditions might be such as to place the ship in a position where she must rely on her own resources. Though equipped with wireless apparatus, it is evident that when help is most needed something might prevent the operator from sending out his "I need assistance" message; or the help might be too far away.
Acknowledging that this raised the question of water-tight compartments, Captain Roden said:
... Notwithstanding the many water-tight compartments, with their equipment of "long-arm" and other systems for closing the water-tight. doors, experience teaches that up to date no one can guarantee to build an unsinkable ship.
In an accompanying editorial, the stand was taken that the policy of the ship-owning companies was morally criminal, though not legally so. . . . "Remedy can hardly be hoped for unless it comes through legislation. . . ." The editorial continued: When hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on some of these vessels in garish display and luxury intended to attract a patronage which pays high rates for passage money, it is only fair that the ocean-travelling public should be made to understand how their safety has been neglected in the important respect of life-boats and other life-saving appliances.
THE MEXICAN SITUATION
The situation in Mexico has not been improved by that Government's reply to the note of our State Department, demanding that American lives and property in Mexico shall be protected.
The reply is to the effect that the revolutionists are to blame for the anarchical condition that exists to so considerable extent, and that, therefore, the Madero government is not responsible for acts committed under the circumstances.
The ingenuousness of the idea is humorous, and we
unconsciously forget any resentment which the reply seems intended primarily to provoke.
It indicates that the Madero administration believes that playing upon national feelings will assist it to maintain its hold in office; otherwise, it would hardly have blundered into such an admission of its impotence to control its internal affairs and to disclaim responsibility for the evils resulting.
Since the exchange of notes, there has been a notable increase in the daily reports of depredations upon property, and abuse and maltreatment of Americans, who in large numbers are abandoning their property and are seeking refuge in this country.
If not mended, such conditions will not much longer be tolerated.
In the past, the seriousness of the responsibilities involved has not deterred us from undertaking a national duty, and it is not likely to deter us in the future.
When a nation considers its citizens unjustly treated, it is proper that it should formally protest. After remonstrating and allowing a reasonable time to the offending nation to exert itself to correct the injustice, if the derelict nation will not or cannot, correct the evil, there remains but one alternative to the aggrieved nation,and that is, to take the matter in its own hands.
The review of the Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War, appearing on page 28, is commended to the readers of THE NAVY.
The author of this review helps us to understand the inner character of Mr. Welles, its imperfections and peculiarities, as well as its sterling attributes.
With this knowledge, the reader of the diary has a considerable advantage in being able properly to estimate the weight to be assigned to certain statements of Mr. Welles's. Without this knowledge, some of those statements would be so astonishing as to risk the casting of discredit upon even his normal statements.
However, when account is taken of his peculiarities of character, still further influenced by circumstances of extreme excitement and great mental strain, which could not fail to leave their indelible impress upon his brain, so much allowance can be made by the reader, that the Diary again reinstates itself as a most interesting book, even though sometimes inaccurate in its estimate of the char
acter and capacity of distinguished officers, whose deeds. will survive in the annals of the nation, long after their detractor shall have been forgotten.
Captain Roden, the author of the article, in this number, on the Titanic disaster,-"The Price of Unpreparedness," is a well-known writer on nautical subjects. A brief sketch of his life was printed in the issue of THE NAVY for November, 1910.
In these columns is printed a letter from an official of standing in China, who, at one time, was a student in this country. His letter is particularly interesting for the clear manner in which is described the influence of the navy in the Chinese revolution.
In the "New York Times" of April 4, Rear Admiral Mahan, commenting on the action of the House of Representatives in failing to appropriate for two battleships, called attention to the various conditions that make battleships more necessary to us now than ever before in time of peace. Mr. Hamilton Holt, replying, in the "Times" of April 6, said:
I have just returned from a trip to Japan, where I tried to find out all I could about the foreign policy of Japan, with especial reference to the United States. I have not the shadow of a doubt but that Japan will do anything we ask of her to avoid trouble, provided she can do it with dignity. I could give you concrete reasons for this if space permitted. As to the Monroe Doctrine, there Admiral Mahan is perhaps on firmer ground. He may have some use for a big navy if he has any reason to believe that England, Germany, France, or Japan, (the other nations of the world can be left out of account), want land in Latin America bad enough to fight us and Latin America for it, whether we have two more battleships a year or not.
I know of nothing, however, to indicate that such is the purpose, secret or avowed, of any of these powers. The burden of proof would seem to be on the admiral.
This is the reasoning of the fearless ostrich. Mr. Holt has "not the shadow of a doubt" and he "knows of nothing" to indicate any sinister purpose on the part of any of the powers. He "could give . . . many concrete reasons . . . if space permitted."
Rear Admiral Mahan is quite capable of supporting the burden of proof of any proposition that he undertakes to announce in regard to the naval policy of this country. Yet it may not be uninteresting to Mr. Holt to note some of the facts contained in the following extract from a statement made by the corresponding secretary of the Navy League, under date of April 16:
Americans who imagine that the Monroe Doctrine is acquiesced in by European Powers should keep in touch with recent