« AnteriorContinuar »
THE GUNNERY-SHIP EXCELLENT.
The establishment to which the name of the Excellent is applied is the third great institution for educational purposes in the English Nary, and is, in its way, quite as important as either of the others. But it dif. fers from them in one respect, that it is devoted as much to the training of seamen and petty and warrant officers as to that of commissioned officers. When it is considered that it has resources equal to the training of at least 100 officers and over 1,000 men, at a time; that there are usually more than this number of men actually there, and that it is the only place where systematic instruction is given to officers at least, in this branch, it will be seen of what great consequence it is in the naval system.
The great work of the Excellent is instruction in theoretical and practical gunnery. There is also a school course in mathematics for gunners and gunnery instructors (petty officers or seamen), but the main work of the establishment is with gunnery.
In this branch there are courses carefully arranged for five different classes of officers. The officers qualifying for gunnery-lieutenants take the longest and fullest course, lasting about six months. The other courses, each of three months, but differently divided, are taken by officers of the Marine Artillery, sub-lieutenants completing their course and examination for promotion, and voluntary, or, as they are commonly called, "short-course" lieutenants. The fifth and last course, only organized last year, is for captains and commanders. It extends over twenty days, and is purely voluntary, like that of the short-course lieutenants, and like the courses for the same grades of officers at Greenwich. The division of time is briefly shown in the following table, the subjects being taken up in the order named.
20 111 65
65 The Cambridge, stationed at Devonport, is also a gunnery ship, but is exclusively for the training of men.
To carry on these courses, as well as those for the instruction of gun. ders, gunnery instructors, seamen-gunners, and men qualifying for one of these positions, the Excellent has a staff of officers composed of a captain, commander, six gunnery lieutenants, a naval instructor, and sixteen gunners, besides the usual staff officers. There are also a num. her of gunnery instructors. Besides their duties with the men, the gunners instruct the officers qualifying for gunnery lieutenants, and the gunnery instructors instruct the sub-lieutenants and short-course lieutenants. The officers take theoretical instruction, battalion drill, and exercise at quarters. It will be noticed that by this arrangement much practical instruction is regularly given by petty or warrant officers to commissioned officers. This system, which might at first sight be thought open to objections, is found to work exceedingly well on board the Excellent and to occasion no difficulty. The gunners, gunnery instructors, and seamen-gunners of the English nary are highly trained men, of great intelligence, who have won their positions after one, two, three, or perhaps four courses of thorough training, with serere examinations; and with rare exceptions, they are fully equal to the work they are called upon to do in the instruction of their superiors.
The matériel of the establishment consists of two old ships of-theline, the Excellent and the Calcutta, lying in the stream off Portsmouth dockyard. There are also two screw gunboats attached to the Excel. lent, the Comet and the Skylark, and an old mortar-boat used in the Crimean war, which serves the purpose of a rolling-motion boat. The Glatton, one of the powerful armor-plated coast-defense turret ships, is attached as a tender to the Excellent, and is used for turret instruction. The Lord Clyde, one of the older 18.gun wooden armored ships, is now being fitted out to be used as a drill ship. As to guns, the Excellent has on her lower deck ten 100-pounder smooth-bores, and on her upper, one 90 cwt. 7-inch revolving gun. The Calcutta's guns are two 9-inch, two 8-inch, three 7-inch '6} ton, and one 7-inch
The Glatton carries two 25-ton guns in her turret. The Comet has one 18-ton gun, and the Skylark two 64s and one 40-pounder. The Lord Clyde has a broadside battery of eighteen 64-ton guns. The rolling-motion boat has two 9-pounders, and there are also for practice a launch, armed with one 3-pounder, and a cutter, with a 7-pounder and a Gatling (.45 caliber). The pile-battery consists of two 9-pounders, and the battery on the island, used for field-gun exercise, of six 9-pounders and a Gatling (.65 caliber). It will be seen that this comprises nearly every description of gun in use in the English service, a fact of the greatest importance in estimating the efficiency of the institution.
Before going into the details of the various courses, it should be stated that they are largely pursued in common with the seamen and petty oticers of various grades, reviewing or qualifying for higher ratings. In battalion drill the officer-students are only company or non-commissioned officers; but in squad and great gun drills they fall in and work with the men. There is no permanent battalion organization; in fact, owing to the frequency with which separate classes join, and the irreg. ularity with which officers and men are attached and detached, it would be almost impossible to have such an organization, and it would not be of any great advantage. Battalion drill and landing usually take place on Thursdays, and field-gun exercise on Friday mornings, with quarters in the afternoon. Theoretical instruction is given in lectures on Saturdays, and in some branches by á lesson lasting a quarter of an hour before and after each drill. Moreover, each drill and exercise involve a certain amount of theoretical instruction. The rest must be done by the students themselves, with the help of their text-books, and such explanation as they may receive from time to time from the officers of the statt.
The text-books used in the Excellent are mostly official publications of very recent date, and are all works of the highest character, and spe. cially adapted to the needs of the course. They comprise the Gunnery Manual; the Official Treatise on the Construction and Manufacture of Ordnance in the British service, 1877; Wood's Notes on Naval Guns; Motion of Rifled Projectiles; Britton's Review of the Rifle System; Of ficial Treatises on Ammunition and on Military Carriages; Manufacture of Gunpowder at Waltham Abbey; Rifle and Field Exercises and Musketry Instructions, 1877.
In general, there are two courses pursued on board the Excellent, known as the long course and the short course; the first of about six months, and the second of three months. These two courses may be taken as types of the work done in all the specific courses given to officers and men, all being modifications of one or the other of the two established systems. The long course answers pretty exactly for the gunnery lieutenants (i. e., officers qualifying as such), and the short course for the voluntary lieutenants and the sub-lieutenants, the distribution of time for each being that previously given in the table.* In these courses each day's work is marked out, the exercise taking the best part of each morning and afternoon except Saturday.
The details of the courses are given below:
1.- LONG COURSE.
18t to 4th day.- Formerly a specific exercise was assigned to each of the first four days. For example, the first morning was wholly given to casting loose and sponging, and the afternoon to sponging and loading different guns; the second day was given to running in and out different grins, using high elevations, and so on. Now, however, instead of spending a whole day at one exercise, the exercises are varied through the whole preliminary drill in the Manual of Gunnery.
5th day.-Clearing for action, independent firing, and training for loading.
Sth to 11th day.—Remainder of the firings, viz, from platform, ship (100-pounder), rolling-motion boat, and gun-boat, according to the state of the tide. 12th and 13th days.—Transporting, dismounting, gear of carriage and slide. 14th day.—Lowering ports, chalking drums, and down ports. 15th day. --Shifting breechings, supply, and spare stores. 16th day.-Working guns in a seaway ; preparing for ramming. 17th day.-Signals. 18th day.-Diminished crews. 19th and 20th days.-Examination.
Each day's drill begins and ends with a lesson lasting a quarter of an hour. The lessons are arranged somewhat as follows: (1) Parts of the guns, carriages, and slides; (2) sights, wood-scales, &c.; (3) weight of charges, bursters, &c.; (4) weight of projectiles ; (5) weight and dimensions of guns. These subjects are taken in the same order during each fire days of the heavy gun course, the student advancing at each lesson. Instruction in the Manual is given for two hours, each morning and afternoon.
2.-FIELD EXERCISE. 1st to 3d day.-9-10.30. Manual and firing exercises. 10.40–11.45. Squad drill. Same in the afternoon.
4th to 6th day.-Same as first three days, except that squad skirmishing is substituted for squad drill in the afternoon.
7th to 17th day.-91–10. Drill each other. 10–10.30. Miscellaneous.* 10.40-11.45. Companies. 1.30–2.40. Company skirmishing. ieth day.-Examination.
3.- AMMUNITION. 1 day.-Equipment of boats manned and armed, and firing 9-pounder from the launch.
2 days.-General description of all fuses used in the naval service, method of fitting, and mode of supply.
1 day.-General description of war and life-saving rockets, tubes, and fireworks, need in the service; their use, supply, and stowage in ships.
day.-Rocket-firing. 1 day.--General description of the ammunition in use for Woolwich guns, including filling shell.
1 day.-Firing 64-pounder from gunboat. 1 day.-Life-saving rocket firing.
1 day.--General description of the ammunition in use for 64-pounder gun, and for boat and field-guns.
day.-General description of the ammunition in use for B. L. R. guns. I day.-General description of magazines and shell-rooms, stowage, working, and Tentilation.
1 day-Examination. Total, 10 days.
4.-TRUCK GUN. 2 days.-Preliminary drill, as in the Gunnery Manual. 1 day.-Firing and shifting breechings. I day.—Transporting, dismounting, and exercise with diminished crews. 1 day.--Examination. Total, 3 days. Each drill begins with a lesson of a quarter of an hour.
Miscellaneous subjects comprise manual and firing exercises, sword-bayonet exereise, exercise for receiving cavalry, funeral exercise, &c.
S. Ex. 51-6
5.- MUSKETRY. 10 days, as laid down in the 'musketry instruction, including lessons, position drill, aiming drill, judging-distance drill, and practice; blank firing; volley, independent, and skirmishing firing, and moving-object practice.
6.-CUTLASS AND PISTOL. 1 day.-Cutting and guarding practice. 1 day.—Pointing and general practice. 1 day.-Attack and defense practice. 1 day.-Attack and defense practice, and pistol drill.
3 day8.–Attack and defense practice, drilling each other, loose play, pistol drill and firing, and cutting lead.
1 day.-Examination. Total, 8 days.
7.-TURRET. 2 days.—Preliminary drill. 1 day.--Practice. 1 day.--Practice and examination.
Firing takes place as convenient. Steam is raised on the third day for each class to work the turrets.
1 day.- Preliminary drill, as in the Gunnery Manual, up to and including “Front
limber up," and comprising such exercises as formation of gun's crew, stations, marching, inclining, taking ground, reversing, wheeling, &c.;
front unlimbering, loading, firing. 1 day.—Remainder of preliminary drill, including unlimbering and limbering up,
reversing in a narrow passage, ascending and descending inclines, and
changing front in action. 1 day.—Gatling-gun drill. Embarking. 1 day.—Target practice with field guns. 1 day.—Target practice with Gatling. 2 days.—Drill in Part II, of the Manual; including action, retiring with the prolonge,
shifting wheels, removing disabled carriages, &c. 1 day.--Examination.
The drill is always carried out with limbers, &c., packed for firing, and practice takes place according to the state of the tide.
The following table shows the details of the practice in firing, and the number of rounds fired by each student in the different exercises :