OCR Interpretation

The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, May 15, 1898, Image 19

Image and text provided by University of California, Riverside; Riverside, CA

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1898-05-15/ed-1/seq-19/

What is OCR?

Thumbnail for 19

IT is a question, in spite of the fam
iliarity of the public with the tech
nical phraseology of the warship,
whether the average reader has a
very accurate idea of the distinc
tions between the various classes of
ships and between the various ele
ments from the combination of which
these ships derive their distinctive
ciass characteristics.
He is told that the Indiana is a bat
tle-ship, the Brooklyn an armored
cruiser, the Columbia a protected
cruiser, and the Puritan a monitor.
But it is probable that he has only a
vague idea as to what qualities it is
that mark the distinction, or why the
distinction should need to exist at all.
These diagrams and a perspective
drawing which show the constructive
features of the several types of war
ship have been prepared to answer
these questions.
In diagrams 1 to 3 the armor is in
dicated by full black lines or by shad
ing, the approximate thickness of the
armor being shown by the thickness of
the lines and the depth of the shading.
The fine line represents the unarmored
portions or the ordinary plating of the
ships. In the perspective view the ar
mor is shown by full lines and shading
and the ordinary ship plating by dotted
When the naval architect sits down
at his desk to design a warship of a
certain size he knows that there is one
element of the vessel which is fixed
and unalterable, and that is her dis
placement. By displacement is meant
the actual weight of the ship, which is,
of course, exactly equal to the weight
of water which she displaces. This to
tal weight is the capital with which the
architect has to work, and he uses his
judgment in distributing it among the
various elements which go to make up
the ship. Part is allotted to the hull,
part to the motive power, part to the
armor protection, part to the fuel,
stores, furnishing and general equip
It is evident that the allotment of
weights is a matter of compromise —
whatever excess is given to one element
must be taken from another, else the
ship will exceed the given displace
ment. Among the elements above
mentioned there are some, such as the
weight of hull, provisions, stores and
furnishings, which for a given size of
ship will not vary greatly. There are
other elements, such as guns, armor,
engines and fuel supply which may
vary considerably in different ships,
according to the type of vessel that is
produced. .
If, for instance, th > architect is de
signing an extremely fast ship of type
No 1, which has a sp "d of twenty
three knots, he will have to allot such
a large amount of weight to the motive
power that he will only be able to give
the ship very slight armor protection
and a comparatively light battery of
guns. If he wishes to produce a fast
ship that shall be more heavily armed
and armored he has to be content with
Ipps gpeed, say twenty or twenty-one
knots, as in No. 2. and the weight so
saved on the motive nower appears in
the shape of a side belt of armor at the
water line, more complete protection
for the guns in the shape of barbettes
and turrets and considerably heavier
armament. If, again, he desires to pro
duce a .«hip capable of contending with
the most powerful ships in line of bat
tle, as in No. 3, he is content with much
lower speed, say sixteen or seventeen
knots an hour, and he increases the
• of his guns until they weigh
over sixty tons apiece, and pro
tects them with great redoubts and
turrets of steel one and a half feet
thick, besides protecting his water line
in the region of the and boilers
with a belt of steel of the same dimen
The swift and lightly armed and ar
mored ship is known as a protected
cruiser; the less speedy but more heav
lly armed and armored ship belongs to
the armored cruiser type, and the slow
est ship, with its capacity for taking
and giving the heaviest blows that
modern guns can inflict, is known as a
In the construction of a warship the
two qualities of attack and defense
have to be supplied. The offensive
powers are furnished by the guns, tor
pedoes, etc.
Now it can readily be understood that
all this amount of heavy armor and
gunß adds greatly to the weight of the
ship, and for this reason, in spite of
her smaller engine power, a first-class
It will be seen that all that part of
battle-ship rarely displaces less than
10,000 tons, and in some foreign navies
the displacement runs up to nearly 16,
000 tons. This will be understood by
reference to the perspective view,
where the armored portions of the ship
are indicated by full lines and shading,
the ordinary shell plating being dotted.
the ship lying below the water line is
shut in by a continuous roof of steel
which is three inches in thickness for
ward and aft of the bulkheads. Over
the central armored citadel it is two
and three-quarter inches thick. All the
plating indicated by dotted lines might
be shot away without the 'vitals" suf
fering injury or the ship being sunk.
The reader will see that it is its loftier
sides and the extra deck and freeboard
which they provide which constitute
practically the difference between a
battle-ship and a monitor.
This brings us to the consideration
of the monitor type. Take away from
a battle-ship all that portion which is
shown in our drawing in dotted lines
above the water line; lower the bar
bettes until they rise only a few feet
above the steel deck, and we have a
ship of the general monitor type. The
monitor is distinguished by very low
freeboard — only a tew inches in the ex
treme type — the absence of a heavy
secondary battery and the possession
of a main armament of heavy guns.
Such a ship labors heavily in bad
weather and is not intended for ser
vice at any distance from the coasts.
To make a seagoing vessel out of her
it would be necessary to add one, or
even two decks, placing the guns well
up above the water, after which
changes she would be no longer moni
tor, but seagoing battle-ship.
In the cruiser type the protective
deck does not extend across the ship
at one level, but curves down to meet
the hull at a point several feet below
the water line. This sloping portion
is made thicker than the flat portion,
as in diagram No. 11, where the deck
is three inches thick on the flat and six
inches on the slopes. In the case of
the armored cruisers, a belt of vertical
armor is carried at the water line and
in all cruisers the V-shaped space be
tween belt and sloping deck is filled in
with coal or with some form of water
excluding material, such as cornpith
In diagram 11, which represents the
fine armored cruiser Brooklyn, it will
be seen that before it could reach the
engine-room a shell would have to pass
through three inches of vertical stee!,
about six feet of coal and six inches or
inclined armor— a total resistance equal
to fourteen or fifteen inches of solid
steel. The guns and turning gear are
protected by five and one-half inch steel
turrets and eight-inch barbettes. The
barbettes, it will be seen, do not ex
tend continuously down to the armored
deck, as in the battle-ship, for this
would require a greater weight of
armor than can be allowed. Conse
quently, the architect is only able to
furnish the guns with a small armor
plated tube for protecting the ammuni
tion in its passage from the magazines
to the barbettes.
In the protected cruiser the side ar
mor at the water line disappears alto
gether, and dependence is placed en
tirely upon the sloping sides of the pro
tective deck, the water excluding cel
lulose and the 6 or 8 feet of coal which
is stowed in the bunkers in the wake of
the engines and boilers. The barbettes,
turrets and armored ammunition tubes
of the armored cruiser disappear, and
their place is taken by comparatively
light shields and casements of four
inch steel which serve to protect the
gun crews.
It will be seen from the above de
scription that each class of vessel is
only fitted to engage ships of its own
type The protected cruiser Colum
bia (No. 1) might, with her light 6 and
4 inch guns, hammer away all day at
the Indiana (No. 3) without being able
to do much more than knock the r-gint
off the latter's 18-inch armor, whereas
one well directed shot from the 13-inch
guns of the Indiana would be sufficient
to sink or disable the Columbia. The
Brooklyn would fare better, and at
close range her 8-inch guns might hap
pen to penetrate the belt or turret ar
mor of the Indiana, but the Issue of the
duel would never be in doubt for an in
stant. A Columbia or a Brooklyn
would show its heels to an Indiana or
Massachusetts, and their great speed
would give them the option of refusing
or accepting battle with almost any
craft that is afloat upon the seas to-
It should be mentioned, In conclusion,
that the dividing line in the classifica
tion of warships, are somewhat flexible.
We may find a battle-ship like the 12,
320-ton Yashima (Japanese), with a
trial speed of 19*4 knots. On the other
hand, we see cruisers like the Viscaya
(Spanish), with a 12-inch belt and car
rying heavy guns of 11-inch caliber.
The battle-ship and the cruiser of a
modern navy hold the same mutual re
lation as the three-decker and the swift
frigate in the days of the Bailing ship.
When a fleet set sail in the olden days
to find the enemy and bring him to bat
tle upon the high seas, the heavy and
somewhat slow line-of-battle ships
kept together in a methodical forma
tion, while the fr'~ates cruised at a dis
tance of several miles, where they could
report the first appearance of the en
emy and signal to the main fleet his
position and maneuvers. When the
main fleet had been brought within
striking distance, the brunt of the bat
tle fell upon the three-deckers.
To-day the swift protected cruiser
will perform the same duties for the
heavily armored and more cumbrous
battle-ships. When the attack takes
place it will be the battle-ships and ar
mored cruisers that will decide the is
sue. Hence the battle-ships will con
stitute a nation's main line of offense
and defense upon the sea. A cruiser
will avoid engagement with a battle
ship — it will be no disgrace to her if she
shows it a clean pair of heels, trusting
to h<=r great speed for safety; for she
could neither hope to pierce the armor
nor resist the great guns of the heavier
The battle-ship is built to fight. It
is designed with this sole object in
view, and it must be prepared to fight
at any time, and if need be against big
Hi Ptrt» Abov* tn» Water Line, Shown by Dsttad Linoi uid Light Snidtng, Might B« Shot Awty Without Oattroying th« Fighting Powat of th« Ship.
OQUS. XT. nets great uucusivc pu »> «;• «»»»>•
equally great powers of resistance.
: There has been only one great naval
fight between modern warships— the
battle of the Yalu, -between Japanese
and Chinese fleets — and the : most, by
far the most, important fact developed
by that engagement was the correct
ness of the theories upon which mod
ern battle-ships are designed.. The
brunt of the Japanese attack fell upon
two somewhat antiquated battle-ships,
the Ting Yuen and Chen Yuen, and for
several hours the swift Japanese cruis- ;
ers circled around these two grim ships
of war, pouring in a perfect hail of
rapid-fire shells, with occasional shells
from their great 66-ton guns; yet the
two battle-ships came out of the fight
with their armor and big guns practi
cally intact. The same deadly concen
tration of '< shell-fire would have sunk
a whole fleet of cruisers. Had the Chi
nese battle-ships been manned by bet
ter crews the Yalu would have had an
other ending.
The new navy, of the United States is
relatively strong in battle-ships. We
have now twelve first-class ships of this
type either built, building or author
ized. Four, the Indiana, Massachusetts,
Oregon and lowa, are in commission;
two, the Kentucky and Kearsarge, are
launched; three, the Alabama, Illinois
and Wisconsin, are about half com
pleted, and three others are authorized.
A battle-ship, as we have already
shown, is essentially a fighting ma
chine, and when the designer haa given
her sufficient structural and armored
protection to enable her to take her
place in the first line of battle, his next
object is to arm her with as many ar
mor-piercing and rapid-fire guns as the
limits of her displacement will allow.
Judged by this double standard, the In
diana is without a rival; for it is a fact
which has never been disputed that she
carries the heaviest armament of any
ship afloat to-day. This preponderance
of power is due to the eight 8-inch guns
which are carried in four turrets flank
ing the two turrets of the 13-inch guns.
They are an entirely novel feature in
battle-ship design, and may be called
the chief distinctive feature of this
ship. The accepted type of battle-ship
carries usually a main battery of four
heavy guns disposed in two turrets,
fore and aft, supplemented by a broad
side secondary battery- of 5 or 6 inch
guns, the first being capable of piercing
armor and the latter being used against
the lightly armored or unarmored por
tions of the enemy.
Thus the Camperdown of the British
navy, a ship of the same size as the In
diana, and less effectively protected,
carries four 67-ton guns of about the
same power as the heavy guns of the
American ship and a secondary battery
of six 6-inch guns. Against this the In
diana carries in addition to her main
and secondary batteries the eight B
inch armor-piercing guns above men
tioned — a preponderance of power
which should give her the victory in a
naval duel.
The cruisers are the light cavalry of
the navy. As their name implies,
their duty is to cruise the seas, keep
ing in touch with the enemy's fleets
and acting as the "eyes" of the llne
cf-battle ships. They are also intend
ed for the double duty of attacking an
enemy's commerce and defending that
of the country whose flag they carry-
Fleets of merchant vessels or of trans
port ships will be "convoyed" by cruis
ers from port to port. Upon the cruis
er will devolve the duty of hunting
down, capturing or sinking the armed
merchantmen, known as auxiliary
cruisers, and the regular cruisers of
the enemy, and she must be ready at
any time to make a dash at her top
most speed with important naval dis
For these special duties she requires
to be a good seaboat with high free
board adapted for steaming at a high
rate of speed in all weathers. She
must be furnished with powerful en
gines, and her lines must be fair and
fine; she must have a large coal sup
ply, enabling her to keep to the sea for
lengthy periods; she must have ample
berthing space for a numerous crew,
some of whom will have to be placed
aboard her prizes to carry them to a
home port; and, finally, she must be
armed with a powerful battery of me
dium caliber guns, to enable her to
fight ships of her own class.
The earlier ships of our navy were
entirely of the cruiser class, and at
the present time these ships consti
tute the most numerous portion of our
The monitors of our navy form a
connecting link between the early and
later systems of armored warship con
struction. They embody in the original
design the lessons which had been
learned in the naval operations of the
Civil War, and, as their name implies,
they are modeled after the plan of
Ericsson's famous Monitor. The chief
characteristics of this style of ship are
moderate speed, low freeboard, mak
ing them a difficult object to hit, thick
armor, and an armament of a few ex
ceptionally heavy guns. Sitting low in
the water, they are not suited for work
on the high seas, and their sphere of
operations lies within sheltered wat
ers, such as are found in our bays and
harbors. This is their proper sphere
of action, and to enable them to man
euver in shoal waters they have as lit
tle draught as possible.
Strictly speaking, they are floating
batteries, and as such they are in
tended to co-operate with the land
batteries In defense of our coasts. But
though the monitor is designed especi
ally for harbor defense, it would be
quite capable of taking part in a fleet
action off the coast in ordinary
By far the most unique ship in our
navy, and, indeed, the only craft of its
kind in the world, is the armored ram
Katahdin. The ram as a weapon of
naval warfare is one of the most an
cient of which we have any recorded
history. It was used with deadly ef
fect in the naval fights of Greece and
Rome, and in later times, as at Lissa
and during our own Civil War, it
proved a terrible engine of destruction.
The value of the ram as attached to
the huge and swiftly moving warships
of modern navies has yet to be de
termined, and many authorities claim
that the ship which uses the ram is
liable to be only less badly strained
and shaken up by the shock than her
The Katahdin, however, was designed
for the express purpose of ramming,
and her hull has been constructed with
a view to her being able to withstand
the terrible wrench which a ship that
runs its nose at full speed into a mov
ing vessel is certain to suffer.
The Vesuvius, like the Katahdin, is
a type of vessel that is only to be
found in the United States navy. She
was designed for carrying dynamite
guns of considerable range and enor
mous power, and it is upon these that
she depends for her offensive power.
The Helena is one of three light
draught gunboats authorized in 1893.
The ship was specially designed for
service on the rivers of China, and was
originally intended for the Asiatic sta
tion. With a beam of 40 feet she
draws only 9 feet of water. Sha is
driven by twin-screw engines of 1988
indicated horsepower and her twin
screws, coupled with her large rudder
area, give her excellent turning power,
a valuable feature in river work.
While the boat was being planned a
Japanese officer happened to see the
designs, and he suggested the utility
of a conning tower of sufficient eleva
tion to overlook the banks of the Yel
low River of China, the Yang-tse-
Kiang. These banks are so high that
they exclude the view of the country
from those on an ordinary ship's deck.
The Navy Department acted on tho
One of the earliest successful at
tempts to make use of the torpedo
boat in naval warfare occurred in tho
Civil War, when the Housatonic was
sunk by a rebel craft, which paid for
its daring with its own destruction, be
ing sucked into the -hastly hole which
it had torn in the man-of-war. This
was one of the lessuns of the Civil
War which "was laid to heart by tha
European nations, and out of this and
later successful tests of the torpedo
has sprung that vast fleet of miniature
craft which forms such a formidable
feature of the equipment of the navies
of the world. The earlier boats wero
what is known as spar torpedo-boats,
from the fact that the torpedo was car
ried at the end of a long spar whicti
projected forward from the bow of tho
boat, the torpedo exnloding by con
tact. ■
Then came the automobile Whitehead
torpedo, with its ability when once dis
charged to run (JOO or 800 yards of its
own accord. The size and speed of the
torpedo boat were rapidly increased,
especially the latter, and the impor
tance of this method of attack
was instantly recognized. The torpedo
boat of twenty-five years ago with its
spar torpedo, was a diminutive affair,
having a speed of only twelve or thir
teen knots.
In 1877, however, it had grown to
have a length of from 85 to 100 4!eet and
a speed of from eighteen to twenty-one
knots. As the demand increased the
builders paid particular attention to re
duction of- weight and increase of boiler
and engine efficiency, and in 1887 tha
Ariete, built by Thornycroft for the
Spanish Government, astonished the
world by running a mile at a speed of
twenty-six knots an hour. Five years
later the Daring, a 220-ton boat, built
by Thornycroft for the British navy,
made 28.65 knots an hour, and in 1595
the Sokol, built by Yarrow for the Rus
sian Government, passed the thirty
knot limit.
The later torpedo boats are known. asi
destroyers. They are large vessels of
300 to 400 tons displacement and po<wer
ful enough to maintain their speed in
rough weather, which the torpedo boat
cannot do. They have a speed from
thirty to thirty-three knots and carry
a powerful armanent of rapid-fire guns,
the object being to enable them to
chase and sink a fleet of torpedo boats
and prevent them from attacking tha
larger ships. At the same time the de
stroyer carries a full complement of
torpedoes and would be capable of
sinking battle-ships and cruisers if sha
could get within torpedo range.
It is greatly to be regretted that In
the earlier years of our naval construc
tion we omitted to provide the navy
with an adequate torpedo fleet, as wa
are likely to suffer from lack of them.
The defect is being remedied, however,
as fast as the boats can be turned out,
and the present Congress has recom
mended the construction of thirty craft
of the kind in addition to those already
on the stocks.
The Bailey is one of three torpedo
boat catchers for which provision was
made at the last session of Congress.
The s\im appropriated for each boat
was $250,000. In advertising for bids
the Navy Department stipulated that a
speed of3o knots per hour would be ex
acted on the official course.
If we except the Porter, which is,
strictly speaking, a first-class torpedo
boat, the Bailey and her mates are the
first torpedo boat destroyers to be built
for our navy; and if the expectations of
her builders are fulfilled she will be ca
pable of a speed of 33 knots an hour.
The principal features of the designs
are: Length. 205 feet: beam, 19 feet;
depth of hold, 13 feet 5 inches: dis
placement on trial, 235 tons, and dis
placement when in commission, 265
The Bailey, like the Dupont and Por
ter, will be able to do battle with bat
tle-ships aft»r the fashion of torpedo
boats. When thus engaged she will
have recourse to her torpedo tubes. But
the princir. 1 duty of the new craft will
be to drive uiT and annihilate with gun
fire the torpedo boat torments of the
battle-ships and cruisers. Speed alone
will enable the Bailey to do this, and
this speed the catcher is expected, by
reason of her size, to maintain in a
high sea.
The Bailey Is essentially a seagoing
vessel. Her bunker capacity is deemed
sufficient to enable her to steam three
thousand knots at economical speed. In
time of war she may be expected to ac
company the battle-ship fleet, and to
serve both as a scout and defense for
the heavier vessels.
It is probable that the introduction of
a successful submarine torpedo-boat
on the lines of .the Holland will mark
one of the greatest revolutions that
ever occurred in naval warfare, for
there is a general belief that a thor
oughly efficient under-water warship
would have the above-water ship at its
mercy. A submarine torpedo-boat, be
cause of its invisibility, is deadly by
day and in the open— it will be doubly
bo by night.

xml | txt