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must naturally arouse the greatest Armstrong, as an artillerist, would anxiety in the country. It is said, naturally be impressed with the irrethat unless armour be strong enough sistible power
guns against armour; to keep out shells, it is worse than but when we turn to the official declauseless : and armour, more or less im- rations of the constructors themselves, penetrable, even when limited to vital we find them substantially in accord places, such as the water-line, the with the view expressed in the foreengine-room, and the boiler-space, going extract. The papers relating involves a large addition to the cost, to the design of the Inflexible, recently and an increase of dimensions, tending presented to Parliament, contain a to diminish that mobility which is of well-balanced summary of the arguthe last importance.
ments for and against the continued In considering this subject, it is use of armour :essential to bear in mind that the increase in the tonnage of our most
“We do not see that any increase in the recent ships has been rendered neces
penetrating power of guns can make it desirsary by the weight of their armour :
able to dispense with hull armour, merely
because it is penetrable to some guns within that armour is a protection against certain ranges. It will always remain im. artillery fire alone; and, that while the penetrable to all guns beyond certain ranges, power of the guns may be indefinitely
and to many guns at all ranges, and must
therefore be advantageous as a means of augmented, there is an inevitable
security to the vital parts of the ship. limit to the thickness of armour. “ The limit to its thickness is to be found, The argument against armour
we think, in the size and cost of the ship.
“So far as we have gone at present, fourteen very ably summed up by Sir William
inches of armour have been found to be conArmstrong, in his letter to Lord sistent with high-speed, perfect-turning power, Dufferin, Chairman of the last Com- and moderatc draught of water. No one of mittee on Naval Designs, from which
these conditions imposes a limit; but a single the following extract is taken ::
ship costs nearly half a million sterling, and
it is exposed to many risks. “The foregoing considerations as to the “The losses and casualties of a naval enpresent effects and probable future of guns, gagement would do much, there is no doubt, projectiles, and torpedoes, lead me to the con- to bring out the imminence of these risks, clusion that no practicable thickness of armour would perhaps show that the large and costly can be expected to secure invulnerability for ship is even more exposed to them than the any considerable length of tiine. At present
smaller one. it is only the most recent of our armour-clads “ It may be that the limit of size and cost that have any pretence to be considered invulner- has been reached in the Fury, and that, with able. All the earlier vessels, when built, had her bulk and cost, the maximum of advantages just as much claim to be so regarded as the may be obtained. strongest ships of the present day; yet We are ourselves disposed to think that they are now completely left behind, and
this is so, and that there may be retrogression. in my opinion, much inferior to well-con- in this respect as more experience is gained structed, unarmoured ships. I venture to with the powers of the torpedo, the ram, and. ask, what reason have we to suppose that the
other submarine instruments of attack." powers of attack will not continue quickly to overtake the increased powers of resistance,
Let us now refer to another official which we are applying at great increase of statement, emanating from the Council cost, and at great sacrifice of general efficiency? of Construction at Whitehall. On the Every addition to the weight carried for defence must be attended with a diminution of
6th of April of last year, Mr. Bararmament and of speed, unless the size of the naby read a paper at the Institute of ship be increased in a very rapid proportion. Naval Architects, in which the reA continual addition, therefore, to the thick: lative merits of very large ships, as ness of the armour involves either a continual reduction of offensive power, or such an in
compared with vessels of more modecrease in the size of the vessel and its con- rate dimensions, were ably discussed. sequent cost as must limit the production of “The attack,” he said, “of several sea-going ships of war to a number inade
fast unarmoured rams and torpedoquate for constituting an efficient navy.”
boats upon somewhat slower It may be thought that Sir William armoured ship, although involving the
probable destruction of some of the by counter-attack that you must sueattacking vessels, would still expose ceed, and not by piling mountains of the armoured ship to a risk wbich she iron upon the sides of your ships.” ought never to encounter alone. The Though not a naval architect, Sir assailants ought to be brought to bay, Samuel Baker has won a high reputabefore they could get within striking tion among his countrymen for disdistance of the ironclad, by consorts, tinguished success in another field of armed, like the attacking vessels, with effort. Having directed his attention the ram and the. torpedo, which may as an outsider to the subject of the take, like them, the chances of being present paper, he arrived at a consunk. In other words, I contend that clusion almost identical with that exthe defence against the ram and the pressed by Mr. Barnaby. Sir Samuel torpedo must be sought for, not in the Baker's views were set forth in a letter construction of the ship alone or to Mr. E. J. Reed, and were rightly mainly, but also and chiefly in the deemed so sound a contribution to the proper grouping of the forces at the discussion, that they were published as points of attack. Each costly ironclad a note to Mr. Reed's speech, in the ought to be a division defended against transactions of the Institute of Naval the torpedo and the ram by smaller Architects. They were to the following numerous but less important parts of effect:the general forces. If the foregoing considerations are correct, there is
Accepting, as a matter of course, that the
comparatively short handy ironclad must be still place in naval warfare for costly the fighting giant of the present and future, ironclads with thick
and instead of the long ships of the Minotaur powerful guns. There is place also class, it appears to me that every ironclad for association with them of
should possess two tenders that would abso
lutely be inseparable attendants. These tenders armoured vessels armed with the
should be wooden vessels, with an immense torpedo and manned by brave men.” speed, fitted as rams--tonnage about 2,500. There was present among Mr. Bar
“Each accepted ironclad of the navy would naby's audience the ex-Controller of
thus be accompanied by two fast handy rams,
which would never leave her, but would bethe Navy, Sir Spencer Robinson. In long to her as entirely as the horses do to the the course of the discussion on the
field-gun. paper just quoted, he gave his full “ These rams would, in action, wait upon the approval to the proposal to provide
ironclads. Each ran-tender would be pro
vided with two torpedo steam-launches-thus a supplementary flotilla as necessary in smooth weather a single ironclad (carrying auxiliaries to a fleet of ironclads. “No herself two torpedo launches), would exhibit suggestion,” he said, “more valuable force as follows:for the purposes of war has been
2 Rams, made by any person within my know
6 Torpedo launches." ledge than the able suggestion of Mr. Barnaby, that the true mode of The advice of officers who have defending our heavy ironclads from been engaged on active service will these attacks is by the counter-attack naturally be received with special of torpedoes and rams. No fleet, there- deference. At the close of the civil fore, can be considered a fleet, and, in war, the Secretary of the United my humble opinion, no ship like the States Navy invited each of the flagInflexible can be considered a ship of officers of the fleet to prepare a report war, unless provided with attendant on the types of ships, which they conrams and torpedoes to meet those sidered it desirable to introduce into attacks to which she is sure to be the American service. Several very subjected. I am quite satisfied also interesting and valuable statements that Mr. Barnaby has hit upon the were submitted, among which I would right plan of defending such ships more particularly refer to a paper by from the attacks of torpedoes. It is Admiral Goldsborough, which shows a degree of wisdom and forethought cheap conversion, now possess three far in advance of the time when it was rams, the most dangerous and secure produced. Writing in 1861, he says :- weapons, I consider, and compared with
which, the action and effect of the “A marked pause must occur in the progress of ordnance before a fixed or definite
aggressive torpedo is, in my opinion, conclusion can be reached as to the relative
doubtful and insecure, and may easily immunity obtainable by iron plates. Absolute endanger the ships of its own fleet.'" immunity is out of the question.
Admiral Persano's memorandum on “That progress has already produced the
the battle of Lissa, also quoted by effect of restricting their application, in the case of sea-going vessels, to the more vitally Captain Scott, would seem to imply exposed parts; and it is quite possible that it that the experiences of the engagemay finally establish the conviction that such ment had made the same impression plating for such vessels is really of no marked
on the vanquished as upon the victors. consequence. "In the meantime the tendency of its
"As encounters between iron-clads effects must be to impress the value of rams. will," he said, “ be decided rather by
“The protection of harbours nowadays the ram than by the fire of artillery, does not lie in forts; it lies essentially in powerful steam-rams, aided, when necessary,
that fleet would undoubtedly win the by obstructions in passage-ways.
battle which had the greatest number “Rams, intended purely for harbour de- of ships fitted with double screws.” fence, would be better without than with guns. Turning to the French Navy, we They themselves are to be the projectiles, and find that Admiral Jurien de la the steam the powder. “To fit the rams for guns would be to
Gravière predicts that "ships will swell the item of cost largely, and thus abridge fight in the future with the rams their multiplication.
alone. The captains will not dare to “The essential points to be secured in these
open fire, lest their view of the enemy rams, each to a degree as consistently with all the rest as practicable, are great strength
should be obscured by the smoke from throughout every part of the hull, not over
their own guns.
When the two fleets looking the bottom by any manner of means ; have passed through one another, they every protection that supportable plating can will turn and renew the attack. In afford, a high velocity, an ample security of machinery, the utmost rapidity in turning,
the execution of this manæuvre the and a suitable bow.”
slowest ships will expose their broad
sides to the enemy, and will inevitably The next great action, after the close be destroyed by the ram. Armour of the civil war in America, was fought is valuable only as a protection against at Lissa. What did the officers in com- the fire of artillery; and the ram and mand give as the result of their tragical the torpedo are now regarded by the experiences on that occasion? Their highest naval authorities abroad as views were quoted by Captain Scott in their most formidable
weapons. his lecture (to which reference has M. Dislere, in his latest publication, already been made) delivered last year expresses an opinion that the difficulat the Royal United Service Institu- ties in the use of the torpedo in action tion, " The ram,” he said, “has been
are not as yet surmounted. aptly termed the naval bayonet,' and this fact,” he says, “only lends the is a weapon which, if handled with greater importance to the ram, and skill and pluck, will prove invincible. renders it the more necessary to reIts special fitness for British sailors duce as much as possible the dimenwas referred to in my last lecture, and sions and the displacements of our the Chief of the Naval Constructive fighting ships.” Department of the nation which used While the efficiency of the ram was it with such effect off Lissa says of signally manifested in the action off this weapon--when speaking of the re- Lissa, the destructive powers of the construction of three vessels of the torpedo have been exhibited on a very Austrian Navy at the cost of one iron- recent occasion in the terrible declad—“That we, as the result of this struction of a Turkish monitor on
the Danube. In the United States great inches in thickness, the armour would attention has been given to torpedo easily have been penetrated by the warfare. All the ships of the Ameri- Shah's 9-inch and 7-inch guns, provided can Navy are provided with the spar that the shot had struck at right angles. torpedo, and efforts are continually The experiences of the action show how being directed to the production of rarely this is likely to occur in practice, an efficient automatic sub-aqueous and how immensely the power of detorpedo. The chances of attack bystruction is reduced when the armour means of unarmoured steam launches is struck obliquely. have also been considered ; and on this The lessons to be learned from the subject the views of the majority of engagement between the Shah and naval officers are contained in an Huascar will doubtless be appreciated article in the United States Army and by the constructors at Whitehall. Navy Journal of June 2nd, from which They will probably adopt in the future the following is an extract :
the system of inclined armour, so
ably advocated by the editors of the “The steam launch is by no means so terrible an invention as is supposed. A single dis
Engineer. In an article which appeared charge of grape from a ship, attacked
in that paper on the 14th April, 1876, Thorneycroft launch, will destroy and almost it was shown that, if the armour were instantly sink this supposed irresistible iron- inclined upwards at an angle of 45 clad destroyer. “Vessels intended to carry torpedoes to be
degrees, a thickness of 12 inches would exploded against ships armed with guns are
be sufficient to resist even the 81-ton practically worthless, unless capable of re- gun, whereas, with armour on the sisting shot.
vertical system, twice the thickness “But, against an assailant possessing a would be required. It was further torpedo boat with a flush impregnable deck and movable submerged torpedo, as described
shown that by the reduction in the in our last issue, neither grape nor rifle shot
breadth of the armoured deck over will avail; the vessel attacked, whether a the central citadel, the top-weight little monitor or a first-class ironclad ship,
would be considerably reduced, and will certainly be destroyed, unless the position and other circumstances admit of rapid
that the armour protection on the retreat."
sides of the ship might be proportion
ately extended. By the adoption of In the Navy estimates for the inclined armour a larger reserve of current year provision is made for stability may be secured, and so the commencing the construction of objections which have been raised by vessel of the type recommended in Mr. Reed to the Inflexible may be the American journal. It cannot be removed in future designs. doubted that such vessels would prove In conclusion, a few suggestions extremely formidable in action.
may be offered as to the shipbuilding The recent encounter between H.M.S. policy most suitable for a period of Shah and Amethyst and the Peruvian rapid transition in the modes of naval ironclad ship Huascar is full of interest, war and naval architecture. It is not in relation to the question of retaining necessary to spend a larger sum than armour for the protection of ships of at present, nor is it proposed that the war. The results of the combat are construction of ships of the best type obviously in favour of the retention for ocean warfare should be disconof armour. Though the Huascar was tinued. It must be admitted by every struck 100 times, only one 9-inch shot English statesman that, so long as we penetrated three inches into the turret, retain our colonial empire, we must and that without doing any material maintain a fleet, on which we can rely damage. The engagement was fought to guard our communications across at distances varying from 200 to 3,000 the seas. It does not follow that any yards, and lasted three hours. As the ships destined for this service need plates of the Huascar were only 41 exceed a displacement of 8000 tons,
which is less by one-third than the consider is whether the money voted tonnage of the Inflexible. With a for the navy is effectively applied to view to a reduction of dimensions, it the great national object in view. would probably be the wiser course to The development of the means of aim at making our ships unsinkable defence has not kept, and cannot rather than impenetrable, to increase keep, pace with the increasing power the strength of the structure below of Offensive naval weapons.
Should the water, and to diminish the ar- it not therefore be the policy of our moured protection of the guns. If naval administration to expend a the
guns should be disabled, the ram larger proportion of the ample recould still be relied upon, provided sources at their disposal in so multithe vitals of the ship remained intact. plying their means of attack, that no :- The most recent experiences with the hostile fleet will venture to expose ram and the torpedo point distinctly itself to inevitable destruction by to the importance of numbers, to the engaging a British squadron? unwisdom of placing too many eggs in At the present moment the conone basket, and to the expediency of troversy as to the stability of the distributing the inevitable risks of Inflexible has aroused a painful feelnaval warfare, by sending forth fleets, ing of anxiety. The Government have not only strong in the power of the been well advised in appointing a comindividual ships of which they are mittee of inquiry, composed of men composed, but strong in regard to num- eminent for their scientific attainbers. To this view Mr. Reed himself ments, and holding independent prohas given his sanction in a recent fessional positions.
Neither Parliadebate in Parliament, when he said ment nor the country would have been that the increased efficiency of the tor- satisfied with an expression of conpedo made smaller vessels desirable. It fidence, emanating from Whitehall, is most unwise to spend all the money and unsupported by other professional devoted to the construction of vessels testimony. The controversy which for the line of battle in building ships has been raised is unprecedented in of the Inflexible or Agamemnon type. its character. A difference of opinion Let us appropriate one-third or one- has been expressed between two half from the vote for armoured ships authorities of exactly equal rank. to vessels, let us say, not exceeding the one has been, and other is, the from 2,000 to 3,000 tons. With these Chief Constructor of the Navy. They restricted dimensions we cannot have differ on a question of fact, which all the qualities which it has been can only be exhaustively investigated attempted to combine in the Inflexible, and decided by men of competent but we can have vessels formidable scientific attainments. It was merely either with the gun, the ram, or the throwing dust in the eyes of members torpedo; and, in proportion as we add of Parliament unskilled in the science to the number of our ships by re- of naval architecture to invite them ducing the dimensions of individual to inspect a model, which might or vessels, so the loss to a fleet of any might not be an exact model, and to single ship, disabled or destroyed in observe the behaviour of that model action, will be less disastrous.
in a trough, under conditions, which The administration of the navy might or might not represent the must never be degraded into a party conditions to which the ship would be or personal question. We are all exposed in action, or in navigating the united in one common object—that of creating and maintaining a powerful An objection may be entertained in navy. The supplies necessary for such some quarters to the appointment of a & purpose will always be cheerfully committee or a commission, to consider granted. The question we have to the designs of our ships of war. It