Motto: Experientia Docet
The navy list on July 3, 1899, showed that we had, completed, twenty torpedo craft, and building, thirty-three more; in all practically fifty of these vessels.
It is now time to ask ourselves what success we have attained with these vessels, and what should be accepted as the standard type for performing the functions required for such vessels.
Three years ago a paper on this subject, written by Lieutenant R. C. Smith, U. S. Navy, was published in the Institute; he outlined the practices of the builders abroad at that time, and deduced from them, from the conditions to be fulfilled in our service, and finally from what experience had taught us with the two or three boats already built, that two types of boats were essential, advocating the building of only these standard types; he also pointed out some of the objections that would result from great variety in size and type.
Let us then examine our list of torpedo craft and see if they can be classified into two types. It will be seen at once that any attempt to arrange them according to length, displacement, speed or armament is practically impossible. It is only in the destroyer class, where a batch of sixteen were laid down at one time that there seems to be anything like a standard. In this class we can say that there are sixteen boats with displacement of from 400-420 tons, with horse-power from 7000-8300, and a speed of 30 knots over a 30-mile course. Having set this type to one side as a destroyer class, there remains on the list torpedo-boats from 46-175 tons, intermingled with destroyers from 146 tons to the standard destroyer of 420 tons; speed from 20-30 knots; and an armament of torpedoes and battery with but little more regard to law and order.
It is natural that these conditions have arisen, and far from regretting that such is the case, it may prove to have been of considerable benefit if properly considered.
Some of the reasons for our heterogeneous collection of torpedo- boats may be found dependent upon the following conditions:
(a) It was the desire and policy of Congress to scatter the work throughout the country in order to foster the shipbuilding policy, and to develop the specialty of building small craft. This allowed many small firms that had but little experience in building vessels of this type to bid and submit plans, as it required but a small plant to turn out these vessels.
(b) Besides the variations resulting from the acceptance of plans of the different contractors, other variations constantly arose from practical difficulties met with by the contractors in carrying out the specifications. Some of these, no doubt, were due to lack of skill on the part of the contractors, and others to faults in the Department's designs; others possibly to a desire on the part of the contractor to use a cheaper and possibly equally good design to replace the more costly one laid down by the Department.
(c) Possibly a desire to build experimental types can account for some of the variations.
At any rate we have them; and having them, a close study of the performance of the different types, and their efficiency in the special role to which they should be assigned, ought to give us much valuable information, and lead to the selection of two, or at most three, types of boats that can then be standardized as far as possible.
In order to decide upon these types, information may be obtained from three sources.
First. The practice abroad of the leading powers. Until recently this has been almost the only source from which conclusions could be drawn; so, too, there ought to be a perfect familiarity with the results that are attained abroad with the different types in order to more closely judge the efficiency of our own types.
Secondly. The examination of the performance of our boats during the Spanish war, in which they performed almost every function except the one which properly belonged to them—that of attacking an enemy's fleet. Many important lessons in construction and engineering can be drawn from this source; but nothing tactical.
Thirdly. Consider the strategical points involved as a result of our isolated position, and the requirements for torpedo-boats that are demanded thereby. From this, certain qualities will be found as absolutely essential for one class of boats, and certain others as the essential features of another. Knowing, then, what is to be required of the boat, an examination of the performance of our own boats and of those abroad should enable us to select the type of boat as a standard, possessing such qualities to the highest degree, and all boats should then be required to conform to this standard even to the most minute details.
The advantage of possessing uniform qualities is even greater in its application to a flotilla of torpedo-boats than when applied to battleships. Equal speed, steaming radius, interchangeability of parts, all add materially to efficiency and economy of the boats.
Classification.—Before entering into an examination of foreign practice, it would be well to fix our ideas by the selection of certain standards of comparison. The following classification is based on the displacement as giving the best indication of the seagoing qualities of the boat.
(a) Class O. Destroyers. Boats of high speed over 200 tons displacement; carrying guns and torpedoes.
(b) Class P. Sea-going torpedo-boats (picked). All boats over 150 tons: they are capable of maintaining themselves at sea as long as there is a demand for their services; though on account of the relatively small number of officers and men, and the cramped quarters, they should be allowed to leave the squadron and return to port when opportunity offered.
(c) Class Q. Sea-going torpedo-boats (questionable). All boats between 100 and 150 tons; these boats are sea-going, but not sea-keeping; two or three days continuously at sea being about all they can stand.
(d) Class R. Torpedo-boats (stationary). All boats under 100 tons. They are properly not sea-going, as there is certain risk incurred in sending one to sea alone, especially for a sufficient distance to prevent her again reaching port before foul weather sets in.
The same letters are used in this classification, by displacement, as are used in the English Naval Pocket Manual (where the classification is by length), by far the most complete and accurate list of torpedo craft now published.
The principal changes from the tables given in the manual are: (1) it reduces very much Class P (sea-going), also known as seagoing torpedo-boats, throwing most of them into Class Q (questionable), also known as first-class boats; (2) it very much increases Class R (station boats). This class embraces all, or practically all, of the boats known as second-class, and some of the so-called first-class boats.
The following table shows the classification more clearly:
Class. Displacement. Name. Loose Classification.
O 209 and over. Destroyer. Destroyer.
P 150-200 Sea-going, picked. Sea-going.
Q 100-150 Sea-going, questionable. 1st class and sea-going.
R Under 100 Station. 2nd class, station, vedette.
THE PRACTICE ABROAD IN TORPEDO-BOAT CONSTRUCTION.
In 1878 and 1879, England, Germany, France, and the United States built one or more fast launches of 60-100 feet in length and as high as 22 knots speed to be fitted with Whitehead torpedoes. During the next five years two or three 100-foot boats were turned out by Thornycroft and Yarrow, principally to fill the orders of the leading foreign governments.
Germany.—In 1883 Germany decided upon a type of boat, which was about 125 feet long, 85 tons displacement, 1000 I. H. P. and 19-22 knots, armed with two H. R. C. and two tubes. In the next seven years she added 63 of these to her flotilla.
In 1892 she built sixteen boats, 144 feet long and 110-125 tons displacement, speed 25 knots; and in 1898 with 152 feet length, the displacement was increased to 140 tons, apparently to obtain greater endurance, seaworthiness and habitability. Her policy until 1898 had given her but two types of boats, sixty-three of the 125-foot length (19-22 knots), boats distinctly for station work; and sixteen about 125 tons (25 knots), boats for operating with squadron.
In 1898 the size increased to 140 tons, and there are now building eight of 155 tons displacement.
Conjointly with the building of these boats, Schichau has built eleven larger boats, known as division boats. They have been added in the proportion of one to each seven boats, and are supposed to be the flag-boats of the divisions as well as to render aid to a certain extent to the other boats. They are between 250 and 300 tons, speed increasing from 21-28 knots, according to the date of building. Only the last of these boats, No. 11, has twin screws; while of the eighty-five torpedo-boats already mentioned, none have twin screws. The armament of these boats, originally two 37-mm. guns, has now been replaced by 3-pdr. R. F. G. and .31 cal. machine guns; with two or three torpedo-tubes, according to their displacement.
There are also twenty boats built by different firms between 1884 and 1887 that are less than 100 tons and have twin screws.
England.—England was conservative as usual. Her pioneer private firms were selling boats abroad before she began to build; but with her liberal appropriations, she has carried the boats forward more completely than any other nation. The history of her policy will consequently be the most instructive.
Starting with 86-foot boats in 1878, she seemed content with watching the results of the efforts of her builders to fill the orders for one or two boats for foreign governments, till in 1885 she ordered the Swift, 150 feet long, as the first attempt to get a sea-going boat. In 1885-86 she decided upon a type close to the type selected by Germany two years before, i.e., 125 feet long with somewhat less displacement (60-75 tons), and ordered fifty-seven to be built at once.
The next year, on account of gradually increasing speed obtained by several firms, she built a boat 135 feet long, with speed of 23 knots. In 1887, Yarrow sold a 140-foot boat, speed 25 knots, to Spain; and Thornycroft a slightly smaller boat, speed 26 knots, to Italy.
In 1893-95, England built ten boats 140 feet long and 100-130 tons displacement, which she tested the next year in her squadron manoeuvres; as well as her seventy small station boats about 125 feet long.
These ten were the last torpedo-boats built by her, the destroyer having replaced that sea-going boat for service with the fleet, leaving her ten sea-going station boats of the first class and seventy-five vedettes for harbor defense.
Destroyers.—On account of the unsatisfactory speed of her torpedo gunboats, England, whose role is to protect the fleet, ordered (1893-95) thirty boats called destroyers, the role being to supplant the gunboat in protecting the fleet from torpedo attack; and further, having sighted the torpedo-boat, to overhaul and destroy it. Thirty were built immediately, 190-200 feet long, 220-280 tons displacement, and 27-29 knots speed. Seven slightly larger boats were built the same year, length 210 feet, displacement running up to 300 tons, and speed to 30 knots.
In 1895, during the squadron manoeuvres, these destroyers were tested with such satisfactory results that England has made no addition to her torpedo-boats since that time; but has increased her destroyer flotilla from 50 in 1895 to 118 in 1900. The only change in type being an increased size and power. One of her latest laid down is as follows: Displacement, 420 tons; I. H. P., 9000; speed, 33 knots; armament, one 12-pdr., five 6-pdrs., two tubes and four torpedoes.
Among the tests in 1895 was one to prove the power of the destroyer to catch the torpedo-boat. Without any preliminary notice, twelve of the best torpedo-boats, with a speed of about 20 knots in a smooth sea, were sent at full speed toward port 40 miles distant. After giving them twelve minutes start, the destroyers were sent after them. The chase was over in eleven and one-half miles, and lasted about thirty minutes. Four of the boats escaped, the highest speed logged by them being about 20 knots. Some of the boats broke down, as did two of the destroyers.
Good results with the destroyers were also obtained in firing at a target when running by at a 30-knot speed, and in discharging the Whiteheads when running from 20 to 30 knots. Experiments were also made as to the ability of the destroyers to block all the boats in port, and protect a fleet passing along a hostile coast. The results of most of the work in 1895 were kept confidential, but an extract from a letter written by a capable naval officer who took part in the operations says: "The impression left on my mind by the manoeuvres was that all the present types of boats are obsolete, and that probably no more [like them] will be built. But I believe that boats of the size of the destroyers will take their places in every navy." This certainly has been the policy of Great Britain. In 1896, in addition to the fifty already turned out of 27 knots, she laid down thirty more similar to the seven already noted, of 300 tons displacement.
France in 1878 began with an 86-foot torpedo-boat of 30 tons and 19 knots, about like the Stiletto in our service, but slightly smaller. In five years she acquired about fifty of these, and has built no more. When new they made from 16-19 knots. Her vedette boats—13, including 7 aluminum boats of 60 feet and 15 tons displacement—she has shown no desire to increase. The first type (10) she armed with 37 R. C., and on the remainder she has placed two 1-pdr. R. F. guns, and two torpedo tubes. This is now her armament for all boats except her sea-going boats.
While she was building her 86-foot boats, third class, she also (in 1878-83) turned out eighteen 110-foot boats, about the size of the Gwin.
In 1885 she made a large program for accession to her torpedo-boat flotilla, and in the next four years added 60 to this Gwin type though 15 feet longer and of somewhat less beam. All of her boats to this point were second-class boats having less than 60 tons displacement with over 100 feet length. At the same time a program was brought forward for building a certain number of boats of tonnage between 60 and 100, and length exceeding 100 feet. These were to be designated as first-class torpedo-boats.
The type selected had the following characteristics: Length, 134 feet; beam, 11 feet; depth, 7 feet; tonnage, 67, and I. H. P. 700 to give 20 knots with single screw.
From the experience obtained from these boats a new type of first-class boat was adopted two years later, with the following characteristics: 118 feet long, 13 feet beam, 8 1/2 feet draft, 79 tons, 1300 I. H. P., 23 knots with two screws. The modifications in general terms being as follows: adding a second engine of same size, thereby doubling the I. H. P. and giving a speed of 23 knots instead of 20. The boats now being 16 feet shorter, two feet more beam, 1 1/2 feet more draft, on about 12 tons more displacement. This seems to have been satisfactory to the authorities for station work, as they were gradually added until in 1896 there were sixty-four of them practically identical.
In the armament of these boats she has been consistent.
The construction of sea-going boats began in 1889. In 1895 the Forban, built by Norman, led the world with 31.5 knots. During this time she built thirty-four 100 to 150-ton boats, length 140-160 feet, with every apparent variation in speed, armament, and coal endurance, without regard to dates of building. The armament varies from two 1-pdrs. to three 3-pdrs., this last battery being put on the smallest of the class; and the tubes varying from two to four.
Summary.—(a) Briefly outlining the results of France's torpedo policy it is seen that commencing in 1878 she built second- and third-class station boats, possessing, in 1885, fifty small Stilettos and eighteen Gwins. She then abandoned her Stiletto type and in the next four years added sixty to her Gwin type, though 15 feet longer and somewhat narrower. At the same time she made her first attempt with a first-class boat, i.e., 60-100-ton boats, and laid down ten resembling the McKenzie, but 34 feet longer and of a little less beam. These were evidently failures; for shortening the length 16 feet, increasing the beam 2 feet, and using twin screws, she has reached her present type which will be referred to as the French station type.
She seems to have been unable to decide upon a sea-going type.
Her present flotilla comprises fifty Stilettos, seventy-five Gwins and ten McKenzies, none of which types she would duplicate. Also sixty-three first-class, and thirty-five sea-going boats of 120-130 tons of questionable sea-keeping power. It may be safely assumed that none of these are capable of remaining and operating with the fleet, but must always rest on a station as a base.
(b) Germany seems to have obtained a good type in her sixteen boats of 125 tons design, their principal objection (a bad one however) is that they have single screws. Any boat required to operate at sea more or less independently must have two engines to insure her safety. A torpedo-boat comes into port under one engine far oftener than is supposed.
(c) England's last sea-going torpedo-boats (10) built in 1896, about the same size as Germany's (110-130 tons) boats but with twin screws, were satisfactory, but had not the sea-keeping power demanded by her policy, nor could they fulfill the tactical demand for the destruction of the enemy's boats, called for in her offensive role. Hence her destroyer.
France, ever trusting in her ingenuity and theoretical schemes, which lean toward the performance of miracles, has now directed her attention to submarine marvels, after having created an enormous flotilla of small boats practically none of which are sea-keeping.
Conclusion.—From all of this we find that a good twin-screw sea-going, but not sea-keeping, boat can be obtained between 110 and 130 tons. While the destroyer must be over 250 tons, with a tendency to increase its size. England's largest destroyer, the Express, is 420 tons and 9250 I. H. P.
Having looked over the navy list of the leading powers of Europe it is seen that they have quite as heterogeneous a collection of boats as are shown on our own list with the difference that they have large groups of each. This does not mean that they have found a need for each group, but rather that they represent the costly steps leading to present practice. The present practice shows but little variety in types.
These then are the types that foreign practice would lead us to adopt. After considering the information from the other two sources we will compare them.
Secondly.—THE PERFORMANCE OF OUR OWN BOATS DURING THE SPANISH WAR.
As the boats made no torpedo attack, the principal points upon which information can be gathered are, habitability, seaworthiness, sea-keeping power and durability. An investigation of these points will divide the boats into station, and sea-keeping boats; and in addition the destroyer class; a brief record of the performance of the different boats that took part in the Spanish war will be given, starting with the smallest of the class.
The Gwin and Talbot, sister boats of 46 tons displacement, one engine, one boiler, and speed 20 knots, arrived at Key West the middle of July, having come down through the canals as far as Ocracoke inlet. The McKee, a boat of the same class, except that she is equipped with two boilers, came at the same time. About the first of August, in response to the restlessness of their commanding officers, they were sent out on the blockade off the north coast of Cuba from Cardenas to Cay Frances. Their special function was to pass in among the shallow inlets behind the Keys and capture and destroy all cargo-boats, sloops, schooners, and fishermen suspected of rendering assistance in discharging the cargo of blockade runners. The steamers entering these ports could not get up to the towns for lack of water, yet could remain concealed behind some of the Keys till discharged. The Foote and Cushing, 140 and 105 tons respectively, twin screws and two boilers, were also on this expedition. It was expected that large ships of the blockading squadron would be found in the neighborhood; from these supplies were to be drawn, and upon them they could depend for defense from the Spanish gunboats, of which there were several in the principal ports. These parent ships turned out to consist of one or two auxiliary converted yachts that were but poorly equipped with coal and water; and even they were soon separated from the boats. The Talbot having smashed in her bow in a night collision while carrying despatches, the other boats cruised in pairs among the Keys, chasing and capturing all the craft that dared appear, even in sight of gunboats that usually contented themselves with pouring dense volumes of smoke from their funnels upon sighting the torpedo-boats. The gunboats ordinarily lay alongside of the docks, content to be let alone.
On this cruise one of the torpedo-boats, having but a single boiler, was troubled with a leaky tube. So, lying under Piedras Key, she cut out and replaced the tube and brought off in boats enough water from a cistern on that island to again fill the boiler. Just how long these little craft could have remained on this sort of duty it is difficult to say, as any passing vessel could supply them with coal and water and a little hard bread and canned meat. When they returned from the blockade on the l0th of August, the preliminaries of peace having been arranged, they could certainly have remained a week longer without any additional supplies.
These boats then showed their ability not only to operate from a fixed base such as Key West, but also to utilize the larger vessels on the blockade as a base, and efficiently carried out the role of shallow draft gunboats in passing among the Keys and suppressing all commerce across the interior waterways, though they were never designed for this work.
Cushing, Ericsson, and Morris. These somewhat larger station boats did not have very much duty during the war. The Cushing and Ericsson saw such very hard despatch duty just before the war as to necessitate very extensive repairs. The Cushing accompanied the other boats on the blockade on the first of August, and stayed out until the boats were recalled from the blockade. The Ericsson, though constantly breaking down, and returning to port, scored a point in being the only torpedo-boat on the scene of action on the day of the Santiago fight. This was due more to the ingenuity, patience, and perseverance of her commanding officer than to any good quality of the boat. The Morris did not arrive till near the end of the war and did not leave Key West.
The Foote and the Winslow went out on the blockade of Matanzas, Havana, and Cardenas at the outbreak of the war. The Winslow's career was about finished on the tenth of May when she was disabled by the gunboats at Cardenas. She had seen several days of service on the blockade up to this time.
The Foote remained on the blockade for about seven weeks, coming in twice for mail and despatches and fresh food for herself and the other ships occupying that station. She was then withdrawn, being relieved by the Leyden. After about two weeks' overhauling at Key West, principally renewing the boiler fronts, she was again ready for work; but was not sent out again till August when she returned to the blockade of Cardenas and ports to the eastward as already stated. She remained there till recalled at the end of the war.
Porter and Dupont. These two boats were at Key West at the outbreak of the war. They went on the blockade as did all the others. But the Porter was then assigned as a despatch boat to the New York, and the Dupont soon returned to Key West, where she was held in reserve by the station ship for despatches. The Dupont made two long trips, accompanying a squadron to Cienfuegos, and going out to meet the New York on another occasion. She was also at Guantanamo at the end of the war. Her record for steaming during the war was about 9000 miles.
The record for stanchness, sea-keeping power, and general excellence belongs to the Porter, which held the record of 12,900 miles of war service, on despatch and blockade duty, without other repairs than those made by the force on board. About the 20th of July she went north for general repairs, and a complete overhauling, her boilers having reached their limit of endurance.
Thirdly.—STRATEGICAL AND TACTICAL DEMANDS.
The West Indies has ever furnished a battle-field for naval wars; and so will it be in our next war. The importance of being able to control its waters will be doubly accentuated by the need of controlling the Nicaragua canal.
Destroyers.—The fleet of battleships must be maintained in these waters, and their safety from torpedo attack by the enemy must be insured by the destroyers. So that a flotilla of these in the proportion of two for each battleship would be a fair allowance. They must possess the speed sufficient to catch a 25-knot torpedo-boat, and the sea-endurance to remain with the fleet without being a constant source of anxiety to the commander-in-chief. A small, but powerful battery, and comfortable quarters for the crew are the essentials. Two torpedoes furnish a sufficient armament to give all of the moral effect of the torpedo-boat. Moreover two torpedoes carefully fired would be as good as half a dozen.
Sea-Keeping Torpedo-Boat.—In addition to this flotilla of destroyers associated with the fleet of battleships, the commander-in-chief needs an offensive weapon that can be used against the hostile squadron which may be operating in some portion of the West Indies or which is making a feint at some point along the coast. This may be only a detached squadron; yet something must be done to meet it.
Twenty sea-keeping torpedo-boats such as the Porter can be made to cover long distances at good speed, without being seen; make an attack and disappear, leaving the enemy in such a demoralized state that they will fall back on their base, or at least withdraw from that vicinity. Their employment as mounted infantry and light artillery combined would in the hands of an energetic commander-in-chief be most demoralizing.
Station Boats.—Turning next to boats of limited endurance which should be classified as station boats, they can be tactically classified under two heads. (a) Sea-going, capable of continuously operating for two or three days at a moderate distance from the base. To this class belong the Cushing, Ericsson, Morris, and even the Winslow. They are capable of selecting any point on the coast as a base, and can be rapidly mobilized at such point if scattered along our entire coast-line of a thousand miles.
(b) Station boats whose operations are practically limited to a single night's attack, designed as a part of the coast defense system, operating through the inland waterways from Lake Erie and Buzzards Bay to Fernandina, Fla. Boats of this class are the Talbot and the McKenzie, the Cushing being almost too large for such work. The number of these boats required should be sufficient for the defense of Massachusetts Bay, Narragansett Bay, New York Bay, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Charleston, Galveston, San Francisco Bay, and Puget Sound. A pair of these boats at each of these points would give a certain feeling of protection to the people, and liberate more valuable and powerful vessels for offensive operations. With the ten monitors now complete or building distributed at these same points, the Secretary of the Navy would be able to give a satisfactory answer to the clamor for local protection. In the case of imminent danger at any point on the coast this force could be concentrated to resist such attack, though this movement could not be rapidly effected. We already have the ten monitors which are especially fitted for this role; and the cost of sixteen more Talbots would be about one-fourth the price of one battleship.
Having now examined the three sources of information we can apply our knowledge to the selection of types having due regard to the role which each type will be called upon to play in actual war.
In order to have present practice abroad in a readily available form the following table has been arranged which is fairly accurate, the conflicting statements of the different sources of information upon this subject making it very difficult to obtain correct data.
REQUIREMENTS OF DESTROYERS.
Speed.—The boat must have sufficient speed to overhaul a torpedo-boat and disable her. It is well to remember that at night the discovery will be made at close range, and but a slight superiority in speed will be sufficient to enable the destroyer to close sufficiently to prevent the boat from eluding her, and enable the gun captain to hit his indistinct and difficult target. The flare from the stack of the fleeing boat, when she is pressed to her limit of speed will materially assist the destroyer unless the rain, snow, or fog intervenes. In daylight the discovery of the torpedo-boat is not likely to be made at more than five or six miles, so that a difference in speed of three knots would give the destroyer the necessary superiority. A speed of 28 knots that can be maintained for six hours is sufficient for all purposes, and gives a surer indication of the value of the boat than a delusive 32 knots with bottled up steam over the measured mile. To attain this result the machinery must not be shaved too light. The results of the performance of some of these boats abroad during the last year indicate that the factor of safety is too small, and that the number of revolutions allowed is beyond safe practice, making the strain on the moving parts tremendous; any slight flaw in forging or tempering, and the engine room is a wreck—if there is no worse result. Let us not be carried away by the desire for the fastest boat in the world. Moderate revolutions and steam pressure and stanch machinery, and we can challenge the speeds shown in the table and feel that we have the better boat.
Armament.—Five 6-pdrs., one 12-pdr., two tubes and two torpedoes.
The argument in favor of this battery is found under the head of Criticism on Ordnance.
From the table it is seen that our armament is still the equal of any nation, and superior to most, except in the number of torpedoes carried on board. It is well to bear in mind that some of the boats do not in practice carry both torpedoes and guns; one or the other is left ashore.
A liberal allowance of coal and water must be carried, remembering that at night the boats must be actually cruising. During the day by running slow under one engine and carefully tending the two large distilling plants that are needed she can replenish her water supply. In case of necessity coal and water can be supplied from the big ships such as the New York, and the distiller ship; but it is best to be self-supporting as weather and unusual circumstances may make assistance impossible.
Displacement.—Before deciding upon the size it is well to bear in mind the two distinct roles in which the destroyer appears.
First. She is a terror to all torpedo-boats; her powerful battery, relatively high speed in all weathers, and shallow draft leave them but little hope for escape, unless a lucky shot at long range disable her. In this role she acts as the night policeman for the fleet, easing the nerves of the battleship.
Secondly, and this is a point that is likely to be forgotten, she is a terror to the enemy's fleet; for not only does she carry the same torpedoes, and will appear from more distant points, but she still retains that essential element to successful attack by surprise, a relatively small size and consequent invisibility. It is the failure to recognize this essential quality that has led to the advancement of a type of boat of 600-800 tons displacement, which is based on the sound doctrine "the bigger the better" when coal endurance, stanchness, comfort, and speed are the qualities desired. The "long low rakish craft," this invisible terror of the seas, must be retained, as in the piratical days of old, to destroy a few and strike consternation to the hearts of all.
We have reached the happy result, but the outside limit, in our 420-ton destroyer. It is well to remember that foreign practice tried this 800-ton boat several years ago in their "avisos" and scouts, which were afterwards abandoned, and then developed the torpedo-boat to its present size. By examination of the table it will be seen that even now we lead all other powers in the displacement adopted.
TORPEDO-BOATS, CLASS P.
Requirements.—Only sufficient speed is needed in vessels of this class to make it possible to overhaul and attack a distant fleet cruising at a moderate speed. Twenty knots is thought to be a good sustained speed for an all-night run in moderate weather. This would give a 25-knot speed for the dash to escape after the attack. A boat that can be relied upon to do this should be able to maintain a speed of 25 knots for six hours in smooth water.
A flotilla of these boats would temporarily accompany the squadron till the commander-in-chief decided upon the point of attack, or received information of the enemy which would permit a blow from this mobile arm of his fleet. After the attack the flotilla would probably return to the nearest base. They are expected to join the fleet whenever needed, and to remain till the attack has been pressed home. But the admiral would leave them resting on a convenient base till the time seemed ripe for the blow.
The armament thought best is three S. A. 6-pdrs., two tubes, and two torpedoes. The reason for this selection is found under Criticism on Ordnance.
Displacement.—The displacement must be kept as small as is consistent with sea-keeping power. These boats must be able to keep with the squadron through all weather; and have a crew, coal, and water sufficient to be counted on for a week, and still be able to return to port. The Porter seems to have been able to fulfill these conditions under the test of war; yet no smaller boat seemed to be able to come up to this requirement, so that 165 tons seems to reach the sea-keeping power combined with a size that permits of a successful surprise in a night attack. Great Britain alone has recognized that boats of a smaller type than this fail to attain this sea-keeping requirement. She reported adversely upon her largest torpedo-boats in 1896, and since then has built nothing smaller than the destroyer. The table shows that France and Germany are trying 150-ton boats, their first venture in boats of such great displacement, France, alone, with her desire for the marvelous, stipulating a speed of 30 knots. Twenty-five knots maintained speed answers all requirements. The table shows that for our 165-ton boat the armament is superior to that of any boat abroad; but three 6-pdrs. would make her a Tartar for destroyers and small gunboats.
STATION BOATS, CLASS Q.
There does not seem to be any need for this class in the scheme for coast defense, and they are not sufficiently powerful for offense. So that though the ten that we have thus far acquired are quite useful for drills and exercises in our home ports, and will make good station boats for the West Indies, there seems to be no reason for duplicating any of the six types represented by the ten boats in this class.
As for the Manley no one seems to know for what she was designed or why she was bought. Possibly it was to give us wrinkles in design and construction. This was a reason that I heard advanced for the purchase of the Somers. This boat, 150 tons, has but a single screw, and when the attempt was made to bring her over she leaked so badly as to require her return to port. After the war she was brought over in a freight steamer. She has the lines typical of all the Elbing boats. She carries an underwater bow tube, which may have been the cause of her trouble. At any rate Germany has lost three boats by foundering at sea, and it is thought that they were on these lines, though smaller. In the latest sea-going German boats there is no submerged bow tube and no forward conning tower.
STATION BOAT, CLASS R.
As already stated, twenty boats of the Talbot type, with a 1-pdr. forward and a machine gun aft would cover the conditions for the defense of the waterways and harbors.
Having decided upon our general type let us examine the details of construction, equipment, etc., on board our boats to see if they have stood the best test of their value, viz., satisfactory results on boats in commission. This examination will be taken up according to the classification by departments on board ship. The writer is encouraged to make this minute and detailed examination by the generous desire shown by the bureaus concerned to make the changes suggested and remedy the faults where a remedy could be pointed out.
DETAILED CRITICISM AND COMPARISON OF CERTAIN POINTS IN CONSTRUCTION.
In no way is the difference between an experienced builder and the novice so evident as in the details of hull construction, and its fittings, and in the use of some little device learned by experience, which often adds materially to the efficiency and comfort of the boat.
Consequently, the writer does not believe that any detail is too trifling to criticise, especially if a remedy is easily found. A striking example will first be given to illustrate the point, before going into an enumeration of details.
A large ventilator was placed over a cabin in order to give fresh air to the sleeper. The result was a wet bunk all the time; at sea it was salt water; in port, rain or sweat from the plate on the inside. In practice the bottom of this ventilator was kept tightly closed by a plate, and a canvas hood placed on the outside when going to sea.
Ventilators.—Experience would indicate that all attempts to ventilate compartments by means of small ventilators are failures. The discomforts and damage inflicted by salt water and rain more than offset the possible advantage of these few small air pipes. The only exception to this is for the compartment containing the closets, where there is usually little to spoil by salt water.
With this exception, there should be no opening in the deck from one end of the boat to the other except hatches and coalbunker scuttles. The hatches should be arranged with some device allowing them to remain open and yet keep out rain and spray, even though occasional seas sweep on board.
On one of the boats of the Winslow type, canvas hoods were fitted over the hatches of the principal compartments (i.e., the living spaces and the engine-rooms), which were lashed around the hatch coaming and carried up about two feet, and the opening left on the lee side. These were only put on in bad weather. An excellent device is found on some boats. The hatch-hood is a quadrant of a cylindrical section, one side fitting over the hatch, and the other open to the air, ordinarily looking forward. The upper half of the periphery opens or closes by a sliding shutter. Shutters, either sliding or swinging, can also be fitted to the side that looks forward.
The advantages of this arrangement are that: (1) In fair weather the sliding top can always remain open unless the sea would enter a hatch with 18-inch coaming; (2) in falling weather, by hauling over the sliding shutter at top, and shifting hood so that the side opening looks to leeward, no water will enter. In ordinarily good weather, with sliding shutter on top hauled back and side shutter open, entry and exit are in no wise impeded. With an ordinary cowl the hatch cannot be used for this purpose. This hood of course having a rectangular base, has only four positions, abeam, and fore and aft; but its efficiency seemed little reduced thereby; while its usefulness in all weather recommends it greatly. They should undoubtedly be fitted to each living compartment, and seem to be equally adaptable as hoods for blower-engines in firerooms. When fitted over blowers they should have light wire screens, say a 2-inch mesh, to prevent signal-flags and wash-clothes from going into the blower.
Each living space should have two openings, to facilitate exit and also to give proper ventilation. For the two principal spaces, the cabin and the crew's space, the conning tower can be utilized for one of these, and a hatch, as above described, for the other. If an old-fashioned windsail is then rigged in the hatch or tower, as best serves, a good supply of air will be insured in these two compartments in practically any weather, a condition that has often been denied our boats. A scant supply of air at 115 degrees, and that mixed with salt water, will lay low the toughest mariner, and result in a short time in a disabled crew and boat. Few of the boats during the war, when subject to these conditions, could boast of a man who had not been seasick.
The air ports on the sides abreast the living quarters are very convenient, and, when reasonable care is taken to renew the gaskets when softened by heat or oil, are satisfactory.
Referring again to the ordinary round top cowl or hood, an objection to it was noticed which may be new. When a man is feeling his way along the deck at night in rough weather and has seized the rim of the cowl, instead of getting support from it, the cowl, revolving from his weight, has sent him stumbling against the rail with the roll of the boat; on one occasion the cowl came off and the man was with difficulty saved from going overboard.
Clear Decks.—While on this subject of ventilation and deck openings, too much stress cannot be laid upon the necessity for clear decks. There should be no openings in the decks except for the blowers, the passage of men below, the coal scuttles, and a large hatch over each engine. All these, when closed, should offer an easy gangway for travel fore and aft. Especially should this be true of the coal scuttles and engine-room hatches. A satisfactory scuttle, flush with the deck and reasonably tight when cared for, is a rectangular brass plate held down by dogs against a rubber gasket fitted in a score around scuttle. A passage along the decks of some of our boats on a dark night is at the imminent risk of going overboard, to say nothing of the condition of shins which is sure to exist as a result.
Deck Covering.—After a good deal of experimenting on the suitable covering for the deck the choice now seems to lie between linoleum and gratings. The most satisfactory result has been obtained by laying gratings along the line of traffic fore and aft, and holding them down by movable cleats, so that they can be taken up without much trouble, and yet will not wash overboard in a sea-way. In case of abandoning the boat these are useful as life-rafts, as they can be loosened in a moment.
The only advantage possessed by linoleum over gratings is a reduction in weight, and this is not great; its disadvantages are: (1) lack of durability, being easily punched full of holes and torn around the edges; (2) difficulty in securing it to the deck, as on any other than flat deck boats the first sea will catch under a loose edge and rip up a whole sheet. It then requires a dry, warm day to stick it down. Also, if water lodges under it, the deck will rust badly. Then, over the fireroom, the different coefficient of expansion of the linoleum and steel will always loosen those sheets.
Linoleum has been satisfactorily used as follows:
On the Talbot class by holding the strips over boiler-room down by one-quarter inch strips of steel along the edge secured through the deck by round-head stove bolts. This system could be applied throughout, using galvanized iron or brass strips on the edge of each sheet of linoleum, and holding it down with screws through the deck.
On the Winslow, which type, being turtle-back, have given the most trouble, a sort of combination of grating and linoleum has been adopted. Wooden strips, 3 inches wide and 3 inches apart, run fore and aft, held down by screws; under these wooden battens are linoleum strips. The arrangement prevents slipping, but as the foot finds no complete support either on the battens or between them, it would soon become disagreeable and tiresome when one moves about the deck. Rubber matting, which has been tried on some boats, is not only soon broken to pieces but is actually heavier than the grating.
Below Deck.—Below decks, the floors in the living spaces should be of hard wood. In the cabin compartment a covering of thin linoleum tacked down on some light wood, as soft pine, works well; when given a coat of shellac once or twice a month, this gives a durable floor, easily kept clean and dry in all weathers. In the crew's quarters a coat of shellac each week applied to the bare hard wood, gives the best result. All this wood should be soaked in paraffine or electro-proofed to prevent absorption of moisture from the bilge and swelling, so as to make constant misfits of the movable hatches. As electro-proofed wood is said to cause corrosion of steel, the edges of the floor that come in contact with hull should be oiled or painted to prevent such a result.
More permanent discomfort has existed on board the boats from a failure to give a thin canvas lining to all living spaces than from any other cause.
In the Cushing, which in her early days boasted four officers in her cabins, icicles hung from the "roof" in the morning, and rheumatism was common. To remedy this an inner lining of canvas was fitted, leaving an air space the depth of the frame between it and the deck. This probably reduced the sweating, and any moisture that was precipitated ran down the side behind the inner lining and then into the bilge. On some boats where this lining was fitted, the outboard side of the men's lockers being the skin of the ship, the streams trickled into their lockers with the result of wet clothes and more rheumatism.
On the vessels of the Winslow type the men had to sleep under rubber blankets until linings could be fitted. Very thin boards have been used at the side instead of canvas, but this raised the objection of splinters from a shell. The canvas is neat, light, and durable.
While on the subject of inner lining, it is well to say that this offers additional hiding-places for the pest often brought off in wash-clothes; but it has been found that the use of Persian insect powder every two or three weeks, closing up the compartment tight for an hour while the powder was being sprayed, was not only a prevention, but a cure for all crawling creatures.
Living Space Steam Heat.—Here again has experience done much toward securing a system and arrangement that have added greatly to the comfort on board the boats. The most remarkable arrangement was a case where the radiator in the cabin was placed at the highest point of the bulkhead. This would give in cold weather a temperature of 90 degrees at the overhead deck and 30 degrees on the floor. If there was any ventilation at all the occupant always enjoyed the temperature of the outside air, even though it was 20 degrees.
By the simple arrangement of carrying a 1 1/2-inch pipe along the floor close to the lockers, the ventilation and heating are easily arranged. This position of the pipes also assists in keeping the lockers dry. It is well to always have at least one more steam-pipe parallel to the first, extending a part or all the length of the other, with a valve at each end; by this means additional heating surface can be thrown in for severe weather. On the Cushing, by this arrangement, from one to four pipes could be used as desired; after they were installed she was always comfortable. A radiator is a source of discomfort. It is like a red-hot stove in a small dining-room. The one who sits next to the stove roasts, and those further away freeze. The crews, on account of the size of the compartment, are always at the table.
In connection with the steam-heater pipes there must always be an efficient steam trap intelligently tended. Ignorance on the part of the man on watch in the engine-room is often a cause of cold steam-pipes banked up with water.
Sinks, Basins and Closets.—The closets are, generally speaking, as satisfactory as under-water closets can be. Occasional trouble is experienced from ignorance in the use of the valves and carelessness in throwing waste and similar objects in the bowls. A good safe practice, however, has been to shut off the sea-valves when underway for many hours, if the weather be rough, and not depend on the interior valves for controlling the water. When the closet is used the valves can be opened temporarily, and again closed. The use of proper closet paper is a necessity if the closets are to be kept in order.
The pantry and other sinks should all be fitted with an automatic valve, such as rubber ball, etc., to keep the pipe closed from the sea, opening only by pressure of water from the basin; otherwise the water will boil up into the basin when at sea, and a precious pint of fresh water be converted into salt by the lifting of the stopper in the basin. In the Winslow type, when at sea, it was always necessary to put permanent plugs in the bottom and overflow pipes, and then bail out the water after using, making it much more inconvenient than a tin basin and pitcher would have been. Needless to say, the automatic valve should be easily accessible, to examine and take out the stray articles that are sure to find their way into the pipe and stop it up. Especially does this apply to valves for the closets.
Living Quarters. Position.—The arrangement generally adopted for officers, and if there is space, Petty officers, forward, meets with best results. The place of the officers, especially if there is but one, is by the wheel, which can only be attained by placing his cabin near it. As the steering is all done from the forward tower, this reason alone is sufficient for the officers' quarters remaining forward. As to the comfort, it is in many cases an open question, as the heat from the steering engine and fire-room is often intense, the ventilation in a rough sea is almost nil, and the quarters are often drowned out. The advantages are, ordinarily, less cinders and dirt, and less vibration, though these conditions are not always true. It is important, if possible, to have the chief petty officers separated from the crew.
Tables.—The solid table, that is, one with the sides closed in so that it is stowed completely with crockery, tableware, warheads, etc., is most satisfactory, being fitted with a leaf on one or both sides to permit a free gangway. Swinging and folding tables have been tried on several boats and have always proved unsatisfactory. They are troublesome to set up, unsatisfactory to eat on, and bulky to stow away; moreover, a table is in constant use all day long, and is a great convenience as a temporary receptacle for charts, books, bundles, writing-desk, and a thousand other purposes at all times. I recently noticed that the crew of a certain torpedo-boat took all their meals squatting round on deck; upon going below I found that the boat had been fitted with a swinging table that was stowed away in a corner and never used.
Chairs and Stools.—The best and most efficient are the simplest camp-stools of light design without backs and seats covered with canvas. These can be scrubbed and kept white, or given a coat of shellac or paint as is most practicable. About the best chair for comfort, compactness, and durability is the cheap steamer chair, made of two crossed pieces on a side, holding in varying positions a strip of canvas.
Ice Chests.—Many have been the makeshifts for this exceedingly essential fitting, which seems to be an afterthought. Starting with the Cushing, which utilized a hard-tack can, and continuing to the Winslow, which had a wooden box perched on the rail, exposed to the hottest rays of the sun and the all-penetrating salt spray, the best result has been obtained in the Talbot class, where a compact, light and serviceable ice-chest is built to the shape of the boat alongside the pantry. The additional supply of fresh food that can be carried with a properly equipped ice-chest adds materially to comfort, and the reduction in the mess bill is also considerable.
Bunks.—The system of bunks for the crew, two tiers, sleeping-car fashion, with pipe frame and laced canvas bottom, are excellent, being light, clean, and dry.
The upper berth system of the Pullman car seems on the whole to combine the greatest number of good features for the officers' quarters. This is a transom that folds against the ship's side when closed, and when made up swings out about 30 degrees, being held out by straps below. The bunk bottom, a canvas sheet, is fastened along the upper side of this transom, and is held out taut, and the mattress laid on this. It is comfortable and dry, because, except when in use at night, it can be closed up tight. Whereas a bunk that stands open may catch the unexpected sea or rain squall; and a wet bunk—there is nothing worse!
Officers' Quarters.—There has been a great variety in the arrangement of bulkheads, pantries, closets, etc., in the space allowed for officers' quarters, the idea most prominent apparently being to give each officer a room to himself. The result is a series of little cuddy holes, no one of which is habitable; whereas the same space with only one or two divisions would give quarters easily ventilated, reasonably cool and dry.
Taking the worst results first, there is on the Winslow ample space provided for living quarters; but analyzing it in detail there is not a comfortable spot in her. The captain's state-room, a separate compartment furthest forward, has a fixed bunk placed under two or three small ventilators, that will usually either sweat or leak on his bunk according to circumstances. The next compartment, the mess-room, has two transom bunks which are so low that the spray that comes in from the hatch overhead means no ventilation or a wet bunk, if the sea is at all rough. The closet is next, in a small compartment by itself. Abaft this on the port side a fixed bunk, with standing room alongside it; there is not room to sit down and undress, this being done by sitting on the bunk. On the opposite side in another compartment, two wash basins, fixed, for one officer; abaft this in another compartment, the pantry. In passing it may be remarked that the food was always hot, as the pantry was very small and separated from the fire-room by a thin bulkhead it served as a satisfactory oven to every one except the occupant, the steward. A space amidship between the pantry and washroom on one side, and the state-room on the other was useful only in admitting the ladder which occupied nearly as much space as the state-room alongside of it.
A great improvement could be made in this arrangement with but little expense. Considering the entire space abaft the mess room, all partitions should be removed, and the arrangement of the floor space be as follows: on the starboard side aft, the closet and one wash-basin should be placed, the latter some small compact type, instead of the enormous aluminum one now in use. This compartment could be cut off by curtains or low partitions from the remainder of the space. If partitions are used they should only be about seven feet high, the angle irons running up to the deck overhead to prevent vibration. The remainder of the space would make a comfortable room. Below the hatch a vertical ladder would be secured to allow passage when necessary, but the main gangway would be through the conning tower. The hatch in the conning tower should be larger and more convenient ladders fitted.
The simplest and most satisfactory arrangement of officers' quarters would seem to be two compartments, one for each officer. The junior officer's room would contain two Pullman upper berths, placed well up on the side with a transom seat below each. This would also be the mess-room. The pantry would be placed as convenient, near or in this compartment. The senior officer's room would be the next compartment preferably abaft this, with the bath-room containing the closet and basin, and usually a fixed bath-tub, set off in a corner by a low partition and curtain.
The old idea of giving the captain complete seclusion from his officers, when carried out in a torpedo-boat is absurd; and he often has roasted or steamed in his effort to get rest in his own cabin; or else occupied his junior's bunk until time to go on deck and relieve him for a six-hour watch.
Of the two compartments contemplated, the captain should have the more comfortable one, and it might vary in the different boats. But in one should be the mess-table and in the other the baths, basin, etc., cut off by a low partition; the pantry being worked into the one or the other as the plan permitted. If these two compartments are separated by a low bulkhead amidships which could go all the way to the overhead deck toward the sides, ventilation through the hatch in the after one and the conning tower in the forward one would ordinarily be good.
In general each conning tower should admit to two compartments; that is it should be supported on the water-tight bulkhead with ladders down each side of the bulkhead. In case the compartment on the side forward of this bulkhead is a living compartment, e.g., the mess-room, there should be a hatch with a reversible square ventilator hood, water-tight, fitted over it. This could face to leeward at sea except in exceedingly rough weather when it would have to be closed.
If a deflector running down 18 inches or 2 feet were fitted on the inside of a hatch nearest the bunk, desk, etc., it would often be a great protection and comfort. In good weather this could swing up against the deck and in rough weather by swinging it down in prolongation of the lower side of the coaming it would so deflect spray, etc., as to permit the hatch to remain open. For the same purpose air-ports on the side should have a 1/4-inch lip around their upper semi-diameter to deflect the water from the deck above, thus preventing it from entering the port when washing down, or during an ordinary rain.
Boats of less than 100 tons should have but one large compartment, with an addition for pantry, closet, etc.
The Talbot class is an excellent example of arrangement of quarters for boats of this class. The only improvement that could be made would be a double fire-room bulkhead, and a hatch at the after bulkhead. At present the hot air from the fire-room bulkhead banks up at the after end of the cabin and remains at 110-120 degrees. In cutting a hatch it should be so located that no tables, desks or bunks are close under it, as a moderate amount of rain or spray down the hatch is accepted rather than close it, unless the damage to objects close by demands that it be closed.
The Morris having the most recently designed arrangement of quarters is very good, the principal drawback being that they are still too much cut up, too hot, and not well ventilated. By moving back her steering engine about two feet, and shifting her pantry to the starboard side, a free circulation of air could be obtained from the after state-room to the mess-room. This would allow the raising of the mess-room floor and lowering somewhat the cabin state-room floor; then by removing the wooden bulkhead between the state-room and mess-room an excellent airy room would be obtained. A curtain could be run across the forward end to be used when the bunk is made up. A hooded hatch at the after end of the junior officer's room and a hatch fitted with water-tight cover placed at the forward end of the captain's state-room would add materially to the comfort and make the ventilation nearly perfect. In these boats the petty officers' quarters are abaft the officers' quarters and forward of the forward boiler. There is but one hatch. This ought to be fitted with the square top ventilator described as fitted on the Talbot. On some of these boats a sort of temporary hatch hood has been erected similar to this ventilator to keep out rain; but it is flimsy and cumbersome, and does not work except in port.
There should always be a double bulkhead between the fire-room and the living quarters with a lining of asbestos, or else an air space.
A double bulkhead with an air space would materially reduce the temperature in the cabin. This air space could be ventilated by having several small holes near the bottom of the after bulkhead, i.e., the fire-room bulkhead and one at the top, the latter to be controlled by a shutter from the cabin so that it could be opened and closed at pleasure. A pipe to be fitted at this upper orifice to run along under the deck and open at a convenient height in the outer casing of the smokestack. The air in the fire-room would then be driven by the blower between the bulkheads, and then between the smokestack and its casing, thus serving the double purpose of keeping the cabin and the outer stack cool. The amount of pressure thus lost from the fire-room could be regulated by the cabin shutter, even to shutting it off entirely when highest pressure was desired in fire-room. A few holes could be cut at the base of the outer casing if desired; but in five of our boats the casing is kept cool by draft from fire-room blower through small apertures over uptake. These cannot be regulated, however, and help in no wise to cool the cabin.
This scheme would greatly benefit the living spaces in all the boats. An additional device which would add greatly to the comfort of many of the boats would be to have a similar hole in the top of the forward one of the double bulkhead, and a pipe leading from this to the floor of the next compartment, or even under it. In cold weather this would render excellent assistance in heating and ventilating the living quarters. Then too, at sea in bad weather this would give excellent ventilation.
Crew's Quarters.—The best arrangement yet devised has been attained in the quarters of the Morris. The four chief petty officers are forward; the remainder of the crew are arranged in two compartments aft, the entrance to both being through the after conning tower. Practically all of the deck force is in the after one and the engineer's force in the other. The conning tower is oblong and contains a long narrow platform deck, supported by angle irons at the side, but leaving room for ventilation. This gives a nice dry place for the men in bad weather, and still ventilates both compartments. Forward of these two compartments is the galley with the closets and bath-room at one side. The galley should always have an opening into the crew's quarters. In one boat the only opening from the galley was to the deck overhead. No cook could stand it for long at a time, especially at sea, with the side air ports closed. Then too, with the cook to serve the table, the hoisting of the meals up one hatch, and then down another was a great source of inconvenience. By putting a wind-sail down the hatch there may always be a tolerable temperature, if there is an opening into the next compartment. The after conning tower being especially valuable for the purpose of ventilation should be large, oblong, and of very light material to keep down the weight.
Deck Fittings and Equipment.—Running around the boat at the height of her deck, or at the turn of the whaleback should be a heavy wooden guard to take the bumps unavoidably received from the decks, big ships, etc. This saves the bending and dishing of the thin steel side-plates. There should be nothing projecting beyond this guard, either above or below. Iron steps riveted on the sides of the boat are an abomination; they catch against the piles alongside of a dock, or cut a hole in a neighboring boat, when entering a slip, they serve no useful purpose, as the boats all have portable sea ladders.
The best deck railing seems to be a solid soft steel stanchion with three rows of wire about 1 1/4-inch steel galvanized. The advantages of solid stanchions are that they are neater, stand more bending, can be easily straightened, and are just as light as the hollow pipe stanchions. The stanchions should be held in the sockets by composition pins, kept well coated with black lead and tallow, and unshipped frequently to keep them working easily. Neat slip hooks can be fitted to both ends of the lengths of wire to keep the rail taut.
Boats.—The boats supplied to the Winslow type give excellent service. One is a wooden wherry, nicely finished, ordinarily for the officers use; and the other a metal boat, slightly larger, fitted as a life-boat with air-tanks running the length of the boat on both sides, under the thwarts. These tanks were punctured by accident at first, but a protecting board was run the length of the boat just over them so that heavy objects would not strike the air-tanks. The boat withstood many hard knocks during the war and proves very useful. The wooden boat had several holes punched in her at different times, but was repaired with a lead patch each time. Besides its greater durability and its buoyancy (owing to the air-tanks) the metal boat possesses the additional advantage of not splintering. This is important as the torpedo-boat would hardly part with her last boat; yet it must remain on deck in close proximity to a gun, or a torpedo. If the boats were fitted with a spritsail, and a rowlock at the stern which could be utilized for sculling, or for a steering oar, it would add to their convenience, and might in case of abandoning ship be a vital necessity.
The folding boats, possessing no good qualities, should be condemned.
As the number and size of the boats supplied are inadequate to carry the entire crew, a life raft must always be devised to carry those unprovided for. If the boat has gratings on her deck these can be utilized. If the boat should go down suddenly there would still be time to loosen and throw overboard gratings that would support the men. If a man also have on an inflated life belt he could survive many hours unless the water was too cold. If there should be time for preparation these gratings can be systematically built into a raft, and several empty deck chests placed on them to keep the crew partly out of the water.
In boats which are not fitted with gratings the experiment has been tried of having the deck chests water-tight, being fitted with tongue and groove lid, and rubber gaskets. On the outside a half dozen life-lines are fitted to be passed under the men's arms and secured. It was found that a moderate size deck-chest would support six men keeping their heads well out of water.
The life buoys fitted usually consist of three or four circular cork buoys, stopped along the rail about the forward and after towers, where most convenient. They are satisfactory in daylight, but lack a valuable point for night work; since there is no port fire to indicate its position after being thrown overboard. Several years ago a small cylindrical can fitted with calcium phosphide, and similar in a general way to the marker used to indicate the position of a Howell torpedo, was designed and fitted as an attachment on one of the torpedo-boats; it worked well but seems to have been abandoned in the equipment of the later boats. Objects on the surface of the water can only be seen a very short distance from the low deck of a torpedo-boat, and the chances of a man overboard at night are slim enough already, without reducing them to a minimum by discarding an apparatus that at least showed his approximate position.
At least two deck-chests are a necessity. One of these would be used for alcohol, and turpentine, or kerosene, and the other for deck fittings and equipment and deck gear of all sorts. It is usually bulging to bursting, and if room can be found for these chests, and a third one to be fitted on one side for a complete outfit of tools, it would add greatly to the convenience of the boat. In this respect the Winslow type was very well equipped. A kerosene can may usually be snugly placed in wake of a conning tower, leaving room for some paint in the alcohol chest. Heavy strap hinges should be fitted to the lids of the chests, with clinched fastenings; the ordinary door hinges with screw fastenings last only a few weeks. These chests should be small enough to go down a hatch so that they can be sent below in clearing ship for action.
An important accessory which has been added to many of the torpedo-boats after they were commissioned has been a shelf, usually just forward of the after conning tower, to which a vise could be secured for bench work. As there is a great deal of this work required on board it is necessary that a comfortable place for the work be found, if possible. The bench can be unshipped and sent below in clearing for action.
A vegetable locker of some sort is needed on deck; a perforated soap box will answer for a small boat; but the boats over 100 tons need a fixed, well-ventilated box placed aft where least in the gangway. The position on the Winslow was good; though projections from a dock or vessel would damage it slightly.
Mess and Chart Table.—A very light table with folding legs that could be temporarily placed on deck in good weather often furnishes a refreshing spot to take meals when the quarters below are very hot, or when underway with but one officer on board, and where the navigation would not admit of his absence from deck for a sufficient time to eat a regular meal. By utilizing a signal mast or a torpedo tube as a point of support, a light board with two folding legs will give a very satisfactory mess table. This can be used for a chart table if the weather is fine; but if it is bad the officer will be driven back toward the after tower, or even in that tower. A small folding shelf with a rack alongside, fitted in the after tower is always useful as a place for log book, charts, books and other aids to navigation, and is often the only dry spot accessible from the deck. At sea in heavy weather all of the navigation is done from this end of the boat. If the charts that are to be employed on the run have all of the courses laid off, the bearings of the light-houses and principal points, from certain convenient points along the track, and the distances laid off at five mile intervals, the chart can be folded and held in one hand, and the position of the boat approximately located without using the chart table. When accurate position is required it can be plotted on the table in the after conning tower or taken down in the cabin. The heavy glass-covered chart tables placed on some boats are not at all appropriate.
Scuttle Butt.—Boats carrying twenty men and upward should have a properly built scuttle butt, holding 40 or 50 gallons of water, placed on deck, fitted with a cover that would keep out the spray. This gives an ample supply on deck where it can get moderately cool and aerated.
Water Tanks.—The difficulties of obtaining a supply of good drinking water are very great. With station boats under 100 tons the question is not so difficult; the tanks are usually accessible for cleaning and, as the entire supply of water is taken from a shore station, a boat starting out from a station with her tanks fitted and perfectly clean, will have good water till her return, provided the covers have been snugly set up. But as soon as we pass to the class of boats that are sea-keeping, being fitted with a distiller of some description, the question of water becomes a trying one. Only the question of water tanks will be taken up here, as the distiller comes under steam engineering. Tanks are made of copper, tinned inside, or of galvanized iron, lined with cement. If these tanks are all accessible when in place, they can be emptied and kept well cleaned when in port. But on account of the desirability of carrying as large a supply of fresh water as possible, some of these tanks are so placed that the living quarters must be abandoned, and a week consumed in getting them into an accessible position. The result is that those tanks soon get a deposit of iron rust and dirt that is but little noticed till the boat gets underway, when the water at once takes on a rich brown, and remains that way till the boat is again tied up to the dock. Then the slightest leak in a man-hole or hand-hole resulting from replacing the plate after last cleaning, and the sea from the bilge, or spray through the hatch salts up a tank. If to this is added the occasional salting that is given from the evaporator or distiller it is easily seen that fresh water is a dear article on board. A tank that is not accessible for cleaning by the force on board is of no use for fresh water for drinking or for the boiler.
Steering Engine.—The steering engine installed in the Porter class of boats is excellent, and gives perfect control, combined with lightness, durability, and handiness. The shifting from steam to hand is done with facility, and the radiation from the engine is not great. On one of the boats of the Winslow type an engine has been fitted that would probably be sufficiently powerful to control the Yorktown, while the heat caused the helmsman to faint away. Few men could take a trick at the wheel in rough weather without becoming seasick.
On the McKenzie class is fitted what is wittily termed the "Armstrong" system, being a tremendously heavy hand-wheel with cogged gearing which is slow and cumbersome in its action, and probably weighing more than a steam steerer fitted on the Talbot.
CRITICISMS ON ORDNANCE.
In general terms our torpedo-boats are over-armed with torpedoes and under-armed with guns.
In the boats represented by the Talbot, the armament is two central pivot tubes and one 1-pdr. This is about all that the boat can carry. The 1-pdr. should be mounted on the forward tower instead of the after one, and a 6-mm. machine gun near the boat davits.
In class Q (100-150-ton station boats) the Cushing has three short tubes and three 1-pdrs., the Ericsson the same, the Morris two long torpedoes and four 1-pdrs., the Winslow class, three short tubes, four torpedoes, and three 1-pdrs. In all of these boats two long torpedoes and three 6-pdrs. would give much greater efficiency.
In the sea-keeping torpedo-boats, class P (over 150 tons), two long torpedoes, three 6-pdrs. In the destroyer class two long torpedoes, one 12-pdr., five 6-pdrs. would be a suitable battery.
In the arrangement of battery the most desirable result would seem to be to always place the most powerful gun on the forecastle, the others equally but unsymmetrically along the sides of the boat, especially arranged for bow-fire. The gun mount should not sponson or project over the side; but a hinged grating should be fitted so that when swung out the gun captain would have a platform for all-round fire that would only be limited by the smokestacks, conning tower, and the other guns. It is believed that the following tactical considerations will justify this selection and arrangement of battery.
When the torpedo-boat is fulfilling its proper function, and is making a night attack upon a battleship or an armored cruiser, the battery would not be manned at all. After the torpedo was adjusted and set to probable angle of fire two men only would be stationed at each tube, one to fire and the other to change the train if desired; or to fire in case the first man was disabled. All other men would be below deck except the officer and the man at the wheel. After firing the torpedoes the boat would rely entirely upon her engines to escape. The flash of the guns from the torpedo-boat would only form a target for the rain of projectiles from the ship; good tactics would demand that they be abandoned and save the exposure of the crews.
The next case to be considered is that of a torpedo-boat pursuing another torpedo-boat, merchant steamer, or other vessel. In this case it is desirable that the battery be placed especially for bow-fire, if possible all guns firing directly ahead, so that they can be brought to bear in chase.
In the third case of a battle between the boat and another boat or vessel of equal or superior size and power. If the vessel is about an equal match a head-on attack with the three guns firing would be made, until within a telling range, say 800 or 1000 yards, when with a sheer of the helm 15 or 20 degrees the whole battery could be brought to bear and with their greatest efficiency, while the target was greatest, e.g., until the boat passed to a quarter bearing when an attempt to return under the enemy's quarter would be made. This might end in steering in a circle; if so the battery could still be employed with full effect. In case the enemy were a superior—a destroyer or a gunboat—the first effort would be to escape, the two after guns being employed in an attempt to disable him. Should it appear that escape was improbable, by turning about and charging at his bows and using these three forward guns the effect of the charge might be very demoralizing, as of course the discharge of a torpedo would be anticipated. Just when the torpedo would be discharged would depend upon the manoeuvres of the enemy.
Attack upon a Superior.—It is not unlikely that the enemy would attempt to turn at 1000 yards and possibly attempt to increase the distance to avoid the torpedo. This then would probably offer a chance to fire both the torpedoes at 600 yards or less, at the broadside of the enemy, then sheering off his quarter. This should insure the destruction of the enemy, and possibly also that of the torpedo-boat; but the torpedo-boat would stand the better chance of living through the engagement, and assuming that they both went down, the crew of the smaller boat has the better chance of surviving, as crews can get overboard with the small boats, gratings, etc., immediately, and the suction from the sinking boat would be less. A good many men made their escape from the Furor when she went down off Santiago; this was probably an average case.
These rather hazardous tactics are believed to be superior to the slow and certain destruction brought on by the cool and deliberate shots of a superior pursuer, who, free from excitement, with little risk of accident, sinks or blows up the boat at his leisure with his forward battery. For any torpedo-boat or destroyer to deliberately come out and attack a superior vessel in broad daylight is mere bravado, and has proved a failure in many cases.
A recent example of such failures was the attack on the St. Paul by the Spanish destroyer Terror. The boat was promptly disabled, and again turned toward the port.
Of course every precaution should be taken to prevent these small craft from being placed in such perilous positions; but as shown in the manoeuvres abroad, it is not unusual for daylight to catch them far from their home station, the prey of a passing scout. The first effort would be to escape into the nearest shoal, or port; but failing in this a final attack would seem better than slow destruction in a vain effort to escape.
In the tactics employed a strong point to be considered is that a man will fight better and shoot straighter, under the stimulus and excitement of a charge than when fleeing from a superior enemy. He has the encouragement of the offensive role, with the advantage of a surprise, and yet the employment of his full battery. If his pursuer be a gun-boat the latter probably could employ only a very small part of his battery until he could turn his broadside; he might even reach torpedo range before the gunboat captain realized the importance of this, and turn only in time to afford a broad target for the torpedo.
In the case where sea-going torpedo-boats are scouting for the fleet, especially in night formations where they represent the feelers, their duty is to let no torpedo-vessel pass through their lines toward the battleships. The instructions in the Spanish war, when it was expected that the Spanish destroyers might be met, were that they must be stopped at all hazards by any boat or boats discovering them. This of course meant a charge with all guns bearing that were possible. Three 6-pdrs. well manned in a charge might stand a good show in such a fight against the present battery of the destroyers as arranged abroad.
The shifting of the 1-pdr. in 100-foot boats from aft to forward tower no one will dispute. The selection of three 6-pdrs. is based on the following reasons:
(1) These boats being destined for sea trips of moderate length risk encounters with other large torpedo-boat destroyers and small gun-boats.
With this battery, the chances of disabling their opponents in any of these classes might be good; with the present 1-pdrs. they would be small indeed. The effect of a 6-pdr. at 2500 yards or under would probably suffice to wreck steering-gear and machinery quite as effectually as the 12-pdr., while the probability of a hit from any gun at a greater range than 3000 yards from the lively platform afforded by these boats is small. Briefly it is thought that the 6-pdr. covers the range of 1000-3000 yards as well as the larger gun; while the 1-pdr. counts for but little beyond 1000, so that it is badly outclassed by the 6-pdr.
In the matter of weight the 6-pdr. counts as about 4-1. So that in the Morris type the second and third 6-pdrs. would be gained at the sacrifice of the third torpedo. In the Porter type the same is true.
That any torpedo-boat should carry a spare torpedo seems to be without reason. She is not going to have time during an engagement to place this torpedo in the tube and fire it; and after the engagement is over, if the boat is still serviceable, she can return to her station for a new outfit of torpedoes, or else get them from the battleships of the fleet. Even the advantages claimed for three torpedoes over two seem scarcely to be sufficient. If the boat has on board two torpedoes, in good order ready for use, the careful delivery of these two shots at a reasonably close range ought certainly to result in the destruction of the ship at which the shot is directed. If there are three or more torpedoes to be fired it is feared that the feeling that one of them surely ought to hit because of the number of them, if only they can all be fired, would lead to less careful firing; while a desire to get in the whole number in the brief interval of the engagement would tempt the use of the first one at an uncertain or impossible range. It is the feeling of the writer that the opportunity which offered a chance for two shots properly and deliberately executed, two torpedoes would serve as well as ten.
The transfer of torpedoes from the battleships even in moderately rough weather could be accomplished by sending over the head, flask, and afterbody separately boxed if necessary.
The Air Compressor.—The types that depend upon leather washers for their proper working have been found most unsatisfactory. On the two largest boats tolerable success was attained; but the other boats kept their torpedoes charged with great difficulty. An entire day and night would sometimes be consumed in an attempt to charge a single torpedo. The failures being due to burnt out and leaky washers. All of the boats of an older date than the Talbot need new compressors. The type on the Talbot and McKenzie has proved satisfactory. The machine is able to charge the torpedo in a reasonable time, even if one cylinder be disabled from any cause. This has been done in cases where it was thought important to charge the torpedo at once.
While the torpedo director is a simple and accurate instrument, the conditions demanding its employment on board a torpedo-boat do not seem likely to arise, and it seems to be an unnecessary fitting. With the Obry gear the speed of the torpedo-boat is no longer a consideration. In attempting to reckon on the speed of the enemy, an allowance, such as half a ship's length or a ship's length as the case may be, would be as accurate as could be expected. An attempt to use the instrument at night on a torpedo-boat would be absurd.
CRITICISM OF CERTAIN POINTS IN EQUIPMENT.
The allowance and outfit from this Bureau is so small that there are few points for discussion. The only important items are the compass, the electric plant, and the anchor gear.
The wire anchor cables on the Winslow class seem to have been too light, one boat having parted three cables while at anchor at Key West. The cables had been kept well covered with vaseline, and showed no sign of deterioration. The anchor for this type also seemed too light. The boats dragged often and one anchor parted at the middle of the arm. One of these boats, anchored in five fathoms of water used a 3 1/2-inch Manila hawser, slipping and buoying when getting under way, and rode out a fresh norther with this tackle. These hawsers are much used by schooners, and when care is used to prevent chafing are of great service under special conditions. The ground tackle of the Talbot class seems to have worked well, and the method of hoisting the anchor by means of the steering engine is very neat, and works well, saving a second engine. In the Porter class the anchor-gear seemed to work well, but the high bow, and light draft forward makes these boats very uneasy at their anchors, requiring the second anchor for the slightest squall.
The standard compass in the different boats seems to have been well placed and given good service. The Negus compass on the Gwin class is satisfactory for the rough work required.
The dynamos and the electric installation have given good service. They are needed on all boats except class R, which, however, need to be wired so that they can connect to the plant in the navy yard, when at the dock. A small search-light has been fitted at the forward conning tower of a good many boats. While it is useful for navigation, its usefulness for war service is doubtful, and the objections rather outweigh its advantages, its weight and conspicuous position are especially objectionable. Nor is the use of this light on the destroyer to be recommended. An effort to hold it upon the fleeing torpedo-boat would be unsuccessful from such an unsteady platform, and the attempt to pick up a boat with it often leads to more confusion than success. This was found to be the case upon the blockade.
CRITICISM OF STEAM ENGINEERING.
All of the boilers so far employed in our torpedo craft have been of the bent tube pattern, nearly all of them differing from the Thornycroft principally in the fact that they have drowned tubes. The advantages of the two systems are so well known that it is needless to enter into the discussion here. Criticism will be confined to especial points brought out by experience in working them.
Winslow Type.—In general terms this boiler, instead of a single upper drum amidships, has two upper drums each over its lower drum. As originally designed, there was a pipe connecting the upper drums, with the result that at sea, with the boat rolling, one gauge-glass would show full and the other empty. To overcome this objection the connection between the upper drums was abolished, resulting in making the two halves independent, or in other words giving two small boilers instead of one large one. To supply them with feed water the feed pipe forked in the fire-room, feeding each side through a check in the upper drum. It was found almost impossible to feed the two sides equally through this forked pipe. The result was that the water was always tended badly; generally it was carried too high, with the resultant water in the cylinder, but occasionally it was lost entirely and on one or more occasions burnt tubes to show for it. It was not that the men were green or nervous; many men were tried in this billet on the different boats, old and experienced water-tenders were equally unsuccessful. Even if the water by careful watching can be successfully controlled it doubles the force required in the fire-room, for when using the ordinary type of boiler one experienced man tends water, gets out coal, and fires in the ordinary work of running around a station, when running at low speeds for cruising. If the boat is to make about her maximum speed the second man is needed to get out coal and to take a turn at the firing, but the water gives no trouble. Then the lower drums of this boiler were so small that only a boy could get into them, and the rolling of a tube by the force on board was impossible; moreover the efficiency of the boy's work was always doubtful. This boiler had a blank flange on the side of the pipe leading to the safety valve; the metal used to blank off the orifice was too light and springing slightly at the high pressures blew out the gasket and cleared the fire-room on several occasions. It is often the case that when the man is driven out of the fire-room by the bursting of a pipe or a bad joint that he will be able to throw open the furnace doors but not haul the fires. If there is a small port between the fire- and engine-room a hose can be played through this port from the donkey engine and thus wet down the fire till it can be controlled. The great importance of having safety valves and boiler and engine stops accessible from the deck is generally recognized, and most of our boats are so fitted. The deck valves should always be used after the run to shut off the steam, and frequently to insure their easy working.
DISTRIBUTION AND SERVICE IN TIME OF PEACE.
This should correspond as far as possible with that which the boat would see in time of war. Consequently the station boats of the Talbot class should be distributed in the neighborhood of their cruising-ground in order to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the channels and coast in all conditions of weather and in all seasons. If possible, their crews should come from that district, and they should be allowed to remain there the greater part of the year. During a certain season they should be withdrawn to a more favorable climate for torpedo practice, manoeuvres with the fleet, or such employment as might be demanded by the exigencies of the service. The assembly of them all at Newport in the summer would give a fine opportunity for concerted action with the fleet. Boats belonging to the district north of Philadelphia would do well to winter not further north than the Chesapeake Bay.
The larger boats designed to act with the squadron should conform in a general way with the movements of the large ships; that is, to visit our southern ports in the winter, and then assemble on the New England coast for combined practice in the summer.
The recommendations of the different commanding officers at the end of the war no doubt gave a very good idea of the needs of the boats as regards the complements of the crews. In general terms it was more men and higher ratings. It is difficult to see how larger crews can be accommodated in the crew space allowed. The only remedy is to avoid keeping crews on arduous duty such long periods at a stretch. Then, too, it must be remembered that most of these boats in the war did service calling for work beyond the scope of the boat and the crews as well. For work extending only over a short period their crews were sufficient. In regard to the rating, it is of course impossible to have each man a chief machinist or a chief gunner's mate; but the rate on deck should not be less than a seaman, and that in the engineer's force not lower than fireman, first class. In considering the fitness of a man for a torpedo-boat, it is important to consider his liability to seasickness. Very good men on larger ships sometimes prove to be of little value when the boat gets caught in a gale—a time when a man can be illy spared from his work. Men detailed for this service must be moderately young, of good habits, not liable to severe seasickness, intelligent and reliable. Any severe punishment inflicted is sure to react on the rest of the crew as well, since it brings extra duty on all of them. The opportunities for obtaining liquor are greatly increased as compared with the condition on board a large ship. The regulations now require that a man who has served on a torpedo-boat be marked as to his special fitness for that duty. By this means a corps of men specially fitted for this work can be obtained by the department, so that when it is desired to bring the crew of a boat up to its full complement, the seamen can be drafted from other duty to these vessels.
Officers.—During the war the detail of officers for torpedo-boats was one officer for class R (the Gwin type) and two officers for classes Q and P, there being no class O, or destroyers. This made the duty quite severe at times, but as there was a lack of officers, and none but regulars were desired on this duty, they preferred this arrangement.
The following temporary increase for the time the boat was in active service, either in time of peace or war, would be much better. On boats of class R, two officers; on both class Q and class P, three officers; on the destroyers, four officers. One of these officers should always be detailed for the engine-room, taking duty on deck, or excused from that, according as the commanding officer saw fit. In boats having more than two officers on board, this detail should be shifted after a time, say three months.
Experience on these boats, both on deck and in the engine-room, is most valuable for young officers, and when the boats are called out for active service in manoeuvres, etc., the supply of young officers in the junior officers' quarters of the large ships should be drawn on to fill the complement of the boats. The experience in harbor pilotage, navigation, knowledge of harbors, etc., comes to them at an age when they are quick to learn, and responsibility sits lightly upon them.
Boats in reserve.—The question has arisen, What are we to do with our boats during the time that they are not needed on active service? Two propositions are to be considered and have been tried to a certain extent. One is to haul the boats up on a set of ways that is roofed over, and leave them there till they are needed for active work. A complete design for a large boat-house fitted with railway by which a boat can be hauled out, and a turn-table so that it can be switched to a side-track and another boat be hauled in, has been considered. Following out this idea, four boats were hauled out last year at the New York yard. The other proposition is to reduce the crews to the minimum needed to care for the boat, and moor the boat in a regular stall or pen so that no especial watch is needed to secure her safety. An officer is then placed in command of two or more of these boats, and inspects them regularly, testing the machinery at regular intervals and taking out the boat for a run at certain intervals to insure her readiness for service at all times. When boats are kept in this manner they are actually ready for service; and by drafting the additional number of men needed for the class of service demanded of the boat, she would be ready to leave in twelve hours, or even less time. The most important men are thoroughly familiar with their duties, and can quickly instruct the others. This has been tried on some of the boats and seemed to work satisfactorily.
If the boat be on the ways, and it is desired to use her, she is put in the water, and officers and crew are ordered to her; orders are given for a dock trial, and then follows a long itemized requisition for repairs needed before the boat is ready for service; steam joints are not tight and need re-packing, the condenser leaks, or the feed pump needs overhauling, or the water-tanks must be cleaned out, etc., etc., and the boat does not get away from the navy yard for weeks. There is no one to blame. Time and disuse will always bring about some such condition, and then if on top of this there has been any neglect in the precautions to preserve the boat when she was laid up, the trouble is increased many fold. A court of inquiry may follow, and after a long search may, or may not, find where the fault was; but this will not help the boat. She is finally hustled away from the navy yard, though her men have not yet learned all their duties. If she escapes the discomfiture of an early return she will be fortunate. The new officers blame the navy yard work, and the navy yard either blames the people from whom she was received, or says that they do not know how to run her.
The two arguments in favor of hauling her out were: (1) that it was more economical and (2) that the men were needed elsewhere.
In regard to the economy, if the bill for repairs be examined after the boat has left the navy yard it will no doubt about equal the cost of maintenance of a reserve crew on board. Moreover, if there had been a need for this boat she could have been used at once if kept in reserve, and can be counted on as actual offensive power available.
In regard to the need of the men elsewhere, a detail of from six to ten men will be sufficient for each boat, so that the laying up of one big cruiser would suffice to maintain fifty torpedo-boats. It is admitted that the rates of these men would run a little higher than the total of a crew of a large ship. From the experience that has been obtained with our boats, it is thought that the following detail would suffice for all boats:
A chief machinist and a machinist first-class for the engine-room, an oiler for each engine, one water-tender for the fire-room; if there is more than one boiler, an extra man in the fire-room for each additional boiler. In the deck force would be needed a chief gunner's mate, a quartermaster first-class, and for class P a seaman.
When these boats are in reserve they should be arranged in groups of three or four, placing as far as possible sister boats in the same group. A lieutenant to be placed in charge of each group. His duties would be to keep the group in running order and to take out each boat at least once a month for exercise. Target practice at full speed with torpedoes, and with the battery, to be held as often as circumstances would permit. The Navy Department requires that the former be held at least once a month, and the latter at least once a quarter. In fine weather these exercises could be held very much oftener. The boat selected to go out for practice should carry an additional crew taken from one of the other boats, thereby giving them double the practice, and lightening their duties. It is thought that the best results are undoubtedly obtained by keeping the boats in commission and requiring the men to live on board them. A man never takes the same interest in a ship or boat unless he lives in her, nor does he form a proper sea-habit. If he live in barracks on shore, the sharp contrast of his first night at sea, or his weeks at some other port than a navy yard, makes him dissatisfied and inefficient. The boats are comfortable enough when at the dock; and when at sea the man can sleep better in his accustomed bunk, in fact is at home on board, which the barrack's man is not.
Drills.—The minimum number of drills and exercises each quarter having been established, it is all important that there be an annual mobilization of this fleet at one of our important bases for a complete and thorough series of exercises in co-operation with the fleet. Newport offers the best rendezvous for battleships, cruisers and torpedo craft; while its deep water and moderate tides and land-locked coves offer fine opportunity for practice. Night attacks should be made upon the fleet while at sea protected by destroyers, and upon single vessels in the harbor; tests as to relative visibility of different types of torpedo-boats would show the value of the station boat; urgently needed training of the firemen to prevent the sudden flare from the smokestack when the near approach has begun; careful training to enable the boat to get within torpedo range with full pressure of steam, and yet not lift the safety valve. Thus a more perfect knowledge of the value of the torpedo-boat will be obtained by the officers on the battleships. The naval officer possesses the happy faculty of forgetting his anxieties and hardships; so that already the strain of the first few nights on the Santiago blockade are but faint memories. The statement is too often heard from officers that have known better, that "torpedo-boats don't amount to much; they did nothing during the war. We tested their attacks at Key West."
What different work would the blockade have been had we lost a battleship during the early days of the blockade by a night sortie from Santiago. There were a large number of phantom torpedo-boats chased and sunk as it was, but the memory of the sudden destruction of a battleship would have made them legion.
The writer does not believe that the torpedo-boat can perform miracles (especially without considerable exercise and practice beforehand), but these boats have an important role in naval warfare, in which they have been, and will be, employed with telling, and at times, demoralizing effect.
In conclusion, we need three types of torpedo vessels to meet the conditions which will arise in case of war, and we need trained crews to render them efficient in time of need. The former rests in part with our national legislators; but the latter can most efficiently be maintained by keeping a nucleus on each boat, and thus keeping each boat ever ready for service.