It is probable that two naval vessels never made a voyage in company without their coal consumption becoming a topic of conversation and a basis for comparison. Except in cases where the discrepancy was so great as to lead to an official investigation, the comparison never amounted to much, after the noon signals were hauled down. Sometimes excessive expenditure was attributed to inferior workmanship or poor design; sometimes to poor coal, or to foul bottom. Rarely was it assigned to methods of operation. The machinery of our vessels was generally in good condition. Generally, leaks were looked after and stopped, but not to the extent that is now the case. A vessel became known as a "good steamer" or a "poor steamer" and, except in a few isolated cases, she remained what she was at first.