Motto: Ideas are like coins, those of the least value always have the greatest circulation.—Punch.
THE battleship is doomed!” cries the press of 1924. “It represents a useless expenditure of the taxpayer’s money! It can be destroyed by a midget—an airplane! Airplanes have flown around the world, they can sweep the seas of enemy surface craft! Relegate the dreadnaught to the scrap pile!”
These and many similar slogans published today are accepted as new and original ideas. Students of naval history and development, however, know that they are but echoes of the press, oftentimes repeated in years gone by.
“The battleship is doomed!” cried the press of 1870. “It represents a useless expenditure of public funds! It can be destroyed by a midget—a torpedo boat! Torpedo boats have successfully weathered the tempests of the open sea, they can sweep the ocean of the ironclad! Relegate the battleship to the scrap pile!”
The similarity of these expressions broadcast fifty years apart was brought about by a similarity of causes. In both cases they resulted from the introduction of a new and important weapon of warfare; in the earlier case, the torpedo, and in the present case, the airplane.
At the time of the invention of the torpedo, Great Britain and France maintained the most powerful navies of the world. This invention, however, brought about the adoption of naval policies and building programs by these two nations, widely different in character. In this fact we are presented with an interesting and important study. History records that the naval policy adopted by Great Britain at that time resulted in her maintenance of unquestioned supremacy of the seas. On the other hand, the faltering policy adopted by France resulted in a serious loss of naval prestige which has never been recovered by that nation.
Looking backward, as we are, through fifty years of development, it is difficult to think of the torpedo as ever presenting a naval threat equivalent to that of the airplane. At the present time, disaster resulting from a torpedo attack launched against a well-organized and well-balanced fleet is considered remote.
But in 1875 there were no vessels built with numerous compartments or bulkheads for underwater protection and stability. One torpedo hit meant destruction. There were no destroyers or vessels fitted to provide anti-torpedo protection for heavy ships. Torpedo boats could approach and attack without fear of being opposed by other than the guns of the ironclad. This meant practically no opposition because there were no suitable guns available. It was a good gun that could fire a projectile 2,500 yards, and, as all guns were muzzle loaders, a rate of fire greater than one shot every two minutes was exceptional. Furthermore, guns that could be trained in azimuth, called pivot guns, were few and far between, often making it necessary to turn the ship itself with the rudder to aim most of her battery.
The developments carried on through the years have overcome these difficulties to a great extent. No longer can unsupported torpedo boats approach the fleet with more than a slight chance of success. Such craft maintain a place of relative importance, but a subordinate one in the organization of the Navy.
In the ’70’s the navy of France was second only to that of Great Britain. The French treasury was depleted as a result of the disastrous Franco-Prussian War. The advent of the torpedo was therefore hailed by many Frenchmen as an inexpensive means of reducing the naval supremacy of Great Britain. The press of France, fed by a few able journalists, took up this question with great vehemence and enthusiasm. Public opinion was affected adversely to the ironclad and in favor of the torpedo- craft. The building and maintenance of ironclads were neglected in the sweep of national interest in the promise of the new weapon. The warnings of a conservative element were given but little attention. The battleship, to the public mind, was doomed; it was useless.
Due to the condition of the French treasury, it was only natural that any scheme, claiming low cost, would have a strong appeal to the people. The exponents of the torpedo handled the situation cleverly by speaking of cost only in comparative terms of one torpedo boat against one battleship. The readers of the day were given no figures on the comparatively short life of the torpedo boat and need of more frequent replacement. They were not given sufficient information to judge for themselves as to the greatly increased number of torpedo boat units required. Tenders, supply ships and defensive torpedo boats were spoken of as though they could be acquired at no additional expense.
France had her strategists of the press who proposed new schemes for waging war that were convincing to the layman not familiar with the facts. As is always the case in such circumstances, some division of opinion existed among naval officers, and this was seized upon by the propagandists to strengthen their case. Opposition of naval men, who faced the responsibility of protecting the nation in time of war, was of no avail. Such opposition was met with exaggerated reports of the prowess of the torpedo boats, largely based on the false supposition that the enemy could offer no defense against them.
During the period of evolution of the torpedo, the leader of those enthusiastic as to its future effect on naval warfare was M. G. Charmes. A young journalist of considerable ability, M. Charmes possessed sufficient knowledge of the navy to write convincingly on the subject. His actual naval experience was limited, but what he lacked in experience was compensated for by vivid imagination and ability with the pen. The great national dailies and periodicals, including le Temps, Revue Politique et Litteraire, Journal des Debats, and the Revue des deux Mondes, accepted and published his articles, giving them wide circulation. These writings were summed up in two books, entitled Torpilleurs Autonomes and the Reforme de la Marine.
Due to their usual reluctance to engage in such controversy and to the restrictions regarding writing for publication, naval officers of the day offered little public opposition to M. Charmes and his adherents. The latter, however, were not unopposed in the journalistic field, considerable publicity being given to men less extreme in their ideas. Of these, M. Weyl and Vice Admiral Bouchois, French Navy, may be considered the most able. With many years of naval service to their credit, these men possessed a thorough working knowledge of the navy, conditions at sea, and the naval requirements of an important war. They protested against the destruction or deterioration of the French ironclads and fought the acceptance, on the part of France, of the torpedo boat as more than an important arm of the naval service.
Today, in the United States, we have a repetition of history. The sentiment in this country decidedly favors any scheme purporting to reduce the cost of national defense. We have our strategists of the press, our exaggerations of the power of the airplane, our claims for its invulnerability in the face of proposed means of defense. In fact, so parallel are the two cases that the articles and publications of 1870 require the changing of only three words to make them applicable to the present controversy.
The substitutions of the words “airplane” for “torpedo boat,” “battleship” for “ironclad,” and “airplane carrier” for “transport” in the writing of M. Charmes, M. Weyl and their contemporaries make them easily recognizable to readers of today, as shown by a few examples following:
The torpedo (airplane) will surely triumph over the ironclad (battleship) and modern fleets will be consigned to the Naval Museum of the Louvre by the revolution that torpedo (airplane) warfare will bring about. Unquestionably, armor has been vanquished not by the gun but by the torpedo (airplane).
Speaking of a conservative program of naval construction, M. Charmes further states:
As a result of all this, the man-of-war inclined to become more and more a gigantic mass of iron and steel, all but invulnerable, armed with gigantic artillery, possessing the greatest possible power of penetration, machines of enormous weight, a complication of numberless mechanisms, a very miracle of construction, but with the double disadvantage of costing at least some fifteen millions. As often happens in human affairs, a grain of sand was the means of arresting the naval giant and now threatens it with speedy death. The appearance of torpedoes (airplanes) etc.…...
The Prince de Joinville, a contemporary of M. Charmes, writes:
At present there exists no means of defense against the torpedo (airplane). In the first war it will threaten both big and little ships in every direction. A well-placed ton of powder will suffice to send the whole naval force to the bottom, with all the millions represented, including the hundreds of human beings who man them.
Reverting to several comments of M. Charmes, the close relation between the claims of the French enthusiasts and those of the airplane proponents is clearly shown.
In dealing a mortal blow to the ironclad (battleship) the advent of the automobile torpedo (airplane) at once puts an end to the race which has, for some years, gone on between the ironclad (battleship) and its guns…
The Minister of Marine has set down in his pamphlet, that a sum of 130 millions is required to complete the fourteen ironclads (battleships) now on the stocks. Take fourteen millions off this sum for transports (airplane carriers) and 116 millions would remain with which we might construct the best fleet of torpedo vessels (airplanes) in the world. It would consist of forty-five defensive torpedo boats (fighting planes) and 200 torpedo boats (bombing planes). With such a fleet we would be irresistible on the Mediterranean and invincible on the ocean.
(Note: It is interesting to note that in 1888 France possessed 134 torpedo boats and eight destroyers without ever seriously threatening the British naval supremacy.)
The judgment of naval officers was impugned throughout some of these writings. The navy department was openly criticized. In so doing M. Charmes wrote articles extremely scurrilous in their tenor, and produced considerable public distrust toward the French Navy Department and its recommendations. Proposals and requests for money submitted by the navy department were for this reason not favorably considered by the legislative bodies. Conditions throughout the French Navy suffered as a consequence.
Examples of this form of argument have appeared not infrequently in the discussion concerning the airplane. A reference to French history is all that is necessary to show that no national benefit can be derived from unreasonable criticism based on personal opinions without a thorough knowledge of the facts.
Another form of argument that appeared frequently in the French controversy and that is in evidence in our present discussion is the article or news item that relates the truth but not the whole truth. In France, M. Charmes was opposed by well- founded statements that the small type of torpedo boat that he advocated could not be considered seaworthy. He replied in an article stating that such objection was disproved by the voyage of a torpedo boat from Toulon to Brest, “weathering the tempests of the seas.” He did not state that this boat skirted the coast all the way, sought shelter in sixteen harbors of refuge, and found it necessary to remove all possible weights, including her two torpedoes, in order to complete the voyage.
This type of article is present with us now. The bombing attacks on the old battleship hulls were described in many places as conclusive evidence of the superiority of the airplane. It was not always stated that the bombing planes were unopposed in the air by defending planes. It was not always pointed out that such attacks would, at least, not have been aided had. the guns of the battleship been in action. Conclusions recklessly placed before the public are misleading and do considerable harm.
That these methods were used in the extreme by the French writers is not to their credit but, nevertheless, such articles made a decided imprint on the minds of the readers, who, having no better information, believed.
The Nouvelle Revue of July 15, 1885, tells of fantastic naval maneuvers in which the torpedo boats proved superior men-of-war to the armored vessels, and the same article demanded the adoption of the smaller craft and the dismantling of the large ironclads. Vice Admiral Bouchois replying to this article in his pamphlet Les Torpilleurs, gives us the attitude of most of the seasoned officer's of the French service:
The French Navy faces an important crisis. Shall France renounce the battleship to adopt the new engine of destruction, the torpedo, whose recent progress has brought about this crisis?
That is the question that places itself with anxiety before all sailors and all citizens who think seriously of the future of the navy. The press discusses this question with an ardor that would be laudable if, in the expression of opinions, respect for opinions of others was always observed. This respect has not been shown by the new enthusiasts. They do not hesitate to attribute opposing resistance to their arguments to a vile egotism on the part of sailors, engineers, and the members of the legislature whose ability and services have carried them to the head of their respective corps.
Throughout the time of this discussion there was one condition that caused doubt in the minds of the French people regarding the self-sufficiency of the torpedo boat. That was the known fact that Great Britain was not scrapping her ironclads as useless. In addition to this, a well-founded doubt existed as to the ability and suitability of torpedo boats for operations on the high seas.
M. Charmes combated the first idea by constantly presenting word-pictures of torpedo boats attacking ironclads successfully and by dwelling on the belief that Great Britain was making a fatal mistake in the pursuit of her policy to maintain “useless” heavy ships. The second idea, however, he could not argue against; the known facts were against him. Therefore, M. Charmes and his friends changed their tactics. Instead of continuing to claim that torpedo boats could, by themselves, command the seas, he commenced a campaign to show that torpedo boats, augmented by auxiliary vessels, could accomplish this end. Hardly had this new campaign gotten underway when persistent rumors were heard of a new class of British vessel, the torpedo boat destroyer, capable of high speed and carrying guns of sufficient power to destroy a torpedo boat.
Proposing a method to circumvent these new difficulties, M. Charmes writes in his book Naval Reform:
But side by side with the attacking torpedo boat we should place another, that we might call a “defensive torpedo boat,” and its mission should be to engage the enemy’s torpedo boats so as to clear the course for its brother in arms. Its object being the pursuit of the enemy’s torpedo boats, it can never go too fast for that purpose. Thus, we have two-vessels of very nearly similar construction, but of different armament, one destined to attack by means of the torpedo, the other set apart for use' against the torpedo boats. These two boats will always accompany each other, each of these couples forming a torpedo fighting unit…
Our small boats, in long cruises, must be accompanied by transports…As a general rule they (the transports) will not defend themselves; they will merely be the base for supplies, the convoy for the torpedo vessels, and remain as much as possible away from the fighting…These transports, gunboats and torpedo boats will be vultures circling in pursuit of their prey.
What a similarity these plans bear to the proposed organization of the bombing plane: the attack plane, its defender, and the airplane carrier, its base of supplies!
Simultaneously with these new proposals, it was demonstrated in maneuvers of the French and British fleets that battleships could be protected by accompanying vessels properly formed into a protective screen. French enthusiasm for the torpedo waned accordingly. The torpedo proponents, however, did not lose heart. Acknowledging that the torpedo vessel might prove unable to attack organized fleets, they claimed that maritime power could be overcome by attacks of the torpedo boat units on enemy commerce.
Naval officers opposed this idea, contending that these small vessels could not capture large ocean-going vessels, that they could not carry prize crews and that they could not hope to carry to safety the crews of enemy vessels that might be sunk. Indicative of the extremes which M. Charmes was willing to favor, we find him an advocate of “Ruthless Warfare.” He found space in the French press for the following:
A war of chase has its own rules, and we must have the courage openly to own them. These are to fall without pity on the weak, and without false shame, and with all possible speed, to fly from the strong…Let no short-sighted philosophers tax us with barbarism…Although the means toward attaining this new strength for the weak may be terrible and barbarous, the results will certainly not be opposed to the cause of humanity.
Here is the climax of the torpedo controversy in France. M. Charmes and his adherents had, by journalism alone, converted to their extreme ideas a sufficient number of the public materially to affect the national defense policy. Having convinced many that the heavy ship was useless and that the torpedo boat was to become supreme mistress of the seas, they suddenly found that they were favoring a doctrine injurious to France.
For nearly twenty years this controversy was carried on. Finally, however, public opinion turned and the advice of the conservative element began to receive the attention of the people. The tenor of this advice is outlined excellently by Vice Admiral Bouchois in the following quotation from Les Torpilleurs:
The mastery of the sea retains all of its importance. To attain such a mastery, defend it or even to protect the coast line, heavy ships are necessary. We should keep ours, especially in the presence of jealous nations whose pride it is to build the greatest battleships, and who would not be displeased to see us destroy our naval forces with our own hands or even let them gradually deteriorate. These battleships which still form our navy must be provided with every means of defense that the industries and the naval art can furnish, awaiting the time when further progress shall impose a fresh transformation of naval material. In spite of the advent of the torpedo and the tests which have followed, the time seems not yet to have arrived. We express the hope that the substance may not be abandoned for the shadow and that, if our naval material must be reformed, it shall only be after a complete experimentation and trial of the types which are to compose the new fleet.
To place torpedo boats on a footing where the naval strength of France will be maintained, to create destroyers whose role shall acquire great importance from the fact that they annihilate torpedo boats, to protect the fleet from surprise attacks, seems to us to be the proper direction of our naval construction; and just as the confidence of the crews in their commanders and their material is the first element of success for a fleet, we entreat our opponents in the name of the interest of our country, which we both have at heart, not to seek to destroy this confidence by unjust attacks and heated criticism of the navy department.
In general, the controversy in France at the start resolved itself into a debate between strongly partisan groups. Teamwork was lacking, national confidence was destroyed. In spite of the need for strict economy, the absence of a nationally accepted naval policy brought poor returns from the naval expenditures. The navy became neither a well-balanced fleet nor a good torpedo boat navy.
In strong contrast to the conditions existing in France at this time was the spirit in which the British set about to solve the problem. The British Navy had always been close to the people. It represented then, as well as now, the strength and ability of the British Empire to exist. The navy was fortified by the highest traditions which were as dear to the people as the navy itself. For these and other reasons it was not easy to stampede the public into the belief that Britain’s naval supremacy was being threatened by the new weapon. Although great anxiety was felt, any idea of scrapping the foremost fleet of the world was obnoxious to every British subject.
Fearful of the torpedo threat on the power of her ironclads, Great Britain did not give the torpedo an enthusiastic welcome. Much comment and space in the press was taken up with a demand for international agreement to outlaw the torpedo. They classed it as a cowardly and inhumane weapon of warfare. It was soon apparent that other nations would refuse to accept any international overtures on the question and that the torpedo had come to stay.
The words of Admiral D. D. Porter, U. S. Navy, were often quoted in the British Parliament and press. One of the best outlines of the British idea of the time may be taken from a report of 1874 written by him.
While I attach great importance to the torpedo as a means of offense and defense, I am yet afraid that we shall run into the error of supposing that ships of war can be driven from the seas by means of it alone. Some imaginative people think that ships and guns will avail nothing hereafter, but the torpedo will do all the work, while others who have not paid much attention to the matter consider the torpedo of little practical utility. Both these conclusions are erroneous.
The torpedo, after all, is but an adjunct, and there are only certain times when it would have advantage over great guns …The torpedo, although an important addition to other means of warfare, will not do away with anything that has preceded it.
The same authority, Admiral D. D. Porter, U. S. Navy, in an article appearing in the North American Review in 1878, described from an outside and contemporary point of view, the general attitude of Great Britain:
Among the arguments urged against the introduction of the torpedo was that its use would not foster the bravery and chivalry which have characterized the naval profession, more especially that of Great Britain. Great Britain, having the most powerful navy of the world, did not deem it prudent to encourage a mode of warfare which would tend to place her on an equality with weaker nations. Were it not for this obvious reason, she would, no doubt, have given particular attention to so effectual a means of destroying an enemy. Now that she sees every nation accepting the torpedo, and her splendid fleet of ironclads imperiled, she is with characteristic energy making every effort toward the improvement of this most terrible engine of war. As the torpedo has now been generally adopted among the navies of the world, she will provide effectual means of resisting it when sent against her fleet.
At this moment no nation can afford to ignore the torpedo, either as an offensive or defensive weapon; to do so would be evidence that they have not observed the recent great improvements, or that observation has taught them nothing…It is true that the torpedo will not so change the character of naval war that great ships will be dispensed with, for in proportion as this engine is developed new contrivances for withstanding it will be invented. A nation that possesses the most powerful fleets will, as heretofore, dominate its adversaries on the sea, and we shall live to see perfected torpedo boats engaging other torpedo boats on the ocean, as we see the light cavalry combats of two contending armies.
Available records from official reports, press reports and parliamentary speeches show the same moderation of tone regarding the ultimate solution of the torpedo problem and the firm belief in the heavy ship.
On May 8, 1876, Lord Brassey spoke on the subject in the House of Commons. He proposed a commission to be appointed “to consider the great changes which have taken place of late years in naval warfare, and to recommend the best type of ship to meet these changes.” Continuing, Lord Brassey outlined his reasons for desiring such a commission.
They are to report on the whole subject, and to enable Parliament to consider intelligently, and to legislate upon, naval affairs in all their branches. The report of the proposed commission should be an invaluable document in the hands of the first lord of the Admiralty in pleading with Parliament on behalf of the navy. It will not be necessary to make disclosures on points of detail. In Parliament, we want only that general information which will enable us to determine whether or not armor should be retained. We want advice as to the relative value of armored or unarmored ships.
In August, 1877, an article in Macmillan’s Magazine states:
In other words, defense against the ram and torpedo must be sought, not in the construction of ships alone, but also, and chiefly, in the proper grouping of the forces at the points of attack. Each costly ironclad ought to be defended against the torpedo by numerous smaller but less important parts of the general forces.
Sir Spencer Robinson, commenting on the subject, said:
No fleet, therefore, can be considered a fleet unless provided with attendant vessels to meet those attacks to which it is sure to be subjected.
Lord Brassey, in writing for the press, shows his views regarding cooperation:
The administration of the navy must never be degraded into a party or personal question. We are all united in one common object—that of creating and maintaining a powerful navy.
It is sufficient to state that the above quotations, in general, reflect the sentiment throughout Great Britain. The nation felt that the safety of the ironclads was threatened. They tolerated no expression of opinion not based on facts. They sought and demanded the truth. The thought of coordination was paramount. No questionable methods were used to further the adoption of personal preferences or ideas. The national integrity was at stake and the nation presented a united front to work itself out of the difficulties.
The Admiralty conducted maneuvers and tests of all kinds to formulate the new requirements of strategy, tactics, design of vessels, modification of ordnance equipment and all kindred subjects. The naval architects of all great shipbuilding concerns were requested to consider designs for torpedo boat destroyers and for increasing the underwater protection of heavy ships. Improvements were made in design and operation of artillery.
The anxiety was great, the Navy was in a dilemma as to the best and most economical procedure to follow. Nevertheless, the records of the time show that no doubt was felt as to the eventual ability of the Admiralty to afford protection for the ironclads against the torpedo. (This nation-wide attitude is all the more remarkable in view of the fact that Germany, Russia, Austria and Italy had held up further construction of ironclads, had even laid up those in commission and were building hundreds of torpedo boats.)
Out of the British effort was originated the present day means of effecting protection against the torpedo craft. They provided sufficient torpedo boat destroyers to guard the fleet and, if opportunity offered, to launch an offensive torpedo attack. They altered the hull design of heavy ships, providing them with numerous bulkheads and compartments. They developed and provided a breech-loading, rapid fire gun capable of being easily, quickly and efficiently handled.
Perhaps it was lucky for Great Britain that peace reigned in Europe during this period of development. At the end of this time, however, the naval power of Great Britain was superior to that of the combined navies of any two nations of the world. The ironclads, moreover, were the backbone of her fleet.
The difference in the manner of accepting and utilizing the invention of the torpedo within the two great maritime nations of the ’70’s gives us reason to pause and consider well the best procedure for us to follow in the face of very similar circumstances. History has fortunately provided, for our consideration, the facts concerning a notable controversy. It has provided us with two concrete examples, two roads that we may follow, one which, in the past, led to maintenance of the national defense, the other to serious loss of naval prestige.
Controversies of national and international importance have arisen in modern times over the invention or development of the frigate, the steam ram, the torpedo boat and the submarine. In each case the ship-of-the-line has been doomed by mistaken enthusiasts for national defense nostrums. In each case important modifications and methods have resulted. But because each of the smaller weapons has been restricted by its own limitations, the capital ship has continued as the pinnacle of sea power. Warfare has become more complicated. The smaller weapons have had their successes. But supremacy of the seas, with its attendant freedom for commerce and the activities of war, has never, in all history, been attained until the power of the capital ship has been nullified or destroyed.
The present article is not a defense of the battleship or of any particular naval weapon. What the writer endeavors to show, against a historical background, is the danger and futility of making radical changes in naval design and methods upon predictions of enthusiasts. Before making such changes, it is necessary, through thorough investigation and experiment, to demonstrate the truth or falsity of such claims. With a navy the equal of any in the world, the same interest must be displayed toward means of defense as toward the attack, so long as other powers continue to develop and maintain surface ships of war.
The French proponents of the torpedo, in their enthusiasm, refused to acknowledge the efficacy of any proposed means of defense against that weapon. Because they did not experiment, with equal diligence, on developing such defense, none satisfactory was evolved. This resulted in the torpedo appearing to be more invincible than was actually the case.
At the present time, in reference to the airplane, no one-sided development must be permitted to bring about a blinding effect on the possibilities of the future. After all, it is cheaper to build up the necessary means of defense during times of peace than to wait until the urgency of war imposes such requirements. If, after thorough and sincere trial, the national resources fail to produce adequate means of defense, then, and not until then, are we safe in committing the safety of the nation to the new weapon.
For these reasons, when broad claims for strong offensive power are made by any class of enthusiasts, these same enthusiasts fail in their duty if they do not seek to provide equally strong defensive power. They are working definitely against the best interests of the nation if they, for any reason, exaggerate or attempt to mislead the people, whether in regard to the efficiency of the scheme or the cost.
The argument relating to cost is always a favorite one as being most appealing to the public. Of this, it is absolutely certain that claims for sweeping economy in the use of new weapons of whatever character are in no way justified by past experience.
At the present time articles are numerous in which a comparison is made between the cost of an airplane and of a battleship. But do the authors concerned state the life of a battleship as being ten times the life of a plane? Do they state that, for every fifty or sixty naval planes, of which less than half may be bombers, there must be an airplane carrier, a costly and especially built type of vessel? If not, are these authors furthering the cause of national defense, or are they engaging in a debate against those truly interested in the nation’s welfare? The machinery of warfare, afloat and ashore, is every day becoming more complex, and every new and valuable weapon is adding to its complexity and cost. Economy in warfare by the use of new inventions is a delusion, as our recent experience should show.
In considering the merits of certain types of weapons, the term “capital ship” must not be misunderstood. That is where many who believed the torpedo to have revolutionized naval warfare made a serious mistake. They failed to visualize the “capital ship” of the future, believing the ironclad to have reached the zenith of such development.
The term “capital ship” is only another name for a unit of the fleet in which, for the period, as much fighting power and efficiency as practicable is concentrated. Progress in scientific investigation and in inventions will surely produce changes in the present types of vessels, weapons and methods. The “capital ship” of the future must be provided with adequate means of defense against the airplane. Whether these changes will involve improved ordnance, scientific discoveries, the carrying of numerous defense planes, or any combination of the three, it is impossible to forecast. Naval designers must provide the answer based on practical experience, actual tests, knowledge of new developments, knowledge of new methods, and expert estimate of future advance in the art of war. Whether these things can be accomplished or not is receiving exhaustive study on the part of every navy department of the world. It may be indicative of the outcome to note that no foreign nation is showing signs of favoring the abolishment of its own battleships.
Navy departments recommend but do not control naval policies. Public opinion, as represented in the Senate and House of Representatives, controls such policies, together with the appropriation of funds necessary for promoting them. On this basis we are in no danger of coming to an erroneous decision in such matters so long as we demand and accept nothing but the truth and the whole truth. We shall receive no helping hand from abroad, nor shall we receive a staying hand if we permit our battleship fleet to deteriorate; therefore, the responsibility rests on every loyal citizen of the United States to make no claims, no assertions, which by nature exaggerate, mislead, or are untrue. In the absence of such statements and by teamwork and unity of purpose, the people of the United States will demand and maintain an efficient navy— not one composed largely of any particular type of vessel, but one which, by balanced coordination and proper ratio of required weapons, will produce “Defense Against Aggression and Protection of our Commerce and Interests Abroad.”