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Lieutenant J. Gordon Vaeth, U. S. Naval Reserve (Retired)—Through its publications the Naval Institute pursues its mission of “the advancement of professional, literary, and scientific knowledge in the Navy.” And the Naval Institute does this exceedingly well.
However, knowledge is advanced by communication in all forms. The professional meeting is one such form and its potential should cause the Naval Institute to consider carefully whether its efforts should be expanded to include activities of this type.
For the communication of information, and hence the advancement of knowledge, the symposium, seminar, or meeting has much to recommend it. Both sides of a controversial subject can be better aired when those who hold opposing views meet face to face in a forum which permits prepared statements of opinion followed by an opportunity for argument and rebuttal. It is from “in person” discussion and from the direct asking and answering of questions that the most meaningful information is often derived. If participation includes the audience as well, the value of such a seminar can be even greater.
Seminars would provide the means by which many worthwhile ideas and concepts, prevented by space limitations from appearing in the Proceedings, could be presented under Naval Institute auspices. Controversial themes could be discussed under the most equitable of conditions by giving all parties concerned the opportunity to present their positions before an audience of professional peers.
The subjects need not always be controversial. State-of-the-art reviews, summaries and interpretations of significant naval developments, analyses of topical problems, and informal and authoritative “estimates of the situation” could be offered. Where necessary, “closed” or classified sessions could be held, following the precedent that has been
set by several civilian professional societies.
Naval Institute meetings such as these could develop a greater awareness of and reception to new ideas, be they operational, scientific, technological, organizational, or administrative. Through the discussion which such meetings would engender, these ideas could be brought to the attention of the professional upon whom falls or may some day fall the responsibility for implementation and application.
The information to be presented at such sessions should not be based exclusively upon the present or the future. The great naval decisions, operations, and actions of the past should be described and discussed by the men who knew them best: those who participated and are still with us. They should relate their experience and the lessons learned to the problems of today. In this manner, their audiences will receive one of the most valuable attributes of those who lead or command— perspective.
The comments of these men of yesteryear’s Navy should be tape-recorded, reproduced, and copies placed in the Library of Congress, the Archives, and other repositories as part of our nation’s heritage. The comments of these former leaders, their personal recollection of past events are the very essence of America’s naval history.
And, as other professional societies make use of local chapters to carry out their work on a regional basis, so the Naval Institute should examine the desirability and feasibility of employing this same technique to enlarge its activities and extend the benefits of membership.
Tape-recordings, such as those described above, could be made available to local Naval Institute chapters for playback at meetings-
I believe the work of the Naval Institute could be materially assisted with the initiation of meetings and the organization of local chapters as described above.
An A-4 Skyhawk prepares to land on the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) as the USS Bain- bridge (DLGN-25) and USS Long Beach (CGN-9) keep station astern. A single-mission aircraft, such as this attack plane, can be more easily dealt with as a single readiness figure than can the more complex and versatile guided missile frigate or cruiser, states a contributor to this month’s forum. •
^operational Readiness n Military Requirements”
e Pages 52-60, July 1964 Proceedings)
Tin *TUtenant Commander Tyrone G. Mar- f0r’ U‘ Navy—Many things are suitable
notP£CeSSing ky a C0mputer; many others are SOlrJ Nlust we go along with the view held by be C ^lat everything is reduceable to num- p0? an<^ formulas? Or should we hold to the
_ j^tl0n and I think there is a valid one
^aki tPe e^ect tf‘at the complex factors shi UP t^le operational readiness of our P.s and task groups can not be dealt with S^mple numbers.
Wjn ‘Strategic Air Command squadron or S as one mission: to take off and deliver h0Car Weapons on preselected targets and, e ully, return. It is a clear case of “go”
or “no go.” If, for example, a four-engine bomber has two engines down it is unable to fulfill its mission. Similarly, an artillery unit can either shoot or not shoot; it has no other options.
The situation with a ship—a destroyer for example—is different. Among a destroyer’s many missions and functions are the roles of plane guard, anti-air and antisubmarine warfare, shore bombardment, escort of other ships, and “showing the flag.” The capabilities to perform all these missions, sometimes individually and sometimes simultaneously, are built into each destroyer-type ship. A destroyer with an inoperative sonar can still act as plane guard, perform AAW operations, and, if such a risk is necessary, the ship can escort a convoy and perhaps carry off the bluff. What is the degradation to be assigned
to a destroyer with one boiler out? Only in those few situations calling for top speed will she be unable to fulfill every possible mission. How is this flexibility translated into a single number or group of numbers that adequately define the degree of operational readiness inherent in the ship? What formula encompasses all of a destroyer’s missions and functions, all the degrees of readiness to perform each one of these duties singly or in all combinations, under every conceivable strategic or tactical situation, in all areas of the world, with varying degrees of logistic support, in fair or foul weather, against all possible combinations of enemies and weapons, in coordination with all possible mixes of allies?
Commander Cockrill devotes a portion of his article to the SAC Management Control System. He sums it up as being “a fairly good indicator of trouble as experienced in inspections,” then goes on to state that “the great disadvantage in this system is the effort and cost it requires.”
This to me is faint praise and damning criticism of a complex computer system that is concerned with a single mission command! The price seems excessive for raising “the effectiveness of the command by approximately one per cent.” If a similar system were to be applied to our destroyer force we might analyze ourselves right out of business. The cost in terms of manpower necessary to inspect the ships; record, place on punch cards, and program the resultant mountain of information; and then maintain a system to validate and update the original “take” would be prohibitive. Today the Fleet is crying for adequately trained personnel to maintain itself in a ready state. Yet here is a proposal that would require these experts to conduct inspections in order to insure the reliability of information. Furthermore, surprise inspections would undoubtedly take time scheduled for training—a commodity already in short supply—and would tend to disrupt long-planned evolutions and exercises for which hard-to-get aircraft services and the like had been secured. Such surprise inspections are fine for the Strategic Air Command which generally operates on an alert basis, but the Navy stands ready with a portion of its strength at sea at all times—not with ships, manned by “ready” crews, sitting in port.
From time to time a variety of proposals have been put forth to use data processing methods to record and evaluate readiness, training, and military requirements. Most of these ruled out the sole employment of “outside” inspectors as being impractical in terms of qualified personnel available. The most common compromise of this ideal organization has been one wherein some subordinate commander reports his readiness in a computer format to the cognizant senior who then conducts spot checks of his junior’s evaluations to provide himself with some sort of a “validity factor” which he can apply to future evaluations from the subordinate. This, admittedly, is subjective. But at times it has been considered as a useful tool for checking training progress at this low level of command where the numbers have a meaning beyond their numerical values. Even among the strongest proponents of these systems, it was recognized that these meanings, known precisely to the small group of users, would probably be distorted or lost as they went up the chain of command through people progressively more removed from the sea until they were presented as an index of Fleet readiness to people who had never been to sea. This is the danger inherent in any system of evaluating operational readiness and military requirements through data processing.
Commander Cockrill further states that an effective system of evaluation must be based on mass data collection and processing, and that, among other things, the system must “evaluate personnel . . . and human factors as they affect performance.” What has happened to man? Why is he no longer a valid evaluator? Why must our senior naval officers be discounted in favor of an IBM 7090 or a 1401 in the high councils of our country?
ENTER THE FORUM
Regular and Associate Members are invited to write brief comments on material published in the Proceedings and also to write brief discussions on any topic of naval interest for possible publication in these pages. A primary purpose of the Proceedings is to provide a place where ideas of importance to the Navy can be exchanged.
usefulness of suitable measures in training, mning, and battle command. We must strive to create yardsticks adequate for the Vcry complicated assessments needed.
1 am not sure, however, that Commander ockrill has proposed a realistic procedure. e is concerned with the large number of fetors, conditions, and equipment, and thus
Some say that because of the prohibitively costs of weaponry today, choices must be made. Agreed, choices have always been required. Forces must be evaluated and needs determined in the light of all pertinent factors.
ata processing can assist in the assimilation °f many facts. But it is only a tool to be Used in the service of people; it should not Operate them. Each member of the Joint hiefs of Staff should have the right to present ln what each believes to be the most mean- lngful way and with equal validity—the sJ-atus of the forces under his command and e requirements for the future. The value of e Joint Chiefs’ experience must be given ei§ht commensurate with that of the responsibility they bear. It should then be the ecisions of the Secretary of Defense and the J°mt Chiefs, made in council, that determine °Ur present readiness and future military Posture—not the “run” from a 7090 in the asement of the Pentagon.
Rear Admiral Eli T. Reich, U. S. Navy director, Surface Missile Systems Project, dice of Naval Material)—Commander ockrill has underscored the desirability of ^Raining a quantitative, detailed measure Rae readiness and effectiveness of Navy
c°mbat units. There can be no question of the c
Plan: ls led to large-scale data processors and <0uiPuters which are to absorb all the facts atlcl produce effectiveness and readiness an- S.'Vcrs- In spite of his mild caveats about input ata and assumptions, he seems to feel that e existence of the computers makes it possi- e to solve the rest of the problems. He says, * example, that the Naval Tactical Data ystem “will control tactical operations.”
. his kind of statement has to be interpreted ln a very limited sense which applies to the tllcr problems computers are claimed to s°lve” as well.
g ^Ve have found in the Surface Missile ysteins Project that it is very difficult to
measure the expected combat effectiveness of the surface-to-air missile. The difficulty is not in data processing or in computational procedures. Rather, the foremost problem is to collect data on the actual performance of the systems, either in dry runs or in firings against drones. These trials require instrumentation, necessarily limited in the factors measured. Not very many rounds can be fired or exercises run; and the targets are not entirely realistic in size and type. The complications of weather, countermeasures, target co-ordination or saturation, surprise, and sustained battle are not readily duplicated in trials. The still greater complications in a whole task force exercise, where inter-ship control, the presence of friendly aircraft, and “combat degradation” must be allowed for, do not permit simple performance measures to be established. We are making progress in these areas using a major program of tests, analyses, and studies, but it is incorrect to assume that all of the “input” data is ready to turn over to the computers. I suspect the same situation applies in some other major fields, such as antisubmarine warfare.
But even if the basic performance data were available, there is another problem, again not associated with computer competence. In order to measure operational readiness, a situation or scenario or battle is generally postulated and the outcome is estimated. In surface missile work a number of such studies have been made in an attempt to estimate required force levels, required design characteristics, or adequacy of various levels of defense. Some particular questions have been answered. The net output, however, is not an adequate assessment of “operational readiness and military requirements.” In addition to the input data limitations, it is hard to set up all-inclusive and flexible scenarios that are manageable, and it is hard to decide the proper role of any one combat element such as surface-to-air missiles.
How should these missiles be co-ordinated with the aircraft interceptors? Should the battle be commanded with tight central control or dispersed autonomous actions in accord with doctrine? What is the role of NTDS? What are the proper tactics for concealment, or pickets, or strong mutually supporting fire? There are a host of such ques-
tions which need to be resolved and fed to the computers if they are to help us. Progress is being made, by exercises and tests, detailed studies, and the accumulation of expert opinion based on experience, but to date there is no neat set of rules, tactics, and criteria. Indeed, there may never be. Situations are changing, and judgment will be continually needed.
One final difficulty with computerized measures of readiness is the tendency to boil the whole story down to a few numerical scores, like per cent of ships ready to fire or total kill potential of missile ships now in service. Experience shows that a few, simple figures cannot present the whole picture; and in any specific military challenge to the combat units, some particular local circumstance is likely to be overriding. The numerical scores are aids to judgment, but are rarely a complete measure of readiness.
I would not discourage a more systematic collection of readiness data or the use of derived measures and indexes. Indeed, we are proceeding energetically in this direction. We even have large computers in the back rooms helping us. But we must recognize the problems of input data, of conceptual framework of analysis, and of adequate quantitative scales of measurement. The computer is not able to solve these problems; it is only a tool.
Rear Admiral Henry E. Ecgles, U. S. Navy (Retired)—The June 1964 Proceedings carried the thoughtful commentary “Defense Planning Processes” by Captain Stanley M. Barnes, U. S. Navy, and the July 1964 issue contained the equally interesting and complementary article “Operational Readiness and Military Requirements” by Commander James T. Cockrill, U. S. Navy. Both articles reflect a high degree of military professionalism.
The timing of Commander Cockrill’s paper was particularly fortunate. On 15 July 1964, the Secretary of Defense announced the establishment of a new inspection service which, among other assignments, will investigate the operational readiness and efficiency of the Armed Forces. He also announced that the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Administration will be responsible for this service.
That this step did not meet unanimous approval is indicated by The New York Times editorial of 18 July which commented:
Defense Secretary McNamara’s latest organizational “reform” in the Pentagon may have some advantages, but it also has some dangerous implications.
* * *
The creation of a “super” inspection service carries with it, in addition to the disadvantages of overcentralization, an unfortunate aura of “Big Brother.”
* * *
But the investigation of the operational readiness and professional efficiency of the armed forces should plainly be a function of command. To undercut this command responsibility by the creation of an extraneous group is a further blow to professionalism and morale.
In the light of what is already known, it may well be that combat readiness has relatively little interest for those concerned chiefly with hardware, but a very great interest for those concerned with organization, economics, and the behavioral sciences.
This has a further implication that while research in combat readiness may not itself be of great interest to some scientists, the understanding of combat readiness is of great importance to all those engaged in any form of military operations research.
Finally, the problems of civilian control versus “civilianization” of the military, of centralization versus decentralization of decision, and of combat readiness versus budget restrictions and controls, are all intertwined.
We cannot expect neatly packaged solutions to such problems for there will always be areas of sharp controversy. But we will come nearer to good solutions and we will have a more effective and economical defense system if we realize the importance and proper place of operational data and of modern computation and analysis techniques. In this we must understand the distinction between what can and should be quantified and what should not be quantified
"What’s It Like in a Wet Ship?”
(See pages 42-49, October 1964 Proceedings)
Ensign David S. Ahern, U. S. Navy—I served on board the Canadian destroyer escort Margaree during June and July 1963,
lng was quite popular.
and found that the Canadians still issue 2| ounces of rum each day. As a midshipman ln the Margaree, my in port watch was JOOD aud one of the duties of that watch was issuing the daily “tot” at 1145. The tot was ulso issued when at sea at the same time. However, when underway, the ship’s supply officer 0r one of his assistants handled the detail. The Canadians handle the rum in a slightly 'fferent manner than do the British. The rum is brought on board in bottles and is stored in cases in a secured area below the 'Vater line. A party of three or four descends *nto the space at 1130 to get the bottles. A oount is taken each morning, as in the Royal avy> of how many tots will be needed, and °uly sufficient bottles to meet the need are rawn. Once a bottle is opened it is either lssued to the crew, brought to the wardroom, °r thrown away. The amount left in the last °ttle at the end of the issuing period never Seemed to exceed two tots.
Petty officers draw their rum in a group, ue mess receives a certain number of bottles each day, depending upon the number of men entitled to the ration in the mess.
The unrated enlisted men form a line at ^5. Each ’man has an eight-ounce cup c°ntaining water, coke, or ginger ale into ‘Uch the issuing officer pours the rum. The ^uu must have the cup and diluting liquid !n hand, and must mix the drink before the lssuing officer. Incidentally, by custom, the Icer sometimes tastes bottles as they are °Pencd, a holdover from the days of rum in egs when some spoiled. The Canadian sailors a*so entitled to buy a bottle of beer at the fllP s canteen after secure in the afternoon. The situation for the officers is as Lieu- nant Commander Goodspeed wrote. The Vvai'droom bar in the Margaree was infrequently used at sea. In port, however, drinks ,ere available before or with lunch and in c late afternoon or evening. Drinks were caper than ashore, so wardroom enternoticed no ill effects from either the ar or rum ration. I thought the Canadian sailors handled themselves better than their uaerican counterparts when both navies arrived in force for a festival in an American Clty after both had been at sea for a week more. Of course, this might have been an
isolated incident, but it was the only chance that I had to observe both navies at the same time in the same situation.
"Proposed: A Kra Canal”
(See pages 48-55, June 1964 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Harold J. Sutphen,* U. S. Navy—Commander Duncan presents a very welcome and enlightening, non-technical discussion of the techniques of nuclear excavation and the situations in which this method offers an advantage over conventional excavation. My purpose is not to dispute the method by which a Kra Canal could best be built, but rather to point out some additional aspects to the question of why it should be built at all.
The Isthmus of Kra may be a good geographical site for testing nuclear excavation, but proposing a Kra Canal because it would seem “logical” to build one there before providing world shipping with a second Panama Canal is erroneous unless one accepts as logical the idea that “everyone should have one before anyone gets two.” The order of priority for canal construction should be based on the need for canals, not on a principle of geographic distribution. The Panama Canal is now overburdened; its equipment is approaching the limits of obsolescence; physically its locks are too narrow for an increasing number of warships; and it handles a steadily growing volume of commercial traffic. All these factors emphasize the need for a second canal across the Central American Isthmus.
On the other hand, world trade patterns are such that they have not created a pressing need in the shipping industry for a Kra Canal. The savings of time and money to be obtained from such a canal may be significant, but they do not approach the magnitude of the savings achieved by using the Panama Canal in lieu of a route around Cape Horn. Economic and political as well as strategic requirements should determine canal locations, not merely geographical suitability and a policy of distributing canals evenly.
* Lieutenant Sutphen holds a cum laude bachelor’s degree in economics from Brown University and a master’s degree in international affairs from Tufts University.—Editor.
THENCE ROUND CAPE HORN
By Robert Erwin Johnson List Price $7.50 Member's Price $5.63 A U. S Naval Institute Publication
(Book order form, pase 121)
There can be little doubt that a Kra Canal would be a great convenience to any vessel—military or otherwise—which desires to travel between the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. To this extent the canal would offer strategic and commercial advantages. However, it would also bring into play certain other factors tending to offset these advantages, factors which were not fully considered in Commander Duncan’s article.
What political effects would the construction of a Kra Canal have on Southeast Asia? The most important result would be to enhance the attractiveness of the area as a target for Sino-Soviet pressures. It would put one more valuable asset in Thailand on which Communist strategists could focus. Commander Duncan has acknowledged this fact, but he does not seem to attach much weight to it. A Kra Canal would intensify Sino-Soviet desires to move down the peninsula of Southeast Asia via the sequential steps of subversion in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. Since the United States
is committed to the defense of the freedom and independence of these nations, any decision to increase their target value has widespread significance. The implications of such a decision in terms of defense costs, force commitments, and the like, must be fully appreciated.
With regard to Sino-Soviet interest in Indonesia, I do not think such interest is extensively based on the strategic value of Sunda Strait and the Straits of Malacca, as Commander Duncan seems to suggest. Indonesia’s massive population—97.7 million people according to mid-1962 estimates of the United Nations—and its position with respect to China and anti-Communist Malaysia are probably much more significant. Any relief afforded to Indonesia by a Kra Canal would merely represent a shift of pressure to Thailand. And it would only be temporary for Indonesia and Malaysia would still be the long-run goals of a Communist movement working its way down the Southeast Asia peninsula. In fact, Indonesia might object to a Kra Canal on the grounds that by diverting trade routes it would injure Indonesia’s not-too-strong economy.
Commander Duncan also recognizes that a Kra Canal would have serious implications for the status of the Panama Canal. He correctly notes that if the United States built the canal and turned it over to Thailand on a “no-strings-attached basis” it would inspire demands for Panamanian control of the Panama Canal. However, Commander Duncan does not note the effects of the opposite alternative: a canal built, owned and operated by the United States. This would be less disturbing to the status of the Panama Canal, but it would be much less attractive to Thailand and it would be a perfect target for Communist charges of imperialism and capitalist domination. An arrangement attempting to compromise these two possibilities would probably be plagued by the difficulties of both without receiving the benefits of either.
Another question raised by a “no-strings- attached” canal is the problem of defending it. Certainly Thailand could not provide adequate protection to the waterway, but should the United States accept the responsibility for defending a canal which it does not control? A
*ng payments to the Republic of Panama p. interest on the loan. I would expect a ra Canal to face a similar problem at best, nd perhaps even face a deficit.
Dius, in addition to the technological th° ^erns noted by Commander Duncan, ere are some very serious questions to be si^Svvcred before a Kra Canal can be con- ered to contain “all essential military, °nomic, and political ingredients,” namely:
* Are the strategic advantages of the canal <jat enough to outweigh the disadvantages urther enhancing Thailand and all South
^■ra Canal would certainly increase the op- tl0ns available on routes between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, but the United States must participate in its defense in order to ensure that those options remain open.
Still another aspect of the political problems surrounding a Kra Canal is the affect on fu- fi*re U. S.-Thailand relations. According to ornmander Duncan, “improved relations etween Thailand and the United States c°uld be expected.” I would suggest that the rec°rd of 50 years of U. S.-Panama relations judicates precisely the opposite conclusion, hrough its essential defense obligations, the uited States would almost certainly become uivolved in Canal operations and it is just as certain that this involvement would con- lct with a growing xenophobic nationalism as Thailand develops politically and eco- Uornically. A series of disputes like those experienced with Panama, over issues of sov- ^eignty, control, receipts, and defenses are e rnost likely results of a Kra Canal.
£ Moving to the economic aspect of the Kra aual, I would question the economic self- sutliciency of the project. This could only be 'Uerrnined, of course, by a full-scale study of construction, and operating costs, ship traffic °ad, toll schedules, and the like. But I would not be surprised if the results showed that **ipts would be insufficient to cover costs. ^ One a sea-level canal would be less costly operate than a lock-type canal, a compari- pn with the economic profitability of the anama Canal is relevant. It is interesting to a°le that the receipts of the Panama Canal, UsV as it is, have never been sufficient to lo l0rt*ze any lhe original construction an; Receipts have barely covered costs, ineast Asia as a major target for Communist aggression?
• How would the canal be administered and defended, and what impact would this have on U. S.-Thailand relations and on the status of the Panama Canal?
• Would the canal be an economically sound project and would it be suitable for loan financing or would a grant be required?
Until these political and economic questions can be answered in a manner favorable to the projected canal, a Kra Canal will remain a potential military convenience with a political and economic price tag too high to offset its strategic value.
"The Largest Tankers”
(See pages 88-101, July 1964 Proceedings)
The following is a reprint of the article “The Problems of Super Tankers” by F. V. Janes which originally appeared in April 1964 issue of The Journal of the Institute of Navigation. It is published by the Institute of Navigation at the Royal Geographical Society, London. In addition to the Pictorial “The Largest Tankers,” the reader is referred to the Notebook item “Longest Tankers in World Ordered” on pages 149-150 of the July 1964 Proceedings.
The problems posed by the ever increasing size of tankers are not those of “bigness” alone, or even at all. Southampton has been accustomed to the world’s largest ships since the turn of the century; such as instanced by the Aquitania of 43,000 tons gross of pre-1914, the Majestic, 53,000, Normandie, 73,000 and Queen Mary of 83,000 between the wars, and since, the Queen Elizabeth, 85,000 and more recently France, the longest ship in the world, at 1,043 ft. All these ships, however, are quadruple screwed, and for that matter there is not a cargo or passenger ship of more than
14,0 tons gross coming to the port which is not at least twin-screw. It had always been supposed that there was a limit to the size of ship which could be safely maneuvered with a single screw in confined spaces. The advent of the single-screw mammoth tanker, turbine
engined, has put a new angle on this problem, but pilots generally are not at all sure that this is in the best interests of safety.
Mere increase in size is not in itself a problem. This has always been with us, and the Union Castle Line provides a fair example. Pre-1914 their Mail ships were of about
12,0 tons gross, between the wars of 20,000 to 25,000 as opposed to nearly 35,000 tons at present. This represents an increase in size of about three times, over a period of 50 years. By contrast, 18,000-ton tankers were about the maximum until 1950, but by 1963 80,000-tonners were normal and even one of 108,000 tons has called at Southampton. This amounts to an increase in size of more than a factor of four in a dozen years, and it has been the case that no sooner have pilots coped with the 40,000-tonners than they are confronted with 60,000-ton ships and then the 80,000-tonners. This rapid increase in size tends to out-strip the facilities for safe and prudent handling.
The biggest difficulty in regard to these ships is that they are single-screw turbine, and although they steer remarkably well and everything is all right whilst proceeding in comparatively wide channels, there comes a time when it is necessary to stop, and here is where trouble arises. Even when the engines have been stopped these ships are reputed to run for three or four miles (there is no chance to try this in pilotage waters). Turbines are well known to be slow acting and to have moderate astern power, and of course the single screw usually causes them to cant badly. The immense inertia of large heavily loaded tankers is a real problem.
For safety, then, in approaching oil jetties, it is essential to have tugs made fast in ample time to counter the tendency for the ship to cant when coming astern. Unfortunately,
competition in the oil carrying trades is intense, with flags of convenience ships playing a prominent part, and sometimes it seems to Pilots that economics have an undue influence when compared with prudent safety requirements. In this connection there has recently occurred a drastic reduction in crew manpower and it often happens in such cases that there are insufficient hands on deck to make the tugs fast in adequate time before berthing. For the reasons stated, it is unwise to come astern too much with the engines until tug assistance is available. But while waiting for all this to happen, the ship is still making headway towards the jetties. In darkness, of course, this situation is greatly aggravated.
Another development regarded with disfavor by pilots is the construction of tankers With the superstructure and bridge aft, instead of, as is conventional, amidships. Whilst there is no objection to this tendency m ships of a reasonable size, when it comes to Very large ships the pilot is so very far away from the part that counts, the bow. The first °f this type to call at Southampton was the Panamanian tanker Largo [which Mr. Janes himself piloted on her first voyage]. She was of 42,000 tons d.w.t., 700 ft. long and it was f 20 ft. from the bridge to the stem. Since then [here has been the Italian tanker Ercole of
53,0 tons, 808 ft. long with the bridge 625 ft- from the stem and, just recently, the Norwegian tanker Borgsten has been built at Sunderland, of 85,000 tons, 870 ft. in length, With a tower type bridge some 700 ft. from the stem. This is just the length of Westminster Bridge, and it gives some idea of the Problem to imagine standing at one end of that bridge trying to get the other end into some confined space. Pilots are not saying that the job could not be done; what they are saying is that being positioned so far aft is not °nly not a good position, but the worst possible position from which to judge ship’s movements and swing. Aircraft carriers have their conning positions right out over on the starboard side of the ship. No one pretends this is a good position, but it is the only one possible on account of the need for a clear flight deck. Although it has been claimed that the crew of a tanker is aft as a safety measure, this is not altogether borne out by the fact that, reputedly, 75 per cent of fires in tankers start in the engine room, and pilots suspect that once again economic factors are a great influence. A bridge in the conventional position amidships not only costs more when building, but it also means that the ship carries a few extra hundred tons of structure with her for the rest of her life, thus shutting out that amount of cargo.
The largest tanker to call at Southampton has been the Manhattan, of 108,000 tons, 952 ft. in length and of 110 ft. beam. Although of such exceptional size, pilots report her to be a good handling job; she is twin screw with twin rudders, capable of 19 knots ahead and 75 per cent astern power. She steers very well, is brought to a stop keeping the same heading in a comparatively short distance. There is little doubt that this type of vessel is the answer to a pilot’s worries in regard to very large tankers, but again economics have the last word.
Pilots do not deny that the modern singlescrew tanker has astonishing steering qualities, and they are a tribute to their designers in this respect. But the fact remains that in channels of, say, 700 to 900 ft. in width, they want the whole place to themselves. Where there are bends, it is impracticable to take a wider or narrower turn or even to keep on one particular side of the channel. For this and many other reasons, v.h.f. telephony with communication to a shore base has become essential, not only for the very large ships, but small ones as well, in order that some regulation of traffic can obtain and, in addition, that full use can be made of the shore-based radar information now available in many ports. In addition, where several tugs are used, and it can be as many as six, v.h.f. communication with them is a ‘must’, especially at night. This latter feature obtains at Southampton to an increasing extent, largely due to representations made by pilots.