The Ships of the Future
The Ships of the Future. Epilogue to "The Ships of Tarshish."Written in June, 1889
The Ships of the Future. Epilogue to "The Ships of Tarshish."Written in June, 1889.
In 1865 I wrote, and in the latter months of 1866 had printed, the original portion of The Ships of Tarshish, but did not bring it forward by way of offering it for sale until 1884, at which time, in consequence of the stir shortly before made by the launch of the Livadia, I offered it to the notice of the public of Auckland in conjunction with a Prologue, which I wrote at that time, by way of introduction, and had bound up with the earliest written work.
It proved by no means a success. There were about 400 copies altogether, and I think about thirty were sold. I gave away over 300 (and feel grateful, whenever I think of it, that none of those to whom I offered copies ever hurt my feelings by refusing, or suffering to appear a disinclination to accept them), and I have a few copies left in sheet form.
I sent several to England at different times, when people I knew happened to be going there from here (Auckland), and I kindly consented to take charge of them and distribute them. One gentleman in particular generously undertook the bother of getting rid of about twenty of them. I saw him a few months afterwards on his return to Auckland, when he informed me that he had sent copies to several men of mark in England, though he did not mention any names; and I think it must have been owing to his kindness and taking of trouble that one day I received a biggish offical-looking letter, and on opening it found it was from the Principal Librarian of the British Museum, thanking me for the "present mentioned on the other side." Turning to the "other side," I found written, The Ships of Tarshish, by Mohoao.
There was a shilling stamp on the letter, which fact, when I noticed it, caused the thought to come into my mind, "What a page 4waste! Why, this is the full price at which I have latterly been trying to entice the public here into buying copies of it" (though each one, by-the-bye, had cost me about 2s. 9d.)
I was gratified at receiving the acknowledgment, though. It looked as though my book was worth something after all, and I stifled the suspicion which arose in my mind that had I sent a fine specimen of a Kekereru to the British Museum (I don't mean to the Principal Librarian, but to the proper officer) I would have received a similar courteous acknowledgment; and, therefore, I intend to send that Principal Librarian three or four copies of this "Epilogue" when it is printed, and I hereby request him beforehand, if he ever deigns to dip into it and read as far as this, not to trouble about sending an acknowledgment, and so not waste any more money on stamps.
Seeing these things then, readers will no doubt ask, "Why do you try your hand at that sort of work again?" Well, it is because in the said Prologue, from an unwillingness to increase its length, and from want of leisure at the time, I omitted many things I would have liked to have stated on the whole subject, and partly because that portion of it on which the earliest of my two previous writings treated—that is, the best form of battle ships—is a subject on which there has been since, and is, a strong and increasing interest displayed, and on that part of it which excites less interest—the best form of passenger ships—or what will be that of "The Ships of the Future," I have become possessed of some new ideas, of which I think it is a pity the public should not become sharers. At any rate, I intend to send them forth for whatever they are worth, and let them take their chance.
I do not imagine that what I am writing will have any immediate effect, but, as like many possessed with bright ideas (Dr. Austin's guests to wit) who can see at a glance the fallacy in the other fellow's craze, but know well that not a joint can be pierced in their own logical armour, I being quite sure that what I describe, or propose— or something very like it—is sure to come to pass, have a sort of hope that what I write may be the means of causing it to come to pass sooner than it otherwise would.
I said something like this in the Prologue I wrote and published in 1884, and—it may be only a coincidence, but it is just possible it may be a result—a scheme which I suggested in that Prologue has since been proposed to be carried out by a German company—that is to have a great floating national exhibition visiting in turn the different parts of the world. But I felt disappointed when I read of the size of the vessel proposed for it, as it seemed to be on a sort of twopenny-halfpenny scale, as compared with the magnificent one advocated in page 5the said Prologue. But everything must have a beginning, as the old saw says.
Seeing then that one of my published ideas, whether as a result—or fancied to be so only—is to be carried out, in however modified a form, the fact acts as an incentive to my bringing forward one or two new ones.
Before, however, 1 attempt to do this, I wish to make a few remarks on the subject of the earliest printed portion of The Ships of Tarshish, namely, being that of the best form for battle ships; and as that production and its said subject will be several times hereinafter alluded to, I here subjoin some extracts from it, and also furnish, together with other drawings appended hereto, a copy of the illustration given on its title page.
Page 87.—"The large iron gates were observed to commence opening outwards from the middle, as though propelled by a force behind. It was, in truth, one of the 'Ships of Tarshish,' as Mandevil called it, forcing its way out. Forth it came full armed, as the ancient goddess of war issued from the opening head of Jupiter. Polished from stem to stern, it shone like the silver moon, the profile of which, when two-thirds submerged in the watery horizon it resembled.
"The mighty vessel came out and turned slowly down the stream, and then was followed by another, its counterpart. It was about 350 feet long with a breadth of about two-thirds its length. The cross section of the part above water, its outline, formed an elliptical arch. The steepest inclination, that near the water-line, was less than 45 degrees. About 80 feet of the crown of the arch was nearly flat. The bows also sloped backward from the water's edge in the same manner as the sides. The stern was more upright. It had two cupolas, each 60 feet in diameter, and a round pilot-tower forward 15 feet in diameter. Owing to its immense breadth it appeared, from whatever side viewed, like a low circular mound crowned by fortifications. It was propelled by three screws, each with engines of 1,500 horse power. The vessel, in action, was steered entirely by means of the screws. It had a protected rudder, but this was only for use in case of damage to one of the outer screws. So much of general description must suffice for the present, one more particular will be given in its convenient place hereafter."
Page 95.—"At the united request of the party Mandevil gave a description of his vessels, of which the following is the substance:— Extreme length at water line, 350 feet; extreme breadth ditto, 230 feet. The outline of section in plane of water line an oval, being very much like that produced by the longitudinal bisection of a long-page 6shaped egg, bluntest end foremost, with a slight sharpening of the stem. Bottom flat. Greatest breadth of bottom, 220 feet. Draught of water with everything complete except coals, nine feet. Sides upright for five feet from water line downwards. The remainder of depth rounded off to meet the flat bottom. Section (vertical) of deck an elliptical arch, commencing at a foot above the water line, when without coals (consequently commencing at more or less under the water line when with coals), and having its crest 22 feet perpendicular height from base. Deck retiring at all points (stem and stern as well as sides), in an equal degree from the level of the water. About 80 feet of the crest (deck, lateral section) almost flat, no portion of the vessel above water presenting so steep an inclination as 45 degrees.
"So much for the outside shape of the vessel. Next for the construction. At a uniform distance of 4 feet from the inner surface of the outside plating of deck, bottom, and sides (except at the sharper rounded corners, where the distance was somewhat greater) was an inner skin of inch iron. Ribs of the vessel at sides and bottom of wood, 4 feet by 18 inches width, with intervals of 3 feet between each. These ribs built of three sections each 6 x 48 inches. The thickness of outside armour varied according to position. A little above and below the water-line it was 12 inches, tapering off each way as it ascended or descended. The flat bottom was half an inch thick. The arch of the deck commenced from water-line with 12 inches (thickness), tapering away for a width of 25 feet. From thence up to the commencement of the flat portion of 40 feet on each side of the middle of the crest, it averaged 2 inches; the general rule being, the steeper the inclination the thicker the plate. The nearly flat portion of 80 feet forming the crest was an inch thick. To sum up what has been already described:—
"The shape of the whole exterior—deck, sides, and bottom.
"An inner skin of a uniform thickness of one inch.
"An outer covering, of thickness varying as described.
"The ribs of wood at the sides and bottom, to which the outer and inner skins were screwed."…
"And, lastly, an interval of 4 feet between the inner and outer skins of deck, sides, and bottom." ….
Page 98.—"The interval, then, of 4 feet between the inner and outer skins is filled by steel hexagons of a least diameter of 18 inches. These hexagons are united side by side to one another, each by several screws. The four feet interval is thus something like a honeycomb. The ends of the hexagons abut on to the inner and outer skins, each individual end carefully shaped to coincide with the page 7rounding of their (the skins') surface. These abutting ends are secured to the plates in this manner: From the end of each hexagon, running down the middle of each of its sides, a half cylindrical hollow is indented in the making. Then the hexagons being firmly screwed together, and the sides of each opposite half hollow coinciding, a hole is produced, in which a female screw is formed." (I may here state I do not make a point of the foregoing described detail as to methods of junction, etc., written twenty-four years ago, when I was ten times more ignorant of practical mechanical detail than I even am now. Brackets used would probably have been more practical.) "All the screws used in the vessel have tapering heads accurately turned, and the corresponding holes in the plates are accurately drilled to fit them. Each screw is screwed in till it wedges itself tight. The head is then cut off flush. This sort of method stands jarring better than nuts and bolts. Besides the purpose of strengthening, this system of hexagons serves to localize and detect leaks. A thin sheet of gutta-percha being placed between the skins and abutting ends, keeps the uninjured parts watertight. On the inside a small perforation is made opposite the bottom of each hexagon for the purpose of detecting leaks. Except at the sides (where the thicknesses vary, some reaching to three-quarters of an inch) the steel hexagons have a uniform thickness of a quarter of an inch. In addition to this system of hexagons, which conduces so greatly to the strength and rigidity of the ship, we have in various directions steel tubular girders and braces of a large diameter."
Page 99.—"'There is one objection I have not thought worth considering—though I did consider it before commencing the enterprise—namely, the expense of these vessels. I thought what is the good of frittering away two millions on half-a-dozen inefficient vessels, when, spent on one, it may be the means of averting an evil fate from a kingdom to whom the spending of a couple of millions is like the loss of a drop out of a bucket.'"
The matter comprised in the foregoing extracts was written twenty-four years ago. I would ask any practical-minded reader, which is nearest finality—the class of battle-ship just before specified, or the latest designed British ones, as far as powers of offence and defence in coastal warfare is concerned (not to mention the class existing at the time the specification was written)?
In the Prologue before alluded to (published in 1884), I wrote the following referring to the description of battle-ships just before quoted from "The Ships of Tarshish," as compared to the British war-ships constructed since that book was printed in 1866:—
"I had the good fortune … to clear in one bound … page 8a great way beyond several steps which have been taken since in actual practice, the most of them composed of innumerable successive experiments and expensive Tinkerings, with disappointingly uncertain results…."
Now the language quoted may seem very arrogant and conceited, at least as far as it alludes to my own ideas, but with regard to the latter part of the quotation and the practical results obtained after several years of experiments in producing British battle-ships I would refer to a production which lies before me, cut out from the London Weekly Times of March 1st, 1889, namely, a "memorial" issued by the Peace Society, entitled:
"Outlay certain—Defence uncertain," and from it I extract the following phrases and sentences:—
"Over and over again John Bull (who, by the way, is one of the most timorous animals in the world), has in a fit of panic, given his Ministers carte blanche to impose terribly heavy taxation for an increase of armaments, and what has been the upshot?….
"What have you done with the scores and hundreds of millions sterling already voted within the last ten or twelve years only? … Incalculable sums voted for ships and defence have been spent in almost everything but ships and defence. And of the ships built with the remnant of the money, how many have proved failures, or have had to be broken up or resold at ruinous sacrifices?
"Supposing that some scores of extra millions are spent on ships, even if the extra ships are really produced in consequence, they are likely to be obsolete and comparatively useless in ten or fifteen years. This is already the case with the great ships which have been such a terribly dear incubus to Italy.
"And further, the introduction of dynamite as an element in naval warfare is likely to render the destruction of the largest warships a very easy matter. It is a noteworthy and ominous subject."
The above are a few quotations from the Peace Society's logical and ingenuous production—logical, because if what they say is true as to inefficiency, a hundred millions should be spent right off to secure efficiency. As to the ingenuousness, that breathes in every sentence.
There are two main charges in it, one only of which, however, I want to make use of, after first merely remarking on the other (that which avers that a great part of the money has not been spent on ships at all) that the fact stated—exaggerated or not—is only a result of average human nature, and the cure will only take place when the honest breeds of men, either of their own accord, or by being kicked into it, band themselves together, and, by strict passport laws, keep out races of robbers from mixing among them. It is not a matter of page 9either liberal constitutions or despotism. This form of corruption is worse in "free" America (witness the Town Hall and Tammany Ring affair in New York). It is worse also in France. It is not so bad in Germany in spite of its "despotic" government, simply because there an honest breed, by strict passport laws, keeps itself from being swamped out.
Britain would have been freest of all from such corruption if she, too, by a strict passport system, could have kept herself also from being swamped out. I do not mean to say it could have been done. It is only a wistful thought.
With regard to the other fact (for unfortunately both the main charges made by the Peace Society, it cannot be denied, are facts, however much of a non-sequitur the conclusion they would wish to be drawn from them may be)—to repeat—with regard to the fact of non-efficiency of ships built and the rapidity with which they become obsolete there is no question, and if there is any comfort in the thought, Britain is not alone in this condition, but all the European navies are in a like case; and I have only quoted what I have in order to confirm that which I wrote five years ago about "innumerable successive experiments and expensive tinkerings with disappointingly uncertain results."
And so it will ever be; all money spent on warships will be wasted in a sense, unless an entirely new form of vessel is adopted. In all efforts hitherto in the construction of ironclads, the process has been very much like that of trying to squeeze a gallon of liquid into a pint measure. It has been a case of attention to and crowding in of details, accompanied with an almost total neglect of essentials and first principles.
Some of the readers of this will no doubt have seen those wonderful knives which have twenty different sorts of blades and implements in them, and if they have ever tried them, found out it would be much better to have each one in its separate form, as far as efficiency is concerned.
The unfortunate Captain was an example of a construction on the twenty-bladed knife principle. That ship was an attempted omnium gatherum of all good things. It was to have, amongst other useful adjuncts, such sail-carrying power as to be quite an economical vessel as regards coal consumption. And this heavy top weight caused her loss. Nowadays I believe the heresy has been begun to be mooted that carrying masts and sails at all is more expensive than using steam alone (without masts), taking one time with another— such as when steaming against a head wind has to be done, etc.— and the ground got over altogether.page 10
This heresy was adopted in the design of The Ships of Tarskish. Now, to fall back on first principles, in designing an ironclad, what are the essential qualities it should possess?
In the first place, steadiness of platform for her great guns, and room to work them in. I put this quality in the first place because the others required could not exist except by the same means with which the first has to be secured.
In the third place Invulnerability (with reference to safety of its crew while fighting).
Now, if these three essential qualities are secured, all others are of minor importance; and possessed of these, there would be no danger of any first-class ironclad becoming obsolete. I speak now of vessels such as would be required for a channel fleet, or to blockade an enemy's coast. For cruisers, in addition to these three essential qualities, speed would be required. These will be dealt with separately at the end.
I think that no sensible person will deny what has just been advanced as to the three essential requisites. Then, if such is the case, one would think that the designers of vessels would reject everything and every old precedent, however time-hallowed, that did not secure them, and not helplessly make up their minds that they cannot be secured, and that it is a choice of alternatives whether with Messrs. Barnaby and White, to have extra thick armour on the citadel of the ship, leaving the ends, and consequently a good deal of its floating power unprotected, or whether with Sir Edward Reed, to protect the belt which secures its floating power, at the expense of a corresponding weakening of the defence of the citadel.
(Whether the merits of the controversy are quite accurately stated or not does not affect the argument.)
Then how are the three said essential requisites to be obtained? I will proceed to furnish the solution of the question proposed by one whose almost only talent is a sort of simplicity of mind, whose convictions have been strengthened, as he has grown old, by observing how much men in all things are slaves to precedent, and by remembering such cases as that of the Suez Canal, where a Balaam in the shape of the highest engineering authority of the day was brought from afar (this time not from the East but from the West) to curse, and who (unlike the other prophet) in this case did curse, but fortunately, as it proved, even for Great Britain herself, without effect. But to proceed:
To secure steadiness of platform it is evident there is only one way, and that is to provide sufficient size in vessels, and that the page 11breadth should bear a much greater proportion with respect to the length than in the orthodox style of warship. In short, the breadth should not be much less than two-thirds of the length.
In fact, without providing these requisites of sufficient size with very great breadth in proportion to length, it will be hopeless trying to produce a satisfactory result in Ironclads, or a class of vessels which will not become obsolete almost before they are finished arming and manning.
Sir Edward Reed in one of his letters to the Times uses the following forcible language in alluding to something said by one of his critics:—
"Men may theorize and men may babble as they please about cells and cork, and coal and other more or less fanciful defences: they may labour to persuade us too, that because there is here and there a gun which can penetrate eighteen inch armour it is better to put our naval trust in steel plates too thin to give any protection at all, etc. "And then Sir Edward Reed goes on to advocate the having of sufficient armour and" armour-belted "ships, though to my poor mind the logic of it all was not very apparent, as I thought the reason the other people did not provide the armour was because the poor ships were not able to carry it without doing without something else which was also of the first necessity. In fact, it seemed to me about six of the one to half-a-dozen of the other. But Sir Edward Reed seems to imply that you can squeeze a gallon of water into a pint pot somehow or another.
If it were allowable for such as I to say it (which I know it is not, and therefore will not say it—but will only imagine some ill-conditioned Thersiles saying it), I would say, "Men may theorise and men may babble as they please about armour-belted ships, and may labour to persuade people that by transposing the positions of a number of drops in a bucket, you will be able to make it contain half-a-dozen bucketfuls extra, or that by cutting a one foot strip off the bottom of your blanket and sewing that strip on the top, you can make the article one foot longer, etc., etc., but the fact will still remain that you can't make something out of nothing, and that if you want to have effective ironclads, you must have stability and weight carrying power, coupled with a moderate draught."
Since writing the foregoing, I have read in the London Times the account of the discussion on the reading of a paper by the Director of Naval Construction on the "Designs for New Battle Ships," and also that paper's leader of the 11th of April last (1889), remarking thereon. I must say that after therein reading Sir Edward Reed's condemnation of those ships, I feel inclined to apologise for having page 12written the lines in the immediately preceding paragraph, for from what the leader referred to states as to the one "fundamental condition" which Sir Edward Reed "regards as paramount" In battle ship construction, namely, "to keep them afloat in the face of any fire which may be brought against them," coupled with former indications as to his sentiments (such as the favourable manner in which he has written at times of Admiral Popoff's broad vessels), I begin to believe that Sir Edward Reed favours ships of the kind herein advocated; but that even he is so timid in the face of precedent that he can only venture to advocate them in an indirect way, and thus it happens that it is reserved for a Miserable Mohoao* to rush in where an Eminent Naval Constructor fears to tread.
I like that said leader of the 11th of April last, and the logic of it. It is evidently not composed by one of the regular staff, but by a special expert. It says, "A battle ship is a compromise," from the context evidently intending the sentence to read thus: "A battle ship must be a compromise."
Well, in argument everything depends on the axioms and postulates admitted, and if before one is allowed to argue he must swallow the axiom, "A battle ship must be a compromise," or the postulate, "Let it be granted that, etc., "then all that these orthodox gentlemen contend for as to Armament versus Armour might possibly have to be granted, and also that "efficient locomotive floating targets capable of withstanding the effects of gun fire" cannot be designed so as to be at the same time "capable of inflicting as well as receiving" (attempts at) "damage." †
Now, were it not for the necessity of being obliged to admit that axiom or grant that postulate, a conceited non-expert might contend that a battle ship capable of withstanding any fire could be designed, and furthermore, that the very essential qualities required in order to be able to produce such a ship are the identical ones which would render it at the same time capable of inflicting as well as receiving damage —that is, having plenty of room for the recoil of the biggest guns In short, great breadth.
But perhaps after all it is not a question of not seeing so much as willing not to see, and never minding what you do, or what money you waste so long as you are in good company. (Don't we know it, all of us, in our several small ways?)
Then again there would be the fearful expense. One such vessel might cost three millions. Still finality is a desideratum, and such vessels, though high priced, would never be obsolete, but would page 13always be fit to take a position in a line of battle—while if some other party built even only one—all these fine, orthodox ironclads would represent the value of so much old iron; unsuitable for cruisers, and not daring to show their noses in coastal warfare.
My summing up is that I am sure the Peace Society people are right when they hint that these new vessels will be obsolete before the last in the programme is completed.
At the same time I think it very probable that these battle ships in their performance will fully realise the programme which our naval constructors have set before themselves to carry out, which, as I understand it, is this: after closely watching our next strongest neighbours to secure a certain percentage of strength beyond that of those neighbours, and to top, by a little any improvement they may be supposed to have bit upon.
This may be taking a comfortable, but not a very lofty stand, nor is it a policy of a sort to excite much enthusiasm, when we consider that our exemplars, by whose doings that policy is regulated, have not the slightest fear of either our power or will to invade them, and that we have to do ocean police duty for the whole world, including ourselves, and that the last-named is an obligation we cannot, without being mean, evade, and that the great expenditure required for the purpose does not all come out of the pockets of the much-quoted British taxpayer, but part is contributed by various outsiders in the shape of cheap raw material and supplies.
After the foregoing rather long discussion, we will proceed to the second hereinbefore propounded essential quality required in a battle ship, namely, Unsinkability.
To secure unsinkability, what we have to do is to fall back on old-fashioned simplicity in planning and construction.
Before proceeding, I will quote a passage from Xenophon, whose clear and simple style, with its sweetness and light, one turns to as a refreshing change from modern "leading articles" couched in "Middle-class Macaulayese."
It is taken from the "Retreat of the Ten Thousand," which brilliant operation (the actors therein being chiefly Lacedæemonians, consequently of Danite or Israelite descent) was therefore performed, I am proud to think, by men of the same stock as our own, or the British race. The quotation is as follows:—
"The generals and captains assembled were in great perplexity, for on one side of them were exceeding high mountains, and on the other a river so deep that when they sounded it with their pikes, the ends of them did not even appear above the water. While they were in this perplexity, a certain Rhodian came to them and said, page 14'Gentlemen, I will undertake to carry over four thousand heavy armed men at a time if you will supply me with what I want, and give me a talent for my pains.' Being asked what he wanted, 'I shall want,' says he, 'two thousand leather bags. I see here great numbers of sheep, goats, oxen, and asses; if these are flayed, and their skins blown, we may easily pass the river with them. I shall also want the girths belonging to the sumpter horses. With these,' adds he, 'I will fasten the bags one to another, and hanging stones to them, let them down into the water instead of anchors, then tie up the bags at both ends, and when they are upon the water, lay facines upon them, and cover them with earth. I will make you presently sensible,' continues he, 'that you cannot sink, for every bag will bear up two men, and the fascines and the earth will keep them from slipping.'
"The generals hearing this thought the invention ingenious, but impossible to be put in practice; there being great numbers of horse on the other side of the river to oppose their passage, and these would at once break all their measures."
The foregoing gives a hint of how unsinkability is to be secured in the construction of a vessel, namely, by using a great number of small cells for the purpose of providing floating power, or, on the principle, so to speak, of not carrying all one's eggs in one basket.
These cells should be numerous enough—not half-a-dozen—which number, not long ago, was thought sufficient for any vessel—nor half-a-score, nor a score, nor even ten score, but as least as many as can be placed in position, not more than five or six feet square across, and, for battle ships at least, of the hexagonal form. The necessity of having these cells sufficiently numerous is another reason why vessels I should be flat-bottomed and very broad. These cells should reach from the vessel's bottom to about two feet above the water line thereof, when loaded.
In my description of The Ships of Tarshish, or war ships, in the earliest written portion of the work, and hereinbefore quoted. I provided cells only eighteen inches in diameter, which, of course, as far as that feature went, would have provided for a still greater margin of unsinkability, but then I only provided for these bottom cells (in common with those in sides and arched decking), being only four feet in depth, that is, as filling a space between double skins four feet apart. This was a mistake, as I freely acknowledge now, when laying of mines and discharging by electricity has become more of a science. The cells in a vessel's bottom should be of length enough to reach sufficiently above the water-line, so that if by chance a hole should be blown out in that bottom, no water would be able to rush into more than the damaged cells.page 15
This is the way in which absolute unsinkability could be secured. If cells six feet across would not secure it, then cells three feet across would, and if not then (I am treating now of warships), then by having ones of still smaller diameter, of course having thinner steel plates for smaller cells.
I may be excused for alluding to the fact that I was the first writer to propose having a very great number of cells in a ship's bottom. When the Ships of Tarshish was written (twenty-four years ago) about half-a-dozen watertight compartments were considered to be sufficient. A short time ago I read of a projected steamer which was to be provided with over a thousand cells in her bottom.
I proceed now to the consideration of the third-mentioned requisite for a battle-ship, namely, Invulnerability. This also, as well as unsinkability, cannot be secured without very great breadth and consequent weight-carrying power, and provision thereby of room for placing all armour at a favourable angle for receiving the impact of projectiles; for invulnerability is as much to be secured by a slanting surface being presented to receive such impact as by thickness of armour, and room for slanting sides could not be got in a narrow vessel, nor (any more) floating power to carry a sufficient thickness of armour. Therefore a first-class ironclad must be of very great breadth. It must also be of a sufficient size to supply a floating power that will carry armour with a sufficient margin of thickness, and to be broad enough to be steady in rough weather.
Judging from the performance of the Livadia when crossing the Bay of Biscay in a heavy gale, as recorded by Sir Edward Reed in a letter to the London Times, I think the dimensions chosen by me in my Ships of Tarshish (i.e., 350 feet long by 230 broad) the very smallest with which a first-class ironclad should be built, as the Livadia (230 feet long by 153 broad) evidently, as proved by the damage she sustained on the occasion mentioned, was not powerful enough to encounter ocean waves.
I have hinted at the commencement of this that since printing the two previous portions of the Ships of Tarshish I have somewhat modified my ideas expressed therein as to the best form for passenger ships, and perhaps for some classes of fighting ships, such as swift ocean cruisers, either first-class powerful ones or second-class less powerful. I may state shortly at present, explaining more fully, afterwards, that the modification is in connection with two important points, one of which could not be taken advantage of in ships of the Livadia pattern, whatever other advantages ships of that pattern might possess. These two points are, first, utilising a form of propeller (not my own invention I may state, but which nevertheless page 16I hink would not be safe to use except with vessels of the great size which I advocate), which form of propeller, owing to the advantageous angle at which it moves through the water nearly all the time that it is in it, would produce a greater amount of speed out of the same horse-power than any other; and secondly, the being able to make use of the power to be got out of the rise and fall of ocean waves.
I will more fully explain these two points when I come to the second portion of this paper, which deals with the probable form and size of the passenger ships of the more or less distant future.
The second of these two points could not be taken advantage of in ships of the Livadia pattern, though I think these latter, owing to their shallow draught of water and the enormous strength of build possible in connection with them above that in connection with those of any other form, would be the best for coast defence, or for forming the main portion of a fleet in blockading an enemy's coast.
It would be better, however, on account of the exposed position of screws and their consequent liability to suffer damage, that in place of them the propelling agent should be paddles of the kind more fully described hereafter, and shortly now as worked in connection with bands, passing over drums fitted in three or four openings parallel with one another, constructed in the middle part of the vessel, the blades of the paddles to project just beyond the vessel's flat bottom, and the whole to be provided with means for being thrown out of gear, so as the paddles should lie flat when passing over shallow ground, at which times the auxiliary propelling power, through ejection of water, as next described, might be used till the shallow part is passed over. For while the paddles are so thrown out of gear on account of shallow water, or in case of damage to them by mines, a subsidiary slow propelling power might be provided by having, say, three large tubes parallel to one another extending from stem to stern, each end opening near the level of the ship's bottom and rising (for purpose of being protected) in the middle; the whole provided with powerful pumping apparatus.
There is a great chaos of opinions on the subject of war-ships. You come across some people who say, "The opinion of the best authorities now is that ironclads are utterly useless—what are really wanted now are cruisers, the swiftest afloat that can be built, each carrying one powerful gun that will throw further than any guns carried by an average ironclad, which by her superior speed could choose her own distance and disable the ironclad, etc." Something after the fashion of the Pirate in Marryatt's novel of that name. All very fine if you have no coast to defend or blockade.
Again, you hear it said that torpedoes and dynamite guns are going page 17to revolutionise everything—and that trying to secure defence against such things is hopeless. If it were so it would not matter much for countries like France, Germany, and Russia, which have large standing armies; or America, which could soon raise a big army; but it would be a poor look-out for England. For my own part, I have never been much a believer in torpedoes or dynamite guns—and think that in actual warfare, they will, perhaps, be found to prove more dangerous to the users of them than to the enemy, and that the vessels of the nations which employ them will require to have chiefly Curtiuses for their crews, An exception might be in naval warfare on rivers.
My own opinion is that a vessel with a sufficient number of hexagonal cells (say, ones of three feel diameter as a maximum number or minimum diameter) in her bottom, reaching two or three feet above the water line, might pass over dynamite mines, and unless in actual contact with such mines, or if there was any space occupied by water between that mine and the ship's bottom, that the water thrown up would escape in the direction of least resistance, and that direction would be in radii all round the vessel, which latter might be heaved up a foot or two, then subside below water level to the same extent, and, after a few oscillations, settle to rest; but that would be all. If the bottom were in actual contact with the mine (a most unlikely thing) a few cells might be crushed in, but no disablement take place.
As for the deck of an ironclad (or rather all the surface above water) with the exception of a conning tower, and one or two cupolas, that should present a perfectly clean appearance like the glacis of a fort, allowing no foothold or cover to boarders. Not those fearful and wonderful labyrinths of adjuncts which are to be seen on warships of the present style, and which seem to invite a hailstorm of splinters. With regard to cupolas, if in pairs, their centres should be respectively on alternate sides of middle line of vessel sufficiently far to allow of the big gun in each being trained fore and aft if required (not on middle line as shown in the Ships of Tarshish, which showing was an oversight—the worse that the form of construction gives plenty room for the eccentricity).
I will now turn to describe a different class of vessels and to a more peaceful and pleasurable subject, which is to propound the probable approximate form and size of the passenger ships of the future, and after having done so I will return for a short time and give my idea of the best form for swift ocean cruisers, which (as to some of them at least) in the method of being propelled, would resemble such passenger ships.
* Anglice—Wild man of the woods.—Savage
† See Appendix, Sec. No. 4