Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Ships of the Future

The Mercantile Navy of the Future

page 18

The Mercantile Navy of the Future.

In the Prologue to the Ships of Tarshish, written and published in 1884, is the following prognostication:—

"I think that the dimensions of the passenger-carrying ocean-going ships of the future will be something like 500 feet wide by 750 feet long, etc." … "I take 500 feet to be the least extent required to secure nearly an equilibrium in the heaviest gales. This is with reference to the width of ocean waves, with reference to which I am sorry to confess I have no data. The vessel's breadth should be double that of the wave or nearly so." Again:—"These vessels would be of the Livadia or Ships of Tarshish fashion."

I have since changed my mind as to the above-named shape being, likely to be that of the mercantile ships of the future, on account of an important point having occurred to me; which point is, as before mentioned, the utilising the power to be got out of the rise and fall of ocean waves, and in conjunction with so doing, having a form of propeller (already mentioned), which while being more effective than any employed hitherto, could also perhaps be used more advantageously in connection with the same form of construction, as would be required in order to utilize the said wave power.

But if I am wrong in my estimate of the practicability of utilising that power, then the Livadia form of vessel would after all be the best, because of its greater strength and shallower draught.

Also, I have since found, from reading, that ocean waves are much broader than I thought, the extreme breadth being about 500 feet. And as mankind, I am certain, will never be satisfied with anything short of finality in the matter of equilibrium without a break at sea, therefore the ships of the ultimate future will be about 1,000 feet broad by any length not less in extent than the breadth, but exceeding it ad libitum.

I may state here that I do not profess to go into small details of construction, but only give a general outline in my written description, and the same is the case with the drawings which are furnished herewith. At the same time, I have thought the thing out sufficiently to know that what I suggest could be done.

I would propose then to have nine vessels placed side by side, with a total breadth of 1,000 feet from outside to outside of the two outer vessels. Each pair of vessels to have a 30 feet wide opening between them (this dimension being equal to what perhaps their draught would be). Each of the two outside vessels to be 135 feet broad, and each of the seven intermediate ones to be 70 feet broad. Let page 19the said openings between reach upwards to 30 feet above the water level, or 60 feet from the bottom of the vessel. With regard to length, the mean of that of all the vessels would be 1,000 feet, but varying as to individuals—the middle vessel being 1,250 feet long, and the outer sides of each outer vessel being 750 feet long, the line touching the bow ends of each of the intermediate vessels (also those of the other two) forming a uniform slope between, and meeting the corresponding line drawn from the opposite side in a right angle.

Above the 60 feet level (measured from the bottom) would be the cargo carrying and habitable portion of the vessel, and the construction of which would be designed so as to form a secure and perfectly rigid connection of the vessels one with another.

There are drawings attached at end of this paper which illustrate this general description. In these also, as in the written description, there is no pretence of giving exact details, as nothing but sufficient experiment would settle the many questions that would arise in connection therewith.

To propel the united vessels there would be paddles attached to bands passing over drums, placed at suitable distances apart, say two or three hundred feet. No more length should be taken than found of actual advantage, in order to leave room for the other adjuncts hereinafter described for obtaining auxiliary driving power from the action of the waves. (This form of propelling is adopted from one of the numbers of the Marine Engineer of about four years ago.)

As in very rough weather the paddles working in the trough between the waves might be liable to race, it would be prudent, perhaps, to work each of the alternate sets in conjunction with the other.

The remainder of the space between the vessels, fore and aft, not taken up by the drums and paddles described (these being supposed to be placed amidships) would be taken up by large, so-called driving coffers, these to be as broad as would fill up the space between the vessels, after leaving sufficient room for them to work up and down, by about 43 to 46 feet long (according to thickness of dividing walls, hereinafter mentioned, though the bottoms might underlap these in an L form, to increase buoyancy) by a depth of say 24 feet, or as much deeper as experiment would prove could be allowed, after providing for extreme range of play. Between each pair of coffers, for purposes of strengthening connection, there might be dividing walls across from 5 to 10 feet thick, to reach as low down as they could without killing the action of the waves. These coffers would be attached to the vessels each by (say) 10 dovetail pistons, working on their three exposed sides against roller bearings (so as to be free page 20to move up and down with little friction), there being two such pistons working in each dividing wall, and three in each of opposite sides of vessels, the middle one of each triple set, last named, being provided with a rack for driving a pinion.

The form of the proposed superstructure is shown in the drawings, without any pretensions to its not being capable of great improvement being made on it, because, as implied before in this paper, only general principles are insisted on, all mechanical and other details being omitted.

The proposed superstructure consists, first, of a decked-in portion at the bow, as shown. The deck rising from the water-line at an elevation angle of 30 degrees (measured on the square from the sloping lines each side of the bow) till it meets the 60-feet level, and ending in a bulwark rising a little above that level as shown.

With respect to the remainder of the superstructure, or that part of it lying aft of the just described bow portion, commencing at the 60-feet level, there is first a bulwark from (say) 18 to 20 feet high all round the margin of the deck (at said 60-feet level); then rising from that deck are four stories, receding one behind the other (as to their roofs) at a uniform slope of 30 degrees. There is a gangway all round the base of each story about 26 feet broad—or equal to the co-tangent of 30 degrees multiplied into 15 feet, that being the height of each story. Then a large flat space, upon which is a central circular hall and tower.

These tiers or stories are intersected by openings or streets thirty feet wide running across the vessel from side to side, and the walls of these openings, as well as those of the different divisions of the whole superstructure, would be designed so as to secure the strongest possible system of trussing, in order to bind the whole of the upper and lower works together.

In the drawings nothing is shown on this large flat space (except the central hall and tower), but on it might he erected houses of the ordinary kind with streets between, and squares, with gardens; and this would form the passengers' living portion of the vessel, the tiers below being devoted to cargo.

The sixty feet vertical extent of these tiers above the deck would probably supply sufficient depth of trussing to secure a solid connection between the vessels, but the structures and street walls above might be designed so as to add still further strength.

In the drawing of the end elevation and cross section, the dotted line shows the probable form of ocean waves at their highest and broadest, and the action—as influenced by the rise and fall of these waves—of the large iron coffers or boxes placed free to move in a page 21verticle direction (as before described) between the vessels, is shown, these iron coffers being supposed to be weighted to near the same weight as that of a volume of water equal to that of the said coffers.

I imagine, however, on reflection, that the so weighting of these coffers, or anything near like it, would not be advisable, and have come to the conclusion that the proper course for finding out to what extent they should be weighted would be to determine by experiment the point at which the force of the up-stroke of the pistons produced by buoyancy would be balanced by that of the down-stroke produced by gravity.

According to the drawings there would be in the whole system of united vessels, 104 of these coffers, and I have made a rough (rule-of-thumb) calculation of their average driving power. I give the result of it with diffidence, for the following stated reasons:—First, I have never before had any practical experience with the sort of calculation involved, and have had to read up for it; secondly, I have had to guess at one of the elements used in the calculation, it being a thing that could be determined only by actual trial; and thirdly, the result which came out seemed lo be too good to be true. I having, as shown in the beginning of this paper, looked upon the power to be obtained as only an auxiliary one to the extent of perhaps one third, certainty not more than one-half. It is as follows:—

First, I guessed that the proper weight for the coffers would be that of one-third of their volume in sea water. Next, I assumed that the average stroke with the pistons one with another, and one time with another, would be five feet, that is, assuming them to exert force both up and down; and that this double stroke would occur every ten seconds, or five seconds for each way, that being the received period of an ocean wave.

The answer is a total of 129,000 horse-power (about), which I can scarcely believe, as it seems, as I observed before, too good to be true. However. I let it go. Experts will soon set it right. It is, however, just possible, on the other hand, that the power might be even greater than the above given one; for I have allowed a good deal of margin (in taking 2½ feel above and below mean sea level) of deduction from the average rise and fall of ocean waves—for losses caused by shelter, eddy waves, reluctance of coffers in answering; to the call of waves readily, and consequent meetings on return journey, etc.

How much the shelter, caused by outer parts of the vessel, might kill the action of the waves, lessening their rise and fall, would be one of the matters for experiment; but still there would, no doubt, be a considerable amount of vertical motion of the water still going on in spaces between the vessels.

page 22

This utilising of the power to be got out of the rise and fall of ocean waves could only be carried out in connection with vessels, and those of the enormous breadth described, and in no other conceivable juxtaposition.

A day may come when most of the manufactories of the world shall be established out in the middle of the ocean, when, as speed would be no object, a greater number of the driving coffers could be used in proportion to space available—less being devoted to the use of the paddles, which would only be required to slowly shift the position of the manufactory according to the time of the year. What healthy lives the operatives would lead! No risk of typhoid fever!

I have said nothing as to steering apparatus or funnels, nor shown anything relating to them in the drawings, as these are matters of detail. But there can be no doubt that all the kinds of ships herein suggested could be steered much more easily than those at present the faishon.

Reverting now (as slated would be done a few pages back), for a short space, to the subject of war-ships, a swift cruiser might be constructed as a triple vessel say about 500 feet long and about 180 feet wide, with fifteen to twenty feet wide openings between, and propelled with paddles as described, by steam alone. I say a triple vessel for I think a twin vessel would not allow of a sufficient height to afford a strong enough union without being top heavy.

A powerful ironclad swift cruiser might be made of four or five fold vessels, say 500 to 600 feet long, and 250 to 300 feet wide, and in which the power to be got from the rise and fall of ocean waves might be utilised, and so save steam while slowly cruising in the track of vessels. All the machinery for propelling such a vessel would be entirely out of reach of possible harm, and the cells next to the outer skin (as indeed could be done in the case of all the battle ships herein proposed) could be filled with coal, giving additional thickness of armour, and in this case without risk of causing top-heaviness. To create elasticity, the cells next exterior, in coast defence ironclads, might be filled with sawdust chemically rendered non-inflammable and hydraulically compressed.

And now I will resume the subject of passenger and cargo ships and make some general remarks on it.

I have often thought, when musing over the subject, how I would like to stir up the minds of thoughtful men (apart from those whose vested interests, or professional instincts of habit would naturally bias them against the subject), to realise to its utmost what a beneficent gift this great ocean which covers two-thirds of the earth's surface really is. To make them perceive how that by properly utilising its page 23qualities and the conditions which prevail over its domain, the whole face and state of the world might be changed exceedingly for the better; and this by the same means, that is having suitable ships as would render what is now looked upon, often, with terror or dread into a source of pleasurable excitement, a spectacle of grandeur, accompanied by a sense of perfect security and comfort; such as the contemplation of the effects of a hurricane at sea from the balcony or tower of one of the ships of the future, as they might be, and Certainly will be sooner or later under conditions of greater safety than would exist in the same latitudes anywhere on shore in similar weather.

Then when "the sea was mountains rolling," truly, and not in humorous irony or professional optimism, Barney Bunting might, after "turning his quid," say to Billy Bowling, "Lord help them, how I pities all unhappy folks on shore now."

Consider this great expanse! what it really is. The equivalent of a network of millions of miles of ways a thousand times better than railways, each line able to supply free of cost perhaps a great portion, or perhaps all, of the locomotive power required in using it. We spend millions of pounds on land; we run ourselves into debt in order to make a few tens of thousands of miles of roads, continually costing further large sums for maintenance. The ocean ways, on the other hand, cost nothing for either construction or maintenance.

I know some will ridicule this as a great discovery of what everyone knows already, and of what has been acted on for ages. But what I contend for is that less than one-tenth part of the inherent potentialities have been made use of.

We see some countries thickly populated, men crowded thickly together, with all the evils resulting from such crowding. We see other countries with good lands, in a better climate often than that of the thickly populated countries, thinly inhabited. We see under this condition of things products wasted in one place which would be gladly utilised in another.

There is nothing which would tend to equalise the conditions subsisting between all the countries of the earth more than the taking advantage, to their fullest extent, of the possibilities afforded by the ocean for locomotion.

With vessels on the scale described, cargoes of thousands of fat cattle and sheep could be conveyed in four or five weeks from one side of the world to the other, and landed in as good condition as when embarked.

Emigrants in thousands could easily be carried to fill the waste places of the earth, and while on the voyage be more comfortably page 24housed and treated than they ever were before in their lives—not as now, subjected to all sorts of miseries and degradations.

I have no doubt but that to some a good deal of what I write will appear ridiculous. But to the more thoughtful readers I would further suggest the following considerations:—

Civilization, education, and wealth are rapidly spreading and increasing all over the earth.

The Eastern Question, which for hundreds of years has kept the heart of Asia locked up, will be solved before another generation has passed away.

The African questions will also be solved within the same period, and the whole of that Dark Continent opened out.

Each of these circumstances, in addition to many other important ones not mentioned, will lead to the to and fro locomotion of millions.

Hundreds will require to travel by sea as well as by land where units do now.

To meet this altered condition of things increased facilities will have to be given either in the direction of more numerous vessels, or larger ones.

Now, can there be any doubt as to which of these alternatives should be chosen? Everyone knows with what shrinking—and justly too—a sea voyage is looked upon by most people, that is by those who are not seasoned to that form of travel, and those in delicate health.

The shrinking is both on account of the real great dangers to be encountered—dangers from fire, collisions and storms, and also on account of the great discomfort to be endured during the whole of a voyage, especially in the matter of sleeping arrangements.

Unless it is impossible from the nature of things, it is as certain as that the sun is shining from the heavens on some place every day, that at some future time men will be able to travel in vessels absolutely safe from the risk of foundering, and free from any motion conducive to sea-sickness, and with sleeping-rooms as comfortable as (if not more so than) the average of those in good hotels on shore.

Freedom from sea-sickness is only to be got bv having vessels of very great breadth, and absolute safety from the risk of foundering, is only to be got also by having vessels of very great breadth, because such safety can only be secured by having a great number of cells in the ship's bottom, and room for that great number can only be obtained by having that bottom broad.

Because cells of a description to secure almost absolute immunity from the risk of foundering could not be used in connection with the ordinarily shaped vessels—narrow in proportion to their length—for page 25the reason that it is necessary in order to secure such immunity that the upper ends of such cells should be a sufficient distance above the water line. Then above the tops of these cells there should be sufficient height of superstructure to provide for cargo and living room. To provide this sufficient height in a narrow vessel would make it top heavy, and liable to roll heavily, not to say, capsize.

Therefore the quality to secure freedom from sea-sickness is also the quality to secure immunity from the risk of foundering.

Then why not have vessels constructed of a very great breadth, and with a superstructure erected on a floating system of a great number of cells, side by side, and strongly joined together—cells so small in diameter that it would require a great number of them to be damaged before the general buoyancy would be appreciably affected?

Even in the case of collisions there would be no danger of foundering, and no danger to life, except to those happening to be in or near the parts coming in contact. But with the altered conditions which would arise with electric lights carried three or four hundred feet high, risk of collision would be almost nil.

I do not mean to say that vessels of the extreme size (passenger ships), shown in the drawings, should be made at the first start, only that such is the size—this relates to breadth which will reach to finality, and where the spirit of progress might be supposed to rest satisfied. As to length, that given is only the supposed minimum required to secure finality.

Yet even now, if all existing British lines could be consolidated, such ships would pay, and such consolidation (with such ships) would mean the wiping out of every other line on the face of the ocean. Not, however, that I believe in such things except as national affairs carried out with due regard to justice to everyone.

What grand permanent international exhibitions could be carried out with such vessels!

To resume. I think, however, that 250 feet would be the least breadth required to secure immunity from the risk of foundering or capsizing, along with a considerable degree of (though not perfect) immunity from liability to sea-sickness. Such vessels might be built, either as triple vessels joined together, with spaces between for working long lines of paddles on bands passing over drums; or they might be of the Livadia class, but driven with the same kind of paddles fixed in openings left in the vessel's bottom. This last would be the strongest class, and the shallowest in draught.

I do not for one moment under-estimate the difficulties which are in the way of introducing the class of vessels here advocated, as there can be no doubt that the obstacles in such way would be enormous.

page break