THE DREADNOUGHT  

Extract from “Brassey’s Naval Annual 1907”.  

described in a Parliamentary Paper (Cd. 3048) entitled a "Memorandum Explanatory of the Programme of New Construction for 1905-6."

Ten 12-in. guns and twenty-seven l2-pounder quick-firing anti-torpedo boat guns and five submerged torpedo tubes.

In arranging for a uniform armament of l2-in. guns it became at once apparent that a limitation to the number of guns that could be usefully carried was imposed by considerations of the blast effect of the guns on the crews of those guns adjacent to them. It is obviously uneconomical to place the guns in such relative positions that the blast of any single gun on any permissible training should very seriously hamper the use of one or more of the remaining guns.

While it is recognised that broadside fire is held to be the most important in a battleship, all-round fire is also considered of great importance, since it lies in the power of an enemy to force an opponent, who is anxious to engage, to fight an end-on  action.

In the arrangement of armament adopted, six of the guns are mounted in pairs on the centre line of the ship; the remaining four guns are mounted in pairs on the broadside. Thus eight l2-in. guns - 80 per cent. of the main armament - can be fired on either broadside, and four, or possibly six, l2-in. guns - or 60 per cent. of the main armament can be fired simultaneously ahead or astern.

In view of the potentialities of modern torpedo craft, and, considering especially the chances of torpedo attack towards the end of an action, it is considered necessary to separate the anti-torpedo boat guns as widely as possible from one another, so that the whole of them shall not be disabled by one or two heavy shells; This consideration led the Committee to recommend a numerous and widely distributed armament of 12-pounder quick-firing guns of a new design and greater power than those hitherto carried for use against torpedo craft.

In order to give the ship good sea-going qualities and to increase the command of the forward guns, a forecastle is provided, giving the Ship a freeboard forward of 28 ft.-a higher freeboard than has been given to any modern battleship.

The main armour belt has a maximum thickness of 11 in., tapering to 6 in. at the forward and 4 in. at the after extremity of the vessel; the redoubt armour varies in thickness from 11 in. to 8in.; the turrets and fore conning tower are 11 in. thick, and the after conning tower is 8 in. thick; the protective deck varies from 1¾  in. to  2 ¾  in. in thickness.

Special attention has been given to safeguarding the ship from destruction by  underwater explosion. All the main transverse bulkheads below the main deck­ - which will be 9 ft. above the water-line - are unpierced except for the purpose of leading pipes or wires conveying power. Lifts and other special arrangements are provided to give access to the various compartments.

Mobility of forces is a prime necessity in war. The greater the mobility the greater the chance of obtaining a strategic advantage. This mobility is represented by speed and fuel endurance. Superior speed also gives the power of choosing the range. To gain this advantage the speed designed for the Dreadnought is 21 knots.

The question of the best type of propelling machinery to be fitted was also most thoroughly considered. While recognising that the steam turbine system of pro­pulsion has at present some disadvantages, yet it was determined to adopt it because of the saving in weight and reduction in number of working parts, and reduced liability to breakdown ; its smooth working, ease of manipulation, saving in coal consumption at high powers and hence boiler-room space, and saving in engine-room complement ; and also because of the increased protection which is provided for with this system, due to the engines being lower in the ship - advantages which much than counterbalance the disadvantages. There was no difficulty in arriving at a decision to adopt turbine propulsion from the point of view of sea-going speed only. The point that chiefly occupied the Committee was the question of providing sufficient stopping and turning power for purposes of quick and easy manoeuvering. Trials were carried out between the sister vessels Eden and Waveney, and the Amethyst and  Sapphire one of each class fitted with reciprocating and the other with turbine engines ; experiments were also carried out at the Admiralty Experimental Works at Haslar and it was considered that all requirements promise to be fully met by the adoption of suitable turbine machinery, and that the manoeuvering capabilities of the ship when in company with a fleet or when working in narrow waters, will be quite satisfactory.

The necessary stopping and astern power will be obtained by astern turbines on each of the four shafts. These astern turbines will be arranged in series, one high and one low pressure astern turbine on each side of the ship, and in this way the steam will be more economically used when going astern, and a proportionally greater astern  power obtained than in the Eden and Amethyst.

 The ship has a total coal-bunker capacity of 2700 tons, and with this amount of coal she will be able to steam about 5800 sea miles at economical speed, and about 3500 sea miles at 18½ knots after allowance has been made for bad weather and for a small amount of coal being left in the bunkers. Stowage for oil fuel has been arranged for, but oil fuel has not been taken into account in estimating the radius of action, which, of course, will be greatly increased thereby.

Considerable attention has been devoted to the arrangements for the accommoda­tion of the officers and men. In view of the increasing length and greater power of modern ships, the usual position of the admiral's and captain's quarters right aft is becoming more and more open to objection. Up to the present the principal officers have been berthed at the farthest possible distance from the fore bridge and conning tower, where their most important duties are performed. It has been decided that in this ship the admiral's and captain's quarters shall be placed on the main deck forward, near the conning tower; also that the officers' quarters shall be placed forward, both on the main deck and on the upper deck, in the fore part of the ship. Ample accommodation for the remainder of the crew is available on the main and lower decks aft.

 The distribution of armament of the Dreadnought will be best understood by reference to the Plate in Part II. The ten 12-in. guns are mounted in pairs in five barbettes. One barbette is on the fore­castle, but rather farther aft than usual, the guns being. 35 ft. above the water-line. Four barbettes are on the upper deck, of which one is placed on either side .nearly 100 ft. abaft the bow guns, the fore­castle being recessed so as to enable the guns to fire ahead, while, as the upper deck is completely clear of obstruction, they will be able to fire nearly right astern. This disposition gives the ship a broad­side fire from eight 12-in. guns. Four, and possibly six, guns can be used as bow chasing guns. The guns are so distributed that the blast of no pair of guns will interfere with the fire of the others. This is far from being the case with some ships of German, French and United States design. Amongst other new features in the Dread­nought the masts are built as tripods, which diminishes the risk of communication with the gun-sighting station and wireless telegraphy apparatus being destroyed; the boats are carried round the foremast and funnels, and the officers' quarters are located on the main deck forward.

There is considerable difference of opinion in naval circles, British and Foreign, as to the abandonment of all secondary armament in the Dreadnought. On the one hand it is claimed that the naval battles of the future, like many of those in the Russo-Japanese war, will be fought at long range, and at long range 12-in. guns have an .overwhelming advantage over the 9 2-in. and guns of smaller calibre, and it is further claimed that even at close range the smashing power of the 12-in. gun will compensate for the rapidity of fire of the :smaller guns. Lt.-Commander Sims, Inspector of Target Practice to the United States Navy, whose report is printed in Part III., says:­." From the point of view of the efficiency of gun fire alone it would be unwise ever to build a man-of-war of any type whatever having more than one calibre of gun in her main battery.”  In other words, ­it may be stated that the abandonment of mixed battery ships in favour of the all-big-gun one-calibre ship was directly caused by the recognition of certain fundamental principles of naval marksmanship developed by gunnery officers. On the other hand it is contended  that the decisive engagements in the Battle of Tsushima were fought at much shorter range than has sometimes been supposed, that the 6-in. gun played a very important part in deciding the issue of the battle, and that the hail of fire which can be directed from a battery of Q.F. guns on the upper works of an enemy's ship would demoralise the fire of her heavy guns.

At the Battle of Tsushima the Russians had an immense superiority in guns of 9-in. calibre and over. They had twenty-six l2 in., fifteen 10-in., and four 9-in., or a total of forty-five heavy guns, to the sixteen 12-in. and one 10-in. of the Japanese. The Japanese, on the other hand, had thirty 8-in. and 160 6-in. Q.F., to the eight 8-in. and 102 6-in. Q.F. of the Russians. The l2-in. guns of the Japanese must have been the worse for wear, as Captain Semenoff, in his thrilling account of the battle, describes the Japanese 12-in. shells as "portmanteaux. curving awkwardly head over heels through the air and falling anyhow on the water." From the above 'facts it appears reasonable to infer that the hail of high explosive shell from the Japanese 6-in. played a very important part in determining the issue of the battle. It may further be observed that arguments in favour of a ship being armed to fight actions at long range, which are drawn from the Russo-Japanese war, appear to be based on false premises. In the early actions of the war the Japanese were hampered by the consider­ation that the loss of a single battleship (of which they had only six at the opening of hostilities, reduced to four at Tsushima by the loss of the Yashima and Hatsuse) might involve for them the loss of the command of the sea. These actions were fought mainly at long    and were indecisive.

In the new battleships building, or about to be laid down for Foreign Navies, the armament of the Dreadnought has not been generally copied. The two new battleships building in Japan were designed before the Dreadnought, and one of which, the Satsuma, has been recently launched, are to be armed with four 12-in.  and twelve 10-in. guns, while twelve 4.7-in. guns are to be mounted in a battery on the main deck beneath the 10-in. guns. The six battleships of the Danton class building for the French Navy will be armed with four 12-in., twelve 9'4-in. and sixteen 12-pdr. Guns.  In the United States battleships the main armament is identical with that of the Dreadnought, but instead of 12-pdr. guns they carry fourteen 5-in. Q.F. guns. The particulars of the new German battleships have not yet been made public. The United States battleships are to have the same speed as the Dreadnought. The designed speed of the Japanese and French ships is said to be 19 knots.

The steam trials of the Dreadnought took place in the first ten days of October and passed off most satisfactorily, the speed obtained on the measured mile being more than half a knot in excess of the designed speed. A correspondent of the Engineer, however, considers that new propellers should be tried, " sanguine prophets giving the ­ship 23 knots when so perfected."

At one-fifth Power

At seven-tenths Power

At full Power

Speed

I.H.P

Coal

Speed

I.H.P

Coal

Speed

I.H.P

Coal

13

5013

2.56

19.3

16,930

1.7

21.25

24,712

1.51

Speed By log.

IHP Shaft horse-power.

Coal pounds (?per IHP per hour)

The mean of four runs on the measured mile gave a speed of 21.6 knots with 27,518 I.H.P. At speeds under 15 knots the Dreadnought is said not to steer too well.

The Dreadnought, on completion, was sent on a long experimental cruise of about 10,000 miles, in the course of which she touched at Arosa Bay, Gibraltar, Golfo d' Aranci (Sardinia), Gibraltar and Trinidad, and returned to Portsmouth by March 27th. The two voyages across the Atlantic, of 3430 miles and 3980 miles respec­tively, were, according to the programme, to be made at the average speed of 17 knots. (This feat was accomplished on the voyage to Trinidad.) It is needless to say that there is no other battleship, and not many cruisers, which could attempt this. Of the six armoured cruisers which made the voyage from New York to Gibraltar in November, 1905, the Drake, Berwick and Oumberland just got across at 18 knots, consuming the whole of their coal supply. The other vessels gave up the struggle. M. Michel mentions in his report that of the three armoured cruisers which crossed the Atlantic last year, only the Amiral Aube made the passage satisfactorily, while the Conde and Marseillaise had to undergo repair, and were lost to the fleet for several months.

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