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and principles developed peacefully in the British Isles are such as to afford the most secure platform for law and justice, for individual liberty and civilisation, that the world has ever seen.
Independently therefore of the desire to be strong and rich, and safe and at peace in our own homes, the cause of the unity of the Empire is one to struggle for, to live for, and to die for, if need be; and that unity will be cemented and made perfect by home representation only. So we may truthfully say with the great orator, Charles Fox, when he so warmly and heartily—and, alas ! so vainlypleaded for the American colonies more than a century ago : ‘Representation is the sovereign remedy for every evil.' '
JOSEPH MILLERD ORPEN.
A NOTE ON
BRITISH SHIPS IN FOREIGN NAVIES'
In the article bearing the above title, published in the April number of this Review, the following passages occur :
'In not a few cases the ships which have been constructed by private firms have been superior, tonnage for tonnage, to the contemporary vessels intended for the British service. In excuse for this anomaly it is urged that the conditions required for British ships are entirely different from those of any other country.'
• Cruisers for foreign navies have . . . been recently constructed in this country which have not been inferior even in the matter of the storage of large reserves of coal, and which have also been superior in speed, protection, and armament to any vessels of equivalent displacement, the handiwork of our Royal Dockyards ... and large staffs of highly trained natal architects and constructors.'
"The Japanese ironclad Yashima and the sister vessel Fuji ... may be compared with the contemporary British battle ship Renown, and this comparison is decidedly not to the advantage of the Renown.'
Mr. Hurd supports these assertions by tabulated comparisons of certain particulars for selected ships built in this country for the Royal Navy and for foreign navies. Similar comparisons have been frequently made. In fact it is the common practice when a ship is launched or completed for a foreign navy to see comparisons of this kind instituted, and invariably to the disadvantage of the ships of the Royal Navy. As a rule I make no comment on such comparisons ; but in the present instance, owing to the wide publicity given to the statements by their appearance in these pages, I have been urged by naval officers of high standing outside the Admiralty to depart from this rule and to show how incomplete and misleading these tabulated comparisons often are.
The subject is far too technical to be fully dealt with here. If other work permits I propose to discuss it elsewhere, under circumstances which will allow of technical treatment, and of reply by those who possess the professional knowledge necessary to the appreciation of the problems of war-ship design. Mr. Hurd obviously has had no technical training in naval architecture. He represents and writes for the man in the street.' His sources of information are accounts pube lished by the press and in the many Annuals, Almanacs, and Pocket Books now produced. His tables follow the form usually adopted in these publications; they embody a summary of certain leading particulars ; but they leave unnoticed many most important features in designs, and do not furnish proper data for fair comparisons. A mere statement of maximum speeds attained conveys no definite meaning, unless one knows the duration and conditions of the trials, the extent to which boilers are forced,' and the loads carried. Again, to merely give maximum thicknesses of armour on sides or decks, without regard to the areas over which these thicknesses extend, or to the total areas protected, leaves the question of relative defence quite open as between ship and ship. A simple enumeration of the numbers and calibres of guns, unaccompanied by any details of ammunition supplies, is obviously an incomplete statement of the true power of the armament. And as regards .coal capacity' there is no necessary or fixed relation between what the bunkers will hold and the weight of coal actually carried at the nominal displacement and the reputed speed. Mr. Hurd's tables, in short, omit so much that they have little
real value as bases of comparative fighting power. The tables are to experts more remarkable for what they leave out than for what they contain.
A single illustration will suffice for the present purpose. I will take the table (p. 552) in which the Renown and the Japanese ironclads are compared. Mr. Hurd appears to consider that it indicates some greatly superior constructive skill on the part of the designers of the Japanese ships. He is probably unaware of the history of this design. The Japanese naval authorities, after full investigation of various types of ironclads in existence, did us the honour to conclude that, on the whole, the Royal Sovereign class was to be preferred. They prepared a sketch design (based on the Royal Sovereign) in which they practically adopted the system of protection and armament which we had carried out in 1889. The secondary armament was almost identical with that of the Royal Sovereign. The principal armament was made practically the same as that which had been adopted by the Admiralty for the Majestic class. No handsomer acknowledgment of their obligation to us could have been made than was made by the Japanese. Their vessels were equipped, however, for service in home waters; they carried less weights of provisions, stores, and coal, and so were made of less displacement' tonnage. For the benefit of the non-technical reader it may be explained that "displacement 'simply means the total weight of a ship and all she carries—propelling apparatus, coals, armament, armour, equipment of all kinds. The two eminent English firms to whom the construction of these Japanese vessels was entrusted undertook the responsibility of the designs and the fulfilment of the stipulated conditions. They have been eminently successful, but they must have been surprised to find themselves credited by Mr. Hurd with such a triumph over the Renown.
Instead of being designed for service in home waters the Renown was avowedly built for service on distant foreign stations. Consequently she is equipped with weights of provisions, stores, &c., exceeding by more than 200 tons the corresponding weights in the Japanese ships. Besides this her steel hull is sheathed over with wood planking and coppered; so that she can keep the sea without foulness of bottom, and consequent loss of speed, for much longer periods than the Japanese ships, which are steel-bottomed. To provide the Renown with this sheathing involves not much less than 450 tons of weight, and probably from 25,0001. to 30,0001. in additional cost. Mr. Hurd does not mention this; perhaps he might have modified or omitted his reference to the Renown as the most expensive armoured vessel of her size' if he had realised the facts. He does admit that the Renown can carry considerably more coal'than the Japanese ships, but probably is not aware that, whereas the latter carry 700 tons on their displacement of about 12,400 tons, the Renown carries 1,200 to 1,300 tons on the same displacement. Summing up these excesses of load carried by the Renown, and necessary for the special services she was designed to fulfil on distant foreign stations, where independent sea-keeping for long periods might be required, it will be seen that she carries on the same displacement about 1,200 tons more than the Japanese ships in the form of extra equipment, coals, and sheathing. The Japanese authorities were undoubtedly well advised in leaving their battle ships unsheathed, just as we do with our Channel and Mediterranean battle ships; and in accepting less weights of coal and equipment, since their ships were not intended to go far from tbeir base of supplies. In this manner they were able to increase the weights assigned to armament and armour, and so to obtain increased fighting power. The weight assigned to propelling machinery was practically the same in the Renown and the Japanese ships. As Mr. Hurd says the ships are of approximately the same speed. Taking “natural draught' in stokeholds, the Renown on trial had an advantage of about half a knot over the Yashima. The latter was run for a short time at higher .forced draught' than is accepted in the Royal Navy, and much higher than in the corresponding trial of the Renown. This gave her a maximum speed of a little under 197 knots, as against 18 knots for the Renown. With equal forcing the development of power and speeds would be practically identical,
and on service high forced-draught is not used. All this refers to the speeds with clean bottoms. When the ships had been two or three months out of dock the copper-sheathed Renown would have the heels' of the others, and after longer periods afloat her superiority in speed would rapidly increase. It is unnecessary to pursue the subject further. It will be obvious that the differences between the British and Japanese ships are not due to any superior constructive skill, but simply to different distribution of the weights. In other words the keynote of the Renown's design was adaptability to carrying a specified armament and defensive armour, in association with qualities essential for distant foreign service. About two years later the Japanese decided to build their ships for service in home waters, and to restrict their supplies of coal and equipment, as well as to leave them unsheathed. They were thus able to increase the weight of armour and to mount 12-inch guns. For their purposes they were undoubtedly right; but the Renown can perform many services which would be impossible to the Japanese ships.
Enough has been said to show how necessary it is for fairness of comparison to have full information respecting the designs of ships, their intended service, and how the displacement tonnage' is distributed. Such information is not afforded by Mr. Hurd's tables either for battle ships or cruisers. Did space permit, it could be shown for the latter how much is lacking, and how easy it is by reducing supplies of ammunition to increase the numbers or calibres of the guns. With the same total weight assigned to armament there is no difficulty in practically doubling the number of guns of a given calibre ; but the table gives no indication of how the thing is done. Of course it may be argued that in the Royal Navy unduly large supplies of ammunition are carried. That is an independent question, into which I will not enter, except to say that the existing regulations were laid down after full consideration by the highest naval authority.
It is possible that Mr. Hurd has, in the back of his mind,' an idea that there is a lack of ability on the part of the officer responsible for the design of Her Majesty's ships, which explains their alleged inferiority 'tonnage for tonnage' to ships built in this country for foreign navies. This is a matter on which I will offer no opinion. But there may be no harm in saying that, at least, there is no lack of experience on my part as compared with my professional friends. No inconsiderable number of the foreign ships enumerated by Mr. Hurd on p. 553 were built by myself or from my designs. It may be admitted, therefore, that my knowledge of both sides of this subject-viz. Admiralty and private practice—is competent and extensive. On the basis of that experience and knowledge I do affirm (pace Mr. Hurd) that the conditions required of British ships are entirely different from those of any other country.'
On the policy of building and arming large numbers of war ships for foreign countries one remark may be added. Mr. Hurd appears to doubt its wisdom. His argument, pushed to its logical conclusion, would involve our abdication of our position as the leading manufacturing country of the world. We should cease to build mercantile ships for foreigners, and to export machinery of all kinds, coals, and all other manufactured products which might eventually be used against us by possible competitors. The simple fact is we are the greatest ship-builders in the world, and the development and maintenance of the ship-building and engineering industry bas been largely the result of foreign orders. Apart from such orders the great private establishments capable of building and arming war ships of all clases would not have attained their present positions. Government patronage alone could not have produced this result. The balance of advantage to the national defence undoubtedly lies on the side of the existing condition of things. Other manufacturing countries recognise the fact and are striving to emulate our example.
W. H. WRITE.
The Editor of THE NINETEENTH CENTURY cannot undertako
to return unaccepted MSS.
No. CCLVI-JUNE 1898
*SPLENDID ISOLATION' OR WHAT?
The uncovering of the fierce dragon mask of the Chinese Empire by Japan has exposed the trembling and effeminate youth that hid behind it. We all know now that it was only a big voice that kept the white barbarians so long at a respectful distance from the puny Celestial's treasures. In the reaction that has come from the discovery we begin to perceive a great danger to the peace of the world. Great Powers, whose aspirations were until lately vague and illformed, have suddenly given them shape, and are on fire to realise them.
Some few weeks ago I was tempted to speak in my constituency on foreign politics, and knowing how anxious people were in regard to them, I spoke about China and West Africa, and concluded my remarks by declaring somewhat imprudently that our "Splendid Isolation’ had been proved to be nothing more than "Splendid Dotage.'
At the Society of Arts last week I took up the other alternative, and suggested that the time had come for us to respond to gratuitous insolence and unjustifiable provocation with something more than mannerly protests and an ever-forgiving temper. The suggestion was ill received—the speakers who followed denounced it as 'aggressive,' that I was making too much ado about a “swamp.' It has of late become a custom to speak of any African territory that may be in dispute as a swamp. We must not, however, be indifferent to the fact, that in principle an acre of swamp is as important as a realm. Vol. XLIII--No. 256