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leave to others the task which his manhood would otherwise have prompted him to perform.
Yet such injudicious and unfeeling conduct is not uncommon on the part of, it may be, well-meaning persons, but who, never having had their foot in a life-boat, in a heavy surf, and being quite ignorant of the terrific force with which it will often break over and overwhelin both boat and crew, expect impossibilities, and make themselves judges in the case.
We beg to remind all such, that under some circumstances of wind and sea combined, human strength is not sufficient to force any boat ahead, whilst never has a boat been built, and probably never will be, that would not also be liable, under some circumstances, to be upset.
We will relate one case amongst others, which during the present winter have given rise to animadversion on life-boats' crews, because their gallant efforts have not been crowned with success, and which case will not only serve to illustrate our subject, but will, we trust, induce anyone who may read it, to withhold a hasty judgment in any such case, should they ever have the pain to witness one.
At about balf-past 7 P.M., on the 23rd of November, 1865, a vessel was seen in distress at the north side of Blackpool. The life-boat of the National Life-boat Institution was conveyed with all expedition opposite the scene of danger, and in a few minutes was launched into a raging sea. So strong a surf had the crew to encounter, that the life-boat filled three times in succession, and was with difficulty forced ahead against the wind and waves. After hard pulling, she was got within a bundred and fifty yards of the perishing ship, but at this point so complete a gale set in for half an hour, that three races of sea broke over the men, and smashed four of their oars. The life-boat was then backed into shallow water, and rowed up to windward, in order to make a second attempt, but they could not get so near as before. Driven back again, they, by-and-by, made a third noble effort, and now saw a light held forth from the imperilled ship, but found it impossible to make advance against the heavy head sea that was rolling, and which for two hours and a half had been filling their boat as they boldly fought with the waves. The crew being then exhausted, and seeing all their efforts to be futile, came ashore. No sooner had they done so than the vessel capsized and broke to pieces; one side of her was washed up, and the cries of struggling sailors were distinctly heard. The life-boat was again put to sea in the liope of picking up men that might be on rafts, or otherwise trying to escape, but nothing living could be found. It was now nearly midnight; and the life-boat had become locked between two cliffs on the beach, from which position she was unable to get away without damage until 6 o'clock on the following morning. All the crew of the ill-fated ship were lost. The vessel was the brig Favourite, of Liverpool. She was loaded with palin-oil and seeds, and had a crew of ten men. The wreck was about a mile from shore. In expression of approval of their exertions, although unsuccessful, the Institution paid the crew of the lifc-boat thirteen in number, a double reward, or £2 each.
In disputes between individuals and the Admiralty, we always feel that there is something to be said on the official side of the question which it is not considered advisable to make public; we cannot believe that that department is actuated by any other mutive than the public good. This opinion is still further strengthened by our experience of the past. We have seen it charged with slowness in adopting vessels of a new model; then, when a different systein has been acted upon, and a different type of vessel bas been devised which has been considered an improvement, the Board has been charged with recklessly expending the public money on ships of a bad model. The natural effect of this experience has been that the Admiralty of late has been content to feel its way, and to put each new modification to a practical test before spending large sums of money on what, however good it may be in itself, may be subsequently excelled by something else. In referring, therefore, to Captain Coles' pamphlet, we shall not enter upon the consideration of any cause of complaint he may conceive he has against the Admiralty, but confine ourselves to a consideration of the objections that liave been raised against ships of bis peculiar model.
On the 22nd Nov. 1864, Captain Coles addressed a letter to the Admiralty, in which he offered, with the assistance of a competent draughtsman and naval architect, to design a sea-going turret-ship to compete with any vessel of Mr. Reed's designing, equalling them in speed, defence, and sea-going qualities, and surpassing them in the power of offence. His letter contained other propositions which, as they were not accepted, need not be given here. In reply to what may be considered his challenge, he was furnished with the drawings of the Pallas; to which he conformed pretty closely in the matter of dimensions without imitating the form. In this design, he proposed that the armour plates should be six inches in thickness, that of the Pallas being four and a half inches, and that the draught of water should be only 22:6, while that of the latter was 24:3. As regards the armament, le proposed to put in two 600-pounders, and two 100.pounders ; the weight of the broadside discharged from the turret-ship would therefore be nearly four times that of the latter, but this, of course, is far from being the extent to which it would excel the Pallas for all purposes of offence and defence.
Some of the objections urged against his design by the witnesses who were examined by the committee, would probably not have been made by them if they had not been inpressed with the opinion that the vessel was not capable of carrying more than one turret. It was quite natural, indeed, to assuine that as the designer had proposed only one turret, that the vessel would not be capable of carrying a second without a diminution in the thickness of the armour plates or in the weight of the guns. This, we are told, is not the case, and consequently, the first objection urged, viz., that as the whole offensive power of the ship, as represented by her armament, is comprised within one turret, it would be liable to be rendered temporarily or permanently useless by a single shot or shell entering the top of the turret. The objection is not a novel one, it has been made ever since the design for a turretship was made public. The reply of Captain Coles to this objection is not a sufficient one. The chances of a ship being disabled in action are of course diminished in proportion to the number of turrets ; but it does not meet the case to say that because the guns of the Pallas are only nine feet out of the water, and those of the turret-ship sixteen, therefore the latter must make a great roll towards the former to give it a chance of firing a missile into it. We apprehend that there is little chance, in the event of a war breaking out, of fleets composed of iron-clads engaging each other in actiuns on the high seas, the probability is that they will be fought in the vicinity of forts, and we may be quite sure that in that case the constant endeavours of the gunners in the latter would be to drop a shell into the turrets, and thus render the vessels bearing them an easy prey to their ships. It is no answer to tliis objection to say that the probabilities of such an occurrence are few : we are bound to consider what may happen, and from what we know of the wonderful skill of some marksmen we should not like to reckon on their failing to hit anything they aimed at. At the same time we think there can be no doubt that, as compared with ordinarily constructed ships, firing their guns from a broadside, the turret-ship would have little to fear on the score of the top of the tower; moreover, we conceive that it might be made of such a form that neither shot or shell would be likely to damage it much. Compared with the Pallas, to which Captain Coles seems to liinit the comparison, there can be no question, that whatever its weak. ness in this particular, it is far less weak than that vessel. As the design of the Pallas was that given to him to compete with, we cannot be surprised that the Captain chiefly defends his systein by reference to that vessel, and if the Pallas cannot carry any other armament than that set down for her, it cannot well be disputed that she would fare badly in an encounter with a vessel having its sides covered with plates six inches in thickness, which would be invulnerable to 100-pounder shots, and carrying guns firing 600pound shots, which would go through her sides as easily as if she were built entirely of wood, and inflicting far greater injuries on her crew than if she were.
In considering Captain Coles' plan, however, we may leave the Pallas out of the question, and suppose a turret-ship engaged in an action in which it would be exposed to the fire of guns of equal calibre, or as much heavier as sea-going ships can be made to carry. We have in this case to consider what would be the effect of such a shot on the machinery by which it revolves if it struck the turret at its root. The inventor asserts that even in the event of a shot passing through the upper deck between the glacis plate of the turret and the ship's side, a contingency he considers very remote, but which appears to us as not so very unlikely to happen if it were exposed to the fire of a fortification, he has many ways of repairing this. What the effects of such a blow as this would have, cannot well be estimated, it requires actual experience to decide it; it might disable the machinery and prevent the turret from revolving yet without disabling the guns, which might still be fought, though under considerable disadvantage as compared with their previous efficiency. Compared with broadside guns, we quite agree with Captain Coles that the working of the turret guns is not more likely to be impeded by the effects of the concussion of a heavy shot striking the side of the ship and scattering splinters, but then we must bear in mind that the disabling of one broadside gun leaves all the rest unaffected.
Another objection that was raised, was the possibility of the ship being boarded, and the turret jammed by wedges. To this the answer is, that the captain of the turret-ship can prevent it from being boarded by a simple turn of the screw, that the men engaged in the operation would be under fire all the time, and what seems quite a sufficient answer without any other, as fast as it was driven in from above, it might be knocked out from below. In fact we attach little weight to any objection to the turret system based on the supposition of manual performance of this kind, especially if the lower part of the turret is protected by a substantial iron skirting. In addition to this, ingenuity on one side will be met by corresponding ingenuity on the other, and a powerful jet of steain from the boilers might be more effectual in repelling an attempt of this kind than any number of rifles. Indeed, notwithstanding what Captain Coles says with respect to no iron-clad having been boarded during the American war, we have a strong impression that such an occurrence did take place, and that the boarders were repelled by this very means. Another objection urged, was the possibility that the turret would be insecure in a very heavy sea-way; but this is satisfactorily disposed of by the statement of the manner in which it is secured, and also by the fact that the Royal Sovereign was subjected to a good deal of rolling without any accident of this kind happening.
Passing from the objections urged against the turret itself to those affecting the use of the armament, we find them answered in a way which is not unsatisfactory. The small amount of depression that could be given to the gun was made and answered during the adaptation of the Royal Sovereign to the best of our recollection, The amount of depression will evidently depend on the distance at which the turret is placed from the bow or stern, on the height of the gun above the deck, or, which amounts to the same thing, giving the deck itself a slope from the centre, and making bulwarks which could be thrown down previous to going into action, as in the construction of the Royal Sovereign, and as he proposes in the present design : the liability of such bulwarks to be washed away, or broken down by a heavy sea being a matter which can easily be prevented by proper precaution on the part of the builder.
Captain Coles' design admits of seven degrees depression right abeam, six degrees at thirty degrees training, and five degrees at forty-five degrees training, forward and aft. The greatest power of training the guns aft is limited to an angle of fourteen degrees from the fore and aft line, and that in the case of one gun only, for the other would be at an angle of about thirty-three degrees from the fore and aft line. In training forward, one gun could be fired at an angle of two degrees of the fore and aft line, the other at an angle of about thirteen degrees. The importance of this inability to fire in a line with the keel will vary according to circumstances ; but the deviation is so small that if a vessel on his design should be found the best in other respects, it would not be a sufficient reason for preferring another before it, even though the latter might be able to fire right ahead. A whole batch of objections were raised with respect to the obstacles that would stand in the way of the fire of the guns, comprising the legs of the tripod masts, the length of the deck fired over, which it was thought would be injured, the securing of hatches, the exposure of the captain of the turret when working the gun, the insufficiency of space in the interior of the turret for working such heavy guns as the inventor proposed to put in them. All these are answered in a most satisfactory manner, so as to leave no further ground for urging them.
The next set of objections refer to the difficulty and length of time required to load and work such heavy guns as 600 pounders in a sea-way, the slowness of fire as compared with guns of half the weight, and the apparent necessity of loading the two guns siinultaneously. Some of these have been, to a certain extent, answered by actual experience on board the “ Royal Sovereign.” We say to a certain extent, because the increased dimensions of the guns involve increased space in the interior of the turrets, and the power of giving this is limited. Captain Coles says that the space he has given in his design will be ample for the purpose ; that as regards the necessity for loading simultaneously, it does not exi-t unless it is based on the supposition that some of the sparks