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favor; ours has thirty-two 13-inch guns and theirs 54, a difference of 22 in their favor; ours has fifty-two 14-inch guns and theirs none; and ours has a total of 232 large guns and theirs a total of 172, a difference of 60 in our favor, and yet we are urged to build more ships because other nations will build them.
Comparing our Navy with that of Germany, ours has one hundred and forty-eight 12-inch guns and theirs 198, a difference of 50 in their favor; ours has thirty-two 13-inch guns and theirs no 13-inch guns; ours has fifty-two 14-inch guns and theirs 40, a difference of 12 in our favor; and of the large 12, 13, and 14 inch guns, ours has a total of 232 and theirs a total of 238, a difference of 6 in their favor, but this is more than overcome by the fact that ours exceeds theirs 32 in 13-inch guns and 12 in 14-inch guns.
England exceeds us 152 in 12-inch guns and 162 in 13-inch guns, but she has no 14-inch guns, and we have 52. While the English Navy is much more powerful than ours, yet when we consider that in the event of war she would be compelled to divide her navy into a great many fleets or leave her vast possessions in every part of the world unprotected, it is not clear that she could send against us any fleet which ours would be unable to resist. If the power of the American Navy, as above described, be inadequate to destroy any other Navy that might attack it, then it is clear that no increase in the number could be adequate.
If you had 232 men around the Washington Monument and hurling baseballs at it at the rate of 696 a minute, and 3,480 every five minutes, and if these balls did not destroy it, you would not conclude that the failure to destroy it was because the number of balls was too small, and that a greater number of baseballs would destroy it, but you would know that the cause of the failure was the lack of destructive power and that an increase in the number would be useless. And it is equally true that if 693 shells a minute from the guns of 38 American battleships could not destroy the ships of the enemy, then no increase in the number of the ships or guns would be more effective, for the simple reason that the failure would be due entirely to the want of sufficient destructive force to accomplish the end, and no multiplication of shells would be of any avail. In fact, it is difficult to conceive a condition under which all the ships we have could be effectively used in a battle.
If the 38 battleships of the Navy were sent out to meet the enemy's fleet and were to travel in line, as they do in target practice which assimilates as near as possible the actual conditions of a battle, there would be a distance of 94 miles from the front to the rear ship; and if in this condition it should find the enemy, the front ships of one or the other would be destroyed before the rear ships could join in the action. If in such case the enemy had twice as many ships as we had, its line would be 19 miles long, and it is manifest that its rear ships would be unable to aid those in front. If our 38 battleships were traveling in a line abreast and should meet an enemy with double the number, it is manifest that only those ships in the enemy's line opposite to ours could engage in the battle, because the others would be too far away for their guns to reach ours before the engagement between those in the two lines opposite to one another would be decided, and if ours were victorious, it would then be equal in numbers to the balance of the enemy's ships.
H. Rept. 1557, 62-3-4
The impossibility of using to advantage as many as 38 battleships in one engagement is the reason why they are divided into two fleets, one of which is called the active fleet, and the other is called the reserve fleet to be used only in case the active fleet should be defeated, It is, therefore, plain that the victory in a naval battle does not depend on the number of ships, but on other conditions.
These conditions of success are the character of the powder, of the guns, of the shells, and of the men behind the guns. If the powder in our guns were superior in force and in uniformity of character, the shells from our guns would be propelled with greater accuracy and more destructive force. If the powder in our guns should propel the shells with sufficient force to penetrate the armor of the enemy's ships and the powder in their guns were lacking in the power to cause their shells to penetrate the armor of our ships, it is manifest we would destroy their fleet, however superior it might be in numbers.
Again, the superiority of the guns is a condition that would determine the result of a battle. The size and mechanism of the guns is far more important than their number. A 14-inch gun has a destructive force 50 per cent greater than a 12-inch gun, and on account of the flatness of the trajectory, the winds, and other causes explained to the committee by the experts, shoots with an accuracy 30 per cent greater than the 12-inch guns. In explanation of the difference between these guns Admiral Twining, the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, makes the following statement (p. 72, hearings, 1912):
The Chairman. What is the result of your tests of 14-inch guns? Are they entirely satisfactory?
Admiral TWINING. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. What do you regard as the destructive force, the power of those two guns, speaking relatively, at 10,000 yards?
Admiral TWINING. I suppose the destructive force of the 14-inch gun is 50 per cent greater than the 12-inch at that range.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the relative percentage of accuracy of the two guns at that distance?
Admiral TWINING. The 14-inch gun is probably 30 per cent more accurate at extreme range.
Mr. Foss. What do you base that on?
Admiral TWINING. The flatness of the trajectory and the fact that the 14-inch shell, having almost twice the weight of the 12 inch, will keep its steadiness of flight much longer and be affected much less by winds and other external conditions toward the end of its trajectory. Whereas the comparison would be in favor of the lighter shell with greater velocity over the first part of the trajectory, in the latter part the comparison is in favor of the heavy shell.
The Chairman. What is the accuracy at different distances, say 10,000 yards?
Admiral TWINING. At 10,000 yards I should estimate that the 14-inch shell would have in the neighborhood of 5 per cent more accuracy than the 12 inch. The CHAIRMAN. And what would be the difference at 5,000 yards?
Admiral TWINING. There wouldn't be very much difference at that distance. It would be slightly in favor of the 12-inch.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the difference as to destructive effect?
Admiral TWINING. That is based on the greater probability of hitting and the greater effect of a hit. A shell weighing 1,400 pounds will have more effect when it hits than a shell weighing 870 pounds and its bursting charge is 50 per cent greater.
Mr. Foss. How far will a 14-inch gun throw a projectile?
Admiral TWINING. We used to have a thumb rule that a gun would fire a mile for every inch of caliber. In that case the 14-inch gun would fire 14 miles, and I think it would not fall far short of that. In nautical miles that would be 28,000 yards, and I should judge it would do at least that. However, that would involve an angle of elevation that we can't use on board ship on account of the strength of the ship itself.
Assuming this statement to be accurate, then if the entire German Navy were engaged in a battle with ours, and if the positions could be so arranged that every ship on both sides could take part at the same time, then our eighty-four 13 and 14 inch guns, on account of their 50 per cent greater destructive force and of their 30 per cent greater accuracy, would inevitably soon put her ships, with one hundred and ninety-eight 12-inch guns, out of action, and on account of the greater number of our largest guns we would be more than a match for her ships with 14-inch guns.
If all of our ships were at the same time engaged in a naval battle with the French fleet the excess of thirty 12-inch guns in our favor and the excess of thirty 13 and 14 inch guns would leave no doubt as to the result.
And in the case of a naval battle with Japan the excess of sixty 12-inch guns in our favor and the excess of sixteen 13 and 14 inch guns in our favor makes our great superiority unquestioned.
But there is one other stiil more important element in the efficiency and adequacy of our Navy, and that is the patriotism, courage, and skill of the men behind the guns. The force and uniformity of the powder, the power and accuracy of the guns, would amount to nothing unless the officers have the training and skill indispensable to accurate shooting. The skill of the range finders in ascertaining the exact distance to the ships of the enemy and the steady nerve and the unflinching courage of the officers in the manipulation of the guns in the battle is the all-important consideration. Our system of the most rigid examinations for entrance at Annapolis and from passing from one class to another eliminates the inferior and gives us the highest grade of men for our officers, and the post graduate courses by which these officers are constantly perfected in every department of of naval knowledge gives us the assurance that we have the most capable officers and the best Navy in the world, and if instead of exhausting our resources in building more ships we would devote more attention and spend a little more money in torpedoes, mines, powder, and target practice, we would, in our judgment, make the greatest possible provision for the adequacy of the Navy and the public defense, and at the same time save the people millions of dollars.
But if it be true that the efficiency and adequacy of the Navy depends not on the conditions we have mentioned, but upon the further increase in the number of ships, there is nothing in the hearings to prove it. The question of whether the adequacy of the Navy for the public defense would be increased by more battleships has received little or no consideration in the committee, and no expert in such matters has undertaken to tell us why we need more than 38 battleships. Only one question on that subject was asked and that was propounded to the Secretary, who tells us that he is not an expert and who declined to answer the question. The question and answer was as follows:
Mr. BATHRICK. You have stated that it was necessary to build battleships. What are your reasons; why do you believe it necessary?.
Secretary Meyer, I believe it to be necessary in order to have a fleet that will meet the possible requirements of emergencies that might arise. Otherwise, if you are not going to have a fleet that will meet emergencies that may arise, a fleet made up of vessels of a character which other navies which may come in contact with us are building, it would be better to have no Navy and no fleet; better than to have a lot of vessels which would be crushed like a lot of pasteboard boxes.
Mr. BATHRICK. I rather expected to get some reason other than “may” or “might." I thought, perhaps, that you might have some specific special reason.
Secretary MEYER. I do not want to for this reason: The other day I talked rather freely about the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific, and it was all in the papers the next day. You have asked a question which it is perfectly proper to ask, and I will sit down and discuss it with you some time, but I do not want to embarrass foreign relations by making statements which might be misunderstood and create offense where none is meant to be given,
In this the Secretary gives no reason why we might need more battleships in the future on account of what other nations might do, but for state reasons, which he fears might get into the newspapers, he expressly declines to give us any reason why we need more battleships now.
Not only does the Secretary, when called on, fail to give any reason for "more battleships,” but he has plainly told us that we only lack three of having enough. On page 600 of the hearings the Secretary makes this statement:
Mr. GREGG. Twenty-one in the first line.
Secretary MEYER. The ideal number which the Navy Department hopes to work up to is a fleet of 41 battleships, with necessary auxiliaries, 21 in the active fleet and 20 in the reserve fleet.
Again, on page 21 of his annual report, the Secretary uses this language:
A total of 41 battleships, with a proportional number of other fighting and auxiliary vessels is, in the opinion of the Secretary, the least that will place this country on a safe basis in its relations with other world powers. This number should be reached as soon as practicable, and then the fleet should be kept up to its standard strength by replacing obsolete vessels with new ones by a uniform yearly replacement program.
According to the Secretary, therefore, 41 battleships is the ideal number and after that number is reached, then we should only replace such as may become obsolete. Evidently the Secretary does not believe that the adequacy of the Navy is proportioned to the number of battleships, but he does believe that there is a limit in number of battleships beyond which it is useless to go. This limit he fixes at 41, but why 41 rather than 38 is the ideal number of battleships he gives no reason or facts from which we can draw the inference, and we submit that no man can show how the addition of 3 battleships with 30 large guns to our present Navy of 38 battleships with 232 guns would materially increase the efficiency of the Navy. The truth is that we have long since passed the ideal number of battleships that could be effectively used in a battle, and the building of any more is a useless waste of the people's money.
Again, in 1905 the Secretary of the Navy in his report said this to Congress:
The aggregate of our battleships, armored cruisers, coast-defense vessels, built, building, and authorized, would seem, according to present indications, sufficient to provide for any contingencies within the limit of probabilities.
This statement of the Secretary of the Navy was indorsed by the President of the United States, who said in his annual message in 1895:
It does not seem to me necessary, however, that the Navy should, at least in the immediate future, be increased beyond the present number of units. What is now clearly necessary is to substitute efficient for inefficient units as the latter become worn out or as it becomes apparent that they are useless.
In 1895, at the time that the Secretary of the Navy declared the number of our naval vessels was sufficient to provide for all con
tingencies within the limit of probabilities and the President declared that the units in the Navy 'should not be increased, we had only 12 battleships completed and 12 authorized, with ninety-six 12 and 13 inch guns, and since the President and Secretary declared that the units of our Navy were sufficient and should not be increased we have built and authorized 1 battleship and 13 dreadnoughts, with eighty-four 12-inch guns and fifty-two 14-inch guns. In other words, we have doubled the fighting force of the Navy, and yet we are told that we ought to have more battleships.
In 1908, the highest authority on naval affairs in the House, the distinguished chairman of the present Naval Affairs Committee, in his speech in the House protested against the proposition to add 4 more battleships to our Navy and declared that we already had a magnificent Navy. Since that time we have added to our Navy 9 dreadnoughts with forty 12-inch guns and fifty-two 14-inch guns. If the Navy was magnificent then, there is no adjective in the language that would accurately describe it now.
At the mobilization of a part of the American Fleet in New York, in 1911, President Taft declared that the 123 ships under review presented & magnificent appearance; he boasted that it included the fastest and largest dreadnoughts in the world, and he described those ships present as a vast fleet. If this part of the fleet was vast and magnificent, what would it be when the Pacific and Asiatic Fleets and the five dreadnoughts and other vessels under construction are added to it? From the time that Paul Jones first unfolded our flag to the breezes of the English Channel our Navy has always been efficient, adequate, vast, magnificent, glorious, and victorious, as evidenced by the captured flags of every foe against which it has fought, but when the glory of the American Navy stands in the way of greed and graft it becomes at once inefficient and inadequate.
But if all the evidence is insufficient to show that our Navy is fully adequate for the public defense and that its increase in the number of units would not increase its efficiency, then we submit that the expenditure of $46,418,925 would not help the matter. Since 1883 we have spent on our Naval Establishment $1,963,094,608.77, and of this vast sum, $202,195,607.83 has been invested in battleships, besides the five now under construction, which will run the amount up to $250,000,000. If this vast sum will not secure an adequate battleship fleet, it is useless to spend more. Excepting England, we have spent more already than any other nation of the world. We have in the last decade spent $410,455,321 more than France, $452,666,114 more than Germany, and $1,019,890,156 more than Japan.
The greatest total naval expenditure in one year by Germany was in round numbers $110,000,000, or twenty-six millions less than we spent in 1911. The greatest spent by France in one year was $89,000,000, or forty-seven millions less than our greatest expenditure. The greatest amount ever spent by Japan in one year was $46,000,000, or ninety millions less than our greatest annual expenditure. If with this enormous expenditure of money we have not been able to build a fleet adequate to protect us against any of these powers, then we had better place our reliance on other means and not depend on naval vessels.
And again, if our Navy is inadequate to the public defense for the ant of a sufficient number of vessels, then it will not help matters