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   Chapter 13 THE WORLD'S NAVIES.

Kelly Miller's History of the World War for Human Rights By Kelly Miller Characters: 26951

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

Germany's Sea Strength-Great Britain's Immense War Fleet-Immense Fighting Craft-The United States' New Battle Cruisers-The Fastest and Biggest Ocean Fighting Ships-The Picturesque Marines: the Soldiers of the Sea.

Just as Germany at the outset of the war had the most efficient and, broadly speaking, the greatest army in the world, so England had the greatest navy in the world. As a matter of fact, Great Britain's domination of the seas was very largely responsible for the development of the super-submarine by Germany, and the putting into effect of the submarine warfare which proved so disastrous to the Allies. This for the reason that Germany, having sought for means to offset Great Britain's power and control of the seas, turned to the underseas craft.

Up to the accession of Emperor William II-the Kaiser-Germany's navy was little more than a joke. In 1848 the National Parliament voted six million thalers for the creation of a fleet, and some boats were constructed. But the attempts to weld Germany, then little more than a federation, into a nation having failed, the fleet was put up at auction, and actually sold in 1852. Prussia, a separate state, had started a fleet of her own and purchased the German boats.

This fleet, just before the American Civil War, consisted of four cruisers, carrying 28 cannon, and one cruiser having 17 cannon, besides which there were 21 "cannon boats," carrying two and three cannons each. The Prussian fleet merged into the North German Confederation in 1867, and in turn became part of the fleet of the new German Empire in 1871.

In the war with France the German fleet played no part. There were one or two clashes between French and German small boats, but that was all. Even the successful outcome of the war did not inspire Germany to build up a navy. Plans for the greater navy were first outlined about 1882, but for a period of seven years not a battleship was built, concentration being placed upon the torpedo boat. The idea of developing the torpedo boat fleet belong to the present Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, then a young officer. The fleet became the best in the world, but its usefulness was soon checked by the new inventions, searchlights, gatling guns, etc.

Germany's fleet legislation of 1898 for the first time looked ahead and established rules for future building. The Spanish-American and the Boer wars disquieted Germany, and about 1900 the fleet was doubled by legislation. In 1906 the campaign of submarines, torpedo boats and greater battleships began. Part of the program required that 12 torpedo boats be built each year. Additional legislation for the construction of cruisers and battleships was effected in 1908, and in 1912, until at the beginning of the war, Germany had 38 ships of the line, 14 armored cruisers, 38 protected cruisers, 224 torpedo boats and 30 submarines. There were no torpedo-boat destroyers, the small cruisers taking their places. The naval organization contained 73,000 officers and men. The largest boats are the dreadnoughts, which are divided into several classes. One of the last of these built by Germany was the Derfflinger, which had a displacement of 28,000 tons.

The personnel of the German navy prior to the war was 79,197 officers and men.


Because of the fact that the territory of Great Britain is scattered over the face of the globe and that it is necessary to use the highways of the sea for reaching her various possessions, the navy of that country is undoubtedly the greatest collection of fighting ships ever gathered together under one flag.

In order to take care of her population of 1,625,000,000 she has gathered together a navy consisting of 60 modern battleships, 9 battle cruisers, 34 armored cruisers, 17 heavy protected cruisers, 70 light cruisers, 232 destroyers, 59 torpedo boats of the latest type, 75 submarines, together with 50 sea-going auxiliaries of the fleet, which are used as mother ships to destroyers, mine-layers, distilling ships, oil ships, repair and hospital ships, with 145,000 officers and men.

The first group, completed between 1895 and 1898, includes six battleships, all of 14,900 tons displacement, 12,000 horsepower and 2,000 tons coal capacity. The speed is 17.5 knots, the armor belt being from 10 to 14 inches at the big guns and with a mean armor belt of 9 inches. The armament consists of 4 12-inch guns, 12 6-inch rapid fire, 16 3-inch rapid fire, 12 3-pounder rapid fire, 2 light rapid fire and 2 machine guns. They have one torpedo tube above water and two under water.


A later group of six was built in 1900 and 1902. These monsters of the sea are of 12,950 tons displacement, 13,500 horsepower and have 2,300 tons coal capacity. They have a speed of 18.25 knots, 6 inches of armor belt and from 8 to 12 inches protection for her big guns. The armament consists of 4 12-inch rapid fire guns, 12 6-inch rapid fire, 10 3-inch rapid fire and 2 light rapid fire and 2 machine guns. There are four torpedo tubes.

Gradually England developed larger and larger vessels from this point, increasing the displacement in each group from 16,350 tons in 1906 to 20,000 in 1911, and finally to 25,700, when the Queen Elizabeth and Warspite were completed in 1915. These boats-England's super-dreadnoughts-are of 58,000 horsepower (turbine), 4,000 tons oil capacity. They have a speed of 25 knots, 13.5 inches of armor belt and from 8 to 13.5 inches protection for the big guns. The armament consists of 8 15-inch, 16 6-inch and 12 3-inch rapid fire guns. They have five torpedo tubes. There were 150,609 officers and men in the navy when England entered the war.


At the beginning of the war the French navy ranked fourth among the navies of the world. She had 18 battleships of the older types, and which ranged in date of launching from 1894 to 1909. There were building at that time eight ships of about 23,095 tons displacement. Although France had no battle cruisers, she had 19 armored cruisers. The heavier of these ships had a designed speed of 23 knots, and carried from 2100 to 2300 tons of coal. Their main batteries consisted of 2 7.6-inch rapid fire and 8 6.4-inch rapid fire guns.

Two protected cruisers, the D'Entrecasteaux and the Guichen, and 10 light cruisers of no fighting importance completed the list of French ships.

France was, however, strong, so far as numbers go, in destroyers, torpedo boats and submarines, there being 84 destroyers, with displacements of 276 to 804 tons and speeds of 28 and 31 knots. She possessed 135 torpedo boats and 78 submarines, but many of these were of small size. One hundred and one of her torpedo boats had displacements of about 95 tons, and 20 of the submarines had displacements of 67 tons.

Of the submarines, there were 33 which had a displacement of 390 tons, 2 of 410 tons, 6 of 550 tons, 2 of 785 tons and 7 of 830 tons. This displacement, which was surface, is usually 70 per cent of the submerged. The larger submarines carry from six to eight torpedo tubes. In the early part of 1916 the French Government had 12 submarines building, these latter having surface displacement of 520 tons and having Diesel motors of 2000 horsepower. The speed of these submarines is 17-1/2 knots on the surface and 8 knots submerged.

Attached to the French fleet are 16 auxiliaries, used as mine-layers, submarine destroyers and aeroplane mother ships, of from 300 to 7,898 tons.

There were 61,240 officers and men in the navy of France when war was declared.


With the ending of the Russo-Japanese war the Russian navy was given an overhauling. There were but three of the old battleships of the Russian navy left after this fateful struggle, these being the Tri Sviatitelia, the Panteleimon and the Czarevitch. The Russian Government labored diligently to build up her navy, and is still doing her utmost to readjust that branch of her service.

With the outbreak of the great war she had six armored cruisers, none of which was in the Black Sea. These averaged in tonnage from 7,900 to 15,170 tons displacement. There were eight cruisers of from 3,100 to 6,700 tons, and of no fighting value whatever.

Russia had but 14 torpedo boats, all small and of little value. She had a fairly good fleet of destroyers and submarines, having 91 of the former and 55 submarines.

There were 36,000 officers and men in the service when hostilities opened.


When the war was declared Austria, Germany's supporter, had nine battleships ready. These were completed since 1905, as follows: In 1906 and 1907 there were finished three battleships which displaced 10,433 tons, had 14,000 horsepower and 1315 tons coal capacity. They had a speed of 19.25 knots, 6 to 8.25 inches of side armor and 9.5 inches protection for the big guns. The armament consisted of 4 9.4-inch, 12 7.6-inch rapid fire, 14 3-inch rapid fire and 16 smaller guns. They had two torpedo tubes.

In 1910 three other ships were added to the navy. These were slightly larger than those described just above, having a displacement of 14,268 tons, with engines of 20,000 horsepower. They had three torpedo tubes.

Three ships of 20,000 tons displacement were launched in 1912 and 1913. They had a speed of 20 knots and four torpedo tubes. Three other battleships had been built up until 1906, and these, together with 10 light cruisers, were in the Austrian navy at the breaking out of hostilities.

The torpedo boat destroyers, of which there were 18, must not be forgotten. Twelve of these were of 384 tons, capable of making 28-1/2 knots. These carried 4 12-pounders and 2 21-inch torpedo tubes. They were built for oil fuel.

There were six submarines in this navy, these being of moderate size, ranging from 216 to 235 tons displacement on the surface.


There were 9 first-class battleships in the Japanese navy at the beginning of the world war. Of battle cruisers there were 5, while of the older battleships 13 were ready for orders. Twelve first-class cruisers were ready for duty, and there were 9 second-class cruisers and 9 third-class cruisers. Of gunboats there were 5, 60 destroyers, 37 torpedo boats and 15 submarines. The personnel of the Japanese navy consisted of 47,000 officers and men.


Italy was ready for her part on the seas with 7 first-class battleships, 8 of the older type, 9 first-class cruisers, 5 second-class cruisers, 10 third-class cruisers, 5 gunboats, 46 destroyers, 75 torpedo boats and 20 submarines. There were 36,000 officers and men to handle these ships.


When hostilities were declared Turkey had a navy consisting of 2 first-class battleships, 3 battleships of an older type, 2 first-class cruisers, 2 second-class cruisers, 4 third-class cruisers, 8 gunboats, 2 monitors, 10 destroyers and 8 torpedo boats. The officers and men in the Turkish navy numbered 30,000.


The United States navy, which has made an enviable reputation for itself wherever and whenever the boats and men have been engaged, ranked third at the beginning of the war. While not of the heaviest type, the boats were of the most improved models, and maintained on a basis that justified the belief that they would stand up in the face of the severest opposition.

There were 12 modern battleships, 30 of an older type, 10 armored cruisers, 5 first-class cruisers, 4 second-class cruisers, 16 third-class cruisers, 30 gunboats, 9 monitors, 74 destroyers, 19 torpedo boats and 73 submarines, manned by 55,389 officers and men. The California, Idaho, Arizona, Mississippi and Pennsylvania are the latest battleships of the navy, and are of the super-dreadnought type. All of these battleships have a displacement of more than 31,000 tons, and have the most complete equipment that it is possible to command. The batteries consist of 4 13-inch and 14 6-inch guns, 4 6-pounders, together with 4 21-inch torpedo tubes. There is a variation in the batteries, but all have approximately the same kind of armament.

One of these huge vessels is about 625 feet long, and has a speed of from 21 to 23 knots. The Pennsylvania, one of the largest, is of 31,500 horsepower, and cost approximately $7,250,000. In addition to this, Congress had authorized the construction of what is designed to be the supreme type of fighting vessel. The plans for these vessels call for the construction of vessels approximately 875 feet long and nearly 90 feet wide. Some idea of what enormous vessels these must be may be gained when it is seen that the cruisers are 250 feet longer than the super-dreadnought.

The battle cruisers have six decks, extending from end to end, and are so extensive that they almost constitute a battlefront.

This comparison to a battlefront on land becomes interesting when consideration of it is further pursued. There are even railroads to fetch ammunition to the guns, though they run vertically instead of horizontally. The general headquarters is in the conning tower, to which all lines of "field communication" lead-telegraphs, telephones, etc.

The "observation posts," for directing and correcting the range and aim of artillery, are at the tops of the two wire "bird-cage" masts. This work is helped (as on land) by kite balloons and aeroplanes, which, as part of its fighting equipment, the battle

cruiser carries. To blind the enemy ships, under suitable circumstances, the big guns create a "barrage" of water, by directing their fire at the sea in front of the hostile vessels, throwing over them a mass of spray.


On board the battle cruiser is a fully equipped field hospital, supplemented by battle dressing stations near the guns, for the emergency treatment of the wounded. To the musicians of the ship's band is assigned the duty of carrying wounded men to the dressing stations and the hospital, the latter being on one of the lower decks, beneath the water level.

The battle cruiser, built long and narrow, has a great speed. The four monster propellers are driven by electricity, which is generated by engines fed with fuel oil. The speed attained is 35 knots an hour, which means the same speed as a train traveling at the rate of 40 miles an hour, since the sea mile, or knot, is longer than the land mile.

In order to obtain this enormous speed it was necessary for the designers of the battle cruisers to sacrifice armor protection. The armor on these ships is but an eight-inch belt. The real object of the battle cruiser is to use its superior speed and overwhelming gun power to overtake and destroy the enemy's ships of the second line, the auxiliaries and scouts.

Each of these vessels has a displacement of 34,800 tons-meaning, in plain language, that they weigh that much, hence displace that much water when launched. The biggest British battle cruiser, which is the largest battle cruiser afloat, is the British Tiger, which has a displacement of 28,500 tons, and is less in length by 150 feet than these mighty battle cruisers. The Tiger is much less formidably armed, carrying eight 13 1/2-inch guns. The largest German battle cruiser is the Derfflinger, of 26,200 tons, and armed with eight 12-inch rifles.

Our latest commissioned dreadnought, the Arizona, has engines of 31,400 horsepower. The engines of that monster passenger steamship, the ill-fated Lusitania, were of 70,000 horsepower. Those of the Tiger boast 120,000 horsepower. But each of our six battle cruisers has 180,000 horsepower to drive her through the water.


These huge fighting craft are the most expensive ships ever built. Each of them cost about $20,000,000, the money outlay being something like $16,500,000, exclusive of armor and guns. And for each battle cruiser must be provided, in the way of personnel, 1,153 enlisted men, 64 marines and 58 officers.

While the American Navy had but 55,389 men when the war opened it was quickly increased, and under the Army bill, which provided for the reorganization and increasing of the land forces, the naval forces were also increased.

The bill increasing the authorized enlisted strength of the navy to 150,000 did not provide for any additional officers above the rank of lieutenant. The increase in the enlisted force amounts to 57,000, the authorized strength at the time of the law's passage being 93,000. Based on the increase, the allowance of officers would be 747 lieutenants and 954 lieutenants junior grade and ensigns.

The increase in the enlisted strength of the Marine Corps from 17,400 to 30,000, or by 12,600, also gives an additional allowance of 504 officers to the corps, which, under the bill, are distributed among the grades of major, captain, first lieutenant and second lieutenant.

The Marine Corps is one of the most picturesque military organizations in the world. There is, probably, no other such body of trained soldiery. While they are under the control of the Navy Department, they can be detached from that branch of the service and assigned for duty with any other branch of the military forces of the country.


They are the policemen of the sea; they are artillerymen, infantrymen, cavalry, engineers, and soldiers, first, last and all the time. They are the first troops in action, and there is no restriction as to the kind of military duty they are called upon to perform.

The Marines served on shore and on board vessels of the navy throughout the Revolutionary War, two battalions having been authorized by the Continental Congress November 10, 1775. The present organization really dates from July, 1798, when Congress passed an act approving the establishment of an organization to be known as the Marine Corps, consisting of 1 major, 4 captains, 16 first lieutenants, 12 second lieutenants, 48 sergeants, 48 corporals, 32 drums and fifes and 720 privates.

Every one of the 15,000 men who composed the more than a century old Marine Corps when the war broke out was ready and on his toes when the call for action came. There was nothing in the way of scientific preparedness that got by them. In the matter of trench helmets, for instance, when it was time for the American nation to come to the front in the great world war, the Marines had a helmet so much of an improvement on the one used by the Allies that there was no comparison.

Armored motorcars, likewise, of the most improved type, belonged to the Marine Corps when the call for action came. These cars are capable of making 45 miles an hour, and there were plenty of them for service in the Marine Corps. Some interesting equipment never used before the big war composed part of the quartermasters' stores in the Marine Corps.

It's a marvel what these chaps can do with a big naval gun-one of those big brutes which are bolted down to the deck of a warship. It doesn't look like a thing to be picked up and carted around the country. That's precisely what the heavy artillery companies do, however. It takes them but a few minutes to sling one of these five-inchers over the side of a ship, land it, and take it wherever it is needed. They do this with the aid of a single-spar derrick, some little narrow-gauge trucks and a portable narrow-gauge railroad.


The method is to lay down the railroad-it can be done very swiftly by men carefully trained in the art of laying tracks over all kinds of ground-put the gun and its mount, with a specially prepared base of extremely heavy timbers, on the tracks, and trundle it to the place where it is needed to pour a rapid fire into the enemy.

Here a pit has been dug, in which is laid down the heavy timber base, riveted together with heavy steel bolts. Then it is well packed with dirt and stone, and the gun carriage made fast ingeniously. The single-stick derrick has been erected alongside, guyed out in four directions with heavy ropes, which are made fast to the ground by means of "dead men," and manipulated by very live gangs of husky marines. A chain block of powerful type is used to pick up the gun carriage and put it in place, and afterwards to swing the gun into its sockets on the carriage.

Later the breech locks and sights are added, and the big five-inch, 40-caliber naval gun is ready to go into action. These big and heavy guns, suitable for long range work with high explosive shells, can be taken a quarter of a mile or so from the ship which carried them, over rough ground, set up and put in operation in a few days' time.

But the heavy artillery base is only one of the Marines' work. They have big howitzers, of the more modern type, most of which are kept at Annapolis, where they can be loaded aboard ship in short order. Men and machines can be mobilized at the strategic points in a very short time.


The Marine service is unique in many respects. For one thing, it is every man's service. The proportion of officers who have risen from the ranks or who have been commissioned from civilian life is higher in the Marine Corps than in either the Army or the Navy. This, of course, makes for democracy in the corps. An enlisted man, who does not wait until he is too far up in the 20's to enlist, has a very fair chance of earning his commission. Another thing-and this is of prime importance to the ambitious fellow-promotion goes by merit. In the army and navy the young officer is promoted by seniority.

Things are a bit different in the Marine Corps. In this organization a man doesn't absolutely have to wait for his number to come around. If he distinguishes himself above his fellows, he may be promoted without much regard for age or length of service. He goes up as he is able to, by his active ability and his readiness to work hard and effectively for Uncle Sam. There are advocates, of course, of both systems. There are merits which both systems can justly claim. But it goes without saying that this possibility of promotion keeps everybody in the Marine Corps on the jump.

Even the enlisted men who are too old to get commissions have something to work for. Not very long since Congress authorized the appointment of "warrant officers" in the Marine Corps. The Navy had this grade for many years. It is new in the Marine Corps, and is an added incentive to hard work.

Another incentive-and perhaps the strongest one-that draws young fellows of the up-and-doing sort into the Marine Corps is that of active service. The Marines boast that they are always on the job; that no matter how peaceful the time, the Marines are sure to see "something stirring" right along. It is a saying-and a true one-in the Marine Corps that every marine who has served the ordinary enlistment in the corps since the Spanish-American war has smelt powder. Ever since the fuss with Spain the marines have been covering themselves with glory. In that little war of 1898 the Marines were the first to land in Cuba. They held Guantanamo for three months. In 1890 they saw service in the Philippines; the next year in China. In 1902 the Marines took part in the fighting against Aguinaldo, the wily Filipino leader. In 1903 they put down the rebellion in Panama, captured Colon and opened up the Panama railroad. In 1906 they helped quiet the uprising of that summer in Cuba. They were in Nicaragua in 1909. From 1911 to 1913 they did more duty in Cuba, with a whirl in Nicaragua again in 1912. They helped hold Vera Cruz for three months in 1914. Next year they went to Haiti, where they have been moderately busy from time to time since. Santo Domingo saw them in 1916.


Neither the army nor the navy can claim anything to beat it-you couldn't tell a marine that the rival branches of the service can claim anything to equal it. And as for the modern implements of warfare-the European armies have no advantage over the marines for testing out new devices. They had armored cars, for instance, as far back as 1906; they began to use motor trucks for military purposes as early as 1909. Every marine expedition is equipped with its quota of armored trucks. They would as soon think of voyaging over the seas to put down an incipient revolution without their armored cars and motor trucks as they would of going to meet the enemy without their rifle.

There used to be an old joke about "Horse Marines." A sailorman on a horse is an incongruous thing-a sight to make you hold your sides. But the marines are not plain sailormen. They are "soldier and sailor, too," and as soldiers they have turned the joke on the old saw about "horse marines." There are "horse marines" these days, and mighty good cavalry they make.

The marine can ride with the best of the cavalrymen. And in the fracas in Domingo there were two cavalry companies of marines organized.


It takes a bit longer to make an efficient marine than to make an infantryman. This because the marine is a man of many specialties. He is, of course, in season and out of season, an international policeman. That's his job in time of peace. But when he fares abroad to fight his country's battles he may be called upon to do almost any kind of work. He may be an artilleryman; a signalman; an airman. He may be, and usually is, anything that his country needs at that particular time. And he is trained to meet the emergency.

The new recruit, in ordinary times, is sent for his first instruction to Port Royal, down in Georgia. There he has nothing to do but drill, drill, drill, until he can do the infantry evolutions in his sleep. He learns to drill, he learns to keep clean-the Marines are something of a dandy corps-and he learns to take care of himself no matter what happens. He is taught to be a soldier and a man. He learns to walk straight, shoot straight, think straight. And then he goes for a spell to sea-for after all, he needs sea legs as well as land legs.

But these two tricks of duty by no means end the marine's schooling. When he has become an efficient all-around man he may specialize. He may, if he chooses, go into the signal corps and learn the multitude of details connected with this ultramodern arm of the service. He learns to send messages by every possible means. He learns to operate a radio. And, it might be mentioned in passing, the Marine Corps is equipped with the very finest of radio apparatus. They have big trucks which carry the outfit and supply the power for either sending radio messages or operating huge electric searchlights. Or he may go into aviation.


This map shows the boundary lines between nations as they were at the beginning of the war, as also the coast lines of Europe. The latter are brought out in bold relief.

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