|Sa 12 November 1864||The following is the list of the vessels of the Royal navy which will be armed, and are now being armed, with the new description of 300-pounder and other guns in course of issue. The figures after each vessel specify the number of guns of the description mentioned she will carry. To mount the 12-ton 300-pounders:- Bellerophon, 10; Royal Sovereign, 5; Minotaur, 4; Scorpion, 4; Wiveren, 4; Prince Albert, 4; Agincourt, 4; and Northumberland, 4. To be armed with the 6½-ton guns:- The Achilles, 20; Black Prince, 20; Warrior, 20; Lord Warden, 20; Lord Clyde, 20; Royal Oak, 20; Prince Consort, 20; Royal Alfred, 20; Caledonia, 20; Ocean, 20; Minotaur, 18 ; Agincourt, 18; Valiant, 16; Zealous, 16; Hector, 16; Defence, 10; Resistance, 10; Endymion, 6; Mersey, 4; Orlando, 4, Pallas, 4; Favourite, 4; Research, 4; Enterprise, 4; Amazon, 2; Viper, 2; and Vixen, 2. To mount the 64-pounder muzzle-loader:- The Bristol, 12; Melpomene, 12; Liverpool, 12; Severn, 12; Arethusa, 12; Phoebe, 12;. Shannon, 12; Octavia, 12; Constance, 12; Sutlej, 12; Undaunted, 12; Impérieuse, 12; Aurora, 12; Leander, 12; Bacchante, 12; Emerald, 12; Phaeton, 12: Narcissus, 12; Forte, 12; Euryalus, 12; Topaz, 12; Newcastle, 12; Liffey, 12; Immortalité, 12; Glasgow, 12; Clio, 8, North Star, 8 ; Racoon, 8; Challenge, 8; and Menai, 8 . The following will be supplied with the 64-pounder breech-loaders:- The Scout, 8; Rattlesnake, 8; Cadmus, 8; Scylla, 8; Barossa, 8; Jason, 8; Charybdis, 8; Wolverine, 8; Pylades, 8; Orestes, 8; Pearl, 8; Pelorus, 8; Satellite, 8; Acheron, 4 ; Shearwater, 4; Valorous, 4; Furious, 4; Bittern, 4 ; Magicienne, 4; and Columbine, 4. A supply of the 6½-ton smooth-bore 100-pounder wrought iron guns has already been received at Chatham, and it is understood that the first supply of the 300-pounder rifled 12-ton Armstrong gun may shortly be expected at the Ordnance wharf.|
|Fr 14 February 1868||OUR IRON-CLAD FLEET. — A return likely to be called for annually has been laid before Parliament, giving an account of our iron-clad fleet built, building, or ordered. The return, which is dated the 30th of August, 1867, contains a list of 31 ships then completed, 13 of them wholly armour-clad, and 18 partially. They are: — The Black Prince, 32 guns; Warrior, 32; Defence, 16; Resistance, 16; Achilles, 26; Hector, 18: Valiant, 18; Minotaur, 26; Agincourt, 26; Northumberland, 26; Royal Oak, 24; Prince Consort, 24; Caledonia, 24; Ocean, 24; Royal Alfred 18; Zealous, 20; Bellerophon, 15; Lord Clyde, 24; Lord Warden, 18; Penelope, 11; Pallas, 8; Favourite, 10; Research, 4; Enterprise, 4; Waterwitch, 2; Vixen, 2; Viper, 2; Royal Sovereign, 5; Prince Albert, 4; Scorpion, 4; Wivern, 4. Twenty-one of these ships are of more than 3,000 tons each. Six other ships were at the date of this return building; two to be wholly armour-clad, and four partially; the Hercules, just launched; the Monarch, 6 guns, to be launched in June; the Captain, 6, the Repulse, 12, to be launched in April; the Audacious, 14, in December; and the Invincible, 14, in March, 1869. All these six ships exceed 3,700 tons. Another, the Bellona, is ordered . Lastly, there are the four wholly armour-clad batteries launched in 1855 and 1856, the Erebus, Terror, Thunderbolt, and Thunder; the three first of 16 guns, and the last 14, their tonnage ranging from 1,469 to 1,973. The first cost of the 31 iron-clad ships completed amounted in the whole to 7,284,294l. This includes fittings, but the accounts for some of the latter ships are not yet closed, and this sum does not include incidental and establishment charges. These last indirect charges, calculated in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee on Dockyard Manufactures, add about 35 per cent. to the gross direct charges for labour and materials expended upon each ship in the financial year 1864-65, about 51 per cent. for 1865-66, and the year 1866-67 is for the present estimated to show the same ratio of 51 per cent. These indirect charges have amounted, on the Bellerophon, to no less than 114,372l.; Lord Warden, 104.292l., with a further addition to follow: Royal Alfred, 69,999l., also liable to some addition; Lord Clyde, 66,964l.; Pallas, 61,076l. The most costly of the ships have been the Minotaur, 450,774l.; the Agincourt, 446,048l., both of them with unsettled claims for extra payment; the Northumberland, 433,130l., with the accounts not yet closed; the Achilles, 444,590l.; and the Hercules, estimated at 401,000l. Further sums have to be added to the cost of these ships for dockyard, incidental, and establishment charges.|
|Fr 26 March 1869|
The Channel Squadron.
A report from Rear-Admiral Warden on the cruise of the Channel Squadron in June last has been laid before the House of Commons. The weather was too exceptionally fine to be favourable to the development of the qualities of the ships under trial. The squadron comprised eight ships. Rear-Admiral Warden reports.-
"Of all these the Bellerophon is the readiest and most easily handled under steam, and she has the most powerful battery under the thickest armour. Under sail she is slow and stows a small quantity of fuel, but is very economical in expenditure. Her principal defects as a fighting ship I consider to be, that the guns in her battery are placed too close together; the absence of upper deck armament, and the want of fire in the line of keel, under armour, as well as the inefficiency of the bow-gun, which is on the main deck. I do not believe that in chase of an enemy's ship she could, by any possibility, fire her bow-gun, the projecting bow helping the sea to roll up to, in, and on her main deck, flooding it and compelling the closing of the port. On one occasion, 30th of June, when steaming head to wind 5½ knots (force of wind 6), in reply to the signal, "Can you fight bow-gun?" the answer was "Yes, with closing the port occasionally." The absence of upper deck armament is, I presume, to be accounted for by the fact that the ship, as originally designed, was not intended to have any upper deck, and as is was an afterthought, it was not prepared to carry guns.
“The next class to be noticed is the Prince Consort and Royal Oak. They were built to serve a particular purpose, at what was considered a critical period. They were generally viewed as a makeshift, and being merely wooden line-of-battle ships cut down and armoured, they are not likely to be repeated. Nevertheless they have good qualities; they are armoured throughout, are powerful ships, handy under steam, from being short with good speed, and do sufficiently well under sail. Their consumption of fuel is very great. They roll very much, and so deeply that I am of opinion, now that ironclad ships are taking the place of wooden line-of-battle ships, it is worthy of all consideration whether it is not advisable to make them coastguard ships after putting them in a state of thorough repair in every respect; they might then last for years. Under existing circumstances, if they are much at sea, it is not to be expected that they will be worth repair at the expiration of their present commission.
"I now come to the Defence and Pallas. The former is a very handy ship under sail, especially with her screw raised, is very economical in her expenditure of fuel, but an indifferent performer under steam. A proof of it may be found in the fact that on the 30th of June, when practising evolutions, force of wind 5, squadron steaming 5½ knots, head to wind with a slight easterly swell, when she lost her station some little distance, she was utterly unable to regain it, although she was making 54 revolutions by signal. On her trial at the measured mile, in March, 1862, 62 revolutions gave her a speed of nine knots, according to the official record. In fact, she never did get into her place, and the evolution was not completed. As the experiments now taking place on board the Pallas are to be made the subject of special report, I need not further advert to them in this place, nor do I think it necessary to say more about that ship, as her qualities are sufficiently well known; and I do not suppose there is the least probability of a second ship of the same class being ever built.
"The Minotaur, the Achilles, and the Warrior are three very noble ships. The last named, however, I look upon as the least valuable of the three - her unarmoured ends, exposure of steering wheel, her rolling propensities (as compared with the other two), are defects which are not compensated for by any good qualities superior to theirs. The first and second, notwithstanding their great length, which of necessity carries with it some disadvantages, have many great qualities. They steam at high speed; the Achilles is, under sail, everything that could be expected in an armoured ship unable to raise her screw; and no doubt the Minotaur would do equally well if she were masted in the same way, which I consider she ought to be the first favourable opportunity. The Minotaur is more heavily armed than the Achilles, having four 12-ton 9-inch guns on the main deck, and two 6½-ton guns on the upper deck, which fire in a line with the keel, under the protection of armour, being the only ship in the squadron which possesses this advantage, and is armoured throughout, having 5½ inch plates, tapering to 3½in. These are great advantages over a ship in other respects so nearly alike, but in the great and all-important point of the capacity for fighting their guns, they are both alike, rolling as nearly as possible to the same extent, which is a minimum as compared with other ships; and in this respect of steadiness of platform upon which to fight their guns, I believe they stand out unrivalled and unsurpassed by any ship which has ever been built. Believing as I do, that this invaluable property of steadiness is due to the form of the ships, and the proper distribution of the weights on board them, and not to be attributed to their great length, this question has constantly forced itself on my mind - viz., it is not possible to build a broadside-ship, heavily armed, adequately protected, of such a length as to secure sufficient speed, and to be at the same time a handy ship, and of such a shape and form as to roll as little as the Minotaur and Achilles? Unless this question can be answered positively in negative, I have a full conviction that it ought to be attempted, so long as broadside-ships continue the most important and formidable part of our navy.
"My own idea of the proper theory of ironclad ships is this, that they should always be built of iron, be armoured throughout, be as heavily armed as possible, and possess bow and stern fire, at least to the same extent as the Lord Warden and Lord Clyde. Perhaps the time has arrived when the enormous increase in the power of artillery, and the increased weight and thickness of the armour-plates, which have become necessary to resist the projectiles now in use, render the carrying out of this theory of ironclad ships impracticable. If this be so it would seem to follow that if guns are to be used of such a weight that the whole length of the broadside cannot be made use of to carry them, and the space which they occupy is too great to admit of their being protected by a thickness of armour capable of resisting the shot which will be brought against them, it seems to follow, I say, that the turret-ship is a necessity. Guns of any weight can be placed in turrets, armour of almost any thickness can be carried round them, and it will then only be necessary to protect the water-line with a belt, as heavy and as thick as the ship can bear. These conditions carried out, it remains, of course, that the turret-ship should be constructed so that she should be a habitable and comfortable ship for the officers and men, with a sufficiency of sail power to enable her to meet the varied requirements which are usually made on a British man-of-war. The question again naturally arises. Is it impossible to build such a ship? The conditions above-stated, which seem to render a resort to turret-ships inevitable, seem also to point out that, in the broadside-ship, armour-plating will eventually have to be given up everywhere, except at the water-line and at the bow and stern, to protect guns firing in a line with the keel. In ships built completely of iron with guns as heavy as they are capable of carrying, protection must be reduced to a minimum, and shot and shell be allowed to find their way through and through the iron fabric, perhaps with less damage to ship and life than if they had been checked in their progress by armour-plating.
The subject of 'ramming' I approach with great diffidence. It is one which exists principally in the region of speculation. I am not one of those who think that in the next naval war ramming will rank before artillery as a mode of attack; but I believe firmly that it will play a very important and formidable part in all future engagements. Possibly some naval actions will be decided by the independent and energetic action of some individual captain seizing the fortunate moment and the right opportunity for running his enemy down at a high speed. It is as clear as anything can be that so long as a ship has good way on her, and a good command of steam to increase her steam at pleasure, that ship cannot be what is called 'rammed'; she cannot even be struck to any purpose so long as she has room and is properly handled. The use of ships as rams, it appears to me, will only be called into play after an action has commenced, when ships, of necessity, are reduced to a low rate of speed, probably their lowest. I therefore apprehend that it would be consistent with prudence and good tactics always, when going into action to hold in reserve a portion of the squadron or fleet (and that whether the force was large or small, whether the enemy were numerically superior or otherwise) to act as rams; and when the action had commenced, and noise and smoke and fire were doing their work, the reserve to be brought into play to act independently, as circumstances might require. For this purpose ships must be made capable of playing their part, and strengthened on purpose to perform such duty, and the form of bow which I believe best calculated to deal the hardest blow, and carry with it the greatest amount of destruction, is the straight upright stem of the Achilles or the slightly curved one of the Minotaur, rather than the projecting prow of the Bellerophon and others of a similar form. The result of the experience gained when the Amazon 'rammed' a small steamer in the channel is not encouraging. I believe also on this subject, as well as on very many others connected with naval warfare, that the first great action at sea between ironclad squadrons or fleets will dissipate and cast to the winds many of our preconceived opinions and theories, disturb many of our prejudices, and throw an entirely new light on the whole subject."