1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dockyards

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DOCKYARDS. In the fullest meaning of the word, a “dock-yard” (or “navy yard” in America) is a government establishment where warships of every kind are built and repaired, and supplied with the men and stores required to maintain them in a state of efficiency for war. Thus a dockyard in this extended sense would include slips for building ships, workshops for manufacturing their machinery, dry docks for repairing them, stores of arms, ammunition, coal, provisions, &c., with basins in which they may lie while being supplied with such things, and an establishment for providing the personnel necessary for manning them. But in practice few, if any, existing dockyards are of so complete a nature; many of them, for instance, do not undertake the building of ships at all, while others are little more than harbours where a ship may replenish her stores of coal, water and provisions and carry out minor repairs. Private firms are relied upon for the construction of many ships down to an advanced stage, the government dockyards completing and equipping them for commission.

Great Britain.—Previous to the reign of Henry VIII., the kings of England had neither naval arsenals nor dockyards, nor any regular establishment of civil or naval officers to provide ships of war, or to man them. There are, however, strong evidences of the existence of dockyards, or of something answering thereto, at very early dates, at Rye, Shoreham and Winchelsea. In November 1243 the sheriff of Sussex was ordered to enlarge the house at Rye in which the king’s galleys were kept, so that it might contain seven galleys. In 1238 the keepers of some of the king’s galleys were directed to cause those vessels to be breamed, and a house to be built at Winchelsea for their safe custody. In 1254 the bailiffs of Winchelsea and Rye were ordered to repair the buildings in which the king’s galleys were kept at Rye. At Portsmouth and at Southampton there seem to have been at all times depôts for both ships and stores, though there was no regular dockyard at Portsmouth till the middle of the 16th century. It would appear, from a curious poem in Hakluyt’s Collection called “The Policie of Keeping the Sea,” that Littlehampton, unfit as it now is, was the port at which Henry VIII. built

“his great Dromions
Which passed other great shippes of the commons.”

The “dromion,” “dromon,” or “dromedary” was a large warship, the prototype of which was furnished by the Saracens. Roger de Hoveden, Richard of Devizes and Peter de Longtoft celebrate the struggle which Richard I., in the “Trench the Mer,” on his way to Palestine, had with a huge dromon,—“a marvellous ship! a ship than which, except Noah’s ship, none greater was ever read of.” This vessel had three masts, was very high out of the water, and is said to have had 1500 men on board. It required the united force of the king’s galleys, and an obstinate fight, to capture the dromon.

The foundation of a regular British navy, by the establishment of dockyards, and the formation of a board, consisting of certain commissioners for the management of its affairs, was first laid by Henry VIII., and the first dockyard erected during his reign was that of Woolwich. Those of Portsmouth, Deptford, Chatham and Sheerness followed in succession. Plymouth was founded by William III. Pembroke was established in 1814, a small yard having previously existed at Milford.

The most important additions yet made at any one period to the dockyard and harbour works required to meet the necessities of the British fleet were those sanctioned by the Naval Works Acts of 1895 and subsequent years, the total estimated cost, as stated in the act of 1899, being over 231/2 millions sterling. The works proposed under these acts were classified under three heads, viz. (a) the enclosure and defence of harbours against torpedo attacks; (b) adapting naval ports to the present needs of the fleet; (c) naval barracks and hospitals. Under the first heading were included the defensive harbours at Portland, Dover and Gibraltar. Under heading (b) were included the deepening of harbours and approaches, the dockyard extensions at Gibraltar, Keyham (Devonport), Simons Bay, and Hong-Kong, with sundry other items. Under heading (c) were included the naval barracks at Chatham, Portsmouth and Keyham; the naval hospitals at Chatham, Haslar and Haulbowline; the colleges at Keyham and Dartmouth; and other items.

Great Britain possesses dockyards at Portsmouth, Devonport, Chatham, Malta and Gibraltar, each in charge of an admiral-superintendent, and at Sheerness and Pembroke in charge of a captain-superintendent, together with establishments at Ascension, Bermuda, Simons Town (Cape of Good Hope), Queenstown (Haulbowline); Hong-Kong, Portland, Sydney and Weihaiwei. The Indian Government has dockyards at Bombay and Calcutta. The medical establishments include Ascension, Bermuda, Cape of Good Hope, Chatham, Dartmouth, Deal, Gibraltar, Haslar, Haulbowline, Hong-Kong, Malta, Osborne, Plymouth, Portland, Portsmouth, Sheerness, Sydney, Yarmouth, Yokohama and Weihaiwei.

The arrangements for the administrative control of the dockyards have varied with those adopted for the regulation of the navy as a whole. (See Admiralty Administration; and Navy: History.) At the present time, whether at home or abroad, they lie within the province of the controller of the navy (the third lord of the board of admiralty); and the director of dockyards, whose office, replacing that of surveyor of dockyards was created in December 1885, is responsible to the controller for the building of ships, boats, &c., in dockyards, and for the maintenance and repair of ships and boats, and of all steam machinery in ships, boats, dockyards and factories. The director of naval construction, who is also deputy-controller, is responsible, not only for the design of ships, but for their construction, in the sense that he approves great numbers of working drawings of structural parts prepared at the dockyards. But the director of dockyards is the admiralty official under whose instructions the work goes on, involving the employment and supervision of an army of artisans and labourers. Instructions, therefore, emanate from the admiralty, but the details lie with the dockyard officials, and in practice there is a considerable decentralization of duties.

The chief function of a dockyard is the building and maintaining of ships in efficiency. The constructive work is carried out under the care of the chief constructor of the yard, in accordance with plans sent down from the admiralty. The calculations for displacement, involving the draught of water forward and aft, have already been made, and, in order to ensure accuracy in the carrying out of the design, an admirable system has been devised for weighing everything that is built into the new ships or that goes on board; and it is astonishing how very closely the actual displacement approximates to that which was intended, particularly when the tendency of weights to increase, in perfecting a ship for commission, is considered.

The ship having been built to her launching weight, the duty of putting her into the water devolves upon the chief constructor of the yard, and failures in this matter are so extremely rare that it may almost be said they do not occur. As soon as the ship is water-borne the responsibility falls upon the king’s harbour master, who has charge of her afloat and of moving her into the fitting basins. When the ship has been brought alongside the wharf, the responsibility of the chief constructor of the yard is resumed, and the ship is carried forward to completion by the affixing of armour plating (if that has not been done before launching), the mounting of guns, the instalment of engines, boilers, and electrical and hydraulic gear, and the fitting of cabins for officers, mess places for men, and storerooms, and a vast volume of other work unnecessary to be specified. In regard to the complicated details of guns and torpedoes, the captains of the gunnery and torpedo schools have a function of supervision. The captain of the fleet reserve also closely watches the work, because, when the heads of all departments have reported the ship to be ready, she has to be inspected by the commander-in-chief at the port, and then passed into the fleet reserve as ready for sea, and there the captain of the fleet reserve is responsible for her efficiency. Other important officers of a dockyard are the chief engineer; the superintendent civil engineer, who has charge of the work involved in keeping all buildings, docks, basins, caissons, roads, &c., in repair; the naval store officer, who has charge of most of the stores in the dockyard; and the cashier of the yard, whose name sufficiently expresses his duties.

The system of conducting business at the dockyards is analogous to that which prevails at the admiralty. There is personal communication between the officers responsible for the work, and facilities are afforded for coming to rapid decisions upon matters that are in hand, and the operations are conducted with an ease which contributes much to efficiency. In 1844 the custom was introduced of all the principal officers of the dockyard meeting at the superintendent’s office at 9.30 a.m.. every day, to hear the orders from the admiralty and discuss the work of the day. But this system of “readings” was abolished at the beginning of 1906, the naval establishments inquiry committee considering that the assembling of the officials was unnecessary since the communications after reception are copied and sent to the departments concerned.

The police force necessary in a dockyard is in some cases supplied from the London metropolitan police, and is under the orders of the superintendent of the yard for duties connected with it, and under the commissioner of police for the discipline and disposition of the force. The charges are, of course, paid by the admiralty, and the system answers well.

United States.—The shore stations under control of the Navy Department (see also Admiralty Administration), and collectively known as naval stations, are under different names according to their nature. Of those called Navy Yards, and intended for the general purpose of sources of supply and for repairs of ships, there are within the United States eight in number. Two of them are on the Pacific coast, situated on Puget Sound, at Bremerton, Washington; and at Mare Island, near San Francisco. The other six are on the Atlantic coast, and are situated at Portsmouth, N.H.; Boston, Mass.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Washington, D.C.; and Norfolk, Va. There are also naval stations at Port Royal and Charleston, S.C.; Key West and Pensacola, Fla.; New Orleans, La.; Guantanamo, Cuba; Culebra and San Juan, Porto Rico; Honolulu, H.I.; Cavite, P.I.; Tutuila, Samoa; and Island of Guam, in the Ladrones Islands. The floating dock Dewey, having a lifting capacity of 18,500 gross tons with a free-board of 2 ft., was stationed in the Philippine Islands in 1906.

Besides these, there are important naval stations established for special purposes, which in some cases are also available for ports of supply and for repairs. These are: the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., for the instruction of naval cadets; the training stations at Newport, R.I., and Yerba Buena Island, Cal., for the instruction of apprentices; the proving ground at Indian Head, Md., on the Potomac river, where all government-built ordnance is tested; the War College at Newport, R.I., for the instruction of officers; the torpedo station at Newport, for the instruction of officers and men in torpedoes, electricity and submarine diving; the naval observatory at Washington; and the marine post at Sitka, Alaska. Coaling depôts have been established at Honolulu, Pago Pago, Samoan Islands, and at Manila, P.I. Naval hospitals are located at the Portsmouth, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Norfolk and Mare Island yards; at Las Animas, Colo.; at Newport, R.I.; Cañacao, P.I.; Sitka, Alaska; and Yokohama, Japan.

The commandant of a navy yard and station, who is usually a rear-admiral, is its commander-in-chief. His official assistants are called heads of departments. The captain of the yard, who is next in succession to command, has general charge of the water front and the ships moored there, and of the police of the navy yard; it is his duty to keep the commandant informed as to the nature and efficiency of all work in progress. The equipment officer has charge of anchors, chains, rigging, sails and the electric generating plant. The other heads of departments are the ordnance officer, the naval constructor, the engineering officer, the general storekeeper, the paymaster of the yard, the surgeon and the civil engineer. The clerks and draughtsmen employed by these officers are appointed under civil service rules, and their employment is continuous so long as funds are available. The foremen are selected by competitive examination, and their number is fixed. In the employment of mechanics and labourers, veterans are given preference, after which follow persons previously employed who have displayed especial efficiency and good conduct. The rates of wages are determined semi-annually by a board of officers, who ascertain the wages paid by private establishments in the vicinity of the navy yard. Eight hours constitute the legal work day. When emergencies necessitate longer hours the workmen are paid at the ordinary rate plus 50%.

The nature and extent of work to be performed upon naval vessels is determined by the secretary of the navy; the commandant then issues the necessary orders. The material required is obtained by a system of requisitions, which provide for the purchase from the lowest bidder after open competition. Heads of departments initiate the purchase of materials which are peculiar to their own work; ordinary commercial articles, however, are usually carried in a special stock called the “Naval Supply Fund,” which may be drawn upon by any head of department. All materials are inspected, both as to quantity and quality, by a board of inspectors consisting of three officers.

France.—The French coast is divided into five naval arrondissements, which have their headquarters at the five naval ports of which Cherbourg, Brest and Toulon are the most important, Lorient and Rochefort being of lesser degree. All are building and fitting-out yards. Corsica, which has naval stations at Ajaccio, Porto Vecchio, Bonifacio and other places, is a dependency of the arsenal at Toulon. On the African coast there are docking facilities in Algeria. Bizerta, the Tunisian port, has been made a naval base by the deepening and fortifying of the canal which is the approach to the inner lake. There are arsenals also at Saïgon and Hai-phong, and an establishment at Diego Suarez.

The subsidiary establishments in France are the gun foundry at Ruelle; the steel and iron works at Guérigny, where anchors, chains and armour-plate are made; and the works at Indret, on an island in the lower Loire, where machinery is constructed. There are many private shipbuilding establishments in the country, the most important being the Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée at La Seyne, on the lesser roadstead at Toulon where many French and foreign warships of the largest classes have been built. The same company has a building yard at Havre. Other establishments are the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Loire, at Saint Nazaire; the Normand Yard, at Havre; and the Chantiers de la Gironde, near Bordeaux.

Each of the arrondissements above mentioned is divided into sous-arrondissements, having their centres in the great commercial ports, but this arrangement is purely for the embodiment of the men of the Inscription Maritime, and has nothing to do with the dockyards as naval arsenals. In each arrondissement the vice-admiral, who is naval prefect, is the immediate representative of the minister of marine, and has full direction and command of the arsenal, which is his headquarters. He is thus commander-in-chief, as also governor-designate for time of war, but his authority does not extend to ships belonging to organized squadrons or divisions. The naval prefect is assisted by a rear-admiral as chief of the staff (except at Lorient and Rochefort, where the office is filled by a captain), and a certain number of officers, the special functions of the chief of the staff having relation principally to the efficiency and personnel of the fleet, while the “major-general,” who is usually a rear-admiral, is concerned chiefly with the matériel. There are also directors of stores, of naval construction, of the medical service and of the submarine defences (which are concerned with torpedoes, mines and torpedo-boats), as well as of naval ordnance and works. The prefect directs the operations of the arsenal, and is responsible for its efficiency and for that of the ships which are there in reserve. In regard to the constitution and maintenance of the naval forces, the administration of the arsenals is divided into three principal departments, the first concerned with naval construction, the second with ordnance, including gun-mountings and small-arms, and the third with the so-called submarine defences, dealing with all torpedo matériel.

Germany.—With the expansion of the German navy considerable additions have been made to the two principal dockyards. These are Wilhelmshaven, the naval headquarters on the North Sea, and Kiel, the headquarters on the Baltic, Danzig being an establishment of lesser importance, and Kiao-chau an undeveloped base in the Shantung peninsula, China. The chief official at each home dockyard is the superintendent (Oberwerftdirektor), who is a rear-admiral or senior captain directly responsible to the naval secretary of state. Under the superintendent’s orders are the chief of the Ausrüstung department, or captain of the fleet reserve, the directors of ordnance, torpedoes, navigation, naval construction, engineering and harbour works, with some other officers. The chiefs of the constructive and engineering departments are responsible for the building of ships and machinery, and for the maintenance of the hulls and machinery of existing vessels; while the works department has charge of all work on the quays, docks, &c., in the dockyard and port. A great advance has been made in increasing the efficiency and capabilities of the imperial dockyards by introducing a system of continuous work in the building of new ships and effecting alterations in others, and German material is exclusively used. The Schichau Works at Elbing and Danzig, the Vulkan Yard at Bredow, near Stettin, the Weser Company at Bremen, and the establishment of Blohm and Voss at Hamburg, are important establishments which have built many vessels for the German navy, as well as for foreign states.

Italy.—The principal Italian state dockyards are Spezia, Naples and Venice, the first named being by far the most important. It covers an area, including the water spaces, of 629 acres, and there are five dry docks, three being 433 ft. long and 105 ft. wide, and two 361 ft. long and 98 ft. 6 in. wide. The dockyard is very completely equipped with machinery of the best British, German and Italian makes, and it has built several of the finest Italian ships. The number of hands employed in the yard averages 4000. There are two building slips, and for smaller vessels there are two in the neighbouring establishment of San Bartolommeo (which is the headquarters for submarine mining), and one at San Vito, where is a Government gun factory. Castellammare di Stabia is subsidiary to Naples. A large dry dock has been built at Taranto. There is a small naval establishment at Maddalena Island on the Strait of Bonifacio. The Italian Government has no gun or torpedo factories, nearly all the ordnance coming from the Armstrong factory at Pozzuoli near Naples, and the torpedoes from the Schwarzkopf factory at Venice, while armour-plates are produced at the important works at Terni. Machinery is supplied by the firms of Ansaldo, Odero, Orlando, Guppy & Hawthorn and Pattison. The three establishments first named have important shipbuilding yards, and have constructed vessels for the Italian and foreign navies. The Orlando Yard at Leghorn is Government property, but is leased by the firm, and possesses five building slips.

Austria-Hungary.—The naval arsenal is on the well-protected harbour of Pola, in Istria, which is the headquarters of the national navy, and includes establishments of all kinds for the maintenance of the fleet. There are large building and docking facilities, and a number of warships have been built there. There is a construction yard also at Trieste. A new coaling and torpedo station is at Teodo, large magazines and stores are at Vallelunga, and the mining establishment is at Ficella. The shipbuilding branch of the navy is under the direction of a chief constructor (Oberster-Ingenieur), assisted by seven constructors, of whom two are of the first class. The engineering and ordnance branches are similarly organized.

Spain.—The Spanish dockyards are of considerable antiquity, but of diminishing importance. There is an establishment at Ferrol, another at Cartagena, and a third at Cadiz. They are well equipped in all necessary respects, but are not provided with continuous work. A recent arrangement is the specialization of the yards, Ferrol being designed for larger, and Carthagena for smaller, building work. The ordnance establishment is at Carraca.

Russia.—In Russia the naval ports are of two classes. The most important are Kronstadt, St Petersburg and Nikolayev. Of lesser importance are Reval, Sveaborg, Sevastopol, Batum, Baku and Vladivostok. The administration of the larger ports, except St Petersburg, which is under special regulations, is in the hands of vice-admirals, who are commanders-in-chief, while the smaller ports are under the direction of rear-admirals. All are directly under the minister of marine, except that the Black Sea ports and Astrabad, on the Caspian, are subordinate to the commander-in-chief at Nikolayev. Sevastopol has grown in importance, and become mainly a naval harbour, the commercial harbour being removed to Theodosia. The Russian government has also proposed to remodel the harbour works at St Petersburg and Kronstadt. The Emperor Alexander III. Port at Libau, on the Baltic, is in a region less liable to be icebound in the winter. There are no strictly private yards for the building of large vessels in Russia, except that of the Black Sea Company at Nikolayev. Messrs Creighton build torpedo-boats at Åbo in Finland, and the admiralty has steel works at Ijora, where some torpedo-boats have been built. Other ordnance and steel works are at Obukhov and Putilov.

Japan.—The principal Japanese dockyard, which was established by the Shogunate in 1866, is Yokosuka. French naval constructors and engineers were employed, and several wooden ships were built. The Japanese took the administration into their own hands in 1875, and built a number of vessels of small displacement in the yard. The limit of size was about 5000 tons, but the establishment has been enlarged so that vessels of the first class may be built there. There is a first-class modern dry dock which will take the largest battleship. Shipbuilding would be undertaken to a larger extent but for the fact that nearly all material has to come from abroad. Down to 1905 all the important vessels of the Japanese navy were built in Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States, but at the end of that year a first-class cruiser of 13,500 tons (the “Tsukuba”) was launched from the important yard at Kure. There are other yards at Sassebo and Maisuru.