Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/178

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

sels have, since its organization, been constructed on the other side of the Atlantic.

The types of war vessels considered by naval authorities to be best suited to the needs of our service may be classed in general terms as battle-ships, armored cruisers, protected cruisers, harbor-defense monitors, gunboats, torpedo-boats (surface and submarine), and rams. The uses and functions of each type differ greatly; some of the more prominent may be broadly stated here.

Taking first the battle-ships, we find them to be, of all the types of war vessels, the most powerful in the feature of offense and defense; they are intended to stand and fight, to give and take blows like giants in a prize ring; and the reason can be plainly seen when PSM V44 D178 Iowa battleship cofferdam sectional view.jpgFig. 4.—Iowa.
Section through Coffer Dams, etc.
we appreciate the fact that an enemy can bring his battle-ship within twelve miles of our large seaboard cities, and there taking up a position of vantage, secure from any attack by land, shell the city; the only vessel, then, that can dispute possession with him point by point is a ship of similar powers of doing battle, however successful an attack by torpedo-boat, either surface or submarine, may be when the conditions are suitable. The points, therefore, to be emphasized in the design are protection and armament, or the power to deliver heavy blows with the ability to withstand those of its antagonist; with these must be combined power to enable it to act on the offensive, such as speed, endurance, habitability, and form of hull that will insure seaworthiness.

As a purely harbor-defense vessel the monitor stands pre-eminent, the entire hull and battery being protected by armor, and at the same time offering such a small target that it is extremely difficult to hit; but its military value is very seriously impaired when in a seaway, by the short distance of the guns above the water, it being impossible to use them in a heavy sea. Perhaps the vessels most useful for all-around work are the armored cruisers, as they are intended to have great speed, great endurance, guns capable of coping with vessels inferior only to battle-ships, with a very considerable amount of protection afforded to the hull and