Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/36

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28
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

RAPID BATTLESHIP BUILDING.
By WALDON FAWCETT.

A VARIETY of influences, aside from the occasional exigencies of actual war conditions, have, during the past few years, combined to force upon naval architects and shipbuilders a conviction of the need for more expeditious work in the construction of war vessels, and especially of battleships. As the modern fighting vessel has grown in weight and complexity of design, the interval necessitated for its construction has very naturally been lengthened. That this condition of affairs would sooner or later induce a sentiment of dissatisfaction was the more certain from the fact that throughout the world many government officers have to do with the construction and operation of naval flotilla who are inadequately informed regarding technical details.

The feeling of impatience on account of the time occupied in building a battleship has, of course, disclosed itself first of all to the shipbuilder, and the practical men of the industry have already set themselves to remedy the conditions in so far as it is possible. How much has been accomplished in a comparatively brief space of time is eloquently attested by the records for time economy in battleship construction which have been made during the past two years, particularly in British and American yards.

Although the shipbuilder has been able to accomplish much by the introduction of improved tools and machinery, with the attendant speedier methods of handling material, he is becoming more and more an advocate of the simplification of the battleship. His contentions are receiving the indorsement of many naval constructors of ability and experience, who are impressed by the advisability of reducing the cost of single ships, on the theory of the old adage against placing all the eggs in one basket. Protests have been directed particularly against the complication and multiplying diversity of function sought by mechanical contrivances, but of late there have been on the part of naval architects many expressions of opinion to the effect that the auxiliaries arc not the only features of a battleship which might be modified with profit.

As was stated above, it is the shipbuilder who has first been brought to a realization of the fact that he must keep pace with modern progress by constant reductions of the time necessary to turn out a complete armor-clad. Thus the William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company, of Philadelphia, has recently secured a contract from the