One of the 'Wooden Walls of Old England.' The Duke of Wellington Screw Line-of-Battle Ship. One hundred and thirty-one Guns.
Some of the earliest three-deckers, or, as we may almost call them, five-deckers, were built at this dockyard; and of these the most famous was the Great Harry, so named after the king, which was launched here in 1514. For the period, the ship was a large one, being of a thousand tons burden; though we should not think much of her size now, when we have ironclads of over eleven thousand tons. There are models of her in the Greenwich Naval Museum, which is not far from Woolwich; and a curious lofty wooden castle she is, rising far up above the water-line, and offering a fair target, if the cannon of those days had any accuracy.
The Goubet class are of iron, sixteen feet long, three feet wide, and about six feet deep. The motive power is a Siemens motor driven by storage batteries. Fifty of these boats were purchased by the Russian government. They have no rudder, but a universal joint in the screw shaft permits of the screw being moved through an arc of ninety degrees. The torpedo is carried outside the boat, secured by a catch worked from inside. On arriving under the enemy, the torpedo is released, and striking the ship's bottom, is held there by spikes. The boat then withdraws, unreeling a connecting wire; and when at a safe distance, fires. The absence of a rudder, however, causes erratic steering, and the spikes with which the torpedo is fitted might fail to stick in steel-bottomed ships.
On the night of February 15, 1898, one of our battle-ships, the Maine, was blown up in the harbor of Havana, and 266 of our sailors were killed. Many believed that this awful deed was the work of Spanish officials; and this conviction deepened when a careful investigation was made by a court of naval inquiry. In all parts of this country the excitement of the people increased until they were ready to go to war with Spain if she would not change her policy toward Cuba.
But Spain was so stubborn that President McKinley, after trying in every possible way to prevent hostilities, was obliged to say in a message that "the war in Cuba must stop"; and on April 25, 1898, Congress took the momentous step of declaring war.
Greek Sea Fight, 550 B.C.
Rowers in an Athenian warship, about 400 B.C. (Fragment of relief found on the Acropolis)
The accompanying drawing is perhaps one of the clearest and best contemporary illustrations we have of these mediæval galleys. It will be seen that it consists of a long low open boat, with outrigger galleries for the rowers, while the hold is left[free for merchandise, or, as in the present instance, for men-at-arms. It has a forecastle like an ordinary ship; the shields of the men-at-arms who occupy it are hung over the bulwarks; the commander stands at the stern under a pent-house covered with tapestry, bearing his shield, and holding his leader’s truncheon. A close examination of the drawing seems to show that there are two men to each oar; we know from other sources that several men were sometimes put to each oar. The difference in costume between the soldiers and the sailors is conspicuous. The former are men-at-arms in full armour—one on the forecastle is very distinctly shown; the sailors are entirely unarmed, except the man at the stroke-oar, probably an officer, who wears an ordinary hat of the period, the rest wear the hood drawn over the head. The ship in the same illustration is an ordinary ship of burden, filled with knights and men-at-arms; the trumpeters at the stern indicate that the commander of the fleet is on board this ship; he will be seen amidships, with his visor raised and his face towards the spectator, with shield on arm and truncheon in hand.
New Zealand war canoe
Ships the British navy might have had! Freaks of marine architecture that have not been officially adopted.
We illustrate here some curious designs for war-ships by various inventors.
No. 1 is McDougal's Armoured Whale-back, with conning-towers, a design of 1892 for converting whalebacks into war-vessels.
No. 2 is an American design of 1892, Commodore Folger's Dynamite Ram, cigar-shaped, with two guns throwing masses of dynamite or aerial torpedoes.
No. 3 is a design by the Earl of Mayo in 1894 and called "Aries the Ram," built round an immense beam of steel terminating in a sharp point,
No. 4 is Gathmann's boat for a heavy gun forward, designed in 1900. She was to be of great speed, and the forward gun was to throw 600 lb. of gun-cotton at the rate of 2000 feet per second. A formidable Armada this, had it been practicable.
Launched in 1863
Among the numerous huge monsters constituting the iron-clad fleet of England, the Minotaur, is one of the most gigantic and formidable; and the sister ships, the Agincourt and Northumberland, all of precisely the same tonnage, power, rig, and equipment, are the largest and most powerful ships in the navy.
The Minotaur was built at Blackwall, by the Thames Ship Building company and the engines were constructed by Messrs. Penn, of Deptford.
She is 6,621 ton's measurement, and propelled by screw engins of 1,350 horsepower, with a speed of 15 knots an hour.
She is 400 feet in length by 59 in width, and carries in all thirty-four of the heaviest guns used afloat. Among these which form her chief batter on the main deck are four 300-pounder Armstrongs.
I will now give you a sectional division of a first-rate line-of-battle ship. Such a ship, carrying 120 or more guns, has four decks on which her guns are placed. The highest is open to the air, and is called the UPPER DECK
At the after part, extending a little way beyond the mizen-mast, there is a raised platform, called the POOP. It has no guns on it.
On the main deck is the steering-wheel, with the binnacle in front of it.
The after part of this deck between the poop and the main-mast is called the quarter-deck, and is the place where the officers especially walk. The part under the poop is divided into cabins, appropriated to the use of the captain. Here, also, is a clerk's office and a pantry. Between the main and fore-mast the large boats are stowed, and on either side are the gangways at which sentries are stationed.
The next deck under this is called the MAIN DECK. In the after part is the admiral's cabin. Immediately under the boats is a pen for the officers' live-stock ; and just abaft the fore-mast is the galley, or kitchen.
The third deck from the upper is called the MIDDLE DECK. The after part is fitted up for the lieutenants, chaplain, surgeon, paymaster, marine officers, &c., and called the WARD-ROOM. In the fore part of the deck is placed the sick-bay, a compartment fitted up as a hospital ; about the centre of this deck is one of the capstans.
The fourth from the upper is called the LOWER or GUN DECK. In the after part is the GUN-ROOM, where the midshipmen, and other junior officers, mess. The tiller of the rudder works through the gun-room just above their heads. A second capstan is placed on this deck ; and forward are the riding-bitts for securing the cables. It is the lowest deck on which guns are carried.
The ORLOP DECK is the fifth deck from the upper. It has no guns or ports, though lighted up by bull's eyes or scuttles. In the after part is the purser's issue-room ; next to it is the after cockpit, where the midshipmen and other junior officers sleep in hammocks. Before it again will be found the sail-room, where the sails are kept, and the cable-tiers, where the cables are stowed. Before it again, just abaft the fore-mast, is the fore cockpit, and the warrant officers' cabins, while right in the head of the ship are the carpenter's and boatswain's stores.
Low as we have got, we have still further to go down to the HOLD, which, if it may be so called, is the sixth deck from the highest. It is often divided into two decks for the greater convenience of stowage. Here are the FORE AND AFTER MAGAZINES, WATER TANKS, WINE AND SPIRIT ROOM, CHAIN CABLE LOCKERS, SHOT LOCKERS, BREAD ROOM, SHELL ROOM, GUNNER'S STORE ROOM, DRY PROVISION, and BEEF AND PORK IN CASKS. Since the introduction of auxiliary steam-power into ships of war, a large portion of the hold is devoted to the steam-engine and boilers, coal bunkers, and the shaft of the screw, while the funnel runs up through all the decks ; but it is wonderful, comparatively, how little space these are allowed to occupy, considering the great aid the steam-engine affords to the movements of the ship.
At this point, it is worth pausing to consider in detail the war galley which the Phœnicians had developed and which they handed down to the Greeks at this turning point in the world's history. The bireme and the trireme were adopted by the Greeks, apparently without alteration, save that at Salamis the Greek galleys were said to have been more strongly built and to have presented a lower freeboard than those of the Phœnicians.
During the winter of 1537-1538, the naval yards of Constantinople were busy with the preparations for a new fleet which should take the offensive against the Venetians and the Christians generally. In the spring Barbarossa got out into the Archipelago and, raiding at will, swept up another batch of prisoners to serve as galley slaves for the new ships. Meanwhile, the Mediterranean states nerved themselves for a final effort. Venice contributed 81 galleys, the Pope sent 36, and Spain, 30. Later the Emperor sent 50 transports with 10,000 soldiers, and 49 galleys, together with a number of large sailing ships.
Three-decked ship of the line, 18th century
Built in 1765. 2162 tons.
The Battle of Trafalgar
After twenty-five days in England, Nelson took command off Cadiz on September 28, eager for a final blow that would free England for aggressive war. There was talk of using bomb vessels, Congreve's rockets, and Francis's (Robert Fulton's) torpedoes to destroy the enemy in harbor, but it soon became known that Villeneuve would be forced to put to sea. On October 9, Nelson issued the famous Memorandum, or battle plan, embodying what he called "the Nelson touch," and received by his captains with an enthusiasm which the inspiration of the famous leader no doubt partly explains. This plan, which had been formulating itself in Nelson's mind as far back as the pursuit of the French fleet to the West Indies, may be regarded as the product of his ripest experience and genius; the praise is perhaps not extravagant that "it seems to gather up and coördinate every tactical principle that has ever proved effective."