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an increase of weight which must be met by an increase of bearing. It is probable that during active operations in time of war we should be obliged to use steam as the motive power of our most efficient boats carrying guns. In this case, as but a small crew would be required, the gun would probably be mounted toward the middle of the boat surrounded by a sort of circular shield, the gun training over the top of its protection, or carrying the latter with it as it turns. This mode of mounting the gun gives that facility of horizontal train which is of such importance in flotilla manoeuvres, when the gun must often fire in a direction quite different from the course being steered at the time, A non-recoil carriage might be used in connection with this arrangement. Commo. RANSOM. How would you obtain an all round fire and how could the gun be placed so as not to interfere with the machinery? Comdr. SICARD. I have not thought out any particular plan for mounting a boat gun in the manner to which I have referred; only it is apparent that more speed and facility for horizontal train must be given to the piece when embarked, and the plan I have touched upon appears to be about the only one that will give the desired result. A good practical non-recoil carriage for howitzers has not yet been introduced. Mr. Krupp exhibited two, some eighteen months ago; one was unsatisfactory but the other performed well with a full power gun weighing about two thousand lbs. It was of course too large for boat use. A machine gun could readily be mounted in the manner indicated. Comdr. BATCHELLER. I think there is but little fault to be found with the general dimensions of our boats, considering simply their length, breadth and depth, though perhaps they should all be made deeper. But with the exception of the barge and possibly one cutter for a passenger boat I think they all have too little bearing forward. Particularly is this the case with the heavier boats intended to carry boat guns. There seems to have been a tendency in building our boats to fine down the lines to beat some other boat in point of speed, and with a great disregard of other essential qualities. I quite agree with what has been said in regard to rig; that the sliding gunter is best for all but sailing launches which should be sloop rigged. I doubt the utility of any rig for steam launches and cutters. I think the dinghey the most useful of boats and would not change her in any way except to make her deeper. I think our boats the best built and the strongest for their weight that I have seen, but they lack carrying capacity, owing to want of depth and too fine lines.
Lieut. BASSETT. I do not know whether those present are aware that all of the boats, except the launches, of the two training ships—the Portsmouth and the Saratoga, have been rigged with the sliding gunter. As these sailing ships make use of their boats very often, it was found that the sliding gunter rig was best, and they were so fitted this winter at Washington. It has occurred to me to ask why the whale boats which are, or ought to be the life boats of the ships are not fitted with air tanks, so as to make them more valuable as life boats? I once saw a whale boat upset and the crew rescued with difficulty, where air tanks would have made the boat easy to right, or at least the men might have clung to it. THE CHAIRMAN. I think Capt. Forbes arranged a boat with india rubber sponsons. I don’t know how the boats performed. Boats have for a long time been arranged with chambers, but for some reason they are not preferred on ship board. You know all ships carry Admiral Ammen’s balsas at the present time, and life buoys are always attached to the stern. I have an impression that when boats have been arranged with air tanks on the end, it has helped to capsize them—if I am wrong in this, I wish to be corrected. The models have had great sheer, and the tanks would be placed very high above the water. While I was attached to the New York yard, there was delivered a lot of “Raymond,” or rather “ Ingersoll” metallic life boats— they were arranged with a false bottom, and with the means of letting the water in or out. They were said to be self-righting, but I never saw one tried. I put one on each ship fitting out, but for some reason, of which I am not aware, they were not preferred. I have never heard a report from any one of them. The first cutters should, in my opinion, (as all boats which have to carry guns,) be made of different models from the present, more stability as well as depth, and more displacement at the bows are required —they should have longer oars more like sweeps. In regard to dinghies, I would state that the Kearsarge left one at Mare Island while I was there, which gave general satisfaction to the officers. It was no longer than our boats, but deeper and fuller and being a lap-streak boat, very light, nothing but hoops for frames, yet quite strong and burdensome. Comdr. AMEs. As regards the use of india rubber sponsons, I have examined several boats of the “Massachusetts Humane Society” fitted with inflating fenders and I have found that they soon become too stiff, and almost useless, not to speak of the danger of their becoming punctured or broken. Solid cork fenders of the same dimensions are nearly as buoyant and much more practical. I strongly advise the substitution of cork for india rubber, which, by the way, has already been decided upon by the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Humane Society. I approve of sloop rig for launches, with centre board. I made some experiments with the Resaca’s launch when I was attached to that ship. It had no centre board and I saw the need of one. I think the chairman's suggestion as regards building dinghies deeper and with greater beam, a good one. At present dinghies are too small for the purposes to which they are put. I think that the only way to really find out what we need in regard to boats is to construct a full set of boats and try them under the same circumstances, and under all conditions of weather and sea. Under such experiments, carefully made, we would soon develope the proper boats for general service. Different stations require different boats, and officers are apt to make up their minds from the last cruise, as, for instance, in the Mediterranean light boats will generally answer, while in South America—at Montevideo for example—the best sea boats are necessary. Comdr. Perkins has suggested to me that in China light boats are all that are required, native boats doing all the heavy carrying, and the lighter and faster the boats are the greater satisfaction they give. These considerations cause me to think that experiments to test all points of . rig, model and burden would be satisfactory and at once settle the whole question.
D. S. S. PENSACOLA, OFF MAGDALENA BAY, APRIL 16th, 1880. Rear Admiral C. R. P. RODGERs, U. S. N., in the Chair.
THE CHAIRMAN. I think that there is a general impression among the officers of the service that our ships' boats are the handsomest and fastest in existence but there seems to be a general distrust as to their carrying capacity and adaptation to the work which they may be called on to perform. When I commanded the Franklin I once put all the men into the boats; when full they could barely float, the water being at the time perfectly smooth, showing that had there been any sea all
the men could not have been carried. In providing boats for a ship more attention should be paid to the uses for which they are intended. Almost all the boats should be heavy, and intended for carrying, rather than for speed. The necessity for making boats so that they may stow in nests no longer exists, as almost all boats are now carried on the rail and therefore can be built more nearly of a size. Every ship should have at least two regular life boats. I am in favor of wood in the construction of boats and of iron in that of ships. Chief Engineer Isherwood's very interesting report on steam launches, in my opinion, may be taken as excellent authority. I would suggest for cutters, two working lugs without booms, and a jib without bowsprit.
After some discussion it was decided to discuss the topic proposed by means of interrogatories, which should be as follows:
I. Whether, in the opinion of those entering into the discussion, the present naval boats are what they should be; if not, what would improve them?
II. Whether the steam boat of a ship should be a launch or a smaller boat?
III. What should be the rig for launches 2
IV. What should be the rig for cutters?
V. What should be the rig for gigs and whale boats
Lieut. MEIGS. I advocate full schooner rig, on the ground that it is best for expeditions away from the ship which launches may be called upon to undertake. Launches are not used as running boats, and can, therefore, be fitted with a standing rig. The schooner rig is better than that of the sloop as it does not require such lofty spars. The great trouble is that we have no recognized system of regulating the sizes of the boats supplied to vessels. There should be large boats fitted for carrying heavy loads and for life service, and lighter boats for passenger service. For mere passenger service I consider our light boats very suitable. I would suggest the use of iron in the construction of our boats, on account of its superior strength and rigidity.
Capt. BREESE. I object to the use of iron, on account of too much rigidity; boats which work a little can always be pulled faster than stiffer ones. Boats of the Francis life boat type have been introduced in small numbers into the service, but have finally been rejected. If an accident were to occur to an iron boat, on detached service, it would be very difficult to repair it. With the exception of the barges, gigs, and some of the whale boats, the boats are not what they should be, the principal defect being want of capacity. With the exception of the launches all the boats are too heavily built. I consider the proper rig for launches, two working lugs without booms and a jib without bowsprit, on account of the ease with which the sails can be stowed and handled. The sails should be of light cloth with slack roping so that the greater part of the strain shall come on the canvas. This principle should apply to all boats’ sails. Lieut. MEIGS. It would be fully as easy to repair an iron boat, with proper appliances, as a wooden one. Lieut. MASON. Our boats are not adapted to the service which they have to perform except as regards speed when unloaded. For a ship of the class of the Pensacola, for instance, there should be two large sailing launches, a steam cutter, from which, at sea, the engines, boiler and screw should be removed, so that it could be used for pulling and sailing, the end of the shaft being covered by a cap and the propeller hole filled with a plank stop. In addition there should be three large cutters all of the same size; two large whale boats fitted as complete life boats, to be hoisted on the quarters; one to be used in port for the ward-room officers, the other as the Admiral's service boat; a whale-boat-gig and a cutter-barge of the same size as the other cutters; a whale boat dinghey, as suggested by Mr. Adams, and a small wherry. All boats should be fitted to a certain extent as life boats. All available spaces under bow and stern gratings and thwarts should be enclosed, making water tight tanks which might be used for stowing the lighter articles of equipment, and provisions. All boats, and especially those designated as life boats at sea, should be fitted with patent lowering and detaching apparatus. One great objection to our boats at present is the lowness of their gunwales and the use of brass swivel row locks. Masts should be clamped to the thwarts with hinge clamps, instead of being slipped through a hole as at present; this would do away with the dangerous operation of lifting the mast so high without supports. The after-clamps should be on the forward side of the thwart so that the after mast may be shipped from forward. The sliding-gunter, in my opinion, will stow quite as snugly in a boat as any other rig, and can be handled more easily in making and shortening sail. The mast is shorter than in the lug or sprit rig, and the topmast does not take up any more room than the yard of the lug or the sprit. The necessity of dipping lugs in working is obviated, as well as the difficult operation of shipping and unshipping the sprit. In large ships two steamers would be found useful especially for torpedo service, as it