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I hold, then, that, while modern and dogmatism, they have certainly arms and inventions must not be not been clearly stated; and I now ignored, we must enlarge our views propose to show the shipbuilding so as to embrace all the duties re- policy actually being carried out quired of a great maritime Power, by the leading maritime Powers. unless we are to sacrifice much of The following table is from a what has generally been held to be return called “ Navies of England included in the term naval suprem- and other Countries,"moved for by acy. It may be necessary here to Lord Charles Beresford, and preadd, that among modern weapons sented to the House of Commons I have not forgotten the Norden- on 17th May last. The return felt submarine boat, but that I gives names and much detailed ininclude it as a development of the formation ; but as there is no sumtorpedo, very formidable under mary, I am responsible for classifycertain circumstances, but essen- ing the results in a tabulated form. tially limited in its action.
It will be seen that I have adopted I have given above general indi- the term “battle-ships" as prefercations of the views on which I able to that of ironclads, as the hold that our naval shipbuilding latter term would strictly include policy should proceed, which are, I lightly armoured gunboats, while believe, those of our best naval the large Italian vessels are not authorities at the Admiralty and properly ironclad at all, being unelsewhere, though probably, from protected by armour at the waterour national objection to formulas line.
First Class. Second Class.
Only 4 of the completed boats are over
100 feet in length, the remainder are old first-class boats under 90 feet. All first-class boats building are from 110 to 135 feet. Nine of our secondclass boats are of wood, the remainder
steel, 62 feet. All French first-class boats are over 100
feet. Nine building are “torpilleurs
de haute mer," of 135 feet. Nine of the Russian first-class boats are
over 100 feet, the remainder are old first-class boats. Four building are
The above return is very com- ironclads recently projected; but plete, and up to date of May last there were rumours as to the unyear. It would seem that ironclad satisfactory nature of their deship-construction on various sys- signs before Admiral Aube—who tems is still being carried on briskly has been called “Amiral Torpille," in England, France, Russia, Italy, from his leaning towards torpedoes and Austria. Germany is holding —gave orders to suspend their her hand for the present; but for construction. It is very important her wants as a Baltic Power, she to note that in Italy and Russia is strong in ironclads.
more attention has been paid to In Russia and in Italy ironclads questions of naval warfare than have been commenced during the even in France or Germany. Ruspast year, and Russia has quite sia was the first to advocate and recently offered rewards to Russian attempt to carry out torpedo warnaval officers who may be success- fare on a large scale ; and the ful in competing for “the best Italians have also shown their full type of ironclad.” Italy, as I have appreciation of the torpedo as a shown, has recently taken the lead weapon. Yet it is remarkable in conducting experiments in re- that both these countries, whose gard to naval construction, and interests lie rather in maritime is building the three largest war- defence than in offence, with a vessels in existence. France, it limited commerce and a geographiis true, has stopped building two cal position which might allow of
their dispensing with thorough sea- ances of naval officers and other going vessels, are eager to build responsible persons in this country, big ships. France has many ships of which I propose to give a few in course of construction, and will specimens :certainly complete them, with the Admiral Arthur, an officer of exception of the Charles Martel high attainments, who was for and Brennas, though this has been three years in charge of our adstigmatised by the torpedoists à mirable torpedo school in the outrance in that country as a waste Vernon, in recent lecture at of public money. Austria has still the United Service Institution, two ironclads building, and is press- speaks as follows on the question ing their construction.
of ironclads. He reminds us A further comparison of the that France has generally “given table is foreign to my purpose in us the lead' in ship-construction, this article; but I am strongly of and adds, “they are now ahead of opinion that our great need at us in the coming arm—viz., the present lies rather in more cruis- sea-going torpedo-boat.
We now ers, torpedo-vessels, and torpedo- hear from France that the days of boats than in big ships. The lat- ironclads of the present type are ter, on the other hand, take much numbered ; and that such is really loriger to build, and cannot be the case I feel perfectly certain. neglected; while those who are the destructible ironclad, as I dissatisfied with the designs on will call it, valued at half a milwhich our new ships of the Ad- lion of money, can be sunk by miral class have been constructed, a locomotive torpedo valued at have been naturally anxious that £,400, discharged from a sea-going some more formidable vessels should torpedo - boat, valued, say, at be commenced.
£25,000." This brings me to the Nile and Commander Bethell, M.P., has, Trafalgar controversy of last year, both in the House of Commons in which Admirals Sir Cooper and at the United Service InstituKey and Sir A. Hood took part, tion, pressed very similar views; and the discussion in the House of but at the latter he only went so Commons on Mr Shaw Lefevre's far as to advocate the substitution motion to suspend their construc- of smaller vessels for the large tion. The motion depended mainly ironclad, while in the House he on tactical questions, and as such it appeared willing to rely almost was discussed, though Mr Hibbert, exclusively on torpedo-vessels for in defending the vote for these fleet actions. Captain Bethell, large vessels, was content to urge who has had recent sea experience, the impolicy of “ blowing hot and and who stated that he was putcold," and to state the necessity ting before the House “the views for placing this country in a posi- held by, at all events, a considertion of “equality or superiority” able section of his brother officers," with that of France.
stated truly that “big ships were That the motion was defeated a corollary to big guns, and small is satisfactory on many grounds, ships a corollary to torpedoes, and of which I consider the tactical the question therefore now one as the most important; but between big ships and small there was, I admit, abundant ships ; and he added his “ belief justification for it in the utter- that before long the torpedo would
to a great extent displace the gun country: and he appears to think in naval warfare." I
that the assurance that they will The opinions of these officers be "equal or superior to any ship deserve all due consideration, and of the French navy" is sufficient if they are sound, we are clearly reason for building them. Is it wasting money in building expen- not natural that this determinasive ironclads, at least of anything tion not to be outdone in worthlike the present types. I do not less (?) vessels by a foreign Power think that they are generally ac- is looked upon in many quarters cepted; but they are founded on as such damning with faint tactical considerations, and if they praise" as is intended to condemn are to be combated successfully, them? That this was not meant they must be met by similar argu- we may feel sure from Lord Ripon's ments founded on views of naval plain statement in the House of warfare. The argument most often Lords that their construction was heard in answer is now simply a to be continued, and Mr Hibbert's conservative one — much as fol- resistance to Mr Shaw Lefevre's lows: “Very likely you are right motion ; but when the premisses of about the future; but as long as the opponents of the big ships are other countries are building big thus practically admitted, it is difships we must not be behind hand; ficult to deny their conclusions. so we are laying down or complet- If it can “safely” be foreseen that ing such-and-such vessels"--which the Nile and Trafalgar will be sounds much like saying, “We the last of the ironclads, it may have no shipbuilding policy of our safely be said that they ought not own, and it is not a subject which to be built. Even so high an auwe care to study. We are content thority as Admiral Sir Cooper Key, to follow other countries, and to while he strongly supported the continue in our old groove until a building of the Nile and Trarevolution in naval warfare is upon falgar, says, when they are comus, when we shall of course accept pleted we can be "content to the altered conditions, and act ac- turn our attention to the construccordingly.” This is little more tion of fast unarmoured cruisers; than blind conservatism and re- and adds, "these will, in my sistance to change; yet it would opinion, form the fleets of the seem as if some such views had future." From a subsequent letbeen forced upon Mr Hibbert, who ter of Sir Cooper Key's, it appears in moving the Navy Estimates this that this opinion was rather hypoyear, after describing the new iron- thetical than actual; but it is cerclads Nile and Trafalgar, laid tain that those who believe that down last year, estimated to cost the ironclad is doomed will quote, over £914,000 each-a price which as they have already quoted, Sir Mr Hibbert is almost afraid to Cooper as a convert to their mention”-adds : "I may safe- opinions. ly say that these two large iron- From the above opinions of high clads will probably be the last authorities, the position of the ironclads of this type that will building of the Nile and Trafalgar ever be built in this or any other has been almost brought to an
1 • Times' report of debate in House of Commons, March 16, 1886. 5 Times,' March 19, 1886.