A board, consisting of yourself as senior member, Commander C. McR Winslow, Lieutenant-Commander F. F. Fletcher, Lieutenants L. M. Chandler and F. H. Clark, U.S.N., as members, is hereby appointed, to convene at the Navy Department at 10 a.m. the 24th instant for the purpose of considering the types and qualities of torpedo vessels and their machinery needed by the Navy.
A letter of Commander C. McR. Winslow, dated August 19, 1904, addressed to the President, is enclosed herewith, to be considered by the Board.
In reporting its opinions and recommendations in this matter, the Board will include a statement of the number of each type of vessel proposed which the Board considers to be necessary to construct for experimental purposes, to prove whether the types have satisfactory qualities, before others are built.
The members of the Board have been directed to report to you.
This is in addition to your present duties.
1. In accordance with the Department’s order No. 4145-20 of October 19, 1904, to Rear Admiral George A. Converse, U.S.N., convening a Board to consider certain questions in connection with the development of a fleet of torpedo vessels for the United States Navy, the original of which order is appended hereto, the Board met on the date set in the order, and after duly considering all matters before it, has the honor to report and recommend as follows:–
2. The Board pursued its investigation under the following heads, and in the following order:–
I. General consideration of the needs of the service in relation to torpedo warfare.
II. Types of torpedo vessels necessary to meet the above demands.
III. Number of type vessels that should be built experimentally to determine definitely the suitability of the types recommended.
3. Under its precept, the Board has not taken up the question of submarine torpedo boats in any way, confining itself to surface boats only; nor has it entered into questions of details of construction of any vessel.
4. The Board is of the opinion that some type of vessel should be supplied that can protect the heavy fleet from attack by hostile torpedo vessels under all circumstances, and which shall at the same time be capable of attacking offensively with torpedoes as desired. Such a vessel would still be known as a “torpedo boat destroyer”, although the board is convinced that she must differ in certain essentials from the vessels now classed under that head. If such a vessel, is to protect the armored fleet it is a sine qua non that she must be able to accompany the armored fleet under all conditions, and that in so doing she must constitute the least possible drawback to the mobility of that fleet. It is of course recognized by the Board that a small vessel cannot hold high speed in an increasing sea as long as a large one, but the Board is of the opinion that in the past the destroyer type has had its power of accompanying the fleet and its general sea keeping power unduly sacrificed in an effort to attain a very high smooth water speed. The effort to make destroyers of a speed sufficient to overtake torpedo boats possessing the maximum speed of 30 knots or over in smooth water, in order that by their destruction the armored fleet may rest secure from their attacks has, in the opinion of the Board defeated itself in its major object by creating a type of destroyer in which the factor of safety in material has been so reduced as to seriously hamper the destroyers in their efforts to accompany the fleet on the open sea, and to greatly reduce the fleet’s mobility by causing it to reduce its rate of progress to enable the destroyers to cruise in company. This either hampers the action of the armored fleet unduly, or causes the abandonment of the destroyers as accompanying auxiliaries, and thus deprives the armored ships of the very protection that the high speed of the destroyers was supposed to give. The Board is therefore of the opinion that a proper destroyer should first of all be capable of accompanying the armored fleet without detracting from its mobility in any except the worst weather (within the utmost limits within which small vessels may hope to maintain a parity of speed with large ones), and that in the past this first requisite for such craft has been sacrificed to excessive smooth water speed. The Board therefore believes that all effort to give our destroyers the highest nominal smooth water speed in light condition reported in other navies should be abandoned, and that a sufficient sacrifice of such speed should be made to give the best attainable sea keeping qualities. The higher the serviceable speed of the destroyer the better of course but sea speed and sea keeping ability, should be the great considerations. Destroyers that can keep with the fleet and drive off torpedo boats by the use of their superior batteries are evidently a better protection to the fleet, even though they cannot overtake 30 knot boats in smooth water, than are 32 knot smooth water boat destroyers that have to be dropped behind the fleet when it goes to sea in order to prevent loss of fleet speed and mobility. The Board is of the opinion that a destroyer can be built to fulfill the requirements hereinafter laid down, which will as nearly as possible meet all the demands that can reasonably be laid on such a vessel. The destroyer recommended by the Board would undoubtedly accomplish under average sea conditions (such as maintain even in the offing of a port) the overhauling and destruction of a torpedo boat; a duty which the present 30 to 32 knot destroyer would more likely fail to accomplish owing to her lesser power to present herself in serviceable condition at the time and place where such service must be rendered.
5. In addition to the line of operations laid down above as concomitant of heavy fleet action on or beyond the high seas, the Board believes that another field of torpedo vessel action of the utmost importance exists in the defense of our own coast. To meet this need smaller torpedo vessels are more suitable, and the utmost extension of their radius of action is that they shall be able to proceed at reasonable speed between the principal ports on our coast and in the West Indies on their own resources. They may be called upon to accompany the fleet under certain circumstances and to a limited extent. These vessels would be of the torpedo boat class, modified from the present vessels of that type along similar lines to those laid down above for destroyers, although the modifications would not extend to the same degree as recommended for the destroyers. Although designed for use as coast defense and harbor defense torpedo boats, the Board desires to emphasize the fact (frequently lost sight of in the past) that these boats cannot be designed for smooth water work alone. The defense of a port must take place in the main in the offing of that port, in other words, in most instances on the open sea. Therefore any boat designed for smooth water work only, or even mainly, will not, in the Board’s opinion, be a satisfactory coast defense torpedo boat. Torpedo boats must be able to act in anything short of a real gale, on the open sea, and should be able to live in any weather. To accomplish this the boat must be of considerable size, and the power to proceed under her own steam through our system of coastwise canals must be sacrificed to what is considered by the Board the higher power of being able to act in rough weather off shore of our home ports. Torpedo operations for coast defense will not be undertaken in but off our ports, and therefore good sea qualities are very necessary for the torpedo boat as well as for the destroyer, within the lesser range of the smaller type. The change recommended by the Board is that necessary from a consideration of open sea rather than smooth water conditions. The comprehension of existing conditions has changed, in that now torpedo service is demanded as a rule in a seaway, whereas torpedo boats were formerly designed under what the Board deems an erroneous policy of proposed action in smooth water only. The term “harbor defense” has been in the past fatally misinterpreted to comprise action only within the smooth waters of protected harbors, instead of in the open seaway in the offing of a port. In our methods of construction it is vital that we at once abandon this false understanding and awake to a full meaning of what such mobile harbor defense really involves.
6. A third form of torpedo vessel of the usefullness of which the Board is convinced is of the ship’s torpedo boat, capable of being hoisted on board heavy ships, and of being used as ship’s steam launches. Such as boat should possess good sea qualities for her size, should be able to make 15 knots in a moderate sea, should be sufficiently decked in to keep her from swamping when running into a head sea, and should be extremely handy. She should be capable of carrying two torpedoes in some form of dropping racks, but should not carry any air plant or other outfit, it being supposed that the ship to which she belongs would handle her torpedoes, delivering them to her ready for use when needed. She should preferably have wood planking to enable her to stand such grounding, etc., as is frequent in the service of ships’ launches, and the planking should be laid as to make her easy of repair by the ship’s force in case of such accident. She should have her rudder and propellor high enough so that in grounding her keel will take the bottom before those parts touch. The English type of 56 foot ship’s torpedo boat is an example of the type of vessel that the Board has in mind. In these English boats, fourteen inch torpedoes are carried, and each ship carries a number of these smaller torpedoes for the use of her boats. These boats are in common use as the ship’s launches and are also kept constantly at torpedo work. Battleships and armored cruisers carry one or two of them, and store and repair ships and torpedo depot ships carry in some cases as many as six of them. The English have run the speed of these craft up to 18 knots, which the Board believes to be higher than advisable, preferring to give up three knots speed in order to attain similar qualities to those hereinbefore laid down in the discussion of proposed modifications of destroyer and torpedo boat types. These English launches carry one or two pounder guns, and are serviceable for torpedo attack, for defenses against torpedo attack, and for picket line work.
7. In the recommendation made herein by the Board, a reduction in maximum speed results in every case. The Board desires to call attention to the fact that this reduction is composed of two parts; one apparent and really non-existent in service, and the other real. The conditions under which acceptance trial trips of these vessels have been conducted in the past are, in the opinion of the Board, misleading in the extreme. Such trials have been run in very light condition (for our destroyers from 450 to 500 tons total displacement), and after the vessels have been fitted out for service their displacement has been so largely increased as to make all trial trip reports utterly worthless and misleading as far as an estimation of results to be obtained in service is concerned. (Our destroyers in service displace from 550 to 800 tons). Past trial trips have also been for short spurt runs (one to two hours) at the maximum speed, into which it is possible to introduce all sorts of jockeying methods looking to the attainment of a high nominal maximum speed, probably never again to be attained in service, and which gives no indication whatever of probable endurance in service of hull and machinery. The Board believes that we cannot too soon substitute for this form of acceptance trial longer runs at less maximum speed, but of much greater duration, and made under actual full service load. Our present vessels, now rated at certain trials speeds and displacements (reported as the result of short run, light displacement trials), would, if tried, fail under such conditions as are indicated above as the proper ones for such trials, fall far below the results attained on the original trials, and yet such results would be the maximum actually attainable in service. It is therefore apparent that insofar as reported results would be reduced by the recommended change in form of trial trips, the adoption of the Board’s recommendation on this point would result in a certain reduction of the reported maximum speed attainable, and also that such reduction would be merely nominal and really non-existent. The present higher speed vessels (as shown by past trials) are really not much faster in service than the ones recommended by the Board would be. Any further loss of speed resulting from the adoption of the principles enunciated in this report that goes beyond the normal loss discussed above, would constitute a real sacrifice of speed to gain other valuable qualities; but the Board is of the opinion that such necessary real loss would be a very small proportion indeed of the total apparent loss as shown by trial under the new conditions laid down.
8. The Board recommends that every torpedo boat destroyer shall possess the following qualities:–
a. On her first trial trip she should start under the conditions of full service load (ammunition, stores, coal, etc.) for a sea trip of maximum endurance, and should run for a long run (suggested as not less than 48 hours) at such a speed as would enable her to keep company with the battle ship fleet in service. On this trial she should show her ability at the given speed to make, on her bunker capacity alone, such a prolonged trans-Atlantic or other sea voyage as she might be called upon to do in actual war service (3000 miles at 15 knots is suggested). She should on this trip be required to prove that her apparatus for producing fresh water is capable of doing its full work, and all auxiliaries should be run as they would be in actual service.
b. A second sea trial should then be made, with the vessel full loaded for service (including ammunition, stores, etc.) and with sufficient coal in her bunkers to enable her to steam the required distance as determined in the preceding trial, and she should then steam for a long sea trial at what may be called her maximum high power long distance speed (24 hours at not less than 20 knots for any hour is suggested).
c. A third sea trial should then be run at maximum speed under the full load condition prescribed in the preceding paragraph (2 hours at not less than 23 knots is suggested). This trial might be advantageously combined with the preceding, provided that it be commenced within one hour after the trial laid down in paragraph b.
d. The vessel should have as small a tactical diameter as is possible while maintaining good sea going qualities; should be capable of easy handling under twin screws, which should be out turning; should steer easily when going astern at three-quarter speed; should be able to stop quickly at any speed by reversing her engines without preliminary throttling down; should have artificial ventilation of engine room to enable her to run with all hatches shut; her hull should be strong enough to steam as fast as a battleship in anything short of a real gale; she should be strong enough to be safe in any weather when not forced in a gale, should comfortably house her personnel; should be high enough forward to keep her from being swept too heavily in a head sea; and should be high enough all around to allow ventilation in a seaway and to reduce to a minimum the danger of shipping water through ventilators, etc.
e. Her boilers should be four in number, in pairs, forward and abaft the engine rooms. Her engines should be in separate compartments. The forward boilers and forward engine should be capable of separation from the rest of the plant in every particular when running four boilers, thus giving two independent steam plants, the integrity of neither one of which is dependent upon the other. Automatic devices should be reduced to a minimum.
f. She should have two electric generating sets, either one to be capable of carrying at normal load three quarters of the ordinary lighting outfit and in addition the electric night signals and wireless telegraph outfit. Each set should be capable of carrying at normal load the two search lights.
g. She should have two 18" search lights, one forward and one aft; electric night signals (present two light systems suggested); and a wireless telegraph outfit.
h. Her armament should consist of 3" rapid fire guns and 21" torpedoes and tubes, as many as possible of each to be carried (suggested as not less than four 3" guns and four torpedoes in two twin central pivot tubes), with the usual allowance of small arms, ammunition, etc. Her battery should be so arranged as to give a maximum ahead and astern fire from her guns.
i. Her displacement should be the minimum possible under the requirements imposed, but certainly not over 800 tons when in full load condition.
9. The Board recommends that a torpedo boat shall possess the following qualities:–
a. On her first trial trip she should start under the conditions of full service load (ammunition, stores, coal, etc.) and should run for a long run (suggested as not less than 24 hours) at such a speed as should enable her to demonstrate her power to efficiently perform on her bunker capacity such cruising as might be demanded of her (suggested as not less than 1500 miles at 12 knots). She should on this trip be required to prove that her apparatus for producing fresh water is capable of doing its full work, and all auxiliaries should be run as they would be in actual service.
b. A second sea trial should then be made with the vessel full loaded for service (including ammunition, stores, etc.) and with sufficient coal in her bunkers to enable her to steam the required distance as determined in the trial preceding, and she should then steam for a long sea trial at what may be called her maximum high power long distance speed (8 hours at not less than 20 knots for any hour is suggested).
c. A third sea trial should then be run at maximum speed under the full load condition prescribed in the preceding paragraph (2 hours at not less than 24 knots is suggested). This trial might be advantageously combined with the preceding, provided that it be commenced within one hour after the trial laid down in paragraph b.
d. The vessel should have as small a tactical diameter as is possible while maintaining good sea going qualities; should be capable of easy handling under twin screws, which should be out turning; should steer easily when going astern at three-quarter speed; should be able to stop quickly at any speed by reversing her engines without preliminary throttling down; her hull should be strong enough to ride out a gale; she should comfortable house her personnel; and she should be high enough forward to keep her from being swept too heavily in a head sea.
e. Her boilers should be two in number, one forward and one abaft the engines. Her engines should be in separate compartments. The forward boiler and forward engine should be capable of separation from the rest of the plant in every particular when running two boilers thus giving two independent steam plants, the integrity of neither one of which is dependent upon the other. Automatic devices should be reduced to a minimum.
f. She should have one electric generating set capable of operating at normal load three-quarters of the ordinary lighting outfit, with electric night signals and one 12" search light in addition.
g. She should have electric night signals (present two light system recommended), and one 12" search light forward.
h. Her armament should consist of 1 pounder rapid fire guns and 5 meter. 18" torpedoes and tubes, as many as possible of each to be carried (suggested as not less than three guns and four torpedoes in two twin central pivot tubes), with the usual allowance of small arms, ammunition, etc. Her battery should be so arranged as to give a maximum ahead and astern gun fire.
i. Her displacement should be the minimum possible under the requirements imposed, but certainly not over 250 tons when in full load condition.
10. The Board recommends that a ship’s torpedo boat shall possess the following qualities:–
a. She should be from 56 to 60 feet long, of good sea power at 15 knots sustained speed; not to exceed a hoisting weight of seventeen tons; and to carry two 14" torpedoes, with dropping devices for them; and to carry one 1 pounder gun.
11. In connection with the ship’s torpedo boat, the progress of development of the gas engine motor boat has been apparently so great in recent that the Board believes that an investigation should be made to determine the advisability of using such engines as motive power for this type of vessel.
12. The Board deems it more than probable that great difficulty would be experienced in getting any competent builder to touch the construction of a single vessel, except at excessive cost, especially in view of the fact that the Department cannot make any definite promise to such a builder of future contracts to follow the production of a successful single boat. The smaller the order for material that such a builder places with the steel companies, the greater the difficulty in getting the latter to make satisfactory deliveries. The Board also believes that such a single vessel, even if successful, would thereafter become a single tactical entity, which would probably result in a very wide divergence from the homogeneity that should maintain in our torpedo vessel flotillas.
The Board is also confident that if its recommendations herein be followed, the resulting vessels would be of sufficiently satisfactory character to justify the building immediately of one tactical unit of each type. The Board understands that the present tactical flotilla adopted by the Department for both destroyers and boats to be five vessels, with one additional in reserve.
13. The Board therefore recommends the construction of the following numbers of type
a. Six torpedo boat destroyers of the type indicated herein.
b. Six torpedo boats of the type indicated herein.
c. Two ship’s torpedo boats of the type indicated herein. (On assumption that each heavy ship would carry two such boats.)
14. In order to secure the flotilla homogeneity so necessary for service, and to avoid a repetition of the troubles heretofore experienced in the construction of torpedo vessels, the Board recommends that:–
a. Contracts for all torpedo vessels, including type flotillas recommended in this report, be made in groups of six to each builder.
b. That such contracts be let only to such firms as are known to number among their members or employees men experienced and skilled in the design and construction of such vessels.
c. That bids be accepted only on designs prepared and submitted by such firms.
d. That the plans submitted with the bids should be in the greatest detail possible.
e. That after the contract is signed no changes in the plans shall be permitted which involve increase in the final displacement of the completed vessels.
G. A. CONVERSE (sgd)
Rear Admiral, U.S.N., Senior Member
C. M. R. WINSLOW (sgd)
Commander, U.S.N., Member
F. F. FLETCHER (sgd)
Commander, U.S.N., Member
L. H. CHANDLER (sgd)
Lieutenant, U.S.N., Member
FRANK H. CLARK (sgd)
Lieutenant, U.S.N., Member
Courtesy: Chris Wright, Warship International.