THE PERSONNEL OF THE ROYAL NAVY, at the end of 1935, numbered about 7,810 officers of commissioned and warrant rank, and 86,672 petty officers, seamen and marines. There were in addition about 7,000 officers and men of the Dominion Navies. Above are the officers and ship's company of H.M.S. Nelson, with the former Commander-
ALTHOUGH the Navy is, perhaps, the most British of all our national institutions, and holds a special place in the affections of our people, it is a service about which the public knows comparatively little. From time to time men-
The modern fighting ship of any type, from battleship to submarine, is so crammed with mechanism and “gadgets” that only the trained eye can take in the full significance of what it sees. The Navy, too, speaks a language which, to the uninitiated, is meaningless jargon. This is particularly noticeable at “Navy Week”, now an annual event at the three great naval ports of Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth. However patiently the guides may explain the mysteries of a battleship’s gun-
From the Mall or Horse Guards Parade we may view the buildings of the Admiralty, the head office of an organization that literally spans the globe. On the roof is visible the high-
In the Admiralty main building you may be privileged to visit the Board Room, where the civilian First Lord and the four Sea Lords, with the Deputy and Assistant Chiefs of Staff -
As an indication of what a gigantic business it is to run the British Navy from day to day, the fact that the staff of the Secretary of the Admiralty alone numbers 570 people is significant. The Admiralty itself is divided into more than fifty divisions, departments, and committees, most of which are again sub-
A warship in full commission is a microcosm of the Navy as a whole. Certain officers and men are on duty at all hours of the day and night; and whether the time be midday or midnight, the second “dog watch” (6 to 8 p.m.) or the “middle watch” (midnight to 4 a.m.), a bugle call will bring every officer and man to his post, ready to set in motion all the complicated machinery of the ship.
The Navy never rests, for the sufficient reason that its work is never done. What, then, is that work? Turn to a map of the world, or, better still, to a commercial chart, which shows the tracks of innumerable ships passing and re-
Primarily, therefore, the Navy’s task is to keep the sea routes open and reasonably safe at all times and in all circumstances. If it can accomplish that purpose, not only will our supplies be assured but our shores will also be safe from invasion, for secure communications postulate command of the sea.
It is true enough that the conquest of the air has introduced a new and disturbing element into the problem of national defence, and it may as well be admitted without argument that the Navy is no longer the “sure shield” against foreign aggression that it was before the advent of aircraft. Fundamentally, however, the mission of the Navy remains unaltered. More than ever is an adequate navy essential for safeguarding our 85,000 miles of sea communications, for every year Great Britain tends to become more and more an industrial and less and less an agricultural community, our dependence on imported food and materials increasing in proportion.
Maintaining Trade Routes
In one important way the British naval forces are on an entirely different footing from those of every other country. That is because while every foreign fleet is concentrated in and about its own waters, the British fleet is dispersed over the Seven Seas. Another glance at the map will explain why. The British Commonwealth of Nations is world-
Every month the Admiralty publishes the “Navy List” -
H.M.S. AJAX. This ship has a displacement of 7,030 tons, an overall length of 554½ ft and a beam of 55 ft 2-
Due to the great progress of naval science within the last twenty-
Since the naval calendar varies according to locality, it will be more convenient to summarize the working year of a single command -
On returning to England, the Fleet gives Easter leave of fourteen days, the first instalment of the forty-
An Inspiring Spectacle
For the younger seamen and boys there are daily classes, presided over by the instructor officer and his schoolmaster assistants. The gunnery staff, the torpedo branch -
The summer cruise, which begins in July, is generally made in Scottish waters, and after the programme of exercises has been completed the ships disperse for “flag-
ONE OF THE FINEST CAPITAL SHIPS of the British Navy, H.M.S. Resolution. This fighting ship has a displacement of 29,150 tons, a speed of 23 knots, and was completed in 1916. The thickest armour the vessel carries measures 13-
In these days of economy, when every ton of fuel-
Towards the end of November the Fleet comes south again, to grant Christmas leave, refit, and make ready for the spring cruise. And so the eternal round of training goes on. Every month the Navy loses a certain proportion of its highly trained ratings whose term of service has expired. The gaps are filled by new entrants -
Down to 1931 the Third Battle Squadron, Home Fleet, consisting of the battleships Iron Duke, Marlborough, Benbow, and Emperor of India, was employed as a training squadron, each ship carrying about 300 boys. Besides helping to work the ships, these youngsters underwent special drills and educational courses; and so successful was the system that, after having spent twelve months with the squadron, the average boy had developed into a smart and capable seaman. The ships of this squadron were condemned to be scrapped by the London Naval Treaty. Since then boys passing out of the St. Vincent (Portsmouth) and Shotley establishments have been drafted direct to fully commissioned ships of the Home Fleet, where it is impossible to give them the same amount of instruction as they received in the Third Squadron. Further, as they are only partly trained and unfamiliar with their surroundings, their presence on board is a source of weakness rather than of strength. Eventually, when more ships are available, a new training squadron is likely to be formed. No modern naval officer would wish to recall the “good old days”, the passing of which is lamented by some retired admirals of the “shell-
“THAMES” CLASS SUBMARINE. Severn was completed by Vickers-
A “QUEEN ELIZABETH” CLASS SHIP, H.M.S. Warspite, which was completed in March, 1915. She has a displacement of 31,100 tons, a length between perpendiculars of 600 feet and a beam of 104 feet. She has a designed h.p. of 75,000, equal to 25 knots. Armament consists of eight 15-
“D” CLASS CRUISER, H.M.S. Delhi, at Gibraltar. Completed June, 1919, H.M.S. Delhi has a maximum draught of 16½ feet, length between perpendiculars is 445 feet, and beam 46½ feet. Armour at the side, amidships, is 3-
At the end of 1935 the material of the Navy, including vessels maintained by the Dominions and all ships building or authorized, consisted of fifteen capital ships -
Though the mechanism of naval science tends always to become more intricate and complex, the differentiation of naval material is to-
FIRING A TORPEDO from a destroyer. Torpedoes are fired from their tubes by a charge of powder or by compressed air. Engines drive the propellers after the torpedo has left the tube. Horizontal and vertical rudders -
THE ARMOUR of H.M.S. Nelson, is largely concentrated over guns and magazines in the fore part of the ship. Main armament comprises nine 16-
FLOATING FORTRESS. H.M.S. Nelson has a displacement of 33,500 tons, length between perpendiculars is 660 feet, and beam 106 feet. She was completed in 1927 and cost £7,504,000. The grouping of the main armament forward permits a minimum length of armoured citadel with maximum protection to hull and magazine.
It should be emphasized that a fleet comprising groups of homogeneous ships can be handled at sea with greater facility than one composed of many types, varying in speed and manoeuvring power.
Almost on the eve of the war of 1914-
For the first few months of hostilities at sea it looked as if Sir Percy Scott had been right. No battleship, it is true, fell a victim to the new underwater menace, but in fewer than three months five British and several German cruisers succumbed to submarine attack. No event of the war made a deeper impression than the simultaneous destruction of three large British cruisers, each of 12,000 tons, by a small, antiquated German U-
The complete failure of the submarine to make any impression on a well-
AIRCRAFT CARRIER H.M.S. Eagle was begun in 1913 as a Dreadnought battleship for Chile. After the outbreak of war, work ceased on the ship. Later, her purchase from the Chilean Government was negotiated, and the design modified for an aircraft carrier. The vessel, with a displacement of 22,600 tons, was finally completed in 1923. Her length is 625 feet, beam 92¾ feet, maximum beam 105 feet. Designed shaft horse-
The British Admiralty’s undiminished faith in the utility of the battleship is shared by the naval staffs of the United States, Japan, France and Italy, a consensus of professional opinion which cannot lightly be ignored. Because the battleship carries heavier guns and stouter armour than any other type of man-
There could be no better illustration of the indispensable part which the battleship plays in British strategy than the operations of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron during the war of 1914-
The Germans, of course, knew all about these ships, where they were to be found, and the easy prey they would fall to regular warships. But from beginning to end the powerful German battleships and cruisers made no move against them. Why? Because in distant Scapa, shrouded in the northern mists, lay our mighty fleet of Dreadnoughts, ready at a moment’s notice to put to sea, and cut off any raiding force that attempted to roll up the blockading cruisers.
Power of Grand Fleet
Thus, although these armed merchant liners might be hundreds of miles distant from the Grand Fleet, it shielded them as surely as if it had been within gunshot. In fact, the power of the Grand Fleet, embodied in its great battleships with their ponderous guns, was projected thousands of miles beyond the North Sea. It covered the cruisers that were hunting down enemy raiders in the Pacific, the South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean, just as it was the invisible but impregnable rampart behind which our antisubmarine patrols -
Well might the naval staffs of this and every other country acclaim the battleship “the backbone of sea power”, in view of the decisive part it played in the campaign of 1914-
Next in importance is the cruiser, the type of ship which, under the aegis of the battle fleet, is directly responsible for keeping the arterial seaways open to trade. In this class of vessel, speed, seaworthiness and great steaming endurance are more important than gun-
The cruiser is the most widely known symbol of British naval power. It is to be found, either singly or in squadrons, in most parts of the globe. At the time of writing we have forty cruisers in full commission, and no fewer than thirty-
A comparative newcomer to the Navy list is the aircraft-
The destroyer has been aptly termed the Fleet’s “maid-
HUGE GUNS OF H.M.S. RENOWN. This famous battle-
[From part 3, published 27 February 1936]