Every once in a while we all need to make a change, to recast ourselves, to rediscover the vitality and joy that comes from doing something you love. With the International Journal of Naval History we have provided our readers with some of the best scholarship available on naval history writ large for over a decade. Our journal has no chronological or national boundaries. We accept only the limits imposed by the ocean, the wind, the open sky, and available fuel. We have accomplished this with a group of dedicated volunteers working without any remuneration and with the very gracious support of the Naval Historical Foundation.

In recent months we have realized that the IJNH needed an overhaul, both in appearance and tasking. The journal cried out for a fresher look and an organization that would permit easier navigation. We also needed to give our volunteers a chance to do other things or to contribute in different ways. Many have supported the journal for many years without hesitation. For example we thank Bryan Hockensmith for his years of service as our book review editor and welcome Professor Charles Steele of the U.S. Air Force Academy as our new volunteer in that post. We thank David Colamaria of the Naval Historical Foundation for the amazing work he did on the technical changes we have implemented and graphic artist Lili Tuggle-Weir of Underground Images for our bold new look. Above all we want to thank the Naval Historical Foundation for their continued faith and support.

We intend to reach out eagerly to scholars all over the world for submissions, using traditional networking via conferences and the new tools provided by social media. The IJNH has a page on Facebook and we welcome comments on our work and inquiries regarding possible contributions. We still hold to our past policy of triple blind peer review, but we will not and have never held copyright to the work we publish. The copyright remains with the author who did the research and analysis. Ownership should remain with the scholar.

As one of the few places in the scholarly world where naval history reigns, we invite you to visit often, to read, submit, and use the perspectives we offer. With the anniversary of the War of 1812 upon us and the centennial of the Great War of 1914-1918 on the horizon we have much to examine and debate. Join us!

Dr. Gary E. Weir

Editor, IJNH

29 February 2012

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Operation Thunderhead: The True Story of Vietnam’s Final POW Rescue—And the Last Navy SEAL Killed in Country

Kevin Dockery, Operation Thunderhead: The True Story of Vietnam’s Final POW Rescue—And the Last Navy SEAL Killed in Country, Berkley Press, 2009. 294 pp., photos, appendix, index.

Review by John Darrell Sherwood
Naval History and Heritage Command

The story of the American prisoners of war (POW) in Vietnam has been told many times with the definitive account being Stuart Rochester and Frederick Kiley’s Honor Bound: The History of American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1961-1973 (Naval Institute Press, 1998). This “new” POW book by Kevin Dockery re-hashes the story of John Dramesi’s ill-fated May 1969 escape attempt and ends with a coda about an aborted June 1972 U.S. Navy special operations mission to assist Dramesi in a second attempt that never happened.

Air Force Captain John Dramesi was a brash young officer from South Philadelphia who in May of 1969 made a daring escape attempt from the “Zoo Annex” prison in Hanoi with fellow Air Force Captain Ed Atterberry. The two men planned to break out of the camp disguised as Vietnamese peasants, steal a sampan, and paddle down the Red River to the Gulf of Tonkin , where they hoped to be picked up by the U.S. Navy. Escaping from the prison proved to be the easiest part of the mission, but the two men never fully considered how they would be able to travel over 110 miles through hostile, heavily populated territory to the coast. The fact that neither man was of Asian heritage or spoke Vietnamese compounded their difficulties.

The escape attempt occurred without the blessings of compound’s senior ranking POW, Air Force Captain Konrad Trautman. Trautman felt he could not order Dramesi and Atterbery to cancel the attempt because the Code of Conduct specifically demanded that POWs make every effort to escape, but he did believe that the attempt was ill-advised and could cause severe repercussions for other POWs held at the Zoo Annex.

The two men escaped from the compound at night by crawling through an attic above the cells and clamoring down the roof of the facility to the street. A North Vietnamese patrol discovered the two men at sunup the next day in a bramble thicket about four miles from the Zoo Annex. Over the course of the next two months, the prison authorities severely tortured the two escapees plus two dozen other American POWs. One officer, Lieutenant Eugene “Red” McDaniel, received 700 lashes as well as electric shocks and a form of rope torture during the ordeal, which he called his “darkest hour.” After seven days of severe torture, Atterbery died—a death Dockery attributes to pneumonia, but which Rochester and Kiley argue had to have been caused by excessive torture and medical neglect.

Dockery, a “radio broadcaster, gunsmith, and historian” and the author of a number of popular histories of the SEALs, staunchly defends Dramesi throughout the book as an American hero. But other historians of the POW experience view his actions in a more critical light. Rochester and Kiley define him as an “accident waiting to happen,” whose actions caused unnecessary pain and suffering for their fellow POWs. Operation Thunderhead also yields no new information on Dramesi or his escape, and because no sources are cited in the book, I am left wondering if Dockery even interviewed Dramesis or simply constructed his narrative from Dramesi’s memoir Code of Honor (Norton, 1975). There are also some embarrassing errors in the book, such as the misspelling Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robinson Risner’s last name, “Reisner,” in several places in the book. A Korean War ace, Risner was one of the longest serving senior officers in the Hanoi Hilton, and the recipient of the Air Force Cross. Any historian of the American POW experience should have been able to spell his name properly.

But what irritates this reviewer the most about Operation Thunderhead is the book’s misleading title. Only the last 62 pages of the book focus on the SEAL effort to assist Dramesi in a second escape bid in the spring of 1972. This portion of the book focuses solely on the SEAL operation to penetrate North Vietnamese territory, using the special operations submarine Grayback (LPSS 574). According to Dockery, the SEAL mission was plagued by problems from the very onset. During an attempt to land on an island in the Red River , a SEAL Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV) ran out of battery power while fighting the strong currents of the river, forcing the 4-man SEAL and Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) crew to abort the mission, and destroy the SDV. After being rescued by helicopter and transported to Long Beach (CGN 9), the four operators attempted to return to Grayback by dropping from a helicopter and diving to the boat, but in the insertion attempt, one of the SEALs, Lieutenant Spence Dry, hit the water too hard and died, and several of the others were badly injured. A rescue helicopter eventually retrieved Dry’s corpse along with the three survivors.

Communications difficulties had prevented Dry from informing Grayback of their attempted return to the boat, and so the boat launched a second SDV before their jump. This SDV, however, sunk almost immediately after launch, forcing the operators to scramble out of the vehicle and swim to the surface, where they were eventually rescued by a helicopter. The SEALs planned to make a third attempt with an inflatable boat, but this attempt was ultimately cancelled after the Grayback’s commanding officer suddenly shifted his boat’s location upon hearing chains being dragged near his boat.

Dockery does not reveal his sources for this section of the book either, but presumably, he gleaned his details from interviews with some of the surviving special operations personnel. No official documents or after action reports are cited. The author also does not discuss Operation Mole—Dramesi’s second escape plan in which he and several others were to tunnel out of Hoa Lo Prison and pose as German tourists. Operation Mole was cancelled after some of the participants were transferred out of the jail, and Air Force Colonel John Flynn, the Senior Ranking Officer at the time, decided that the chances of success were minimal and the probability of severe reprisals against the other POWs, extremely high.

Operation Thunderhead offers no new insights on the American POW experience during the Vietnam War and limited new material on Operation Thunderhead. It is a work of popular history of little use to serious scholars of the war in Southeast Asia . Until more official documents are released on special operations in North Vietnamese territory, this chapter of the war will remain shrouded in mystery.

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In Search of Captain Cook: Exploring the Man Through His Own Words

Dan O’Sullivan, In Search of Captain Cook: Exploring the Man Through His Own Words, I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2008. 233 pp., illustrations, references, suggested reading, index.

Review by Mark M. Hull
Department of Military History,
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

It is reasonable to assume that everything that could possibly be written on the life and achievements of Captain James Cook has been written. However, in this brief, thematic look at this enigmatic British explorer, Dan O’Sullivan advances an interesting perspective. He makes no effort to overturn the definitive work on Cook – J.C. Beaglehole’s The Life of Captain James Cook – and he happily avoids either of the two partisan extremes usually associated with the subject of 18th and 19th century exploration: hagiographic treatments or the all-explorers-are-racist-imperialists school. Sullivan wisely skirts the more recent, largely esoteric debate between Gananath Obeyesekere and Marshall Sahlin as to whether Hawaiian islanders reaction to Cook indicated a “Western” rationality.

Instead, In Search of Captain Cook returns to what are practically the only surviving records – the logs from Cook’s three voyages – and tries to present an accurate portrait of the explorer’s personality by measuring it against several situational templates: how Cook interacted with the officers and men of his ships, Cook’s contribution to science and health, and his understanding and treatment of the native peoples he encountered.

The process of unraveling the “real” James Cook is complicated. Aside from the logs, a handful of surviving letters, and the recorded impressions of but a few officers and men, there are scant primary sources. The traditional picture of Cook is of an almost stereotypical hero: brave, resolute, determined, and far-sighted. Even Cook’s murder in Hawaii in 1779 has an appropriately iconic feel to it. Any sense of humor or more prosaic personal trait is simply missing from the image we have. But, as O’Sullivan points out, even the best surviving sources can be misleading.

When Cook returned in 1771 from his first voyage on HM Bark Endeavor, both the Royal Navy and government were quick to appreciate the domestic public relations benefit of Cook’s words and deeds. They considered, however, that Cook’s diction needed polishing, and so the more fluent writer John Hawkesworth was hired to shepherd the book to press. Not only did Hawkesworth reword some of Cook’s more stoic and technical diary entries, but he used the works of other voyage participants (principally botanist Joseph Banks) to augment Cook, merging them all into what appeared to be a seamless whole, and presenting the completed package as the unvarnished thoughts and actions of Britain’s newest hero.

The fact is that James Cook was a self-taught naval officer, not a professional writer. He recorded his log entries in such a way as to keep an accurate record of information intended to assist other ships’ captains. Talk of tides, winds, and locations in minutes, degrees, and seconds might be essential for another seaman, but were judged to be excess for the well-read target audience. Cook was displeased with the artificial result, and during the course of his next voyage (1774-1776), he kept the public end-goal in mind. Accordingly he went through several drafts of his own log entries, gradually improving as a less-technical writer. To get even close to the truth of James Cook, then, it is necessary to plumb his original words and thoughts, not those later adapted by others for public consumption.

O’Sullivan’s statement that “Since Cook’s death there have been many Cooks,” refers to the praise or damnation heaped upon James Cook by authors living in different eras, with different axes to grind. It is an accurate assessment. Stripping away the myth – some of it started even in Cook’s lifetime – is a challenging business.

The author’s James Cook comes across as a human being, not a statue. He has likes and dislikes (he refers to the Malekulans of the New Hebrides, for instance, as “the most ugly and ill proportioned people I ever saw”), opinions – some of them prescient, some erroneous; he has a sense of obligation to his crew and the people he encounters; he operates from a singular sense of duty and purpose. While not afraid to flog offending sailors, he nevertheless provides intelligent leadership in places that could not be more remote or different from the Yorkshire village where he was born. Cook was in almost every sense a scientist, although even that word was unknown to his era. He understood the importance of diet on crew health but never made the critical link to citrus fruit (he advocated fresh meat and vegetables); he displayed a delicate understanding of diverse cultures, and the possible negative impact of Western society on those cultures weighed heavily on him despite his duty to make first contact. Cook makes errors, too, but generally ones that are understandable when viewed through an 18th century lens – and even his final error on Hawaii fits into this paradigm.

The debate over the nature and significance of James Cook and his voyages will certainly continue. In Search of Captain Cook is a welcome addition to that search for meaning.

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„Erleben – Lernen – Weitergeben“ Friedrich Ruge (1894-1985)

Jörg Hillmann (ed.), „Erleben – Lernen – Weitergeben“ Friedrich Ruge (1894-1985), Kleine Schriftenreihe zur Militär- und Marinegeschichte, 2005. 568 pp., illustrations, glossary, appendices.

Reviewed by Sebastian Bruns
University of Kiel

Who was Friedrich Ruge? “The first Inspekteur der Marine after World War II,” some may say, “and someone who passed away some 25 years ago.” The answer, obviously, is much more complex. Dr. Jörg Hillmann, Captain in the German Navy and currently based in Bruxelles , Belgium , underscores the significance of this man by showing that his work and his motto “Experience – Learning – Sharing”, is still very much relevant today. From Ruge’s strong lifelong relationship to the United States (in particular with Admiral Arleigh Burke, U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations from 1955-1961, whom he met during his first official visit to the U.S. in 1956), to issues of defense, maritime thinking, and conscription in the German Armed Forces, many issues are still highly relevant for today’s armed forces and society, whether German, European, or North American.

Hillmann achieves this objective not by writing a single dedicated essay or book, but by assembling and commenting on a selection of Ruge’s own papers, speeches, letters, essays and autobiographic recollections, with a handful of other contributors filling in here and there. The essays range from 1912, detailing Ruge’s pre-naval experience in his own words, to the obituaries upon his death in 1985. All of these contributions are prefaced by a brief write-up by Hillmann detailing the circumstances under which the various texts were published. The defining moment of Ruge’s professional life was and continued to be “No more 1919’s” – he served in World War I and witnessed the end of the Imperial German Fleet at Scapa Flow – instead of a more plausible “No more 1945’s.” Some of Ruge’s positions might draw explicit criticism from today’s readers, such as contemporary papers on the navy of the Third Reich, leadership issues in World War II, or naval tradition (i.e. the role of the Admirals Dönitz and Raeder who were still imprisoned at the time when the post-war German Navy took shape ). In some instances, Ruge withdrew from some of his ideologically charged positions in later publications.

Two essays introduce to the anthology. The editor himself details Ruge’s career development in the ever-changing currents of German politics in an essay under the heading “Friedrich Ruge – Naval Officer and Professor.” It becomes evident that Ruge’s life was shaped by extraordinary events and was, by no means, linear.

Quite possibly, even though Ruge grew up in a non-democratic environment, he was able to master the later challenges of the Bundesmarine by strictly emphasizing jointness and international cooperation. The selected articles in the book call attention to the personality development of a man who served in four navies (the title of Ruge’s autobiography).

Despite the radical changes that shaped history in the early 20th century especially in Central Europe, and thus Ruge’s own career, Hillmann is able to point out some overarching issues of concern for Ruge. The very close personal and working relationship to the United States since the 1920’s, his pledge for an Atlantic framing of German foreign and security policy, for character development and education of sailors and naval officers, and the question of tradition in naval forces are recurring topics for Friedrich Ruge. Moreover, some light is shed on Ruge’s family and their relationship to the profession of the father. Consequently, Hillmann provides information on Ruge’s oldest daughter, whom he shared a crucial bond with: Ingeborg Eggert engages in the question of researching her own father as well as her relationship to him, setting the stage for the topical anthology.

Hillmann has published widely on subjects such as the Battle of Jutland in World War I and the World War II admirals Dönitz and Raeder. He was fortunate enough to obtain a large variety of papers detailing Ruge’s broad experience (some of which have never been published) on diverse topics such as the end of World War I (1918), torpedo and minesweeping boats in the Reichsmarine of the 1930’s, and the foundation and consolidation of the Bundeswehr after World War II (1956). Ruge’s later years in the highest Bundesmarine positions and publications after his retirement are also covered extensively. The tremendous variety of topics covered is nothing short of overwhelming. Nevertheless, it remains an enlightening reading for anyone interested in different aspects of maritime strategy, naval tactics, the career progression of a naval officer in rough and challenging times, and the foundation of the Bundesmarine, “a Navy with limited tasks, but with an unlimited horizon.” Keeping a written record of his experiences had been of central importance for Friedrich Ruge, and thankfully, Hillmann’s anthology allows us delve into this trove of personal papers and publications. Ruge’s professional writing should serve as a model for today’s officers, as has been pointed out, among others, by one of Ruge’s successors, Lutz Feldt (Inspekteur der Marine from 2003-2006 and author of a short preface to this book).

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Flotilla: The Patuxent Naval Campaign in the War of 1812

Donald G. Shomette, Flotilla: The Patuxent Naval Campaign in the War of 1812, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009. 520 pp., illustrations, maps, line drawings.

Review by Andrew Lambert
King’s College, London

Originally published in 1981 a revised and enlarged edition of this essential volume will be a major contribution to the bicentenary literature of the War of 1812. From his initial search for the archaeology of an abandoned gunboat flotilla in the shallows of the Patuxent River Donald Shomette has become the historian of Commodore Joshua Barney and his mosquito force.

By 1813 the war with Britain , essayed so lightly only a year earlier, had turned sour. Humiliating defeats on the Canadian border had been temporarily assuaged by stunning naval successes, but as Royal Navy forces on the coast steadily built up Americans came to recognise the reality of taking on the Leviathan of the deep. Although the British were fighting for their very existence against Napoleon they were determined to defend Canada , and the oceanic commerce that funded their war. They had no desire to wage war with America , and had no plans to re-conquer the old colonies. They wanted to secure peace with minimum effort. With the Army tied up in Spain they were unable to provide a significant military force, relying on the Royal Navy to translate sea control into effect on land, to shift from naval to maritime strategy.

With small, agile forces the British would practise intelligence-led warfare, relying on an uncontrolled American print media, and the willingness of many men to take the King’s gold. Already well informed of the bitter sectional divisions between Republican and Federalist politics the British carefully chose targets that would influence the administration. The rich tidewater region of Chesapeake Bay, close to the new national capitol, and the main privateer base at Baltimore , produced the export crops of the very men who had voted for war. By striking here the British hoped to take the pressure off the Canadian frontier. The destruction of public and private buildings in the Canadian towns of York and Dover provided an occasion for punitive measures.

In the summer of 1813, with the Royal Navy running riot along the Maryland tidewater, Barney, a Revolutionary war hero, and a successful privateer skipper, proposed building a flotilla of shallow draft gunboats, 50 or 75 feet long, to exploit local knowledge and challenge the British in areas where heavy sailing ships could not operate. The U.S. Flotilla Service was created to operate these craft, with Barney in command. In 1814 Barney and his men, less than a thousand all told, would be the only effective forces placed between the British and the civilians of the area. When the British landed local gentlemen tried to save their estates, but militia units generally ran away, as did many the slaves. Many former slaves joined the British as ‘Colonial Marines’, proving themselves good soldiers, and local experts. By contrast to the part-time soldiers Barney’s Flotilla attacked the enemy, and when cornered put up a hard fight. Much of the credit must go to Barney, a resourceful, brave and professional leader. The actions of the Flotilla, and of the flotillamen ashore at Bladensburg provided a heroic contrast to the endemic ineptitude of their military counterparts.

Making all allowance for the professed subject, the real hero of this book is Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn. A protégé of the immortal Nelson, and a veteran of twenty years of war at sea and on the littoral, Cockburn combined vast experience with an incisive intellect and a brilliant grasp of the higher direction of war. Without a single soldier his 1814 campaign ripped aside the tissue thin veil of American defence, exposing the Government, capital and army to humiliation. Lacking the resources to tackle the major ports, Baltimore , Norfolk and Annapolis , he relied on a tiny naval raiding force to keep the enemy guessing. The British offensive targeted American weakness, incessant raids kept the militia moving, provided a plentiful supply of fresh food, water, lumber to build a fortified base on Tangier Island , and hogsheads of tobacco to generate the prize money that kept sailors interested. When an army of less than 5,000 men finally arrived, Cockburn cajoled his superior officer and the commanding General into a stunning stroke that left Barney’s gunboats, Washington and the Navy Yard in ashes. His campaign should be taught at every Staff College . There is no better example of maritime strategy at work; flexible, quick, and always operating inside the enemy’s decision-making cycle. Cockburn planned the whole campaign to distract and demoralise the enemy, gather vital navigational intelligence and build up for a dramatic conclusion that would teach the enemy not to attack the British, even when they were at war with Napoleon. The legacy of those campaigns would be the immense stone fortifications that surrounded every significant American port. If vituperation be any measure of a man’s impact on his foes then George Cockburn must have been a titan. No insult was too scurrilous to be published. He took his revenge quietly, his official portrait, reproduced on page 126, shows him ashore, with spurs on his boots, the public buildings of Washington ablaze in the distance. In 1832 Cockburn was sent to command the American station, just as a border dispute threatened the fragile Anglo-American peace. Roger Morriss’s 1997 biography of this amphibious expert would have been a useful addition to the bibliography. At page 232 Cockburn’s Commander in Chief in 1814, Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, is conflated with his more famous nephew, Thomas, Lord Cochrane, the model for every fictional Royal Navy hero of the Nelson era from Marryatt to O’Brien. While he lacked Cockburn’s local expertise Sir Alexander was also an amphibious warfare expert, having overseen assault landing at Aboukir in 1801 and other major disembarkations.

Based on a wealth of primary evidence Flotilla is a delight to read, carefully crafted and nicely paced, mixing telling human interventions from key players with analysis of the unfolding drama. The illustrations, contemporary drawings, portraits and modern maps are ideally placed to illustrate and explain the flotilla craft, personalities and operations. This will be an essential text for students of the war, and of maritime strategy. Barney’s gunboats did well, but they had no answer to Cockburn’s squadron.

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Essays in Naval History, from Medieval to Modern

N. A. M. Roger, Essays in Naval History, from Medieval to Modern, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2009. 344 pp., map, charts, graphs, notes, index.

Review by Jeffrey G. Barlow
Naval History and Heritage Command

Nicholas Roger, a Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, is most recently known for his first two volumes of a projected history trilogy of Great Britain’s rise to naval power—The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, Volume 1: 660-1649 (1997) and The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, Volume 2: 1649-1815 (2004). The book under review, Essays in Naval History, from Medieval to Modern, a volume in Ashgate’s Variorum Collected Studies Series, is a collection of articles by the author that were originally published in British, French, German, and Greek journals or edited volumes in the years from 1995 through 2004.

Roger’s book contains a fascinating series of articles on the creation and growth of European navies and developments in naval warfare over the centuries. The reader should be aware, however, that despite the book’s title, the majority of the included pieces have to do with navies in the period from the second half of the Sixteenth Century through the first third of the Nineteenth Century. This, of course, should not be surprising, given the author’s particular interest in the Royal Navy of the Eighteenth Century—an interest that dates back at least to his 1986 book The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy. Among the seventeen articles in this volume are pieces on the naval service of the Cinque Ports; naval warfare in the Sixteenth Century; medicine, administration, and society in the Eighteenth-Century Royal Navy; navies and the Enlightenment; and commissioned officers’ careers in the Royal Navy, 1690-1815.

A fascinating article in the initial portion of the book is Roger’s “The Development of Broadside Gunnery 1450-1650.” In this piece, he takes to task Sir Julian Corbett and other naval historians of the late Victorian era for arguing that the English fleet in 1588 had sailed and fought its ships in “line ahead” and had relied upon broadside gunnery to overwhelm its enemies. After carefully sifting through the evidence, Roger concludes that while basic aspects of both concepts were known to English sailors by that date, a full understanding of their value in battle was still decades off. As he expressed it, “So in the end the English, and with them no doubt the other northern nations, discovered that in setting out to match the galley, they had arrived at an entirely unexpected destination, with a new type of warship and a new style of fighting. In material terms, they were ready for the line of battle [a specific form of line ahead] by the 1580s if not before, in that they already had ships which mounted a majority of their guns (though not usually their heaviest guns) on the broadside – but this does not mean that they had yet understood the tactical implication, clear though it might be in hindsight.” (Article III, 317 [continuous pagination is not used in this book]).

Another article of great interest is the author’s “Weather, geography and naval power in the Age of Sail.” In this piece, Roger walks carefully through the difficulties of navigation imposed on sailing ships by their utter dependence upon favorable winds, tides, and currents to make progress toward many of their intended destinations. As the author sums up the matter, “ Britain ’s eventual success [in achieving naval dominance at sea] can be explained in terms of a prolonged process of learning how to exploit the favourable, and overcome the unfavourable, aspects of the situation. None of this was inevitable, and not much of it is intelligible to the historian who ignores the real world of winds and currents, navigation and pilotage.” (Article XII, 197).

This intriguing volume containing many of Nicholas Roger’s naval history articles deserves to be placed on one’s bookshelf, alongside the several substantial studies on the history of Britain ’s rise to naval power that he has written during the past three decades. That being said, even those readers with a more than casual interest in the larger framework of naval history will find much to ponder within its pages.

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Deciphering the Rising Sun: Navy and Marine Corps Codebreakers, Translators, and Interpreters in the Pacific War

Roger Dingman, Deciphering the Rising Sun: Navy and Marine Corps Codebreakers, Translators, and Interpreters in the Pacific War, Naval Institute Press, 2009. 340 pp., illustrations, notes, index.

Review by Mark M. Hull
Department of Military History, US Army Command and General Staff College

In Deciphering the Rising Sun, Roger Dingman has crafted an interesting and highly readable story concerning a little-known but important aspect of the intelligence war in the Pacific: the Navy’s recruitment, training, and employment of Americans as translators of the complex Japanese language.

While the Army and Navy had been sending selected officers to Japan for years, by the period immediately before Pearl Harbor, there were only a handful of those officers on active duty. Compounding this difficulty was the on-going rivalry between the services to recruit likely candidates. The Army established its own Japanese language training school at the Presidio in November 1941 as it became clear that war with Japan was all but inevitable. Lieutenant Commander Arthur McCollum of the Office of Naval Intelligence – himself a Japanese linguist with interwar experience in Japan – stepped forward to find the right place, right faculty, and right students to allow the Navy to maintain parity.

Although there was a ready pool of ethnic Japanese who could have performed this work, in most cases their employment was impossible due to existing, often misplaced, security concerns. This forced the Navy to turn elsewhere for people with the necessary background or aptitude. Following a highly successful pilot program at Berkeley (and a somewhat less-than-successful one at Harvard), the Navy Japanese Language School was relocated to Boulder, Colorado, where the first batch of civilian recruits pioneered an eight-month intensive language course in spoken and written Japanese. They were a mixed lot; some had grown up in Japan or China (experience with non-Japanese languages was an acceptable substitute), others had lived or worked in Japan before the war, while still others had no first-hand experience upon which to draw, only the hope that their facility with languages would be enough to see them through. At the end of the fast-paced, high-pressure course, the students were commissioned as reserve officers in the Navy or Marine Corps.

While ethnic Japanese were not considered sufficiently trustworthy for employment as Navy translators and interpreters, they nevertheless made up the critical core of the Language School faculty, and provided a living link between the students and a language and culture that was entirely foreign to them. The graduates, male and female, went on to perform well in a myriad of assignments, some landing in the first waves with the Marines to aid in prisoner interrogation while other graduates focused on the translation and evaluation of captured Japanese documents. The author ably points to the dramatic differences in the linguists’ attitude about the Japanese after the Boulder linguists came face-to-face with war; some echo the racial stereotypes which were very much the norm, while others – particularly those assigned to post-war occupation duty – developed a sincere affection for the people, their culture, and their language. In every meaningful respect, the Navy program, as demonstrated in the field by the fledgling linguists, was a success in the war against Japan.

It would have been useful if Dingman had compared the Navy interpreter/translator program to that used by the U.S. Army, where enlisted, Japanese-speaking Nisei were used in significant numbers. While he exclusively highlights the successes of the Boulder school graduates, it is invariable that some were more capable than others. To fairly evaluate the program it would be useful to also mention those cases where the Boulder alumni were less than perfectly effective.

Deciphering the Rising Sun is very much a history focused on the individual experiences of the linguists themselves, rather than an operational or strategic overview of the Human Intelligence gathering and evaluation aspects of the Pacific War. It is also a welcome reminder that good, readable military history can remain on the micro level without becoming trivial.

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Tides of History: Ocean Science and Her Majesty’s Navy

M. S. Reidy, Tides of History: Ocean Science and Her Majesty’s Navy. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2008

Reviewed by Howard Fuller
University of Wolverhampton

Tides of History is a fascinating book, both a scientific history and a maritime one that demonstrates the close links between these two areas of historical investigation as it charts the development of scientific enquiries and methods into tides. In today’s information age of good charts, data and satellite navigation it is easy to forget the difficulties, dangers and risk that mariners once faced. While the development of accurate charts and the ability to calculate a position while out of sight of land has attracted attention, the problems caused by tides have escaped serious study until Michael Reidy’s excellent work.

It might be thought that something as mundane for today’s world as tidal theory would make dry reading; such a view would be wrong. Reidy writes in an accessible and readable style, and the story he lays out is one of great interest, as he charts the formation of ‘tideology’ notably by concentrating on the efforts of William Whewell and his associates in the first half of the nineteenth century, before showing how from its foundations in tidal theory the maritime sciences moved outwards to encompass a multitude of phenomena such as mapping the magnetic variation of the earth’s oceans – a task just as important to safe and accurate navigation as Whewell’s work on tides, or Harrison’s chronometer and the measurement of longitude the previous century.

It is hard, sitting in a warm office or in a comfortable chair, to understand the importance of the advances made in the marine sciences during the nineteenth century – perhaps a few good tales of maritime misfortunate complete with the Victorian melodrama might make the process of understanding how vital this work was to the mariner. Tidal science when combined with accurate charts, an accurate log of speed and distance run, a good compass (made even more accurate in by the 1830s with the understanding of magnetic variation), the ability to calculate latitude and longitude made navigation more precise and safer tool for the mariner. Once the ground work of understanding tides had been achieved, understanding tidal streams – their speed and direction soon followed – then dead reckoning (course and speed only) could be replaced with the more accurate estimated position (course, speed and the influence of the tidal stream during the period) as the mainstay of the navigator’s art particularly in coastal waters where the effect of tides was most felt. Only the ability to see through the night, fog and driving rain could do more to improve the safety of navigation, and this would have to wait for the development of navigation radar in the 1950s.

Reidy is right to emphasise the level of support the early investigators and scientists of tidal theory received from the British Admiralty. What Reidy does not do, however, is go into detail as to why the Navy felt the marine sciences were of such importance during the late 1830s and 1840s. Yes, there was genuine interest from some officers about the use of science to improve understand of the natural world such as Beaufort, who as the Hydrographer had great influence over what research the Navy got involve with. Yes, the advances in understanding tides made navigation safer, but why was the Navy interested in tidal theory in that particular period? Was there more to the issue than just safe navigation and the increasing trade of Britain’s merchant marine? It is therefore important to consider strategy and naval policy with regard to the Royal Navy’s relationship with scientists and laymen who were involved in formulating tidal theory.

For many years the Navy had been vexed by the problem of what to do if an enemy refused to do the decent thing and leave its harbours and fortified anchorages behind and sail out to be beaten by the Royal Navy’s squadrons. The answer was to be able to seek out the enemy in harbour – steam and shell firing guns had made this more practicable, while understanding tides made it safer. At the same time, steam and the French development of Cherbourg as a major naval arsenal had undermined Britain’s traditional strategy of being able to command the English Channel with a Western Squadron up-wind of the main French base and Brest. The Royal Navy’s answer to these problems was to develop a coastal attack strategy in the 1840s that would neutralise the French threat at Cherbourg and which saw use in the Baltic during the Crimean War against the Russians. As Andrew Lambert has pointed out, the Royal Navy put a great deal of hydrographical effort into accurately charting and understanding the waters off Cherbourg in the 1804s and perhaps we should see the more general enthusiasm for the marine sciences in this period as an aspect of this coastal attack strategy.

Tides of History is a well written and engaging book. It is warmly recommended for all those interested in the development of the Royal Navy and Merchant Marine during the nineteenth century.

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The Navy and the Nation: The Influence of the Navy on Modern Australia

David Stevens and John Reeve (eds.), The Navy and the Nation: The Influence of the Navy on Modern Australia, Allen & Unwin, 2005. 438 pp., illustrations, pictures, endnotes, and index.

Review by Charles Steele
Department of History,
United States Air Force Academy

In putting together The Navy and the Nation David Stevens and John Reeve have assembled something far more valuable than a mere narrative history of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). In many regards it is an historical argument against taking something of great value for granted. At a time when navies the world over are having their funding cut and their worth questioned, the editors of this volume have cobbled together a significant statement of the enduring value of the RAN to the nation it serves. The book, a collection of essays drawn from the biennial King-Hall Naval History Conference, provides a plethora of examples detailing the immense contributions of the RAN to Australia .

While there is no escaping the fact that this is a compilation of conference papers, and not a coherent narrative, it should not be dismissed as the intellectual equivalent of being made to eat leftovers. This is history written, compiled, and edited with a purpose. As a collection of arguments begging the consideration of a host of events, personalities, and contributions made either in connection with or on behalf of the RAN, The Navy and the Nation provides forceful testimony to the importance of this navy to its island nation. Rather than a single author advancing a thesis, Stevens and Reeve provide the theses of several writers that serve the greater purpose of demonstrating how the RAN has benefited Australia .

Divided into four parts, the book has a sensible organization that carries readers from “concepts and contexts,” a Mahanian macro-view of Australia ’s place in an evolving naval epic, through sections entitled “the Navy and the nation,” “ships, industry and technology for Australia ,” and “naval people and the nation.” Among the 19 essays contained in these sections are those touching upon everything from hydrographic surveys, the RAN’s place in furthering the foreign policy aims of Australia ’s political leaders, the most famous ships to have served the nation, the historic importance of ship building in Australia , and the value of naval experience in the Australian populace. The most compelling of these essays extol the traditional strengths of navies while managing to place those strengths in particularly Australian contexts.

The editors draw on a wide range of talents and the essays are representative of a vast expanse of knowledge. In some regards this compilation’s greatest strength, a wonderfully diverse testament to the value of navies, the RAN specifically, is also its greatest weakness. Lacking the coherence of a single storyline, this collection might seem to some readers as being a bit too all encompassing. However well the editors may have chosen individual essays to suit their purpose, the fact remains that this is a compilation that lacks natural transitions and it requires close attention if large sections are to be digested at a single reading. For instance, Neil Westphalen’s interesting account of the naval and medical services nexus is, in a strict sense, the only essay of its kind in the book. Similarly, Geoff Cannon’s contribution “Technology transfer, knowledge partnerships and the advance of Australian naval combat systems,” is more contemporary and in some regards more specialized than most of the other offerings. That quibble aside, the book’s essays make several cogent arguments that do great credit to the editors and the RAN.

As unorthodox as this book might appear at first glance, it should be noted that it does contain impressive examples of what might best be called traditional naval history. The contributions of Geoffrey Till and David Stevens are perhaps the best offerings of this genre to be found in this collection. Till does an admirable job of setting a strategic backdrop upon which other developments/essays can best be viewed and Stevens offers a compelling, if not touching account of one of the most famous ships in the nation’s history. In many ways Stevens’ account of the life and death of HMAS Australia is reflective of the book’s aim to place the navy at the fore of the nation’s quest for identity. In general, it would be difficult not to be impressed with all that the RAN has contributed to Australia ’s rise as a nation, based upon the contents of this book. Whether one is interested in the history of navies in general, or of Australia’s navy alone, The Navy and the Nation contains a wealth of useful scholarship and is worthy of a place in the library of any student of naval history.

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The German Invasion of Norway, April 1940

Geirr H. Haarr, The German Invasion of Norway, April 1940, Naval Institute Press, 2009. 474 pp., illustrations, appendices, notes, bibliography, name index.

Review by Timothy J. Demy
U.S. Naval War College

On April 9, 1940, forces of the German Kriegsmarine, Luftwaffe, and Wehrmacht commenced Operation Weserübung, the invasion and occupation of neutral Norway in order to protect the Scandinavian ore resources and also deny them to Britain . This combined naval, amphibious, and airborne invasion surprised Norwegian and Allied forces, whose leaders did not believe Hitler would attempt a full-scale invasion and occupation. The German move signaled the last days of the “Phoney War” that had begun in September 1939 with the invasion of Poland . The Norwegian invasion also inaugurated novel activities such as combined land, air, and sea operations and the use of paratroopers. From a naval and air perspective, the first successful dive-bomber attack (a British Blackburn B-24 Skua) to sink an enemy ship (German cruiser Königsberg in Bergen harbor) also occurred during the campaign.

Focusing primarily on the naval operations, The German Invasion of Norway , April 1940, provides readers with an exceptionally detailed and well-documented volume. Drawing from Norwegian, German, and British primary sources and archives as well as numerous secondary sources, readers are given a balanced and thorough account of the naval aspect of the invasion. The book provides a highly readable and a compelling narrative of the German invasion and failure to repulse it.

The first third of the volume is devoted to the German rationale for and planning of the invasion. It was amazing to read that when Hitler told General der Inafanterie Nicoulaus von Falkenhorst that he was responsible for the planning the operation and occupation, von Falkenhorst went across the street to a bookshop and purchased a Baedeker’s travel guide to Norway in order to orient himself to the country and begin his planning. Interesting to readers in this section are the political miscalculations of the Norwegians, Germans, and British with regard to the intentions of all parties involved. Haarr does a good job showing the tensions among the Kriegsmarine, Luftwaffe, and Wehrmacht, and in noting Grossadmiral Erich Raeder’s concern that the German Navy not be shortchanged in the allocation of resources. It was Raeder who initially pushed the concept of a Scandinavian campaign. In the greater war strategies of the belligerents, no one initially envisaged a full-scale occupation (although Churchill had considered the idea earlier, giving rise to the ethical issue of “supreme emergency” wherein ethical norms of war may, under some circumstances, be abandoned) although both Germany and Britain began planning operations in early 1940. Also significant in this section for students of strategy is the recounting of the breakdown of the civil-military relations between the Norwegian government and military leadership wherein each assumed the other knew of the ill-equipped condition of the Norwegian military forces and the lack of cooperation between the forces as well as a void in contingency planning. Norwegian political miscommunication, hesitation, and an atrophied military hastened the German victory.

The latter two thirds of the work studies the major areas of operation (Oslofjord; Kristiansand —Arendal, Stavanger —Egersund, Bergen , Trondheim , and Narvik), interspersed with narrative of the political and military responses during the conflict. The volume does a superb job of recounting the naval operations on all sides and tracking naval vessels and units. The work is naval centric and students of the air and ground aspects of the operation will wish for an equally detailed book even though the author discusses these aspects. Haarr largely ends the story of the invasion with the events of the second day, April 10th, giving only slight attention to ground and air actions that followed. The author rightly concludes that although the campaign was a minor one compared to the rest of the war in Europe, it forever changed the history of the people of Norway .

Although previous works have discussed the German campaign in Norway and Denmark , what has been missing is an exceptional work from the Norwegian perspective. This volume fills that void. The author not only shows how the operation was viewed by the Norwegians, Germans, and British, but also the Dane, Swedes, and French. Detailed appendices and numerous black and white photographs significantly enhance the volume, as do charts of operational areas. A fuller index would have beneficial, as would an overall map of Norway at the front of the book to orient readers to the area and to the smaller regional maps within the book. The work is especially beneficial for readers limited to English. The book fills a needed void in naval studies of the Second World War and naval historians and enthusiasts will not be disappointed.

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British Destroyers: From the Earliest Days to the Second World War

Norman Friedman, British Destroyers: From the Earliest Days to the Second World War, Naval Institute Press, 2009. 320 pp. illustrations, notes, tables, and index.

Review by Andrew Lambert
King’s College, London

The development of the locomotive torpedo in the mid nineteenth century provided a fundamental challenge for the dominant sea control navy of the era. Just as steam, armour, heavy rifled guns and rotating turrets provided the Royal, (and Union ) Navy with the means to transform sea control into strategic naval power projection, an English engineer quite literally knocked the bottom out of ironclad coast assault forces. The Royal Navy was among the first to visit Robert Whitehead’s factory at Fiume (then in Austria ) and purchase the right to use his ‘secret’. They were anxious to understand the new threat, and to assess its potential as a weapon for attacking enemy warships in harbour. The first British torpedo craft, HMS Vesuvius was a stealth vessel, designed for a slow, silent approach into enemy harbours at night, to get close enough to use the new weapon. The next prototype, HMS Polyphemus, a radical high speed armoured torpedo carrier, solved the problem of deploying a short range weapon in a fleet action by emphasising speed and protection. Finally the 1870s and 1880s produced the 30-60 ton torpedo boat, a cheap craft based on commercial steam launches that, when mass-produced, became a threat to the existing order at sea. The Royal Navy had to face numerous French torpedo craft based in small harbours all along the southern coast of the English Channel . They could attack the fleet or, in line with the commerce raiding doctrine of the Jeune Ecole, strike at merchant vessels. After experimenting with small torpedo cruisers, which were too expensive, and too slow, and torpedo gunboats, moderately fast, well-armed, seaworthy craft the Royal Navy settled on the torpedo boat destroyer in 1892. In essence the new type were super torpedo boats, larger and faster versions of the problem, armed with rapid firing guns and the odd torpedo. These ships, little more than skeletal racing hulls, crammed full of ultra-light weight power plants, with a few weapons on the upper deck, very limited supplies of fuel and food. These early ‘turtle-back’ destroyers were striking craft, low-lying, back, and topped off with a forest of funnels and ventilators to keep the boiler rooms free of smoke, and supplied with oxygen for the furnaces. They were demanding places to work, constantly wet, rolling, vibrating and dangerous. They were almost uninhabitable, the crew receiving extra ‘hard-lying’ pay for their trouble, like early submariners. It was work for young men with strong nerves.

Although the Royal Navy was well aware that trial speeds rarely translated into sea-going performance it was suckled into a race to the swift with France, Russia, Germany and Italy, one which served the interests of specialist builders, and advanced the relevant technologies. Down to the 1920s the Royal Navy wisely left the development of ships and machinery to specialist firms, notably Yarrow and Thornycroft, who competed to improve speed, and made large profits selling their designs abroad. A by-product of this dynamic private sector was that in both World Wars British shipyards had ships under construction for overseas customers, and most ended up in Royal Navy service. Similarly export successes ensured specialist destroyer building capacity in Britain was always greater than required by the peacetime orders of the service.

The introduction of the Parsons steam turbine transformed the destroyer, increasing speed while reducing maintenance, both at sea and in harbour. In 1900 HMS Viper reached 36 knots, three knots faster than any other warship, heralding a new era of speed obsessed designs.

Contemporary British thinking about the use of destroyers focussed on wiping out enemy torpedo forces, to facilitate the blockade and other coastal operations. By blockading French flotilla bases with larger, faster craft it should be possible to catch and kill any that put to sea. The destroyer only became a fleet escort when it had the range and seaworthiness to keep station with the battleships. The necessary tactics were developed in the Mediterranean under Admiral Sir John Fisher – who had ‘invented’ the destroyer half a decade earlier. The constant trade off between size, cost, speed, guns and torpedoes was further complicated by the shift to focus on Germany as the most likely enemy after 1904. The German bases were a lot further away than those of France, which suited the new slower, but more seaworthy ‘River’ class ordered in 1901-02, ships that came closer to the old torpedo gunboat concept. As First Sea Lord between 1904 and 1910 Fisher wanted 36 knot destroyers, but his prototype, the 2000 ton HMS Swift, was simply too large for mass production. Between 1900 and 1914 the British would try every conceivable mix of size, power, weapons and concepts in a seemingly endless search for the ‘right’ destroyer. With the specialised builders competing to improve performance the Navy could push the development of hulls and machinery down to 1914, bringing the speed of smaller craft back over 30 knots, and increasing the torpedo battery to reflect the fact that the function of the destroyer had shifted from operating independently to destroy torpedo boats to acting as fleet torpedo boats.

In peacetime the British generally built economical units, in significant numbers. In wartime, when the financial limits were removed, they shifted to superior types, as far as shipbuilding resources would allow. Indeed it was only with the benefit of hard won experience in the First World War that the balance between gun and torpedo power would be stabilised. While the Grand Fleet favoured torpedoes the Harwich Force stationed in the southern North Sea stressed gun power to deal with German destroyers. By 1916 a classic design had emerged, the superb ‘V and W’ class and the large ‘destroyer leaders’ of 1916 that doubled ahead gunfire, introduced fire control equipment and improved seaworthiness. The move from 4 inch to 4.7 inch guns almost doubled shell weight, creating a potent all-round fighting ship, while geared turbines and improved boilers enabled Thornycroft’s 1600 ton ‘leader’ HMS Shakespeare to reach 42 knots on trials. Post war British destroyers, and numerous overseas units built in British yards, developed the basic design with increased range, improved weapons and new sensors, including sonar, into an economic, effective type that formed the backbone of the British and Canadian flotillas down to the middle of the Second World War.

Friedman is critical of the inter-war type, contrasting their relatively low pressure power plant and the lack of sophisticated anti-aircraft fire control and high angle guns with American practice. As he notes these failings limited endurance and led to heavy losses from air attack. However, the British did experiment with high pressure steam plant in the 1920s, but after the failure of these tests decided to wait for more reliable systems: they were quick to follow the American lead. The air threat also requires further analysis. The only aircraft that proved dangerous to such fast, manoeuvrable vessels were dive bombers, a type that could only operate effectively when unopposed by defending fighters. The majority of British losses occurred when destroyers were used, without air cover, to evacuate defeated British armies from France , Greece and Crete . Half a million British soldiers were saved from prisoner of war camps by these ships. It is unlikely if any destroyers, used in this way, would have done much better, and few navies would have attempted such operations in daylight.

On a positive note the combat record of the inter-war destroyers against their larger German, Italian and French counterparts was very good, and none of them were any better equipped against dive bombers. In addition the British units proved devastatingly effective in the anti-submarine role. By April 1940 they had cut a swathe through the U-boat arm with text book multi-ship attacks. As newer, bigger destroyers ships joined the fleet the surviving inter-war units were modified to emphasise their capabilities as fast Anti-Submarine escorts in the Battle of the Atlantic, where they joined First World War veteran ‘V and Ws’ and ex-American four stackers. By 1943 radar, HF/DF, Hedgehog and even Squid ahead thrown anti-submarine weapons had replaced guns and torpedoes as the main weapons of older destroyer. A few of them even fought a new ‘torpedo boat’ threat on the British Coast , German motor torpedo boats.

In Norman Friedman’s treatment the evolution of the British destroyer becomes far more than just a catalogue of designs, it is the history of a concept in the broadest context of strategy and policy. Based on a major research project his analysis is supported by newly executed drawings by A. D. Baker, a wealth of striking images and rich appendices. This first rate book will provide much food for thought, for historians, students of ship design, and those grappling with the endless problem of balancing the best ship against the need for numbers.

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Battle of Surigao Strait

Anthony P. Tully, Battle of Surigao Strait. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009. 329 pp, notes, maps, photos, appendices, and index.

Review by John T. Kuehn
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

On opening Anthony Tully’s new book Battle of Surigao Strait one might be forgiven for asking oneself, why should I read yet another book about the series of naval battles around Leyte Gulf in the Philippines in late October 1944? A number of recent works, which Tully brings to the reader’s attention in his prologue and elsewhere, have come out that have greatly updated our understanding of these engagements: The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by James Hornfischer (Bantam, 2004), H.P. Willmott’s The Battle of Leyte Gulf (Indiana University Press, 2005), and Milan Vego’s The Battle for Leyte, 1944 (Naval Institute Press, 2006). These are excellent books, but one only deals with the Battle off Samar (Hornfischer) while the other two raise questions that remain unanswered and are larger operational or campaign histories. Too, there remain ongoing myths about the southernmost of the extensive air and sea battles that occurred in the Sulu Sea, Mindanao Sea and the Surigao Strait which dumps into Leyte Gulf from the south.

Tully is the perfect historian to provide a revisionist account that updates our understanding of Surigao Strait , the last battle in naval history where dreadnought battleships slugged it out on the surface of the ocean with each other. Tully brings the same skill and dedication to this telling that he and co-author Jon Parshall (who provided his help with the maps and line diagrams in this effort) for the battle of Midway in Shattered Sword ( Potomac , 2005). In that effort Tully and Parshall, using Japanese sources and an unquenchable curiosity, undid almost 40 years of received wisdom that was essentially wrong about the U.S. Navy’s greatest battle. Here the reader gets both the Japanese and American perspectives on the battle to give one a very comprehensive understanding of what happened during this often confusing night surface action in the Surigao Strait . Of particular value, though is the detailed Japanese perspective. Tully puts his readers into the chart rooms and bridges with the Admirals, Captains and their staffs as well as providing a number of “eyewitness” vignettes and stories by the lower ranking sailors. This is all the more incredible given the paucity of Japanese survivors on these ships, especially the two battleships Fuso and Yamashiro.

Accordingly, most of the new “finds” in this book involve Tully’s sensitivity and care with these Japanese sources and perspectives. Often Japan ’s Sho-1, or “Victory 1,” plan is presented as a complete operation that naturally included three mutually supporting efforts—Admiral Ozawa’s carrier deception force in the north, Admiral Kurita’s powerful battleship and cruiser force as the main effort in the center, and then the southern forces under Vice Admirals Nishimura and Shima. Tully shows conclusively that both Nishimura’s and Shima’s forces were ad hoc afterthoughts to the main plan. Of particular value is Tully’s approach to Shoji Nishimura, who has often been cast by historians as an officer much like the Earl of Cardigan of the Light Brigade, advancing mindlessly up the nautical equivalent of the “valley of death” to his and the men under his command’s doom. Tully, to this reviewer’s mind, conclusively demonstrates a completely different explanation that only adds nuance, and even luster, to this long-castigated warrior’s reputation.

Tully goes one step further in retelling this battle by explicitly addressing the three most enigmatic “riddles” of the night battleship action in his first appendix. Often readers will skip these sorts of “extras,” but here the reader is advised to take the extra time to read Tully’s arguments and analyses—he or she will not be disappointed. Speaking of disappointment, the book has very few of them. At the beginning, because Tully is making a complex argument about the operational movements of both Shima’s and Nishimura’s forces, the book is a bit dry and lags. However, once the fighting begins the book achieves that rare thing for such a detailed work, it becomes a page turner.

There are editorial mistakes that occasionally detract from the narrative, for example on page 1 where Iwo Jima is confused for Okinawa . Also, the text uses both the Japanese as well as English format for the names of Japanese participants (e.g. Uehara Kouji versus Kouji Uehara) and this can confuse readers already struggling with the Japanese names. But these are minor and infrequent problems. Although the Americans are here, the bravery of the Japanese involved is well-documented and not necessarily un-thinking. Too, we learn that the Japanese ships, though outmatched, were very “well-fought” by their crews, especially Nishimura’s flagship the battleship Yamashiro. Tully does not dissipate the “fog and friction” of war as they affected this battle, but he makes things about as coherent as the evidence will let him. Battle of Surigao Strait is gripping naval history that is both exciting to read and adds new and valuable scholarship to our understanding of this iconic battle. Bravo Zulu, Mr. Tully.

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Armchair Warriors: Private Citizens, Popular Press, and the Rise of American Power

Joel R. Davidson, Armchair Warriors: Private Citizens, Popular Press, and the Rise of American Power, Naval Institute Press, 2008. 316 pp., notes, works cited, index.

Review by Stephen Badsey
University of Wolverhampton

The relationship between public opinion, the mass media, and military power in a modern democracy is a particularly complex one, especially in the case of the United States, and is an understandable preoccupation among historians at present. Both in his title and his introduction, this author promises his readers some kind of discussion or analysis of this relationship and its associated issues. In fact he has produced a book on a quite different subject, although still one that provides interest, and has some merit.

Starting with the Spanish-American War and ending with the U.S. emergence as a world superpower in the aftermath of World War II, this is an anthology of letters sent by private citizens throughout the United States to various government and military officials and politicians, from the President downwards, expressing opinions and offering suggestions on the wars and defense issues of the day. The great majority of these letters were never made public in any form, and although the author supplements them with occasional newspaper and magazine editorials, any connection that most of them might have with the popular press is indirect at best. The resulting collection of the writings of cranks, crackpots, racial and political bigots, busybodies, and inventors of the miracle weapon that will win the war, certainly has its entertainment value, but it is difficult to judge how far these individual letters might be representative of more widely held opinions, and the author offers his readers no guidance on this issue. Instead, he provides the briefest of linking passages, and a little general popular historical context; this is very much the work of the historian as copy-typist.

In 1917, Scientific American magazine, which the author notes had volunteered to screen letters on how to defeat the U-Boats for the Naval Consulting Board, found that the overwhelming majority fell into five categories: ideas that had already been adopted, ideas that were old and discarded, the mechanically or scientifically impossible, the possible but inexpedient, and ideas that would defeat one aim in achieving another. Similarly, almost all the letters published in this book reveal only their writer’s lack of any grasp of politics, strategy or military technology, together with quite often a ruthless willingness to tear down civilization in order to hurt the enemy of the moment. Inevitably, there are letters predicting an attack on Pearl Harbor, or reflecting some future (or existing and secret) military development, or postulating a strategy that merited serious consideration at the time.

It is noteworthy how real the idea seemed to some people in 1940-41 that a defeated Great Britain might surrender its fleet to Germany, and the threat that this would then pose to the United States. One rare gem in the collection is the suggestion in 1941 to the National Inventors Council from the behaviourist B.F. Skinner that a pre-conditioned bird in a transparent nosecone could be used to steer a bomb onto its target. But otherwise the author’s initial assertion, that these letters disprove the idea of a supine public passively following the war news given to them by their government, and represent instead evidence of a dynamic interplay between government, press and public at war, will be something for another and very different book to prove or not.

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Somalia: Lessons from the Past

Victor Enthoven
Netherlands Defense Academy,
Free University of Amsterdam

1. Introduction

In the early 1990s, organisations such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) began to register reports of (attempted) piracy. As will become clear in this essay, the timing was not accidental. Piracy, as we know, is a contemporary phenomenon with a long history. That means that there are lessons to be drawn from the past.[1] It appears that the phenomenon of piracy has three aspects that have kept recurring throughout the centuries, and can also be discerned in the current events in the waters around Somalia , namely:

piracy is primarily experienced and condemned by its victims;

piracy is a phenomenon occurring at the periphery;

people resort to piracy for an underlying reason.

These three aspects of piracy will be examined in this short article. They will be illustrated by historical examples, after which we will focus on the situation in Somalia .

2. The Victims

Piracy has been occurring since antiquity. Classical scholar Philip de Souza aptly articulated the notion that the term “piracy” stems mainly from the vocabulary of the victims.

Piracy is a term normally applied in a pejorative manner. Pirates can be defined as armed robbers whose activities normally involve the use of ships. They are men who have been designated as such by other people, regardless of whether or not they consider themselves to be pirates.[2]

Thus the term ‘piracy’ has a negative connotation, usually conveying a sense of moral judgement. Pirates are people who have been labelled as such by others, irrespective of whether they see themselves as pirates. The term “piracy” is therefore mainly used and qualified by its victims.

A consequence of this is that those aggrieved by piracy are often ill-informed about its background. I will illustrate this with a number of examples from the recent past. From 1994, a dramatic increase was seen in the incidence of attempted piracy in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea . The number of reports rose from approximately 50 per year to almost 500 in the year 2000. It was not until 2005, however, before serious studies into illegal activities of this kind were published, including, D. Johnson and M. Valencia (eds.), Piracy in Southeast Asia: Status, Issues, and Responses (Leiden/Singapore: IIAS, 2005), and A.J. Young, Contemporary Maritime Piracy in Southeast Asia : History, Causes and Remedies (Leiden/Singapore: IIAS, 2007).

Since then, the number of reports of piracy in the region has fallen to the approximate level of the mid-1990s and the focus of attention has, to some extent, shifted away from the region.[3]

In March 2009, the RAND Corporation convened a small group of experts from the U.S. government, allied partner nations, the maritime industry, and academic organisations to reconsider the underlying factors that drive maritime piracy in the 21st century. Perhaps the most important conclusion that can be drawn from the workshop is that mitigating the complex nature of maritime crime requires the input of all relevant stakeholders – state, national, private, and non-governmental – and must necessarily embrace measures that go well beyond the simple and expedient reactive deployment of naval assets. However, no representatives from the region (Horn of Africa) had been invited.[4]

This was also the case at the seminar of 8 July 2009 organised by the Netherlands Institute for International Relations Clingendael under the title “Pioneering for Solutions Against Piracy: Focusing on a Geopolitical Analysis, Counter-Piracy Initiatives and Policy Solutions”. The seminar was concerned mainly with the Indian Ocean and Somalia :

Participants in this seminar are academics, policy makers, and top-level military staff, from EU member states and institutions, NATO, and American universities, who all have a professional interest in the subject.[5]

Apparently, it was thought that solutions for the problem of piracy could be found without the advice of representatives from the region.

Just recently, UN special representative for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said: “Piracy on the high seas cannot be fought by international naval fleets alone, but requires a regional approach that also deals with its root causes.” In my opinion not only an open door, but a little bit late as well.[6]

3. Piracy as a phenomenon at the periphery

A study into the history of piracy reveals that piracy is a phenomenon which chiefly occurs at the periphery. In Bandits at Sea: A Pirates Reader, Anne Pérotin-Dumon put it as follows:

There is a description of piracy that spans the ages: illegal and armed aggression at points of maritime traffic that are important but under weak political control. The aggression is committed by the marginal who seek to appropriate the wealth of the more affluent, or by newcomers desiring to force their way into pre-existing trade routes.[7]

The essence of this quotation lies, of course, in: “at points of maritime traffic that are important but under weak political control.” Piracy thus occurs in areas where (relatively) little political power is being exercised or can be exercised. Such areas are often located at the periphery, far removed from the centre of power. This demands some explanation.

The process of state formation

The period roughly between 1500 and 1800 is known as the Early Modern Period. This period is characterised by the rise of the “military fiscal state.” By the end of the Middle Ages, the emerging monetary economy had created the conditions enabling rulers to hire professional soldiers. Not only did this professionalization of warfare result in more conflicts, it also made them much more costly. Stronger governments were needed to generate higher revenue through taxation in order to finance increasingly expensive wars. In turn, the more powerful a state became, the more inclined it would be to wage wars. What emerged was a self-reinforcing spiral of wars, taxation and state formation.[8]

During the Modern Period, roughly the period from 1800 to 1990, this development in the Western World led to the formation of nation-states, combining a powerful state with a population who considered themselves to be part of that state. Nationalism provided a sense of shared identity. Money was no longer required for building up an army and a fleet. Enormous conscript armies, raised on the basis of nationalism and a national identity, were now fighting each other.

Since then, we have entered into the Post-modern Period, characterised by the diminishing influence of the state. This has brought about two developments in many armed forces. First of all, there was the transformation from conscript to all-professional armed forces in the mid-1990s. In that regard, we have returned to the situation of the Early Modern Period.[9] As for other parts of the world: not only have states become weaker, a few, such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia , have even disappeared. Somalia has also effectively ceased to exist as a nation-state. In other words: the Somalian government, assuming there is such a thing, exercises very little political power.

The fight against piracy

Here is not the place to give a detailed description of piracy and what was and is being done to combat it. I will therefore limit myself to the four most significant periods that can be distinguished in the history of countering piracy since Early Modern times.

The first period runs from the end of the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century. The increasingly powerful maritime states of Western Europe succeeded in suppressing piracy in the North and Baltic Seas . By 1650, merchant ships in Western European waters hardly needed protection any longer.[10] During the second period, the fight against piracy shifted to the Mediterranean . The activities of the Barbary corsairs, who operated from the Ottoman regencies of Tripoli , Algiers and Tunis and from independent Morocco , were viewed by Western powers as ordinary acts of piracy. It was not until the early nineteenth century, when particularly Spain and France brought their influence to bear in North Africa, that the Barbary corsairs disappeared from the scene for good.[11] The third period was the so-called war against piracy, which took place approximately from 1715 to 1730 when the Royal Navy waged a merciless campaign to suppress piracy in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean . Hundreds of pirates were hanged during this campaign.[12] The fourth and last period was during the nineteenth century when the Dutch and British colonial administrations dealt with the last pirates’ nests in Southeast Asia .[13] By around 1900, piracy had been eradicated. In 1925, the Harvard Law Review rhetorically asked: “Is the crime of Piracy Obsolete?” The answer given was affirmative. Piracy was mostly considered an interesting phenomenon from the past.[14]

From a Western European perspective, the fight against piracy has seen a steady shift away from the centre. Whenever the Western European powers wished to exercise political control in the periphery of their spheres of influence, they were faced with combating piracy. By the time the Western colonial powers controlled about eighty percent of the world, the days of piracy were finished. The absence of piracy is thus a phenomenon of the modern era.

During the 1980s, however, a major transition took place as the clear-cut bipolar world of the Cold War, with its two great power blocs whose influence extended throughout vast parts of the globe, transformed into a multi-polar world with a great deal more political instability, particularly at the periphery. It should therefore come as no surprise that in 1991 the IMB and IMO began to keep a register of reported attacks on seagoing vessels. As the Modern Period came to a close, piracy had once again reared its head (table 1).

Table 1. Reported cases of piracy, 1991-2009

1991 107

1998 200

2000 471

2003 445

2004 329

2005 276

2006 239

2007 263

2008 293

2009 (first six months) 240

Source: ICC International Maritime Bureau, Annual Reports Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships, available on ICC webpage, URL:


On a local scale, this mechanism of political stability, or rather instability, can also be observed in Somalia . Piracy in Somalian waters started occurring about ten years ago. With the advent of the so-called Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in south Somalia in 2006 came the expectation that this new government would be able to curb piracy. But following the ousting of the ICU by, among others, Ethiopian troops, the last vestige of government disappeared and the incidence of piracy increased explosively (table 2).[15]

Table 2. Piracy incidents near Somalia , 2003-2009

2003 18

2004 8

2005 10

2006 10

2007 13

2008 92

2009 (first six months) 130

Source: ICC International Maritime Bureau, Annual Reports Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships, available on ICC webpage, URL:

The lack of political control has historically been a essential precondition for piracy, but it is in itself not sufficient to explain the phenomenon. After all, there are other regions that are under very weak political control and yet have not seen the development of piracy. Examples are countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone .[16]

4. Causes

History has shown that there is usually a reason or cause, explaining why people in regions with relatively little political control resort to piracy. I will offer two illustrative examples.

The Dutch Sea Beggars

Around 1560, there was something brewing in the Netherlands . There was widespread discontent about the centralist policies of the Habsburgs in Brussels , which violated the age-old privileges and customs of regional administrations. The long drawn-out wars waged by the rulers in Brussels against France were causing major harm to economic interests. At the same time, the new religious insights of Martin Luther and John Calvin found fertile soil in the Low Countries, a development towards which the government in Brussels was less than understanding. Tensions erupted in the autumn of 1566 with the outbreak of the Iconoclastic Fury, which drove King Philip II to dispatch his commander Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alva, to the Low Countries to restore order. This led a number of protestant exiles to revolt. Their supreme goal was to repel Alva and “restore” Protestantism, and they saw William of Orange as their leader. In addition to hijacking ships, they specialised in capturing dignitaries in order to collect a ransom, a practice known as “rationing” (rantsoenering). In the eyes of the Habsburg rulers, the Sea Beggars were nothing but ordinary pirates. The pirate activities of the Sea Beggars were thus ignited by the Netherlands ’ struggle for independence from Habsburg rule.[17]

Pirates of the Caribbean

The adventures of captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies by Walt Disney are inspired by the so-called golden age of piracy. Roughly between 1716 and 1726, approximately 1,500 to 2,500 pirates were operating from a total of twenty to thirty heavily armed ships in the West-Indies and the Atlantic Ocean . Marxist-oriented maritime historian Marcus Rediker believes that these sea-robbers formed a multicultural, democratic and egalitarian community and were the product of gross social injustice. In his view, they were the forerunners of the American and French revolutionaries. Here, the underlying cause of piracy was social inequality and the class struggle.[18]


Diminishing fish stocks, caused by illegal fishing and illegal dumping of waste by Western companies, are generally assumed to be the reason why Somalian fishermen have resorted to piracy. In a BBC interview, the twenty-five year old Somali Dahir Mohamed Hayeysi declared:

I used to be a fisherman with a poor family that depended only on fishing. The first day joining the pirates came into my mind was in 2006. A group of our villagers, mainly fishermen I knew, were arming themselves. One of them told me that they wanted to hijack ships, which he said were looting our sea resources. He told me it was a national service with a lot of money in the end. Then I took my gun and joined them.

Years ago we used to fish a lot, enough for us to eat and sell in the markets. Then illegal fishing and dumping of toxic wastes by foreign fishing vessels affected our livelihood, depleting the fish stocks. I had no other choice but to join my colleagues.

The first hijack I attended was in February 2007 when we seized a World Food Programme-chartered ship with 12 crew. I think it had the name of MV Rozen and we released it after two months, with a ransom. Now I have two lorries, a luxury car and have started my own business in town.

The interview ends with the following statement:

The only way the piracy can stop is if [ Somalia ] gets an effective government that can defend our fish. And then we will disarm, give our boats to that government and will be ready to work. Foreign navies can do nothing to stop piracy.[19]

5. Conclusion

The conclusion should be clear: piracy will continue to exist as long as there are politically unstable regions located along important sea routes. As piracy is chiefly a result of political instability, it must be combated first of all on land.[20] This is both good and bad news for the navies currently operating near the Horn of Africa.

The bad news is that the deployment of navy ships and the escorting of merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean will not bring about a decrease in piracy. With those efforts we are merely fighting the symptoms. As the Netherlands ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Cooperation informed the Dutch Parliament on March 13, 2009:

Operation Allied Protector is a brief military contribution intended to combat the symptoms of piracy near the Horn of Africa while, in an international context, the transition process in Somalia and the implementation of the Djibouti agreement are being supported and a study is being conducted, through, among others, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, into how regional capacity building can contribute to countering piracy in the long term.[21]

The good news is that the deployment of navy ships against Somalian pirates will continue for an indefinite period into the future. For now, the hope for peace in the region has faded and the Djibouti agreement has been consigned to the wastepaper basket. Strict Islamic groups appear to be gaining the upper hand. As has been shown by the Islamic Courts Union, such organisations will bring a certain degree of political stability, enabling the suppression of piracy. On the other hand, regimes of this kind are unacceptable to the West. The United States has recently sent 40 tonnes of weapons to Somalia . Direct intervention is, after all, an undesirable option, evidence of which is provided by 1993 US operation in Mogadishu (depicted in the movie Black Hawk Down).

In my opinion, in Somalia the international community finds itself caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.[22]

[1] D.J. Puchala, “Of Pirates and Terrorists: What Experience and History Teach”, Contempory Security Policy 26 (April 2005) 1:1-24.

[2] Ph. De Souza, Piracy in the Graeco-Roman World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) 1.

[3] “Southeast Asia Maritime Security Review, 3rd Quarter 2008” , available on the webpage of S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, URL:; IIAS Newsletter 36 (March, 2005); P. Gwin, “Dark Passage: The Straits of Malakka. Pirates Haunt it. Sailors Fear it. Global Trade Depends on it”, National Geographic (October, 2007) 126-149.

[4] Peter Chalk, Laurence Smallman and Nicholas Burger, Countering Piracy in the Modern Era. Notes from a RAND Workshop to Discuss the Best Approaches for Dealing with Piracy in the 21st Century ( Washington : RAND Corporation, 2009).

[5] “Discussion Paper Clingendael Security and Conflict Programme “Pioneering for Solutions Against Piracy” Focusing on a Geopolitical Analysis, Counter-piracy Initiatives and Policy Solutions”, available on the webpage of Clingendael, URL:

[6] AFP, “UN calls for multi-level approach in fighting piracy” (November 18, 2009), available on the webpage of Google:

[7] A. Pérotin-Dumon, “The Pirate and the Emperor: Power and the Law on the Seas, 1450- 1850” , in C.R. Pennell (ed.), Bandits of the Sea: A Pirates Reader ( New York : New York University Press, 2001) 25.

[8] Ch. Tilly, Coercian, Capital, and European States , AD 990-1992 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); R. Bonney (ed.), Economic Systems and State Finance (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1995); P. Wilson, “European Warfare, 1450- 1815” , in J. Black (ed.), War in the Early Modern World, 1450-1815 (London: UCL Press, 1999) 177-206.

[9] Adviesraad Internationale Vraagstukken, De inhuur van private militaire bedrijven. Een kwestie van verantwoordelijkheden (The Hague, 2007); J.M.D van Leeuwe, “De inhuur van private militaire bedrijven in operatiegebieden”, Militaire Spectator 177 (2008) 4:240-245.

[10] V.W. Lunsford, Piracy and Privateering in the Golden Age Netherlands ( New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); J.C. Appleby, “A Nursery of Pirates: the English Pirate Community in Ireland in the Early 17th Century”, International Journal of Maritime History 2 (1990) 1:1-27; C. Senior, A Nation of Pirates: English Piracy in its Heyday (Newton Abbot: David and Charles, 1976).

[11] J. de Courcy Ireland, “Raïs Hamidou: The last of the Great Algerian Corsairs”, The Mariner’s Mirror 60 (1974) 2:187-196; D.J. Vitkus and N. Matar, Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England (New York: Colombia University Press, 2001); D. Panzac, Barbary Corsairs: the End of a Legend, 1800-1820 (Leiden: Brill, 2005); N. Matar, Britain and Barbary, 1589-1689 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005).

[12] D. Cordingly, Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life among the Pirates (New York: Harvast Book, 1995); Aaron Smith, The Atrocities of the Pirates (Guilford:The Lyons Press, 1999); J. Rogoziński, Honor among Thieves: Captain Kidd, Henry Every, and the Pirate Democracy in the Indian Ocean (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2000); P. Earl, The Pirate Wars (London: Methuen, 2003).

[13] J.N.F.M. à Campo, “Asymmetry, Disparity and Cyclicity: Charting the Piracy Conflict in Colonial Indonesia”, International Journal of Maritime History 19 (2007) 1:35-62; G. Teitler, A.M.C. van Dissel and J.N.F.M. à Campo, Zeeroof en zeeroofbestrijding in de Indische archipel, 19de eeuw (Amsterdam: Bataafsche Leeuw, 2005).

[14] E.D. Dickinson, “Is the Crime of Piracy Obsolete”, Harvard Law Review 37 (1924/5) 334-36.

[15] R. Middleton, Piracy in Somalia Threatening Global Trade, Feeding Local Wars (October, 2008), available on the webpage of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, URL:

[16] D. Nincic, “State Failure and the Re-Emergence of Maritime Piracy”, available on the webpage of All Academic Research, URL:

[17] J.C.A. de Meij, De Watergeuzen en de Nederlanden, 1568-1572 (Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers Maatschappij, 1972).

[18] M. Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea : Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987); M. Rediker, Villains of the Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age ( London : Verso, 2004).

[19] “It’s a Pirate’s Life for Me”, available on the webpage of the BBC, URL:

[20] M. Schenkel, “Los zeeroverij op aan land. Effectief gezag in Somalië is vereiste voor uitbannen van piraterij”, NRC-Handelsblad (November 22, 2008).

[21] Ministers van Buitenlandse Zaken, van Defensie en voor Ontwikkelingsamenwerking aan Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal (29 521, nr. 93) (March 13, 2009).

[22] K. Lindijer, “Hoop op vrede in Somalië is alweer vervlogen. Nieuwe gevechtsronde onafwendbaar door verdeeldheid, buitenlandse inmenging en criminele belangen”, NRC-Handelsblad (May 22, 2009); M.B. Sheridan, “U.S. has sent 40 Ton of Munition to Aid Somali Governemnt”, The Washington Post (June 27, 2009); K. Lindijer, “Al-Shabaab trekt strijders van overal aan”, NRC-Handelsbla (August 6, 2009).

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When Dreams Confront Reality: Replenishment at Sea in the Era of Coal

Warwick Brown
King’s College, London

This paper examines in the forty years leading up to the First World War how different navies, particularly the British and American, approached the problem of providing “free and unrestricted movement of their fleets” by replenishment at sea. Today the deployment of a naval force to distant locations – power projection – be it a single vessel or a large flotilla, is invariably accompanied by an appropriate number of logistical support vessels. The modern replenishment ship is well versed in transferring the everyday necessities, of food, ammunition and fuel to a warship sailing along side at speed.

Two hundred years ago in the age of sail there was no fuel to transfer and a warship could be provisioned for many months prior to setting sail. That changed with the advent of the steam engine for naval use. The introduction of steam-power was rapid; starting in 1821 for the Royal Navy with the Comet and by 1837 the Admiralty was operating in excess of fifty steam vessels.[1] As early steam engines were unreliable their use was initially confined to harbour craft that did not stray far from their fuel source. By the early 1850s the steam-powered warship had emerged as the dominant maritime weapons system. Even so warships of all sizes still carried rigging and relied albeit to a diminishing degree on the wind for their main source of propulsion, steam complemented wind power with its sole use being reserved for an emergencies or to manoeuvre in action. Only during the 1870s did steam become the exclusive means of propulsion.[2] As the 19th century progressed so did the design of steam engines, improved among other things, by better metallurgy, vertical cylinders and triple expansion engines, all leading to greater reliability and power.[3]

With warships wholly reliant on coal, its provision and the acquisition of coaling stations became a matter of supreme strategic importance for maritime powers. Coal was also the principal factor that determined a warship’s duration at sea. As one American commentator wrote in 1913

“We are too prone to consider that the size of our fleet in battleships alone is a measure of our national strength. That is true only in part and, like all half-truths, has a lurking within it a seed of danger. A fleet of battleships is powerful only when its constant mobility is assured, when we are able to guarantee the free and unrestricted movement of that fleet to a given theater of war, and within that area after it has arrived.”[4]

However, before examining efforts to refuel vessels under weigh a brief examine of the how vessels were coaled in harbour will be helpful. Colliers usually delivered coal to refuelling stations as a bulk cargo. As coal stored in the open steadily looses its calorific value – the warmer the climate the faster the process of deterioration – stocks were kept to a minimum.

Vessels usually coaled along side a quay, in American and British home ports of coal sacks containing two hundredweight (101 kg) of coal were either craned or wheeled on board by local labour, tipped into the coal scuttles before being transported internally to whichever bunker required filling. Overseas on stations, such as Malta , the West Indies and China coal was conveyed on board by native labour in baskets.

However, when stocks were available afloat in a collier or lighter the coaling was carried out at anchor in the shelter of a harbour with warship supplying the sacks and the men to fill them in the carrier’s hold before they were lifted onto the warship’s deck. Coaling evolutions involved nearly all the crew and were often done to the accompaniment of the ship’s band. Coaling ship was backbreaking, dirty and dangerous work.

Speed of coaling was considered an important factor in a vessel’s overall effectiveness, and to encourage efficient coaling fleet and flotilla trophies were awarded for the one that coaled most tons per hour.[5] Speeds were published in military journals and faithfully report to their superiors by naval attaches. Speeds though varied considerable depending on the vessel’s design, the facilities and available labour. Nevertheless, overall speeds steadily improved during the period. For example, the American Naval attaché reported in 1893 the Royal Navy coaled at between twenty to seventy-five tons an hour during manoeuvres.[6] In 1903 the C-in-C Portsmouth informed the Admiralty “coaling from one lighter each side will not exceed 130 tons per hour”[7] and during the First World War the Grand Fleet battleships at Scapa Flow regularly exceeded 200-300 tons per hour.[8] But as coaling speeds increased so too did warships’ appetites, for example the 8,400 horse power HMS Inflexible of 1876 had bunkerage for 1,300 tons while the 41,000 horse power HMS Inflexible of 1907 had space for over 3,000 tons (plus 375 tons of oil fuel).[9] The larger the bunker capacity the greater the range, but space and weight allocated to fuel had to be bought at the expense of a ship’s other characteristics, such as armament, armour, habitability and speed.

A number of factors determined the different approaches to coaling taken by British and American Navies. In South Wales Britain had the best steam coal for naval purposes. South Wales also had a highly developed infrastructure for extracting and transporting the coal to the coast from where the world’s largest collier fleet could move it to any of the global network of British coaling stations. The Royal Navy were able charter private colliers as and when required without difficulty in peacetime and considered that the large privately owned merchant collier fleet would able to cater for any additional demands in wartime. Indeed so firm was the British Empire’s grip over the world’s steam coal and coaling facilities that it was an important economic weapon in itself during the First World War. Indeed the Royal Navy was unique in its ability to project its power across the globe without recourse to logistical support from others.

The United States had no such advantages. Its indigenous steam coal was located in North Virginia and Pennsylvania ; further from the coast and inferior in quality to Welsh steam coal and on the west coast there was no suitable coal for naval purposes at all. Neither did America possess a significant merchant collier fleet or chain of overseas coaling stations. These shortcomings were came to the fore during the Spanish-American war of 1898 when the USN was forced to purchase Australian coal for its fleet in Manila and employ British colliers to help deliver it, as well as help deliver American coal along the Atlantic coast.[10] To reduce this dependence on foreign transports during the war the USN acquired an ad-hoc fleet of twenty colliers and between 1909-1914 built a fleet of ten large colliers to be operated by the navy.[11] These were intended to transfer their cargoes to “men-of-war within the sheltered limits of a harbour.” They were not intended to accompany a fleet in touch with the enemy; their employment was to be strategic rather than tactical.[12] In any case none were completed in time to accompany Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet’s 1907-09 circumnavigation of the globe. Consequently problems of coal supplies were to constantly plague the venture and although 90% of the coal the fleet consumed came from American sources, American colliers only delivered on 7.5% of it. Foreign colliers – British – delivered 70% with the remaining 22.5% came from shore-based sources.[13] A confidential memorandum admitted that the circumnavigation “could have not been undertaken had we depended upon our own resources.”[14]

During the 1905 Russo-Japanese War the Russian Navy also found that sending a large naval force across the world was fraught with difficulties. As a belligerent nation Russia was denied help from Britain under the rules of neutrality. Britain , an ally of Japan , was not inclined to bend the rules. So, laden with inferior coal in every available space the Russians relied on hired German colliers of the Hamburg-American Line and good weather to coal in whatever sheltered waters they could find.[15]

Although Britain held all the aces in regard to coal, the RN was not blind to the advantages of coaling at sea would be to vessels on station as part of a blockading force. Sailing ships had been able to remain on station for months whereas steam-powered warships need to refuel in harbour meant they would be absent for long periods. In 1903 Lieutenant A.C. Dewar RN highlighted the inconvenience of blockading a remote port with steamships. Citing the example of a hypothetical blockade of Toulon by 12 Implacable class battleships based at Malta , some 550 miles away. Each vessel could remain on blockade duty for 10.5 days, but would be absent for coaling for 5.8 days. Indeed it was estimated that a quarter of the Union steam ships blockading Charleston during the American Civil War were absent for this reason alone.[16]

Of course vessels had always transferred, persons, stores and, since mechanisation, coal while at sea, but these transfers were dependent on clam weather, carried out at very slow speeds and very limited in scale. In August 1870, for instance, the Royal Navy’s Channel Squadron transferred fifty tons of coal using ships’ boats to the ill-fated HMS Captain at the rate of five tons per hour.[17] Attempts were made to lash vessels together for coaling, but this too required calm weather and slow speeds if severe damage was not to be inflicted on both vessels. Coaling was not viable with swells “sufficient to cause a roll of more than three or four degrees, or especially to make the vessels rise and fall in the sea more than one or two feet.”[18]

In an 1883 paper to the Royal United Services Institute Lieutenant Lowry RN enumerated the conditions any satisfactory coaling at sea system would have to meet:-[19]

Rapidity. He considered “nothing short of 20 tons per hour for an iron clad…or 40 tons if she has several ports that can be worked for coaling, or 15 tons in a small vessel ought to be considered a satisfactory solution.” Even at forty tons an hour it would take over twelve hours to restock half the bunkers of a typical 1883 Battleship (HMS Collingwood).[20]

Safety. Clearly the danger of injury from large weights swinging about on vessels moving at sea is greater than when coaling in a port.

The coal must be kept dry. It was generally believed at the time that wet coal was more liable to spontaneously combust and would be harder to burn.

A minimum speed of five knots to be maintained during coaling.

“It may be most import not to stop the ship or fleet entirely. With a large squadron, the capacity of whose bunkers may vary greatly, one ship may require coaling much before another, and it may be inconvenient to stop the squadron, or risky to leave one ship behind.”

Any apparatus must be stowed on the collier not the warship.

A minimum of labour should be required to operate the equipment. In port all hands are used for coaling, this would not possible when a vessel is under weigh.

Cost. Any system had to affordable and durable “enough to stand considerable knocking about at sea.”

Lowry then went on to postulate that any such system might comprise of floating watertight coal carriers transferred between vessels suspended from a cable. While those present at Lowry’s paper agreed on the advantages from coaling at sea, they differed in their solutions to the problem of refuelling. The discussion that followed went along the lines of many others when new ideas are put forward – it is best to wait until what is on the horizon makes unnecessary – as advocated by Admiral Selwyn who thought the answer lay in the introduction of oil fuel, as “I am absolutely confident you are going to see the end of coal for steam at sea altogether.” Or the idea is to solve a problem of our own making and if we remove the problem there is no need for the solution, as advocated by Captain Bedford Pim who thought the solution was the reintroduction of sails, “Now we know that no ironclad is worth much under sail. Why do we not build ships that will keep the sea under sail, the same as the ships of our forefathers did, as long as provisions lasted? In conclusion the Chairman thought the best way forward was the creation of a committee to examine the question. Although Lowry’s watertight coal carriers were rejected as impractical, his general principles were widely accepted. Indeed the advantages of developing a workable system began to exercise the minds of naval officers, engineers, entrepreneurs and cranks on both side of the Atlantic . The Admiralty alone received twenty-three submissions of one form or another between 1888-1890, each involving various combinations of cables, chutes, bridges and buckets; however none was considered suitable for a trial.[21]

The hub of the problem was maintaining the distance between the collier and warship. Chutes, bridges and buckets required the vessels to steam dangerously close abeam and were quickly rejected by the Admiralty. However in July 1898, The Times reported that a French collier using a Temperly Transporter, an equipment developed to increase the speed of coaling in port, had transferred 200 tons of coal to two warships while steaming at six knots, the procedure only halting when the collier was damaged in a collision with one of the warships.[22]

A warship coaling from a collier using a Temperly Transporter:

Only despatching coal along a system of cables would allow vessels to maintain a safe distance, but this necessitated some way of keeping the cable taut enough to prevent the coal receiving a dunking but not so taut to risk the cable parting. Ideas continued to arrive at the Admiralty, but it not until 1901 were any serious trials carried out when, using a cable system, the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign coaled from the collier Rosari. Relying on the collier’s winches nineteen tons per hour was transferred; to improve on this stronger winches would be required. Further trials the same year involving the battleship HMS Empress of India used, instead of winches, weights suspended from the collier’s mast to keep the line taut. Neither system was developed further; probably because the Mediterranean Fleet that conducted both trials had been able to use only equipment from local stores, thereby placing little or no burden on existing budgets so any extension of the trials would have required additional funding from London .[23]

In 1900 the journal The Engineer reported on some American trials based on an idea put forward by the naval constructor J. J. Woodward. The system, developed in conjunction with the Lidgerwood Manufacturing Company of New York , employed cables so the vessels could steam at four to eight knots and 350ft (107m) to 500ft (150m). Unable to bring his notion to fruition before the end of the American-Spanish War Woodward seems to have returned to other work. His role was then taken over by Spencer Miller, a civil engineer and able publicist who had taken an interest in the problem since 1893. In the Lidgerwood-Miller system, as it came to be known, the vessels steamed in line ahead one towing the other, which way round depended on their size and available workable deck space. A pair of shear poles were erected on the warship from which a line with a sea anchor attached extended aft of the second vessel, the drag on the anchor keeping the line taut. Seven hundred to one thousand pounds (317-453 kg) of bagged coal was slung under a quick release hook and transported along the cable to the warship, the hook being returned along the same cable, all under the power of a winch on the collier.[24]

The Spencer Miller system under test in 1904

Although Miller tried to sell his design worldwide it was the USN that tested it first. Over a period of five days in 1899 the battleship USS Massachusetts towed the collier Marcellus some 300-400ft behind – the rougher the sea the greater the distance – and achieved an average transfer rate of twenty to twenty-two tons of coal per hour while travelling at five knots. After the trials the captain of the USS Massachusetts is reported to have said, “There was no time during the Cuban blockade of last year when this system could not have been used. I consider it great success.” However, the twenty tons per hour fell well short of the forty tons an hour and ten knots that Miller had been informed the RN considered necessary before it would accept any system into service. The RN and Rear Admiral Melville USN proposed that the operating winches be placed on the warship instead of the collier. A logical alteration for a navy that did not operate colliers; but one strongly opposed by American constructors who regarded it as an unwelcome addition to a warship’s equipment. In order to achieve at least forty tons per hour Miller put forward a number of improvements, one of which was to replace the sea anchor by a winch with a slipping drum, so the tension on the cable could be better maintained and loads of up to 1,500 lbs carried, although Miller persisted with sea anchors for smaller vessels. He also considered that to achieve maximum efficiency from the system the construction of large 10,000 tons colliers designed to using the equipment would be required.[25] Despite reservations, in 1902 the USS Illinois was equipped with winches and machinery for operating Miller’s system making her able “to take coal from any masted vessel it may meet in any quarter of the world”. With no machinery on the collier Miller had to resort to the sea anchor. He was strangely quite about this installation, and that it was decided later to fit his apparatus onto the Navy’s colliers suggests that the USS Illinois’s system fell short of expectations. Indeed, a few years later when the new large American colliers had joined the fleet the outcome of trials involving the dreadnought USS South Carolina and the collier USS Cyclops led the Lidgerwood company to propose installing its equipment onto six colliers. However by 1913 the General Board of the Navy was of the opinion that even sixty tons an hour was insufficient to meet fleet requirements, and as new ships entering service had greater range it was not expected that they would need to refuel at sea anyway. Also the tactic of close blockade had become obsolete and colliers would be a encumbrance to any fleet in proximity to the enemy. The Board therefore did not see “any military necessity for a coaling at sea apparatus”. Lidgerwood managed to challenge the Board’s decision strongly enough so that in October 1914 the Board relented and recommended, “that three more colliers in addition to Cyclops be fitted with the apparatus,” two each for the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. [26]

The RN also tested Miller’s system. Using new winches perfected by the British Temperley Company, it became know as the Temperley-Miller system. The Muriel, the collier chartered for the trials in 1901, was smaller than Miller would have liked. Nevertheless, dock trials commenced in November, and after a few glitches were ironed out sea trials began in February 1902 using the battleships from both the Channel and Mediterranean fleets.[27] A mean transfer rate of forty-seven tons per hour was sustained for three hours, and at one point HMS Vengeance achieved a transfer rate of sixty tons an hour before a line parted. The limiting factor was the inability of the collier to feed the cableway fast enough because of limited deck space and labour. Although able to transfer up to sixty tons an hour, to sustain this rate would require larger colliers with larger crews and the coal bagged ready for transfer. Requirements that conflicted with the British system of chartering colliers, as private colliers were generally between 1,500 – 5,000 tons and carried their cargo in bulk, relying on the receiving warship to provided the sacks and labour for bagging. Nonetheless, although no further sets of equipment were acquired, the trial equipment was not discarded and retained in store at Portsmouth .[28]

Undeterred by the lack of sales to the RN ever the optimist Miller persuaded the Russian and Italian Navies to test his equipment. A month after the outbreak of the war between Japan and Russia, the Russians were persuaded enough to order eight complete sets of the Lidgerwood-Miller system to fit onto the warships of the Russian Second Pacific Squadron. However, there appears little or no evidence of them being employed during the Squadron’s ill-fated voyage to the Far East .

Another scheme put forward to the Admiralty was that of Thames Iron Works, Blackwall, the company proposed “to construct one or more fast coaling transports to carry coal out to the distant fleet” equipped with its patented ‘Express’ equipment that would enable vessels to coal at sea at a rate of fifty tons per hour. Unlike Miller’s reciprocating system, the ‘Express’ used an endless cable that delivered coal broadside to the warship and returned the empty sacks to the collier, the line being kept taut by a counter weight suspended in the collier. However the Admiralty still regarded broadside coaling as too risky, and were concerned that if the sixty-ton counter weight broke free it would plunge through the bottom of the collier. To eliminate the Admiralty’s concerns the company modified the system, and submitted a revised version that included additional safety fixtures on the counter weight and end on coaling with the warship ahead. Nonetheless, the transfer rate of fifty tons per hour failed to impress the Admiralty, who now thought “a rate of at least 75 tons should be guaranteed with the prospect of 100 tons”. The Admiralty also considered it undesirable to pay the at least £7,000 that any trial would cost. (The Spencer Miller trials had cost £4,000 for the equipment and £1,000 for the alterations to the collier plus the charter costs.) Informed in 1903 that the Admiralty were not willing to proceed with the matter Mr. Mackrow of Thames Iron Works claimed that the land trials had achieved a transfer rate of 150 tons per hour and the company had had received inquiries from Germany, Italy, France and Japan, but he “had held off to let the Admiralty have if not the exclusive rights at least first go”. Moreover the company would pay for the fitting out of a collier if the Navy provided a warship and agreed to buy the equipment if the trials were successful. The offer was accepted provided the cost of the equipment was made known before hand and it coaled at, at least eighty tons per hour for six hours. But the trials failed to take place, as in October 1904 the Admiralty denied the company’s request to use an Admiralty coaling lighter for further tests before it paid to fit out a collier.[29]

Designs for coaling at sea also originated from within the RN. The schemes of the early service advocates, such as Lowry, Bell and Tupper were obviously impractical, but the one put forward in February 1902 by Chief Engineer Metcalf was considered, albeit with reservations, worthy of a trial. Metcalf’s scheme envisaged the warship towing the collier with the tension on the cable being maintained by a steam ram. At very little cost the initial trials commenced on shore at Chatham in early 1903 and were considered promising enough to justify progressing to sea trials using the old warship HMS Basilisk as the collier. The original cost estimates for sea trials were soon exceeded and by the time HMS Basilisk was ready the total expenditure had risen to £2,200.

Captain Wonham a retired coaling officer who had overseen the Miller trials over saw these too and reported in November 1903 that they showed that nine-point-nine knots was the best speed to operate the equipment and fifty-four tons per hour was possible in smooth water. The equipment was even tested at night out under arc lamps, with twenty tons being delivered in twenty minutes to the battleship HMS Revenge. However, the Director of Stores questioned if collier owners would be willing to have the steam ram fitted on their ships in peacetime and if not the delay in fitting it in an emergency may involve serious risk, therefore it should be considered that the ram should be a fixture on the warship. The Basilisk’s limited coal capacity precluded any prolonged evolutions or endurance tests[30] consequently the 5,750 ton collier Torridge was chartered, attached to the Channel Fleet and loaded with 2,000 tons of ready bagged coal ready to commence further trials in June 1905.[31] The captain of the battleship HMS Duncan reported that the system “should be able to supply coal in ordinary weather to a ship steaming nine or ten knots, at the rate of eighty tons per hour, for which 100 men would be required on board the collier, if the coal was in bags.” One reason Metcalf’s system achieved a high delivery rate was because it employed two endless cables, one each side of the ship and both transporting coal, while tensioned by the same steam ram. (HANDOUT) According to Captain Wonham this system, utilising endless cables and divided loads, was unquestionably superior to Spencer Miller’s single line reciprocating method. However, in did increase the amount of wear on the cables making the splices liable to fail and in the event of an emergency the vessels could not be easily parted unlike Miller’s device which could release them almost immediately. This latter point Wonham considered important and should he thought be addressed by design changes, while the life of the cables could only be tested by exhaustive trials.[32]

HMS New Zealand coaling using Metcalf method:

The trials continued into 1906 by which time it was thought that enough information had been gained. Metcalf, now a Commander, thought the trials successful enough to suggest “That the apparatus should be supplied and fitted to the warships as part and parcel of her general equipment [and] that the apparatus should be provided for fitting in the colliers.” In contrast the Director of Stores thought trials had not “resulted in a conspicuous success” and that both Metcalf’s notions impracticable because of the cost – £2,000 per set – and because of the weight – twelve tons – which “in the shape of top hamper is a very serious matter”. Moreover, the Director of Stores wanted time to evaluate reports of an improved system by a M Leue before making a decision.[33]

To fully consider the matter a conference attended by the Secretary of the Navy, the Directors of Stores and Contracts, Assistant Director of Construction and four naval officers was held by the Admiralty on 3rd December 1906 . The committee was of the opinion that the advantages of being able to replenish at sea in time of war were considerable and it was desirable to adopt some form of apparatus to accomplish this. Although the committee were aware of the drawbacks of Metcalf’s system and suggested further trials with smaller warships, it regarded his as the best available and recommended its adoption. It was though a partial endorsement, as it considered just three or four sets sufficient, and that these should be installed onto colliers not warships. Leading to the question of which colliers? Having the Navy operate the colliers would, the committee concluded, be the most efficient, but also an unjustifiable expense in peacetime. If the gear were permanently fitted into subsidised colliers the purchase of additional sets would be necessary if the right number were to be on hand when required. The committee settled on providing the gear to colliers on extended time charter.

Even this limited endorsement was not unanimous as the Assistant Director of Naval Construction W. H. Whiting questioned the importance of coaling at sea “for a nation which has a great numerical preponderance in coaling stations and in ships, and whose ships are generally larger and carry a larger coal supply than those of the same class belonging to foreign powers.” Any coaling at sea he deemed to be too risky as it involved the transfer of part of a battleship’s crew to the collier and “coaling en voyage means a great reduction of speed for the whole fleet, if even a single ship is being coaled.[34] Despite the Committee’s recommendation for the purchase of three or fours sets of apparatus in January 1908 the Director of Stores decided to buy only the one set.[35] So far no evidence of its use has come to light, and the comment following the 1912 annual manoeuvres that every opportunity should be taken to practice coaling (and oiling) at sea suggests that it was not used.[36]

If the Director of Stores’ decision to only purchase one set of Metcalf’s gear was predicated on hopes that M Leue’s system would prove superior, he was to be disappointed. Trials in July 1905 by the German Navy of Leue’s system demonstrated that the equipment, which like Metcalf’s used a ram and endless cable but also had a vessel quick release facility, fell short of the designer’s expectations of seventy to one hundred tons per hour, as a maximum of only fifty tons per hour was achieved. Moreover the tensioning apparatus at twelve point five metres long one point eight metres high and two metres wide, was too large to be fitted on a warship and consequently restricted to colliers, a serious drawback for the German navy that had hoped to be able to coal from any steamer a warship might meet.[37]

One of Leue’s fiercest German critics was Otto Adams, who not surprising had his own system under development. Adams’ system was cheaper and smaller than Leue’s, and like Metcalf’s it used two endless cable but employed an electric motor connected to a system of pulleys to provide the tension on the cable necessary to transport, so Adams claimed, a combined total of one-hundred and twenty tons per hour. Tested in 1909 using the armoured cruiser KMS Roon, transfers of sixty-five to ninety tons per hour were achieved, and it appears that few if any sets of Adams’ apparatus beyond the trial equipment was purchased by the German navy. The USN that had also shown a keen interest in it also declined to buy Adams ’ apparatus.[38]

Apart from the USN training exercises, the writer has seen no evidence that any of the belligerents coaled at sea during the First World War. A number of factors pushed the notion down naval planners’ wish lists. For the British, with their stranglehold on the world’s coaling stations, there was little or no need to coal vessels in transit while they were at sea. The attraction of refuelling the blockade line on station disappeared when the close blockade was replaced by the distant blockade. Indeed the vulnerability of vessels following a constant course and speed as they coaled under weigh, made them easy prey to submarine and surface attack, reinforcing the reasons that caused the abandonment the close blockade in the first place. Also, as the RN depended on private colliers fitting special naval equipment into private vessels would incur additional cost and problems of training and availability.

On the other hand, as it discovered during the Spanish-American War, the American Navy’s need to coal at sea was more compelling. But by the time the Americans had commissioned large colliers more suited to the existing technology it was apparent that the use of coal was on the wane, hence the limited issue of Miller’s equipment[39]. And after America ’s entry into the First World War the USN in the European theatre was able to rely on British resources for coal. The French, Russians, Austro-Hungarians, Italians and German High Sea Fleet did not stray far enough during the First World War to require replenishment at sea. The warships that did need to coal at sea were the German raiders of 1914, but even they did not carry the necessary special equipment.[40]

No navy considered that the capacity of any of the many systems for coaling at sea on offer before the First World War showed sufficient promise to warrant allocating them a significant portion of their precious budgets or reorganising their logistical agreements to suit the system’s requirements. As none of the systems’ designers managed to keep pace with the ever increasing demands of the navies the dream of deploying fleets across the globe that could rely on their intrinsic coal resources never materialised. Only when oil replaced coal was the available technology able to match the ambition, and, as predicted by Admiral Selwyn in 1883, it become possible to rapidly and efficiently refuel at sea.

[1] David Lyon & Rif Winfield, The Sail and Steam Navy List, Chatham , London : 2004. p. 148.

[2] ibid. p. 19.

[3] Denis Griffiths, Steam at Sea, Conway Press, London : 1997. p. 119.

[4] C. Theo. Vogelgesang, Logistics –Its Bearing Upon the Art of War, USNIP, Vol. 39, No. 145, 1913, p. 68.

[5] Charles Owen, Yarns from the fleet, Thrupp. Sutton: 1997. p. 54.

[6] Memorandum Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), Rate of Coaling English Navy, 17th April 1897 . United States National Archive (USNA), Record Group (RG) 45, Box 708 .

[7] C-in-C Portsmouth to Admiralty, February 1903. United Kingdom National Archive (NA), ADM 1/7675.

[8] Logs of HMS Hercules 1914-18, NA ADM 53/44166-70.

[9] Oscar Parkes, British Battleships, Seely Service & Co. London : 1957. pp. 252 & 492.

[10] Memorandum on the Urgent Necessity of an Adequate War Supply of Coal. 4th March 1910.USNA. RG. 80 Box 39 .

[11] Paul Silverstone, US Warships of World War 1, Ian Allen, London : 1970. p. 206.

[12] General Board Memorandum, ( 28th April 1908 ). USNA RG. 80, Box 114.

[13] USNA RG. 38 Box 837 .

[14] Memorandum, 4th March1910, USNA RG. 80, Box 39.

[15] Lamar J. R. Cecil, “Coal for the Fleet the Had to Die”, The American Historical Review, Vol. LXIX, No. 4, July 1964, pp. 990-1005.

[16] USNIP, Vol XXIII. 1897, p. 365.

[17] R.S. Lowry, ‘On Coaling Ships or Squadrons on the Open Sea ’ Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Journal 1883, p. 386.

[18] ONI, Notes on Coaling Warships, Washington : 1899. p. 15.

[19] Cit. op. 16.

[20] R.A. Burt, British Battleships 1889-1904. Naval Institute Press: Annapolis , 1988. p. 26.

[21] Memorandum by Capt. Wonham, 1905. NA. ADM 1/7827.

[22] Coaling Vessels at Sea, USNIP. Vol. XXVI. 1900, p. 211.

[23] Cit. op. 24.

[24] “Coaling at Sea”, The Engineer, Vol. 89, 27th July 1900 . pp. 84-86.

[25] Spencer Miller, Coaling of the U. S. S. Massachusetts at Sea. Transaction of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, ( New York ) Vol. VIII, 1900. pp. 155-165.

[26] USNA. RG. 80, Box 114.

[27] Spencer Miller, Coaling Warships at Sea – Recent Developments. Transaction of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, ( New York ) Vol. XII, 1904. pp. 177-199.

[28] Cit. Op. 24.

[29] Memorandum by Controller of the Navy, 28th November 1903 . NA. ADM1/7748 .

[30] Correspondence, November – December 1904, NA ADM 1/7824.

[31] NA. ADM 1/8725.

[32] Report by Captain Wonham, 1905. NA. ADM 1/8727

[33] Director of Stores to 4th Sea Lord, 22nd October 1906 . NA. MT 23-201.

[34] Report of Conference on Coaling at Sea held at the Admiralty on 3rd December 1906 . NA. ADM 1/8004

[35] ibid.

[36] NA ADM 1/8269

[37] Jahrbuch der Schiffbautechnischen Gesellschaft Vol. VII, 1906. p. 489, USNA RG. 38 Box 835 .

[38] USNA. RG. 38 Box 837 .

[39] The opening of the Panama Canal in 1913 also reduced the requirement for the USN.

[40] Edwin P. Hoyt, The Last Cruise of the Emden , White Lion, London : 1975. p. 150.

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