The Evolution of the Modern Warship.

We may now pass on from the history of the doings of the British Navy to the history of the ships themselves, and the appliances with which our sailors fought. We have seen that in the time of King Alfred, when the Navy, properly so-called, came into existence, ships had but one deck, or were nearly altogether open, and had but one or two masts with large square sails, being propelled in calms and contrary winds by long oars. For purposes of offence they were fitted with beaks or rams to pierce the sides of the enemy, and were provided with catapults or other engines for hurling missiles, and with tubes for projecting Greek fire to create smoke and set their opponent on fire. The main tactics of the time, however, consisted in grappling with the enemy and transforming the combat into a hand-to-hand mêlée.

When cannon were first mounted on board ship, about the year 1335, they were fired over the bulwarks, and the gunners were thus fully exposed to the enemy’s fire. About the year 1500, however, the Dutch introduced the modern practice of pointing the guns through ports in the ship’s side, so that the gunners would be sheltered from all shot that could not pierce the sides. This improvement was soon universally adopted, and by the beginning of the sixteenth century, ships resembling on the whole the sailing ship of modern times had been evolved, having one or two tiers of guns. But as the fight was still at comparatively close quarters—owing to the guns being small, and of no great range,—warships were fitted with cumbrous “forecastles” and “aftercastles” (see illustration on page 69), and with heavy tops on the masts, to contain musketeers, in order to command the enemy’s deck. These features greatly detracted from their seaworthiness, and made them unwieldy, cumbrous craft.

As the centuries went on, experience gradually remedied the mistakes of the earlier builders. Artillery also was improved, and tactics no longer depended to the same extent on boarding and hand-to-hand fighting. High “forecastles” and “aftercastles,” and heavy tops, thus became of little use and were discarded, as were also the oars used on smaller craft, as the art of sailing became better understood and vessels more seaworthy. For similar reasons the navigating and fighting sections of the crew, hitherto distinct, were merged into one, only a small number of “marines,” as they are now called, being retained to perform military duties for which fully trained seamen were not required.

English naval architects seem to have had little inventive genius till a late period. The early ships were all imitations from the Genoese or other maritime people of the Mediterranean, while latterly the best vessels were either taken from the French or else copied from them. For instance the model for all the 80-gun ships built at the beginning of the nineteenth century was the Canopus, which was taken from the French, under the name of Franklin, at the Battle of the Nile in 1798. The Belleisle, a “74,” captured in 1795, bore a conspicuous part in the battle of Trafalgar. Many frigates also, whose names are known to fame, were acquired in the same way and performed useful service against their former possessors.

In the early part of the eighteenth century British men-of-war were of insufficient size for the guns they were made to carry, with the result they worked and sailed heavily, while in heavy weather their lower batteries could seldom be used. The smaller the vessel the thinner is her planking, and the more liable are her crew and structure to suffer from the shot of the enemy. Other nations realised this long before we did, especially the Americans, who built forty-four gun frigates almost as large as our “seventy-fours,” while their planking was even thicker. This, of course, told heavily against us in the war with the United States, but we were taught a lesson which perhaps helped us later on. In truth Britain’s battles were won not because her ships were superior in size or armament to those of other nations but on account of the pluck, courage, determination, and good seamanship of British officers and crews, and because the latter had been well trained to use their guns.

At last British naval architects woke up from their long lethargy and began to think for themselves. Till the end of the eighteenth century the ships were flat-sterned with heavy “quarter-galleries” projecting from the side at the stern, while their bows below water were bluff with long projecting beak-heads which, to avoid weight, were but flimsy structures, affording no protection whatever to the crew. In 1805 Sir Robert Seppings remedied this defect by constructing a solid circular bow right up to the main-deck, thus protecting the crew from raking shot. A dozen years later the same designer abolished the quarter-galleries, and introduced the neater and stronger circular stern. From this time forward, improvements were considerable and rapid until about 1860, when the ironclad settled the fate of the “wooden walls” that had protected England for well-nigh a thousand years.

But, while the sailing ship was being brought to its highest perfection, it was on the eve of being supplanted altogether. In 1769, Watt took out his first patent for the steam engine, and in October 1788 Mr Miller, of Dalswinton in Scotland, first applied the new motive power to propel a vessel. An engine was placed on a frame, fixed between two pleasure boats, and made to turn two paddle-wheels, one in front of the other—the invention of William Symington—which drove the improvised steamer across Dalswinton Loch, at the rate of five miles an hour. The first practical steamer, however, was not built till 1801, when Lord Dundas, taking advantage of Mr Miller’s labours, after spending 7000 pounds on experiments in two years, built the Charlotte Dundas. It was intended to work her on the Forth and Clyde Canal, but the proprietors having objected that she would damage the banks, she was laid up, as was a second boat.

In 1804, John Stephens of Hoboken, near New York, built a small vessel 22 feet in length, which ran at the rate of seven or eight miles an hour, and Fulton soon afterwards introduced steamers on the Hudson. In the year 1812 the Comet was launched by Henry Bell, a ship carpenter of Helensburgh, and began to ply on the Clyde, being the first British steamer that ran regularly with passengers. The Comet was of 40 feet keel, 25 tons burthen, and 3 horse-power. The second steamer launched on the Clyde was the Elizabeth, in 1813, and the year following, Mr Fife of Fairlie launched the Industry, which was in use for upwards of fifty years. After this, steam navigation rapidly increased, steamers being introduced on the Thames in 1815.

The first war steamer ever built, was constructed by Fulton during the war between the United States and Great Britain in 1814, It was a large vessel after the plan of the first experimental steamer, two vessels with the paddles between them, evidently to protect them from the enemy’s shot. This vessel was intended to carry 30 guns, and was fitted with machinery to discharge hot water through the port-holes, by which the ammunition of the enemy would be rendered useless, and her crew scalded to death, if they attempted to come to close quarters. She was also said to be armed with numerous cutlasses and pikes moved to and fro by machinery, so that the boarding would be impossible, while it was supposed that her paddles would enable her to keep ahead or astern of her enemy, so that the broadside guns could not be trained on her. It is doubtful, however, if this marvellous production was ever actually completed, and as her machinery could only have been imperfectly protected, she might have been disabled and left at her enemy’s mercy.

Some years later the Americans had the honour of performing the first Atlantic voyage under steam, with the Savannah, which arrived at Liverpool on July 15th 1819, after a voyage of 26 days from New York. Six years later the Enterprise, an English vessel, made the longer voyage to India.

Some years passed before it occurred to the Admiralty that steamers could be of any use to the Navy, and it was not till 1823 that they purchased the Monkey tug, which, not withstanding its undignified name and humble employment, had the honour of being the first steam-vessel belonging to the Royal Navy. She was a vessel of about 212 tons, and 80 horse-power, and did good service in her day. Both Admiralty and naval officers held steamers,—“smoke-jacks,” or “tea-kettles,” they were generally called—in great contempt, supposing that their only possible use would be as despatch-boats, or as tugs. It was reasoned that paddles would be so readily disabled in action, that it would be useless to fit them to fighting ships. However, after a year or so, several steam-sloops and frigates were built which took some part in the Syrian and Chinese wars, as also in operations in the Parana. In none of these wars, however, were they subjected to any severe test of their liability to damage under fire.

All possible difficulties on this latter score, were solved in 1834, when Mr Francis Pettit Smith invented the screw propeller, which works wholly under water. He succeeded in propelling a small model by this means on his father’s horsepond at Hendon, in Middlesex, and in 1836 he took out a patent for his invention. The idea was old; in 1775, Bushnell, an American, had utilised it to propel a submarine boat, but up till then, practical difficulties in working had not been solved.

Smith was neither a naval man nor an engineer, and for some time, neither Admiralty, engineers, nor naval men believed that the invention would work with sufficient power to drive a ship against the wind. Fortunately others thought differently, and in 1836, a vessel of 10 tons, with an engine of 6 horse-power, was built and successfully tried, first on the Paddington Canal, and then on the Thames. Finally, it put out to sea, and demonstrated by its behaviour in severe weather, that the screw was equally successful in rough water.

This turned the scales in favour of the screw. A larger boat was built, which showed her powers to the Lords of the Admiralty, by towing their barge to Blackwall and back, at the average rate of 10 miles an hour. Still they were not convinced, and it was not for a couple of years or so that they took the matter up, after a successful voyage made by the Archimedes, the first sea-going screw steamer. They then built a small craft called the Bee, fitted with both paddles and screw, to try which was the better means of propulsion. The screw had the best of it, and after the further experiment of building two vessels of the same size and power, the one with paddles the other with a screw, and finding the screw still superior, it was finally adopted as an auxiliary to the sails. Little thought the naval experts of that period, that another fifty years or so would see both sails and wooden ships quite obsolete—as far as the Navy was concerned at any rate.

These experiments showed clearly that the screw was absolutely essential to every warship, as in a calm, the finest sailing ship would be at the mercy of any small steamer, armed with long-range guns. Thus while new vessels were laid down specially designed to carry screws, wherever it was found possible to do so, all the efficient battleships and frigates were fitted with auxiliary engines. Of course these converted sailing ships, not having been designed for the purpose, could only carry engines of small power, still, it was a case of half a loaf being better than no bread, and was the best that could be done under the circumstances.

The first propellers were in the form of an ordinary screw thread, but it was soon found that separate fans were equally satisfactory, and more convenient to make. Much discomfort was caused by the excessive vibration caused by the early screws, but various improvements in their design reduced this. The fans of the screws are now attached by means of; bolts to a hollow sphere on the end of the shaft, and should a fan be damaged, it can be readily replaced. At first all screws were so constructed, that they could be lifted up through a well when sails alone were being used, so that it would not impede the ship. The funnels, too, being made to shut up like a telescope, a steamer could thus be easily turned into a sailing ship.

At the very time that the screw propeller was initiating a revolution in the method of steam propulsion, another revolution was taking place in shipbuilding material. Iron barges had been used as far back as 1787, and an iron steamer had been built at Tipton about the year 1821, but for another twenty years iron ships were not viewed with favour, and only began to force their way to the front about the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria. Even then they were deemed utterly unsuitable for war vessels, as being very difficult to repair and keep afloat when perforated by the enemy’s shot, as they must inevitably be in action. But in the course of time, the iron vessel naturally raised the possibility of protecting warships by armour, and the matter, was forced to the front when gunmakers followed the lead of the shipbuilders and engineers, and set themselves to see what could be done in the way of improving ordnance, that had remained practically unchanged for hundreds of years, saving for more accurate workmanship.

Up till this time, only solid round-shot had been used on shipboard. An attempt had been made to get Napoleon the First to sanction the use of shells for naval use; fortunately, for some reason or other, he declined to do so, and thus our great struggle for naval supremacy was carried on with the solid round-shot that had been in vogue from the earliest introduction of cannon. The smooth-bore cannon from which they were fired, could not be relied on to project them with accuracy to distances greater than about 1500 yards; beyond this range, their flight became so erratic, that it was simply a waste of ammunition to fire them. Whitworth and Armstrong set themselves to solve the problem of how to make cannon shoot better.

The experiments of Whitworth and Armstrong resulted in the production of rifled guns, based on a principle that had already been tried with success in small-arms. The rifling enabled long conical shot to be fired with far greater accuracy than the old round-shot, and as these conical shot were two or three times as heavy as the round-shot that could be fired from a gun of the same bore, the guns of a given bore had only to be rifled to be suddenly raised to a much heavier grade, supposing them to be strong enough to stand the heavier charge of powder required. Not only that, but their range would be much greater, and their shot would pass through both sides of the stoutest ship in existence. For, when fired at wooden targets identical in material and thickness with the side of a ship, the projectiles went through them as if they had been paper, or, if shells were used, tore them to pieces. Even strong iron plates failed to withstand their impact. The thinner plates they tore open; as the thickness was increased, they first buried their heads in the metal, but stuck fast; then indented it only; and finally glanced off, but not until the plate had been made 4 or 5 inches thick.

Further progress was also made by the invention of breech loaders, which gave an increased rate of fire to these already formidable weapons, and to make matters still worse, much larger guns than had ever been made before could now be constructed without difficulty, and naval men justly began to feel uncomfortable about the safety of our “wooden walls.”

In 1859, the French led the way by constructing the Gloire, which was covered with thick iron plates, and our Admiralty had to face the task of constructing ironclad ships, and of armouring existing ships, pending the construction of others. One thing was very plain; the existing high-sided ships could not carry the weight of even the thinnest armour that would be of any service.

In 1861, the Warrior was produced in answer to the  French Gloire. She was a frigate-built vessel doing 14 knots, and carried thirty-two heavy guns, 200 feet only of her length of 310 feet were armoured with iron plates 4 and a half inches thick—which was proof against any guns then existing—as it was thought that her seaworthiness would be impaired if the great weight of the armour were extended to the two ends. But to protect the vessel from raking shot—that is, shots fired at her when bow on, or stern on, to the enemy—armoured partitions, or “bulkheads”, as they are called, were provided.

In 1861, ships of the type of the Minotaur were built, armoured from stem to stern. These were considered monster ships at the time, as they had a displacement of, 10,627 tons and were 400 feet in length. Their speed was 14 or 15 knots, attained by engines of 6,700 horse-power. The bow was constructed on the ram principle, projecting some distance under the water, and her sides were covered with iron plates 5 inches thick, tapering off in thickness, however, as they approached the bow. Further, she was divided into many compartments below water, with watertight doors, so that if pierced, either in action or by grounding, she might still be kept afloat. She was fitted with five masts, made partly of iron, while her armament consisted of thirty-four 12-ton and  18-ton guns. Her cost was, 478,000 pounds but she and her sister ships the Agincourt andNorthumberland did not come up to their expectations, being found unwieldy on account of their great length, while in a few years it was found that their armour was not thick enough to withstand the more powerful guns that were being manufactured.

The next type of design was that of the Hercules, the prototype of the “citadel” design. This ship was protected from end to end by much thicker armour than had hitherto been used, but instead of carrying the armour right up to the upper deck, to save weight it was in the form of a narrow belt protecting a few feet above and below the water line only, except amidships, where it was carried up to the upper deck, forming a “citadel,” inside which her ten 18-ton and 12-ton guns were well protected. In this way her guns, waterline, and engines—or “vitals,” as these are known for short—were fully protected at the expense of less vital parts of the ship. Though smaller and less expensive than the Minotaur she was a far more efficient ship. Her broadside was 1818 pounds. The Sultan, another ship of much the same type, had a broadside of 1964 pounds. During the early sixties another type of vessel came  to the front. Captain Coles had invented the “turret,” which consisted of a turn-table or revolving platform, round which was a shield of thick armour, turning with it: the top was also closed in. In the shield was a very small port for the gun—which was aimed by revolving the turret till it pointed at the required object. The crew was thus completely protected from the enemy’s fire.

In the American Civil War the Federals or Northerners, had provided two of their wooden frigates with these turrets and sent them to attack theMerrimac, a cut-down wooden frigate which had been armoured and provided with a ram. The Merrimac steamed up to the Congress, delivering her fire with awful effect, and then proceeding towards the Cumberland, ran into her near the bow, ripping an enormous rent in her side, and hung on by her own sharp prow while she fired into the fractured chasm. She then backed out and repeated her tremendous onslaught, suffering little from the fire of her enemy, till the latter went down. She next attacked the Congress with shells, which killed the greater number of the Federal crew, and in half-an-hour the few survivors hauled down their colours.

Later on the Merrimac was attacked by the armoured Monitor. The two ships hammered away at one another for many hours without result; only five men were killed after a five hours action, for the armour beat the gun.

The result of these actions made it clear that turret-ships to be of any use must be armoured, and as a first experiment it was decided to cut-down the Royal Sovereign, a ship of the size of the Duke of Wellington. Her masts and her three upper decks were taken off, her lower-deck alone remaining, so that she was cut-down almost to the water’s edge. Massive plates of iron were fastened to her sides and deck, thus converting her into an ironclad, while four turrets were sunk into the deck in a line fore and aft, three of them containing one huge gun each, firing 300-pound shot, while the fourth and foremost turret contained two guns. The muzzles of the guns were only a little way above the deck, and the bulwarks were hinged so that when the guns were to be fired they could be dropped over the side so as not to be in the way.

Amidships was a circular armoured box, rather higher than the turrets, called the “conning-tower.” Here the captain took his stand in time of action, communicating with the engines, turrets, and other parts of the ship, by speaking tubes. In more recent ships the vessel is also steered from the conning-tower in time of action. Such was our first converted ironclad turret-ship. She was, however, found to be of little value, drawing too much water to serve for harbour defence, and not being handy enough at sea in manoeuvring.

Turret-ships, as first constructed, were very heavily, armoured, and in consequence rather unseaworthy. Being intended for coast defence only, they always had a harbour available in bad weather, and sails were not required as they were never far from a coal supply.

In 1869, however, Sir Edward Reed designed the first sea-going turret-ships, properly so-called, taking the bold step, as it seemed then, of providing no sails. These were the Devastation and Thunderer, which, despite many faults, proved to be serviceable ships for  over thirty years. These were ships of, 9,330 tons, and 14 knots speed, and the annexed picture gives their general appearance. Their hulls were protected by 12-inch armour, and the turrets by 14-inch armour, while an important improvement was introduced by providing what is called a “protective deck,” that is, a horizontal deck, of armour several inches thick, which prevents shot from penetrating to the engines, etcetera, below. Their armament consisted of four 35-ton guns firing 600-pound shot, and as all these guns could fire on either side, their broadside was, 2,400 pounds. Their crews were composed of only 300 men, and though they cost about 150,000 pounds less than the Minotaur they were far more efficient and powerful warships. They lay very low in the water, their bows rising only 9 feet above it, while the stern was even lower, being only 4 and a half feet above the waterline. Amidships, however, the deck was raised some 6 or 8 feet higher.

Between the two turrets was a large superstructure, the walls of which curved outwards all over the top. A passage passed through it from side to side, in which were the doors leading to the hatchways and to the hurricane deck above, on which were the conning  tower, wheels, etcetera. The boats were also carried on this deck, high above the water, so that there was no obstruction to the firing of the guns in the turrets below.

It might have been supposed, that a ship so low in the water could not venture out to sea in rough weather, but, though her forecastle was frequently completely submerged in a heavy sea, she has behaved very well.

Other turret ships, however, had been built a year or two earlier with masts and sails, and bows of ordinary height. At first these ships were over-masted and canvassed, but after one of them, the Captain, capsized during a gale in the Bay of Biscay, this defect was remedied. This class was represented by the Monarch, completed in 1869, a vessel of 8930 tons, and 15 knots speed. She carried seven guns, those in the turrets weighing 25 tons.

The turret-ship reached its highest development in the year 1876, when the Inflexible was designed. By this time, guns had so greatly increased in power, that the thickness of armour required to withstand their shot was very great, and, as this involved an enormous addition to the dead weight that had to be carried, some means had to be devised whereby an efficient protection could be carried. The “central citadel” form of design was that finally adopted, in which the armour was concentrated on a citadel in the centre of the vessel, amply protecting the engines, turrets, and other “vitals” of the ship, the rest of the hull being left wholly unprotected, save for a “protective deck,” about the level of the waterline. This deck being horizontal, would always be struck by shot at a very oblique angle, hence its thickness afforded a much greater amount of protection—about double—than if placed vertically on the sides.

The Inflexible was a ship of 11,800 tons, and was driven at a speed of nearly 13 knots, by engines of 6,500 horse-power. The turrets were arranged one on each side of the ship, and thus enabled to fire both ahead and astern or on the broadside. These turrets were protected by armour 18 inches thick, and each carried two 80-ton guns, firing a 1700-pound shot to a  distance of eight miles. These monster muzzle-loading guns were loaded from outside the turret, by means of hydraulic machinery. The armour on the sides was 2 feet thick, and the vessel was divided into 135 compartments, so that she would not be readily sunk. The Inflexible was the last of the turret-ships properly so-called. She was not the success that had been hoped; her engine power, which gave only 12 and a half knots, had been sacrificed to obtain heavier armament and protection, and as she was slower than much older ships, she was laid aside before vessels launched earlier than she was. About this time, the combination of several important factors worked a revolution in warship design. The Russo-Turkish war of 1878-79, taught that a torpedo was a more important element in naval warfare than had been imagined. Launches going at the rate of 18 or 20 miles an hour, covered a mile in about three minutes, and if they attacked at night, were so small, quick-moving, and indistinguishable, that they could attack the most powerful battleship with little risk of  being hit by the snap shots of the few slow-firing heavy guns, with which modern ships were armed.

The machine gun was first introduced to meet this danger; it could send a continuous shower of rifle bullets at the approaching boat, and riddle and sink her before she got near enough to do mischief; but when torpedo boats began to be armoured with iron plates, proof not only against rifle bullets, but even against the heavier Hotchkiss and Nordenfeldt half-pounder guns, except at very close ranges, it was seen that an armament of small guns was desirable to repel torpedo boats, or to be used against unarmoured cruisers, whose superior speed would soon take them out of danger from the slow-firing heavy guns. Another factor was the introduction of longer guns, and what are termed “slow burning” powders. These last do not explode with such sudden violence as the ordinary powder, so that there is less sudden strain on the gun, while a steadier pressure on the shot is kept up. The long gun enables the pressure of the gases formed by the burning powder to act longer on the shot, with the result that a higher velocity is given to it, not only increasing its range, but also its penetrative power.

The result of these improvements was to some extent a repetition of what had taken place when rifled guns were first introduced. Guns could be made lighter, and yet be much more powerful than the old patterns of the same bore, and it was seen that a ship could with advantage be provided with a “secondary” armament, as it is called of these smaller yet powerful guns. Armour, too, was being improved, so that it could be made thinner and yet equally effective; higher speeds were also called for, and it was evident that warships must be designed on different lines to meet or take advantage of the new conditions.

The first ship designed on the new lines was the Collingwood, a vessel of 9,500 tons, 16 and a half knots speed, and 7,000 horse-power. She was the first ship of what was called the “Admiral class,”—several sister ships named after famous admirals. The four heavy guns of the Devastationtype of turret-ship were retained, mounted fore and aft, but instead of placing them in turrets, the turret armour was fixed to the deck, forming what is known as a “barbette,” or breastwork, over the upper edge of which the gun fired. Inside the barbette the gun revolved on its turn-table; its breech, together with the gunners, was protected by a hood of armour which revolved with the gun. This arrangement is probably less liable to be knocked out of action by the enemy’s shot than the turret.

Amidships was the “secondary” armament of six 6-inch breech-loading guns. All the guns were mounted well above the water, enabling them to be used even in a heavy sea, which could not be done in the case of ships lying low in the water like the Devastation.

A further impetus was given to the development of the secondary armament by the introduction of “smokeless” powder—which, however, gives avery slight smoke,—and the “quick-firing gun.” By simplifying the breech mechanism, using metal cartridge cases for the ammunition instead of silk bags—which necessitated the sponging out of the piece after each shot to remove the smouldering fragments—arranging the “sights” of the gun so that it could be aimed while loading was going on, and other ingenious arrangements, it was found that 6-inch 100-pounder guns could be fired many times per minute without any mechanical appliances. About the same time also, means were found of firing with safety what are called “high explosives,” that is, explosives of far greater destructive power than the same weight of gunpowder. Similar improvements were naturally extended to the larger guns, and thus there has been a reversion to the type of ships mounting a fair number of guns, the lighter ones, firing shells of 100 pounds, being intended to wreck the unarmoured portions of the enemy, and demoralise his crew; the heavier ones, 200-pounders, 380-pounders, and 850-pounders, being adapted to pierce the armour and destroy the guns or the machinery. Some idea of the terrible power of modern quick-fire guns may be obtained when it is mentioned that a modern ship, armed with one 6-inch 100-pounder gun could fire—and hit every time too, at three-quarters-of-a-mile range—a greater weight of metal per minute than could be kept up by the 52 guns on the broadside of Nelson’s Victory, or even by the broadside of the more modern Britannia.

Such are the types of the principal battleships constructed up to nearly the end of the nineteenth century, and we may now glance at the cruisers.

The frigate of the olden days, used for scouting and cruising, was the favourite ship in the great wars, as they bore off the greatest proportion of prize-money, and afforded their commanders greater opportunities of gaining promotion and distinction. As already mentioned, the French built faster and finer craft of this description than we did, and Nelson was always complaining that we had not a sufficient number of swift frigates to keep down whose of the enemy.

The frigates had from 28 to 50 guns, and did not vary much in general design, although the Americans taught us to build them of larger size and of thicker planking. When steam was introduced, engines were fitted to these cruisers, and they were given a few knots superior speed to the line-of-battle-ships. To enable them to keep the sea for long periods without their bottoms becoming fouled by marine growths—which decrease the speed—their iron hulls were sheathed wood, which in its turn was covered by copper. Ships of this type were not armoured. The Shah, which fought the Huascar in 1877, was a ship of this description; she carried 26 heavy guns, and had a speed of 16 knots.

Other vessels were specially designed as rams. The sinking of the powerful battleships Vanguard, in the Irish sea, and Victoria, in the Mediterranean, after accidental collision with the ram of another ship in the squadron, shows the terrible effect of this weapon when it can strike home. But torpedoes render it highly improbable that the opportunity of using it will ever arise. Modern naval battles will probably be fought and decided, at the minimum range of 2 miles, or thereby.