The Navy as a Fighting Machine eBook

Bradley Fiske
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 353 pages of information about The Navy as a Fighting Machine.

It is often said that Germany is an empire and the United States a republic, and that therefore the military methods of Germany cannot be employed here.  The inference is not necessarily correct, however, as is shown by the excellence of the army of France; for, France, although a republic, insists that military strategy only shall control and direct the army.  The American Congress can do the same with the American navy.  Whether Congress shall so decide or not, the decision will undoubtedly be wise; and we of the navy will do our utmost to make the navy all it should be.  In this connection, it should be noted that: 

1.  Germany has been following a certain strategic system regarding the navy; we a system different from that of any other navy, which has been used now for about one hundred and forty years.  Both systems have been in operation for a time sufficiently long to warrant our comparing them, by comparing the results they have achieved.

2.  The German navy has been in existence a much shorter time than the American navy, belongs to a much less populous and wealthy country, and yet is not only about 30 per cent larger in material, and more than 100 per cent larger in trained personnel, but if we judge by maneuvers carried on in both peace and war, is much better in organization, morale, and capacity for doing naval work upon the ocean.  We do not, of course, know what Germany has been doing since the war began on August 1, 1914; but all accounts show that Germany, like all the other belligerent Powers, has been adding units of material and personnel to her navy much more rapidly than they have been destroyed; as well as perfecting her strategy, under the influence of the war’s stimulus.  Leaving out of consideration, however, what she may have been doing since the war began, and neglecting any unauthenticated accounts of her status before it started, we know positively that in 1913 the maneuvers of the German fleet were executed by a force of 21 battleships, 3 battle cruisers, 5 small cruisers, 6 flotillas of destroyers (that is 66 seagoing torpedo vessels), 11 submarines, an airship, a number of aeroplanes and special service ships, and 22 mine-sweepers—­all in one fleet, all under one admiral, and maneuvered as a unit. This was nearly three years ago, and we have never come anywhere near such a performance.  In January, 1916, the United States Atlantic fleet, capable as to both material and personnel of going to sea and maneuvering together, consisted of 15 battleships and 23 destroyers, 2 mine-depot ships, and 1 mine-training ship, and 4 tugs fitted as mine-sweepers—­with no submarines, no aircraft of any kind, no scouts (unless the Chester be so considered, which was cruising alone off the coast of Liberia, and the Birmingham, which was flag-ship to the destroyer flotilla).  This was the only fleet that we had ready to fight in January, 1916; because, although more battleships could have been put into commission,

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The Navy as a Fighting Machine from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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