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to attack the fleets of the enemy, and, by defeating them, to afford protection to British dominions, shipping, and commerce. This is the ultimate aim.
To use the word defence would be misleading, because the word carries with it the idea of a thing to be defended, which would divert attention to local defence, instead of fixing it on the force from which attack is to be expected.
The traditional role of the British Navy is not to act on the defensive, but to prepare to attack the force which threatens--in other words, to assume the offensive.
The strength and composition of the British Navy, or of any British squadron, depends, therefore, upon the strength and composition of the hostile forces which it is liable to meet.
If the scheme of naval concentration which was carried out by a later Board of Admiralty is studied in the light of these general principles, the Colonies, east, west, and south, will readily understand that it was effected not less in their interests than in that of the people of the United Kingdom. So long as our relations with Mediterranean Powers were less than cordial most of the powerful battleships of the Fleet were stationed in the Mediterranean, because this was the “danger area.” This distribution was effected because in time of peace British naval power must be so disposed as to enable it to defend the Empire by immediately attacking the enemy or enemies before he or they can take the offensive. For exactly the same reason the battle fleets of the British Navy are now to be seen in more northern waters. The further the operations can be kept from the great Colonies the better for them.
At the same time the British naval authorities have not forgotten the vast interests outside European waters. German man-of-war in the Far West and the Far East, as in the Pacific, the British Navy maintains four. It will, therefore, be readily seen that if the British struggle to meet the heavily increased cost of naval armaments becomes too onerous, the natural tendency will be to reduce the British naval representation outside European waters, since this is the least essential feature in the British naval arrangements in view of the fact that the safety of the Empire in time of war will depend not upon detached incidents, but upon the success with which the enemy's battle fleets are searched out and defeated. Those battle fleets are in Europe. There is no European navy which has to-day a single battleship outside European waters, and when the American Fleet on its “ all the world” tour has arrived back in the Atlantic, Japan, Great Britain's ally, will be the only Power with a battle fleet in the Far East.
Australian colonists have always shown a lack of appreciation of the wisdom of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, but when-or if-it ceases to be effective they will look back with regret to its influence on policy in the Pacific, and on their own immediate security. When Japan ceases to be the ally of Great Britain, there is no prospect under existing fiscal arrangements that the British Navy will be in a position to detach a battle fleet to the Far East. In ordinary circumstances this defensive alliance will come to an end at the very time when Great Britain will be in the throes of a life-and-death struggle for the continuance of her naval supremacy, and that will not be the moment when the Admiralty will detach a large naval force to Far Eastern waters to neutralise the power of Japan vis-à-vis to the Australian Colonies.
COLONIAL NAVAL POLICY. In view of all the circumstances of the hour and the forebodings of the future, what attitude do the British Colonies intend to assume towards the maintenance of the Navy? What are they doing at the present? Canada does not contribute a cent towards the heavy burden of expenditure which the Navy entails, and the present scale of contributions of other distant parts of the Empire may be seen from the following short statement :
contributed. Maintenance of his Majes
ty's ships in Indian 100,000
Maintenance of Australian Australian Commonwealth Squadron and the estabNew Zealand
lishment of a branch of
the Royal Naval Reserve Cape Colony General maintenance of
35,000 Maintenance of branch of Newfoundland
3,000 Royal Naval Reserve These brief particulars call for some explanation. Natal stands out among the British Colonies as the one which in proportion of its population does most to aid the Mother Country in maintaining the Fleet. With a population of less than 70,000 Europeans she contributes most liberally to the naval funds, and, like Cape Colony, she makes her contribution without reserve to be employed by the Admiralty as they think best in the general interests of the Empire. Cape Colony and Natal evince the true Imperial spirit, realising that the security of the Empire depends not on isolated efforts towards naval defence, but upon the supreme power of an Imperial Fleet of commanding strength. In the Australian Colonies and in Newfoundland are to be found the cancer which may eventually lead to gravest consequences to the Empire. In the first place, the Australian
Colonies, having in the past endeavoured to tie down the Australian squadron to local defence rather than unrestricted co-operation in Imperial defence, have embarked upon the task of creating an Australian Fleet. Steps have already been taken
. with a view to diverting the present contribution from the British Fleet to the upkeep of an Australian flotilla, though no one has yet convinced a single naval officer of distinction as to the utility of such a force in time of war. So long as peace reigns, such efforts as the Commonwealth might make would no doubt be a matter of legitimate pride, but in a period of stress when the whole Empire was struggling for its existence, of what avail would be the presence on the Australian coast of a few cruisers, probably inefficient because detached and therefore lacking the spirit of emulation to be found in a large fleet? The fate of the Empire will be decided not by a few cruisers and torpedo craft, but by great sea fleets, such as only the whole Empire can provide and concentrate in the hour of peril, so to take the offensive against any enemy, in the East or West, as soon as war threatens.
THE FLEET IN NO NEED OF COLONIAL RESERVES. Other indications of unsound naval policy, which are to be found in the Australian Colonies and Newfoundland, are based upon the idea that the British people are unable to man the Fleet. A moment's reflection should show that there is no foundation for this suggestion. This summer 325 men-of-war were placed on a war footing in the North Sea, in addition to the forces on duty abroad, and there remained ashore large numbers of regular officers and men and about 60,000 trained reservists. The Mother Country stands in no need of colonial assistance for manning the ships which fly the White Ensign and which would defend British interests in time of war. The population of the United Kingdom is now approximately fortyfour millions, and for the requirements of the Fleet, including officers and men of the regular and reserve forces, less than 200,000 are required. Therefore to meet the manning requirements of the Navy only about 09 per cent. of the male population are needed. A few years ago Viscount Goschen, when First Lord of the Admiralty, congratulated the country on the fact that the Admiralty could pick and choose among the men and boys who offered themselves at the recruiting stations.
For every boy entered in the training ships at that time seven or eight were rejected. The conditions of service in the Fleet have since been improved and the pay and allowances increased. Life in the Navy
(1) British emigrants each year are nearly twice as numerous.
is more attractive to-day than it ever was in the past. The men still work hard, but they enjoy more privileges, are better paid, and are better fed. The hard naval biscuit will soon be a curiosity afloat now that every large ship is being provided with a bakery. It is probably an under-estimate to state that the concessions which have been made in the past five years to the lower deck of the Fleet, and which have materially contributed to greater comfort and content, cost the country annually a sum exceeding a quarter of a million sterling. In addition to these concessions, the prospects of promotion to the higher ranks have been improved, and any intelligent, well-behaved lad who now signs on for service in his Majesty's Fleet may look forward to rising to the rank of lieutenant, with a pension and provision for those dependent upon him in case of death equivalent to the allowances made in the case of officers who have not reached the quarter-deck
through the hawsehole."
There is less difficulty to-day in manning the Fleet than ever before. The Admiralty can apply a strict process of selection, and in intelligence and in mechanical aptitude the type of man to be found on the lower decks of his Majesty's ships continues to improve. It may be that physically the men are not of the same heavy build as in the past. The Fleet requires to-day men of mental rather than physical strength. Practically all the operations which were once performed by manual labour are now carried on by machinery, and the role of the men of the Fleet is to control the various mechanical operations. Muscle is not so much required as mind, and the most essential ratings of the Navy can be best obtained not from the fishing population of the coast, or from agricultural districts, but from the towns and great industrial centres, where the children obtain all the advantages of free education, and where their minds acquire an acuteness of perception and a quickness of movement which are not to be found in the children in fishing villages or in the dull monotony of agricultural districts.
NAVY'S LIMITED NEED OF MEN. The Navy's need of men is strictly limited. It is a popular delusion to suppose that it is essential to the war efficiency of the Fleet that the Admiralty should have practically unlimited resources of men for the lower deck from which to draw in time of war.
This misunderstanding dates back to the Napoleonic
The guns then were of short range. The weapons carried by the Victory could be employed only at about 300 yards; actions were necessarily fought, therefore, at close range, and frequently developed into hand-to-hand encounters as ship gripped
ship in the stern, final struggle, and boarding parties swarmed over the deck of an enemy. In these circumstances the loss of life was heavy, and the destruction of material was comparatively slight. The whole conditions governing naval warfare have since been revolutionised. To-day the big guns mounted in the Fleet can carry upwards of twenty miles, and can be used with precision at distances up to five miles. The torpedo will run at the rate of twenty-eight miles for two and a half miles. Wireless telegraphy enables an admiral to communicate for several hundred miles swiftly and accurately. He may send out his scouts far over the horizon, and yet be receiving reports every hour of all that is happening in their vicinity. There is now being completed for the British Fleet a scouting ship, the Swift, which has been designed to steam at thirty-six knots an hour, and which, it is confidently anticipated, will considerably exceed this speed. The Fleet already contains many cruisers which under service conditions can travel from twenty-three to twentyfour knots an hour, and apart from the Dreadnought, which has a sea speed of about twenty-one knots, possesses a large number of battleships which under pressure can maintain a speed of nineteen knots.
These changes in the material of the Fleet have radically affected the conditions of naval warfare. Actions will be fought
. not at 200 or 300 yards, but at 5,000 to 8,000 yards or more, since it is at such extreme distances that the beautifully fashioned guns of to-day can be used with best effect; while at the same time the menace of the torpedo is greatly minimised. The net result of these developments is that in battles of the future the ships themselves are more likely to be pounded out of recognition than the officers and men protected by armour are likely to be killed. The Committee on Naval Reserves, which sat five years ago with Sir Edward Grey as chairman, and included among its members the present Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward H. Seymour, Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson, and ViceAdmiral the Hon. Sir Hedworth Lambton, very carefully investigated the requirements of the Navy, in the matter of officers and men. They came to the conclusion that “the wastage of ships would exceed the wastage of their crews, and so set free officers and men from employment from the official war fleet. In other words, war experience shows that naval actions in future will result in a number of ships being placed hors de combat, and these vessels will creep back into port for repairs. A wise Admiralty will have already in reserve other ships efficient for sea, and the officers and men of the ships requiring repairs will immediately be passed over to those reserve vessels, and will