HMS Elizabeth Jonas (1559)

The Elizabeth Jonas of 1559 was the first large English galleon, built in Deptford from 1557 and launched in July 1559.

With a nominal burden of 800 tons, she was the largest ship built in England since Henry VIII’s prestige warship, the Henry Grace à Dieu. She was ordered under the reign of Queen Mary and initially named Edward, after her late brother, but was renamed when Elizabeth I came to the throne. She was a square-rigged galleon of four masts, including two lateen-rigged mizzenmasts. The Elizabeth Jonas served effectively under the command of Sir Robert Southwell during the battle of the Spanish Armada in 1588. In 1597-98 she was rebuilt as a razee galleon, but at the time of the Commission of Enquiry in 1618 she was condemned and broken up.

Svetlana class cruiser

By August 1914, the naval powers had produced cruisers in such numbers that they formed the largest class of warship with the exception of destroyers. The fewest but most powerful and expensive were battle cruisers: Great Britain operated nine battle cruisers, Germany five, and Japan two. The numbers of older armored, protected, and light cruisers built in the pre-dreadnought era was staggering. Britain led the world with 94, Germany and France had 36 each, the United States 34, Japan 19, Russia 18, Italy 13, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire had 11 vessels. In terms of modern cruiser construction of all types, Great Britain operated 30, Germany 20, Japan six, Italy four, the United States and Austria-Hungary three each, and Russia one. 5 All told, the world’s navies operated 343 cruisers that would serve a vital role in World War I.

First turbine-driven cruisers of the Russian fleet, projected taking into account experience of the Russian-Japanese war. They were built by two little differing series: Svetlana, Admiral Butakov, Admiral Spiridov and Admiral Greig for Baltic, Admiral Nahimov, Admiral Lazarev, Admiral Istomin and Admiral Kornilov for Black sea. All 8 ships were laid down prior to the beginning of the First World War, but any of them before revolution of 1917 was completed. 24/12/1920 the program has been accepted, according to which Svetlana and Admiral Nakhimov it was supposed to complete under original project.

Black Sea cruisers, according to the project, differed by increased displacement (7600t against 6800), dimensions, and also type and structure of machinery (Parsons turbines and 14 Yarrow boilers instead of 4 Curtis-AEG-Vulkan and 13 Yarrow-Vulkan boilers), in remaining ships were practically identical. Rather low-freeboard hull with a forecastle and a three-funnel outline profile gave them a certain likeness with Novik class destroyers. On trials Profintern made 29.5kts at 6800t displacement and 59200hp power. Chervona Ukraina shown average speed of 29.82kts and maximum 30.9kts To the beginning of Great Patriotic war boilers were converted to pure oil-firing, but speed characteristics nevertheless have notably decreased: so, in 1941 speed did not exceed 27.5kts, and in 1944 Krasny Krym made no more than 22kts.

Protection ensured unvulnerability from gunfire of destroyers. The main 75mm belt reached full ship length and adjoined an upper edge a lower deck. Above it the upper 25mm belt placed. Upper and lower decks had 20mm thickness. The protection of the same thickness covered funnel uptakes below deck level.

Deck-casemates arrangement of artillery and insufficient to measures of the Second World War calibre were a serious lack of the project.

The 6,800-ton cruiser Svetlana, ordered in 1912 for the Baltic Fleet, was completed and commissioned in 1928 as Profintern. Transferred to the Black Sea in 1930, she was renamed once again in 1939 to become Krasnyi Krym. She is seen here exchanging fire with German shore artillery off Odessa in 1941. She was the most successful of the Russian cruisers, taking part in numerous actions but never suffering serious battle damage.

In 1944 she was armed with fifteen 130mm, three twin 100mm AA, four 45mm AA, ten 37mm AA, seven 12.7mm machine-guns and two triple 456mm torpedo tubes. She could also carry 90 mines. Worn turbines limited her speed to 22 knots.

Naval Architecture

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The Santísima Trinidad, 1769
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The profession of designing craft for use on or in the water. The high art of ship design, known as naval architecture, emerged during the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. The growth of naval architecture marked a departure from the craft tradition of ship design. It resulted in applying abstract mathematics to ship design, drafting designs on paper, and, overall, taking a more rational approach to design.

From ancient times to the Renaissance, one tradition of ship design existed. In this folk art the master shipwright controlled most of the production process, from selecting the trees for ship timber to launching the completed vessel. Design formed only one of the facets of this craft. It required practical experience, a sense of aesthetics, and an eye for hydrodynamic lines. Some of the earliest ship designers modeled their vessels on seaworthy examples. At first they based their designs on natural forms, such as fish and the underwater lines of waterfowl. The phrase used to describe a ship with a bluff bow and fine stern, “cod’s head and mackerel’s tail,” stems from this design tradition.

As certain wooden ships became known for their seaworthiness, shipwrights copied their lines for new vessels. It is, therefore, not extraordinary that ships from various parts of medieval Europe could fall within general classifications, such as the cog. This craft-based form of ship design prevailed in some countries well into the nineteenth century.

Throughout its history, naval architecture has been closely tied to governmental shipbuilding programs because the development of new design methods and supporting institutions requires a significant financial investment. Venetian shipbuilders were the first to try to replace craft-based design methods with theoretical ones. By the early–fifteenth century, they had elevated galley design to its zenith. To help preserve their superior designs, the Venetians developed a formulaic method requiring only the dimensions of the keel, stem, stern, and midship section. Using this sesto e partixon system, they could extrapolate the rest of the hull lines from these few basic proportions. The Venetians became adept at drawing and preserved some of their designs on paper. They recorded their mathematical methods in the first treatises concerning shipbuilding. Beginning in the mid- to late–fifteenth century, Venetian shipbuilders wrote and reproduced by hand several of these treatises.

Shipbuilders in other seafaring countries began to develop sophisticated methods of their own. In the sixteenth century, Spanish shipbuilder Diego Garcia de Palacio published the book Instrucción náutica para navegar. Palacio’s treatise represents the first shipbuilding publication printed in large quantities.

This early European movement to develop theoretical ship design methods and preserve them in books departed from the craft tradition of design. Training new generations of master craftworkers had rested on the foundation of apprenticeship and hands-on experience, not book learning. The Venetians and Spaniards began a process that led to the separation of ship design from ship construction.

By the seventeenth century, France vied with Spain, England, and the Netherlands for control of the seas. King Louis XIV hungered for maritime commerce and naval power, and his finance minister and minister of the navy Jean Baptiste Colbert did his best to satisfy those desires. From 1661 until his death, in 1683, Colbert increased the size and number of French warships, improved training of naval officers, and ordered numerous charts prepared for better navigation. In 1666, he founded the Académie des Sciences, which became a forum for scientific matters, including navigation and ship design. In 1680 Colbert brought together prominent French shipbuilders to determine the best way to maximize speed, maneuverability, and gun positioning on board men-of-war. This group established standard dimensions for each class of warship and eliminated many of the rule-of-thumb methods practiced by private contractors.

During the 1700s Colbert’s campaign to promote navigation and shipbuilding bore fruit in the form of design research. French experimenters pioneered the use of model ship basins to test the performance of ship forms. In addition, the Académie awarded prizes for research on ship design subjects, such as the best method for diminishing the rolling and pitching of vessels or propelling a vessel without the use of sails.

French works on naval architecture became recognized as the world’s leading ship design treatises. Paul Hoste, a Jesuit professor at the Toulon Naval Academy, wrote Théorie de la construction des vaisseaux in 1697. His treatise laid the foundation for later works on naval architecture by employing the principles of statics and mechanics. In 1746 Pierre Bouguer completed his influential work, Traité du navire. Bouguer devised the trapezoidal rule for the mensuration of areas, which became the basis for many of the hydrostatic calculations that enter into modern naval architecture. In 1752, naval architect and instructor Duhamel du Monceau published Elémens de l’architecture navale. Monceau’s book became widely recognized as one of the eighteenth century’s best naval architecture treatises and was translated into Dutch, German, and English.

The French were the first to establish educational institutions to support the profession of naval architecture. During his administration, Colbert had founded schools of naval construction at the Brest and Rochefort navy yards. These schools began the process of separating ship designers from shipwrights and transforming naval architecture into a form of engineering. In 1765, the French continued this process by founding the École d’Application du Génie Maritime to train its naval constructors. This school was the first to educate its students in the science of ship design.

British interest in naval architecture lagged behind that of the French. The British always had a reputation as some of the best shipwrights in Europe, and a number of English master builders, such as Phineas Pett and Anthony Deane, distinguished themselves as warship designers. Britain’s movement to rationalize the craft of shipbuilding might not have begun, however, had it not been for that nation’s dependence on overseas commerce and the influence of the Royal Navy. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Great Britain had to control the ocean lifelines that provided for its economy and support a powerful navy to protect those vital supply lines.

The British began to adopt the methods and institutions of naval architecture during the Napoléonic Wars. Fearing that the superiority of French warship designs might tip the balance of power in favor of their naval rivals, British shipbuilders and naval personnel focused their attention on warship design. Some of Britain’s most accomplished mathematicians perfected naval architecture theory beyond the principles advanced by the French. In the 1790s Colonel Mark Beaufoy undertook a five-year study of the resistance of various wooden shapes to water. Beaufoy’s tests represented the first serious British attempt to understand the resistance of hydrodynamic forms to water. Beaufoy also took a leading role in forming the Society for the Improvement of Naval Architecture in 1796. It comprised civilians and naval personnel who supported the study of ship design and construction.

Royal dockyard officials Samuel Bentham and Robert Seppings made their greatest contributions to warship construction methods during this period. One of Bentham’s many initiatives led to the founding of dockyard schools for the Royal Navy’s shipwrights.

The End of IJN Sōryū

It is not known who scored the last hit. Indeed most early sources say that the Soryu only received two hits which certainly would have been enough to doom the ship. However later sources as well as Japanese sources say a third and last bomb did hit near the rear of the flight deck. All three divisions of VB3 attacked and it appears they attacked according to doctrine. The first to dive was the 1st division lead by Leslie. Holmberg, the second to dive right behind Leslie, scored the first hit. The next 2 divisions dived in order. This is backed up by Bottomly scoring the second hit. He was in the second part of the 2nd division. This left only three other pilots to actually dive on Soryu, that being Lane, Butler, and Shumway who was leading the 3rd division. The last four aircraft from the 3rd division dived on other targets as Soryu was a mass of flames by then. While I’m inclined to give the last hit to either Lane or Butler it is curious that Shumway dove on Soryu while the other aircraft in his division decided that Soryu was no longer a worthwhile target. So I cannot discount that Shumway quite possibly was the last to hit Soryu. In some way that makes sense. Shumway never claimed credit for the hit but he might never have seen it as the rear of Soryu’s flight deck was most likely obscured by smoke at that point. Only later when Japanese sources confirmed a 3rd hit was it positively known a third bomb hit her. Shumway also hit Hiryu later in the day confirming that he was a good dive bomber pilot which kind of plays into the theory as Best and Kleiss also had hits in each of their two attacks that day.

According to the conventional accounts of the action, it was just after 1020 hours – less than ten minutes before the carriers would supposedly start launching their planes for the attack on the American fleet – when the first of the Enterprise’s dive-bombers attacked Kaga. Parshall and Tully are scornful of the idea (often depicted as incontrovertible fact) that the Japanese were so close to flying off their carrier aircraft from the decks of the Kidō Butai. They claim it is a myth – castigating it as ‘A Fallacious Five Minutes’ – because the Japanese were simply in no practical position to do so at this time. After three misses, four large bombs struck home, the first of which exploded in an inferno amongst the ‘Kates’ on the starboard quarter of the deck, two more smashed into the deck near the carrier’s island wrecking the bridge and a fourth landed in the middle of the flight deck before carving its way like the other bombs before it through to the hangars below. Kaga became almost an instant blazing wreck. Akagi was not spared either. Two bombs exploded near to the flagship, but a solitary hit from Lieutenant Richard Best’s dive-bomber was sufficient to turn Nagumo’s flagship into yet another exploding furnace. His 1,000-pound bomb drove through the flight deck and exploded in a huge ball of flame in the upper hangar amongst the carrier bomber planes that were parked there. Although badly damaged, Akagi was far from dead in the water. In fact, she was making battle speed 3 at 1040 hours when she spotted a lone American plane off her starboard bow. In heeling the carrier over to starboard and opening up with her A.A. guns, the flagship survived this latest attack. In doing so, however, the steering failed – the rudder jamming at 30º to starboard.

Within a few minutes the situation was complicated still further by a fire breaking out on the flight deck which in turn spread to a Zero parked by the bridge. As a result of the acrid smoke that arose from the resulting inferno, the command centre became uninhabitable. Akagi’s days as the flagship of the First Mobile Striking Force (Kidō Butai) were at an end. While Kaga and Akagi were bearing the brunt of the Enterprise’s Dauntelesses, the dive-bombers from the Yorktown concentrated primarily on Sōryū and at 1026 hours the first of three bombs smashed into the starboard bow of the ship by the No.1 A.A. gun and obliterated the forward bulkhead and everything around it. A second bomb had carved its way through the middle of the flight deck and penetrated deep into the lower hangar before exploding venomously rupturing boiler steam pipes as it did so. A third struck the flight deck aft igniting in a ball of flame and thereafter engulfing everything from the command centre to the stern. By 1030 hours this whirlwind of destruction had signalled the active end of Sōryū’s existence. Like the other two carriers, she did not sink immediately but hung around as a smoking ruin for several more hours before sliding beneath the waves at 1913 hours taking 718 crew members with her as she did so.

United States – Ticonderoga-class

During the 1980s, the United States and the Soviet Union continued production and ultimately produced some of the most powerful surface warships that have ever put to sea. In the United States, the penultimate cruiser resulted from a 1973 plan for a vessel known as a strike cruiser. American naval officials envisioned a nuclear-powered vessel that shipped the latest targeting systems, defensive missiles, antiship missiles, and cruise missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads as well as conventional explosives. The latter two systems were deemed important. An antiship capability was believed to be necessary given that the Standard missile, although it could be fired at a surface target, was too small to cause significant damage to a surface warship, and cruise missiles were needed to offset those of the Soviets. The cost of such a ship, however, was deemed too high by Congress, and the plan was consequently cancelled.

Even so, the idea of a vessel equipped with the newest missile control system did not die with the abandoned strike cruiser. The AEGIS Combat System was designed to not only control and coordinate the defense of a ship command the defense of entire task forces through the use of complex computers. First tested in 1973, AEGIS relies on a powerful radar, AN/SPY-1, that can simultaneously conduct searches and track more than 100 targets. This data is fed to the command center of a ship (CIC), where a computer evaluates which targets pose the greatest threat to the ship or task force and uses the vessel’s weapons accordingly to address the situation.

In order to make the best use of such a system, U. S. naval officials believed that a hull the size of a cruiser’s was necessary. The result was the completion of the 27 ships of the Ticonderoga-class between 1983 and 1994. The Ticonderoga cruisers measure 563 feet by 55 feet and displace 9,600 tons when fully loaded. In order to save money, these vessels are fitted with gas turbine engines that provide a maximum speed of 30 knots. The key feature is the AEGIS system, housed in the superstructure. Radar panels are mounted on the sides of the superstructure and provide a 360-degree arc of coverage; sonar systems provide underwater coverage. The data from these sensors are fed into the command center, which houses massive computer screens on the walls that reveal images of the space surrounding the ship and all ships, submarines, and aircraft within it. This system is directly linked to the weapons of the vessel. The first five ships are equipped with a primary armament of two twinarmed launchers, one each being located fore and aft. Both possess magazines that hold 88 missiles of varying types. Normally each magazine stores 68 Standard SAMs and 20 ASROC missiles. In ships constructed after the first five, the twin-armed missile launchers have been replaced by a vertical launch system (VLS) located in the forward section. This system is comprised of 144 canisters built into the hull.

Besides being able to launch SAMs and ASROC missiles, the Ticonderoga-class is also equipped with cruise missiles capable of being fired at naval and land targets. This addition greatly enhances the offensive capability of U. S. cruisers through the deployment of SSM systems that are far better than the limited surface ability afforded by the Standard system, originally intended as a surface-to-air defense. The smaller of these two weapons is the Harpoon missile.

The naval version of this missile was first deployed in the early 1980s and resembles the French Exocet antiship missile. It is still a primary weapon of the United States Navy and was first deployed on the Virginia-class cruisers when they were retrofitted. A Harpoon weighs 1,385 pounds and is 15 feet long. It carries a 488-pound warhead at a speed approaching Mach 1 and has a maximum range of almost 70 miles. Like Exocet, its guidance system allows it to home in on a target while skimming the ocean surface before striking the hull of an enemy vessel and exploding within. In the first five Ticonderoga-class cruisers, these missiles are mounted in box launchers that each contain four missiles. In later vessels, the Harpoon is shipped in the vertical launch system (VLS).

A larger and more powerful weapon, the Tomahawk cruise missile was deployed in 1986 and is among the most powerful offensive missiles in the arsenal of the United States Navy. This weapon weighs 2,900 pounds, but can weigh 3,500 pounds if it is equipped with a booster rocket for greater distance. It measures 18 feet, 3 inches, but length increases to 20 feet, 6 inches when the booster is included. The Tomahawk can carry a 1,000-pound conventional warhead or a nuclear payload out to 1,000 miles. The guidance system is extremely complex and allows for control that is largely independent of the ship that fires it. This guidance includes a targeting computer equipped with the Terrain Contour Mapping System (TERCOM). This system uses the missile’s radar to examine the topography ahead of it in order to match it to a three-dimensional map stored in the missile’s computer memory. The computer can correct the course of the weapon based on variations between the two maps. The Tomahawk is also equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS), which improves the reliability of the targeting data. Tomahawks also use Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation (DSMAC) during the final stages of flight. As the missile nears its target, DSMAC uses a camera to take a picture of the target, which the computer verifies. This equipment provides for great accuracy. The missile is extremely difficult to detect as it flies at a low altitude.

The Ticonderoga-class cruisers ship others weapons that augment missile capacity. Other than ASROC missiles, these ships carry two torpedo launchers that fire homing torpedoes, as well as two helicopters for use against submarines and surface vessels. They also carry two 5-inch fully automated guns in single mounts. One each is located in the forward and rear section of the ship. Finally, these vessels carry two Vulcan Phalanx Cannons for short-range defense. This technological innovation was ready for service in 1977 and is still in use in the United States Navy. This weapon is a 20mm Gatling gun that is fed by a magazine that holds 1,000 rounds. It was designed as a last measure of defense to destroy incoming missiles at close range, but it can also be used against aircraft. The gun can fire 100 rounds per second. It’s computer-controlled tracking system is built into the gun mount and can direct effective fire to a range of 500 to 1,500 yards.

The Vulcan Phalanx is viewed as a successful defense weapon, but the defensive measures on board the Ticonderoga-class vessels extend past the weapons systems to the inclusion of armor. This feature had been discarded in U. S. cruisers since the construction of Long Beach, but advances in technology have allowed its return as the lightweight, extremely strong material known as Kevlar. Although this armor, mounted primarily on the sides of the hull, cannot completely negate the destructive effects of larger missiles, it can localize the effects of a blast and thus decrease the damage caused by a hit.

These cruisers, in light of the computer systems, weapons, and armor, are certainly among the most powerful warships ever built.

AEGIS ships have a more effective radar at their disposal, however: the AN/SPY-1B/D/E passive phased array S-band radar can be seen as the hexagonal plates mounted on the ship’s superstructure. SPY-1 has a slightly shorter horizon than the SPS-49, and can be susceptible to land and wave clutter, but is used to search and track over large areas. It can search for and track over 200 targets, providing mid-course guidance that can bring air defense missiles closer to their targets. Some versions can even provide ballistic missile defense tracking, after appropriate modifications to their back-end electronics and radar software.

The 3rd component is the AN/SPG-62 X-band radar “illuminators,” which designate targets for final intercept by air defense missiles; DDG-51 destroyers have 3, and CG-47 cruisers have 4. During saturation attacks, the AEGIS combat system must time-share the illuminators, engaging them only for final intercept and then switching to another target.

In an era of supersonic anti-ship missiles that use final-stage maneuvering to confuse defenses, and can be programmed to arrive simultaneously, this approach is not ideal.

The US Navy’s Dual-Band Radar relies on products from 2 different manufacturers, but they’re integrated in a different way. They also use a different base technology. The use of active-array, digital beamforming radar technology will help DBR-equipped ships survive saturation attacks. Their most salient feature is the ability to allocate groups of emitters within their thousands of individual modules to perform specific tasks, in order to track and guide against tens of incoming missiles simultaneously. Active array radars also feature better reliability than mechanically-scanned radars, and recent experiments suggest that they could have uses as very high-power electronic jammers, and/or high-bandwidth secure communications relays.

Many modern European air defense ships, from the British Type 45 destroyers, to the Franco-Italian Horizon destroyers and FREMM frigates, to Dutch/German F124 frigates, use active array search and targeting radars.

Raytheon’s X-band, active-array SPY-3 Multi-Function Radar (MFR) offers superior medium to high altitude performance over other radar bands, and its pencil beams give it an excellent ability to focus in on targets. SPY-3 will be the primary DBR radar used for missile engagements. Many anti-ballistic missile radars are X-band, and the SPY-3 could also be adapted for that role with the same kinds of software/hardware investments and upgrades that some of the fleet’s S-band, passive phased array SPY-1s have received.

On surface combatants, the AN/SPY-3 would also replace the X-band AN/SPQ-9 surface detection and tracking radar that is used to guide naval gunfire, and even track the periscopes of surfacing submarines. On carriers, it would take over functions formerly handled by AN/SPN-41 and AN/SPN-46 PALS air traffic radars, and would work in conjunction with the new GPS-derived Joint Precision Approach Landing System (JPALS).

Lockheed Martin’s Volume Search Radar (VSR) is an S-band active array antenna, rather than the SPY-1’s S-band passive phased array. The Navy was originally going to use the L-band/D-band for the DBR’s second radar, but Lockheed Martin had been doing research on an active array S-band Advanced Radar (SBAR) that could potentially replace SPY-1 radars on existing AEGIS ships. A demonstrator began operating in Moorestown, NJ in 2003. That same year, its performance convinced the Navy to switch to S-band, and to make Lockheed Martin the DBR subcontractor for the volume search radar (VSR) antenna. It also convinced Lockheed Martin to continue work on the project as a complete, integrated radar, now known as “S4R”.

S-band offers superior performance in high-moisture clutter conditions like rain or fog, and is excellent for scanning and tracking within a very large volume. While Lockheed Martin makes the VSR antenna, the dual-band approach means that Raytheon is responsible for the radars’ common back-end electronics and software.

The VSR/S4R’s nearest competitor would be Thales’ SMART-L, an active array L-band/D-band radar that equips a number of European air defense ships, and South Korea’s Dokdo Class LHDs. Unlike the DBR, however, the ships carrying it use the conventional approach of completely separate radar systems, integrated by the ship’s combat system.

HMS Victoria

H.M.S. Victoria was one of two Sans Pareil Class battleships built for the Royal Navy, named in honour of Queen Victoria. Laid down at Armstrong’s in 1885 and launched in 1887, her completion was delayed by problems with her main armament of two BL 16.25 inch Mk I naval guns, and she wasn’t commissioned until 1890. For the entirety of her active career she served as flagship on the Mediterranean Station, except a period in 1892 when she grounded off the coast of Greece and had to undergo major repairs. On 22 June, 1893 she collided with the battleship Camperdown near Tripoli, Lebanon during manœuvres and quickly sank, taking 358 crew with her, including the commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet, Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon. One of the survivors was her Commander, John Jellicoe, later Commander-in-Chief of the British Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland.

The Royal Navy finally again constructed mastless turret ironclads, and introduced breech-loading guns, steel construction, and armor in the Inflexible diminutives, Colossus and Edinburgh (completed in 1886 and 1887, respectively), the turrets were arranged again in the hull-straining echelon arrangement to give ahead-fire for ramming. When the Admiralty finally went over to Devastation-pattern fore-and-aft turrets with Hero and Conqueror (completed in 1886 and 1888, respectively), they were mounted on dwarf ironclads, still designed primarily for ramming and counterramming, as were the Victoria and Sans Pareil (completed in 1890 and 1891, respectively).

In the field of steam engines, the obvious successor to the single expansion trunk engine – the two-stage engine with high- and low-pressure cylinders – began to be fitted in the merchant fleet from 1855 onwards, but it was not till about 1870, after trials that had lasted half a decade, that it was decided to fit these compound engines in battleships. Similarly, the next stage of development, the triple-expansion engine whose principle lasted as long as reciprocating steam engines did, was introduced in the merchant navy around 1880, tried out in the torpedo gunboat Rattlesnake in 1885 and first fitted to battleships Victoria and Sans Pareil in 1889.

‘Akitzuki’ class ships

By far the largest destroyers built in series by the Japanese, the ‘Akitzuki’ class ships were conceived originally as AA escorts comparable with the British ‘Dido’ and US Atlanta’ cruiser classes and, by comparison, offered a cheaper solution to the problem. The choice of a 100-mm (3.94-in) gun was probably better than that of the 133.4- mm (5.25-in) and 127-mm (5-in) weapons of the Western ships, whose rate of fire was considerably lower, though the lively hull of a destroyer must have made them less effective than cruisers when firing at aircraft. They were the only eight-gun destroyers in the Japanese fleet, and it would seem that the quadruple torpedo tube mounting was something of a late addition. Though they had the basis of an effective design, the Japanese too had underestimated the devastating effect of a determined air attack and only four light automatic guns of the standard 25-mm calibre were originally shipped. War experience encouraged the addition of more at virtually any opportunity, so that, by the end of the war, those still afloat (six were sunk) could dispose of up to 50 such weapons, Launched between 1941 and 1944, the ships of the class were the Akitsuki, Fuyutsuki, Hanatsuki, Harutsuki, Hatsutsuki, Natsusuki, Niitsuki, Shimotsuki, Suzutsuki, Terutsuki, Wakatsuki and Yoitsuki.

The most distinctive feature of the class was the complex casing of the single stack; extensive trunking enabled the funnel to be sited far enough abaft the bridge both to cut the smoke problem and greatly improve visibility, while placing it sufficiently far forward to permit extra AA platforms to be installed where the after stack would normally have been. To increase its effectiveness, the new design was given a second fire- control position aft. A feature of preceding classes had been their extremely light masts, but the ‘Akitzukis’ were among the first to have their masts strengthened for the support of the considerable bulk of the Type 22 surveillance radar antenna. The size of the hull, combined with a comparatively light gun armament and few torpedoes, allowed more generous top weight margins than was customary with Japanese destroyers, one result being a large depth-charge capacity. Nearly 40 more hulls to two improved designs were planned but never completed.

The lead ship, Akitzuki, was started in July 1940 and completed m June 1942, but the last of the class was not completed until April 1945 (Hatsutsuki). The Hatsuki, Kiyotsuki and Ootsuki were never laid down and the Michitsuki was stopped in March 1945 and broken up to make way for suicide craft. Six were sunk in action or torpedoed, and the other six were surrendered, two of them badly damaged. The Fuyutsuki was taken over by the US Navy in 1947 and scrapped, the Harutsuki became the Soviet Pospechny, the Hatsutsuki went to Britain and the Yoitsuki became the Chinese Fen Yang.

The Muslim Fleet

Muslim Galley


For centuries, power in the Mediterranean had depended on naval might. At the end of the 6th century the Byzantine Empire dominated both the Mediterranean and the Black Seas with naval bases at Carthage, Alexandria, Acre and Constantinople. Yet the number of Byzantine warships remained few, because the Empire faced no serious maritime rivals until the Sassanian occupation of Egypt and Syria. Even more threatening were the subsequent Muslim conquests of these areas, as well as North Africa and, eventually, the Iberian Peninsula.
In the Islamic forces’ first major naval operation in the Mediterranean, they temporarily occupied the island of Cyprus after having driven off a Byzantine fleet near Alexandria in 652 – their first naval victory. Then, in 655, the Islamic fleet won a convincing victory over the Byzantine navy off the south-western coast of what is now Turkey. For nigh on a thousand years Greeks and then Romans had dominated the Mediterranean Sea. Now, in the first major Mediterranean sea battle for centuries, an Arab fleet had successfully challenged the Byzantines in their home waters.
Surprisingly, given the relative inexperience of the Muslim fleet, this battle saw the Byzantines defeated both at sea and in a skirmish on shore at the same time. This clash in 655 near Cape Chelidonia, off the Lycian coast, came to be known as the ‘Battle of the Masts’ because the Muslims had landed to cut tall trees for the masts and yards of their new fleets, based in Egypt and Syria. A lack of suitable large timber would in fact hamper Muslim naval development throughout the medieval period, though it did encourage technological innovation in Islamic naval architecture. During this encounter the Byzantine ships seem either to have been moored in close formation or to have been tied together. As a result the Muslims were able to win because of their superior boarding and close-combat tactics.
The possible importance of the Sassanian influence on naval developments in the Middle East has only recently been considered. During their brief occupation of much of the eastern Mediterranean littoral, they had extended as far as to occupy the Greek island of Rhodes, plus some Anatolian coastal towns, though they almost certainly used captured Syrian, Cilician, Egyptian or Greek ships to do so.
The subsequent Muslim conquest of many of the same regions brought the Arabs to the shores of the Mediterranean for the first time as a great military power and as the inheritors of Sassanian naval traditions. On the other hand the Arabian peoples had a far more active naval heritage than their initially cautious attitude to the Mediterranean might suggest. The pre-Islamic Yemenis and perhaps Omanis had, for example, been raiding Sassanian territory by sea since at least the 4th century AD while various other tribes from both the Gulf and Red Sea coastal regions of Arabia had similar maritime traditions. Here it is worth noting that, following the first wave of Islamic conquest, these same Yemeni and other coastal Arab tribes were often selected as garrison troops for strategic coastal bases including Alexandria.
In response to the challenge by new Arab-Islamic fleets, a more powerful Romano-Byzantine navy would emerge in the late 7th century. The ‘Battle of the Masts’ would not be the last naval encounter between these two rivals. Indeed, later Byzantine attempts to retake Egypt would convince Mu’awiya, the governor of Syria and subsequently the first Umayyad Caliph, of the need for a full Islamic navy in the Mediterranean.
The first such fleet was built in Egypt, where all qualified sailors were registered for naval service. Although many of these sailors were in fact Christians, the bulk were Yemeni in origin and Muslim in religion. The new fleet used Tyre and Acre as forward bases while Iranian and Iraqi shipwrights were brought from the Gulf to build and man the new or restored shipyards at Acre, Tyre and Beirut.
Other naval bases and fleets were established in newly conquered Tunisia and rather later in Libya; the resources of wood, iron and tar essential for medieval naval warfare all being available in North Africa. From the early 8th century onwards these new Islamic fleets undertook almost annual raids against Byzantine territory and islands in the western Mediterranean, mirroring the annual raids undertaken on land.
If there were any real differences between Byzantine and early Islamic warships, it would seem to have been in the increased height of the forecastle of the latter. This was soon being used to mount stone-throwing engines and to provide an advantage when boarding enemy vessels. The main fighting ship was a galley called a shini which, like the Byzantine galleys of the day, had between 140 and 180 oarsmen. It is also important to note that, with very few exceptions, the oarsmen in medieval galleys, be they Christian or Muslim, were paid volunteers not slaves.
By the mid-8th century such galleys defended themselves against the terrifying Byzantine incendiary weapon known as ‘Greek fire’ using various systems of water-soaked cotton, and would shortly use Greek fire themselves. However, the vessels of the rival naval powers remained remarkably similar, as there was an exchange of both technology and terminology between them.
The main difficulty facing any Islamic fleet continued to be a lack of timber. Indeed, this lack of resources may have stimulated the construction of larger ships, which were better able to defend themselves and were no longer regarded as expendable assets. Certainly, there was also a change from the hull- or skin-first method of construction to the more economical frame-first method, although this change would not be truly complete until the 11th century.
From Nicolle, The Great Islamic Conquests, p. 57:
Nicolle, p. 57: “The subsequent Muslim conquest of many of the same regions [Syria, Cilicia, Egypt] brought the Arabs to the shores of the Mediterranean for the first time as a great military power and as the inheritors of Sassanian naval traditions. On the other hand the Arabian peoples had a far more active naval heritage than their initially cautious attitude to the Mediterranean might suggest. The pre-Islamic Yemenis and perhaps Omanis had, for example, been raiding Sassanian territory by sea since at least the 4th century AD while various other tribes from both the Gulf and Red Sea coastal regions of Arabia had similar maritime traditions. Here it is worth noting that, following the first wave of Islamic conquest, these same Yemini and other coastal Arab tribes were often selected as garrison troops for strategic coastal bases including Alexandria.
“In response to the challenge by new Arab-Islamic fleets, a more powerful Romano-Byzantine navy would emerge in the late 7th century. The ‘Battle of the Masts’ would not be the last naval encounter between these two rivals. Indeed, later Byzantine attempts to retake Egypt would convince Mu’awiya, the governor of Syria and subsequently the first Umayyad Caliph, of the need for a full Islamic navy in the Mediterranean.
“The first such fleet was built in Egypt, where all qualified sailors were registered for naval service. Although many of these sailors were in fact Christians, the bulk were Yemeni in origin and Muslim in religion. The new fleet used Tyre and Acre as forward bases while Iranian and Iraqi shipwrights were brought from the Gulf to build and man the new or restored shipyards at Acre, Tyre and Beirut.
“Other naval bases and fleets were established in newly conquered Tunisia and later in Libya; the resources of wood, iron and tar essential for naval warfare all being available in North Africa. From the early 8th century onwards these new Islamic fleets undertook almost annual raids against Byzantine territory and islands in the western Mediterranean, mirroring the annual raids undertaken on land.
“If there were any real differences between Byzantine and early Islamic warships, it would seem to have been in the increased height of the forecastle of the latter. This was soon used to mount stone-throwing engines and to provide an advantage when boarding enemy vessels. The main fighting ship was a galley called a shini which, like the Byzantine galleys of the day, had between 140 and 180 oarsmen. It is also important to note that, with very few exceptions, the oarsmen in medieval galleys, be they Christian or Muslim, were paid volunteers not slaves.
“By the mid-8th century such galleys defended themselves against the terrifying Byzantine incendiary weapon known as ‘Greek fire’ using various systems of water-soaked cotton, and would shortly use Greek fire themselves. However, the vessels of the rival naval powers remained remarkably similar, as there was an exchange of both technology and terminology between them.
“The main difficulty facing any Islamic fleet continued to be a lack of timber. Indeed, this lack of resources may have stimulated the construction of larger ships, which were better able to defend themselves and were no longer regarded as expendable assets. Certainly, there was also a change from the hull- or skin-first method of construction to the more economical frame-first method, although this change would not be complete until the 11th century.”
A bit on winter voyaging during this period:
Lawrence I. Conrad, “The Conquest of Arwād: A Source-Critical Study in the Historiography of the Early Medieval Near East,” in Cameron et al., Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East, Vol I, p. 367 fn: “Winter voyages on the Mediterranean were undertakings of great peril, not only because of the risk of ships being overwhelmed in a storm, but also because persistent overcast meant that navigators were deprived of the usual coastal and celestial sightings upon which they relied for knowledge of their precise location – in particular, how close they were to enemy territory and cruising lanes or to dangerous channels or shoals…. Udovitch remarks (532) that ‘I have not found a single example of a commercial voyage between Alexandria and North Africa in the eleventh century outside the normal months of the sailing season’, i.e. April to late September…. In the seventh and eighth centuries, this problem led Rhodes to impose a strict ban on winter sailings by commercial vessels…” [per Rhodian sea law]