Published Resources Details Journal Article

Lessons from the Naval Manoeuvres
The Engineer
vol. 76, 1 September 1893, pp. 209-210

Accession No.262


Sixteen years had elapsed since the British Government had purchased the Lightning, the first of nineteen first-class torpedo boats so designated to distinguish them from smaller boats carried on battleships and cruisers. These first-class boats varied in length from 85 to 90 feet, and displacement from 28 to 33 tons. Since then great advances had been made in dimensions, lengths had increased to 113 feet, then to 125 feet, and finally 140 feet. This had entailed an increase in displacement firstly, to 60 tons and then to 80 tons, and finally to 130 tons. When battleships and cruisers could only manage 14 knots, the difference between their speed and that of a twenty-knot torpedo boat was considerable; but in 1893 when battleships and cruisers achieved speeds of eighteen to twenty knots the speed advantage of the torpedo boat was lost. Advances in torpedo boat armament were also slow, and there was a tendency towards over-elaboration in torpedo armament. The simplicity of right-ahead torpedo discharge had led to its almost universal retention in torpedo boats. Most of the torpedo boats employed in the 1893 manoeuvres were 125 feet long and had five torpedo launching tubes. The bow tube had been removed in some boats and there had been a considerable improvement in their sea-going qualities, but it was questionable that all boats should have been treated in the same way. The torpedo catcher had originated from the need for a small sea-going torpedo vessel. The demand of naval officers was for something larger than a torpedo boat, which could keep the sea and accompany a squadron. This demand was first met by the construction of the Scout, but the Scout was obviously unsuitable, being too large and slow. The French had in the meantime built the Bombe of 400 tons for the same purpose. Britain followed with the very successful 520 tons torpedo gunboat Rattlesnake. During the seven years that have elapsed since the completion of the Rattlesnake there was a considerable increase in the size of this type of vessel. First came the Sharpshooter class of 735 tons, and later the Circe of 810 tons, and in 1893 the Harrier and Halcyon of 1050 tons. In 1893 it was thought that a vessel considerably smaller than the Rattlesnake armed with no gun heavier than a quick firing 12-pounder would be a more effective counter to the torpedo boat.