Published Resources Details Journal Article

R. N.
Letters to the Editor: The Brennan torpedo and defence of our ports
The Engineer
vol. 71, 1 May 1891, p. 345

Accession No.2772


"Sir, - I am sure that many naval officers must thoroughly agree with your most temperate article on the Brennan torpedo, in your issue of April 17th. Judging by the way money is spent, there seems to be the very greatest possible confusion of ideas as to what hostile ships are likely to attempt with reference to our defended ports. From a naval point of view, it appears that our ports have the same function now that they have always had, namely, as bases for our navy and for our commerce. A possible enemy will, therefore, probably treat our ports in future wars as they have been treated in past years, so that we should confidently look to history to enlighten as to the kind of attack to be expected. Being a naval officer, I am, it is needless to say, quite ignorant as to where the Brennan torpedo has been installed, but it is generally believed that it has only been established in places where we have heavy guns mounted. Now I do not find from history that an enemy's ships have ever shown any great desire to place themselves under the close fire of our heavy guns, and be it remembered the Brennan with its limited range of 2000 yards cannot do more than keep the enemy at a distance where his guns would still be most effective. It cannot drive him off, much less hunt him and make his life a burthen, as a torpedo boat can. The Brennan is the natural outcome of our naval system of coast defence. We charge our soldiers with the task of making our harbours inaccessible to an enemy, regardless of how much or how little an enemy may wish to come there, and as a result we get a system of defences which are often as incommensurate to the object to be protected as a complete enceinte on the "French modern system" would be to protect an orchard fro marauding boys. When warfare afloat is conducted by one and the same administration, whether it takes place within 100 yards or 1000 miles of our shores, we may hope for better things; meanwhile, I fear that naval men who meddle with coast defence will be politely told, as Admiral Mayne was, to mind their own business. R. N."