Chasing Submarines with Motor-Boats
Boats for the purpose are built up in sections produced in immense quantities, like the parts of the lowpriced, easily assembled automobile
WHEN England found the submarine was a menace that threatened to destroy her paramount position as a maritime power and a maritime nation she cast about her for a means of combating the underwater terror. One of her purchasing agents visited the New York office of Henry R. Sutphen, an official of a boat-building company and a submarine company.
“Why don’t you try motor-boats?” suggested Mr. Sutphen, and proceeded to outline the sort of craft he had in mind. The conversation resulted in a provisional order for fifty boats, given subject to the approval of the British Admiralty. Not only was this order confirmed, but a short time afterwards it was increased to five hundred and fifty.
The boat called for was to be 80 ft. long, 12^ ft. beam, \x/i ftdraft and of 32 tons displacement. Two standard motors of 220 horsepower were to drive her at a speed of fourteen knots for 850 nautical miles or nineteen knots for a distance of 700 nautical miles. The fuel capacity was to be 2100 gallons, and the gasoline was to be consumed at the rate of one pint per horsepower per hour. She was to carry a crew of ten men, including gunners to operate the 3-inch rifle mounted forward.
Applying Automobile Manufacturing Methods
Naturally it would have been impossible to construct so many boats of such a large
size in so short a time by the usual methods. The methods of the automobile factory were adapted to the shipyard. First, “the master boat” was built and every part that went into its construction was carefully measured and recorded on templates or wooden patterns. The templates were then sent to the shops and five hundred duplicate pieces ordered. Every one of these pieces was lettered and numbered on its arrival at the plant. Three machine shops were kept busy turning out the motors. Most of the woodwork was done in Bayonne, N. J. More than eight and a half million feet of finished lumber, sawed and dressed to the required sizes, was turned out by this shop.
When arrangements had been made for the material, new yards on the St. Lawrence River in Canada were about completed. The plant consisted merely of half a dozen huge assembling sheds, and it was here that most of the ships were made..
As the keels arrived they were put in their places along the floor, and the delivery of the various ribs, beams and parts was so timed that no storage space was necessary. Every effort was made to simplify operations and to avoid handling and carting the material more than once. For instance, as soon as the engine, anchors and chains arrived they were distributed immediately, an anchor being laid in front of each keel.
All told about fifty separate operations were necessary in putting these parts together ; for each task there was a separate gang of workmen who did nothing else. It was not advisable to build a permanent plant of this size equipped with cables and
roof pulleys. Hence progressive assembling in the automobile sense could not be applied. Automobileassembling practice was reversed. The boats remained stationary while the men moved along. Otherwise there was no essential difference. So rapidly were the boats com-
pleted by this method that the sheds were soon crowded, and extra keels were laid outside. Some of the boats were launched directly from the shed while others were placed on railroad trucks and carried to the ways. Every vessel was thoroughly tested by British Naval inspectors before it was accepted. The boats were shipped to England on the decks of ocean steamers,
four chasers being carried on one liner.
Since the war began, the production has increased from three boats a year to three a day. Five hundred and fifty submarine chasers, eighty feet in length, wrere completed in less than five hundred and fifty
days from the time the contract was signed. Perhaps the most surprised witness of this accomplishment was the British Admiralty itself. And England, as everyone knows, is the greatest maritime nation of the world.
An idea of the tremendous amount of detail that had to be looked after in this under-
taking may be gained from the following brief list of figures: 550 gas stoves, 2,200 fire extinguishers, 2,200 sailing lights, 550 life boats, 550 searchlights, 25,000 incandescent lamps, 974,504 bolts and nuts, 3,850 oil lamps, 13,200canvas covers, 22,000 storage batteries, 109,450 ft. of brass pipe, 611,000 ft. of manila rope, 33,200 running yards of deck canvas, 16,500 port lights, 1,650 sinks
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and wash basins, 11,550 ventilátor cowls, 1,650 toilets, 325,000 ft. of wire rope of various kinds and 450,000 pounds of paint, varnish and putty.
Will Every Coast Dweller Own a Motor-Boat?
In the assembling operation alone more than 3,000 men were employed, and about 9,000 others were scattered in the various workshops fabricating the material before it was sent to the main plant. This is the first time that the principles of standardization, division of labor, and. progressive
assembling have ever been applied with any thoroughness to shipbuilding. There is no reason, however, as this successful experiment proves, why motorboats cannot be turned out cheaply enough to make them as available to the aver-
age citizen as is the popular-priced car.
The movement toward standardization began in 1905, when Mr. Sutphen’s company built 120 twenty-one-foot mine-yawls for the United States War Department. The same company two years later built 33 thirty-foot mine layers on standard lines, and during the next six years turned out no thirty-six foot power life boats for the United States life-saving service. Probably the largest motor-boats ever built according to uniform design were two 98-foot yachts, made in 1910. Others who have made experiments along the same line
areacompany that turned out a number of thirtyfooters, and another that has been building twenty-foot steel motorboats in fairly large quantities on standard patterns.
It should not be imagined that these subm a rine chasers built
for England were motor-boats in the ordinary sense. They were really yachts. The interior design from bow to stern was as follows:
Chain locker, lavatory for crew, forecastle for eight men, ammunition room, large fuel tanks, engine room, galley, mess room, office state room for two and additional tank capacity in the extreme rear. On deck there was a platform forward for a three-inch gun. Behind this was the chart house, and further back still the bridge where the steering apparatus and engine telegraph were located.
One feature of this boat is an arrangement by which the steering lines are laid along the side of the deck from the wheel, making them easily accessible for repairs.
The chasers were designed for service in the English
Channel and the North Sea, and while their sea-keeping qualities are excellent, nevertheless they do not carry enough food and fuel to last more than ten days. On the other hand, however, a boat of this size painted gray is invisible at a distance of more than three miles, so that it is often possible to catch the submersible unawares. The boats are intended for offensive operations almost entirely, though of course they would make good convoys near the coast.
The British have discovered that fighting the submarines is a question first of all of endurance. A larger chaser would be more comfortable, of course, but by no means so dangerous to the submarine.