Torpedo Boat Without A Crew - From The New York Journal

Date: 
Wednesday, February 1, 1899
Volume: 
14
Pages: 
136-137
Archived Page: 
Author: 
Subject: 
Publication: 

Current Literature February 1899 X36 SCIENTIFIC PROBLEMS, PROGRESS AND PROPHECY rw,"-in sm wif/wus ii crew __,...,.... N. nw ........_.. New vm ./mmm: “My submarine boat, loaded with its torpedoes, can start out from a protected bay or be dropped over a ship side, make its devious way below the surface. through dangerous channels of mine beds, into protected harbors and attack a iieet at anchor, or go out to sea and circle about, watching for its prey, then dart upon it at a favorable moment, rush up to within a hundred feet if need be, discharge its deadly weapon and return to the hand that sent it. Yet all through these wonderful evolutions it will be under the absolute and instant control of a dis- tant human hand on a far-oil’ headland, or on a warship whose hull is below the horizon and invisi- ble to the enemy. “I am aware that this sounds almost incredible, and I have refrained from making this invention public till I had worked out every practical detail of it. In my laboratory I now have such a model, and my plans and description at the Patent Office at Washington show the full specifications of it. “As to the mechanism which is to be stored in this submarine shell: The first and most essential thing is a motor, with storage battery to drive the propeller. Then there are smaller motors and bat- teries to operate the steering gear, on the same principle that an ordinary vessel is now steered by steam or electricity. Besides these there are still other storage batteries and motors to feed electric signal lights. But in order that the weight of ma- chinery shall uot be too great to destroy the buoy- ancy or make the boat go too deep in the water, compressed air motors will also be used to perform certain functions, such as to fill and empty the water tanks which raise the boat to the surface or sink it to any required depth. Pneumatic air or motors will also fire the torpedoes and pump out the water that may leak in at any time. "This submarine destroyer will be equipped with six fourteen-foot Whitehead torpedoes. These will be arranged vertically in two rows in the bow. As one torpedo falls into position and is discharged by pneumatic force, another torpedo, by the force of gravity, falls into the position of the First one, the others above being held up by automatic arms. They can be fired as rapidly as a self-cocking re- volver is emptied or at intervals of minutes or hours. The discharge takes place through a single tube, projecting straight in the bow. The small amount of water which leaks through each time is caught by drain pipes and a compressed air pump instantly expels it. As each torpedo is expelled a buoyancy regulator will openthe sea cocks and let enough water in the ballast tanks to make the buoy- ancy uniform and `keep the boat at the same dis- tance beneath the surface. “This submarine destroyer will carry a charge of torpedoes greater than that of the largest destroyers now in use. Those vessels of five hundred tons each, which cost the Govemment $5oo,ooo, carry but three or four torpedoes, while this simple sub- marine destroyer, which can be built for $48,000 to $50,000 or less, will carry six torpedoes. It will have also the incalculable advantage of being abso- lutely invisible to an enemy, and have no human lives to risk or steam boilers to blow up and destroy itself. “All that is necessary to make this submarine boat subject to perfect control at any distance is to properly wire it, just like a modern house is wired so that a button here rings a bell, a lever there tums on the lights, a hidden wire somewhere else sets off a burglar alarm and a thermal device 'gives a fire alarm. “The only difference in the case of the submarine boat is in the delicacy of the instruments employed. To the propelling device, the steering°gear, the signal apparatus and the mechanism for tiring the torpedoes are attached little instruments which are attuned each to a certain electro-magnetic syn- chronism. “Then there is a similar set of synchronistic in- struments all connected to one little switchboard, and placed either on shore or on an ordinary war- ship. By moving the lever on the switchboard I can give the proper impulse to the submarine boat to go ahead, to reverse, throw the helm to port or to go ahead, rise, sink, dsicharge her torpedo or re- turn. It might seem that some great power would he necessary to be projected across the miles of dis- tance and operate on the far-off boat. But no; the power is all stored in the submarine boat itself-in its storage batteries and compressed air. All that is needed to affect the synchronistic instruments is a set of high alternating currents, which can be pro- duced by my oscillator attached to any ordinary dynamo situated on shore or on a warship. “How such an apparently complicated mechan- ism can be operated and controlled at a distance of miles is no mystery. It is as simple as the mes-

SCIENTIFIC PROBLEMS, PROGRESS AND PROPHECY 1 senger call to be found in almost any office. This is a little metal box with a lever on the outside. By moving the crank to a certain point it gives vibrat- ing sounds and springs back into position, and its momentary buzzing calls a messenger. But move the crank a third further round the dial and it buzzes still longer, and pretty soon a policeman ap- pears, summoned by its mysterious call. Again, move the crank this time to the farthest limit of the circle, and scarcely has its more prolonged hum of recoil sounded when the city tire apparatus dashes up~to your place at its call. "Now, my device for controlling the motion of a distant submarine boat is exactly similar. Only I need no connecting wires between my switchboard and the distant submarine boat, for I make use of the now well-known principle of wireless teleg- raphy. As I move this little lever to points which I have marked on a circular dial I cause a different number of vibrations each time. In this case two waves go forth at each half turn of the lever and af- fect different parts ot the distant destroyer’s machinery. “How such submarine destroyers should actually be used in war I leave for naval tacticians to de- termine. But it seems to me that they could best be operated by taking a number on board a large, fast auxiliary cruiser like the St. Louis or St. Paul, launch them, several at a time, like lifeboats, and direct their movements from a switchboard placed in the forward fighting top. “In order that the director of the submarine de- stroyer may know its exact position at every move- ment, two masts, at bow and stern, will project up just above the water, too minute to be seen or hit by an enemy's guns by day, and by night they will carry hooded lights. “The lookout placed in the fighting top could detect a hostile ship off on the horizon while the auxiliary cruiser’s big hull is still invisible to the enemy. Starting these little destroyers out under direction of a man with a telescope, they could at- tack and destroy a whole armada-destroy it ut- terly-in an hour, and the enemy never have a sight of their antagonists or know what power destroyed them. A big auxiliary cruiser, 'used to carry these submarine destroyers, could also carry a cargo of torpedoes sufficient to conduct a long campaign and go half-way around the world. “She could carry the gun-cotton and other ex- plosives needed to load torpedoes in safe maga- zines below the water line, and do away with much of the danger. of transporting loaded torpedoes. When necessary for use the war heads could be loaded, fitted to the torpedoes, and the submarine destroyers fully equipped. “A high, projecting headland overlooking a har- bor and the sea would also be a good point on which to establish a station and have the destroyers laid up at docks below and ready to start.”

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