BB-10 Maine Class
Three Maine class battleships were authorized in FY1899 in response to Russian battleships which had greater speed. The program of CY1898 comprised thirty-six vessels with a total of 59,570 tons. This exceeded by more than 20,000 tons the record program of 1890. The most important units were the three battleships of the (new) Maine class, to which were added four monitors and 28 torpedo-craft.
They were based on the earlier Illinois class design but had more powerful guns and more effective KC armor. Peacetime crew was approximately 560; wartime crew was 780-800 men. All three cruised with the Great White Fleet in 1907-09 and served during World War One. Cage masts were fitted between 1909-12. Maine, Missouri, and Ohio were redesignated BB-10, 11, and 12, respectively, in July 1920. They were scrapped in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922-23.
In these vessels the displacement rose to 12,500 tons and the speed to 18 knots, while the main armament was modified to four 12-in. guns, which were, nevertheless, considerably more powerful than the 13-in. weapons of preceding ships. Originally they mounted a secondary armament of sixteen 6-in. quick-firers, but half this number were removed during the Great War to arm merchant vessels.
The Maine, Missouri, Ohio was almost a repetition of the Alabama in the battery arrangement. The important change in these two ships, however, is the amount of speed and coal supply, the former being increased from 10 knots to 18 knots, while the latter is increased from 800 tons to 1,000 tons, the normal displacements being increased from 11,500 tons to 12,500 tons, in order to obtain these results. It is to be noted, however, that, practically, all the earlier battleships attained 17 knots on trial, and that it is probable that the Maine class will not be two knots in excess of the earlier classes.
The most that can be asked of armor is that it shall protect whatever is behind it from anything but the direct hit of a large caliber projectile. The Maine class had a belt tapering from 11 to 7-1/2 inches, a great change from the belt of the Indiana, the 14-inch belt of the Iowa, and the 16-1/2 to 9-1/2-inch belts of the Alabama class. Yet even a further reduction, if made for the purpose of adding to gun protection, might be defended. What was wanted was to entirely exclude any explosive shell of sufficient power to pierce the protective deck with its fragments; to keep out all projectiles except those of the largest caliber striking nearly normal; and to sufficiently retard the latter to prevent them from getting through the protective deck.
In decks fitted for protective purposes, the plating is worked in two or more thicknesses. In early ships, and up to and including the Maine class, this was formed of two courses of 20-pound plates, one on top of the other, and having their butts and seams so shifted that one course formed butts and scam straps of the other. On top of this was put the nickel-steel protective plating varying in thickness from 4O pounds to 120 pounds, according to location. In most later ships, the lower course is built like an ordinary deck, with butt and seam straps underneath and the protective special treatment steel put on top of it.
The inner bottom of a battleship is generally of 15-pound plate below the watertight longitudinal, and 10 pounds above. The middle plate or keelson plate is 15 pounds also. In early battleships, up to and including the Maine class, this inner bottom extended to the 5th longitudinal, and was then continued up to the protective deck by a vertical bulkhead called the wing bulkhead. In later battleships, the inner bottom has been made continuous to protective deck.
The history of gun protection resembled that of hull protection. At first it was sought to make the one or more heavy gun positions invulnerable, and all available armor weight was devoted to that; but gradually it was recognised that the rest of the battery, which was becoming more and more important offensively, must have a reasonable share of armour protection. The tendency is well illustrated by a consideration of the division of the armour allotted to gun protection in American battleship designs. In the Indiana class and the Iowa the secondary battery had about 200 tons of armor to protect it, as against from 1400 to 1500 tons for the heavy guns. In the Kearsarge and Kentucky, and in the Alabama class, about 600 tons were devoted to protection of the small, as against about 1200 ton or the large guns; in the Maine class about 800 tons went to the small and about 850 tons to the large guns; and, finally, in the Pennsylvania class, the rapid-fire guns were protected by 1240 tons, as compared with only 1070 tons allotted to the 8 and 12-inch gun positions. Not only was percentage of total armour weight given to gun protection increased, but in the division of that percentage into two classes the share allotted to protect the small guns, or secondary battery, gradually greww at the expense of that allotted to the heavy or main battery guns, the result of both movements being a great expansion in the area covered by armour and an accompanying reduction in its average thickness.
The usual arrangement of the larger rapid-fire guns of battleships the day was in an armoured casemate between the two heavy gun positions, and it is to their defence that more and more armor was being devoted. At first 4 or 5-inch armor was considered sufficient, but in almost later designs the casemate was covered with 6-inch armor. Moreover, the fear of the effects of explosive shell led to the use of armor for covering the space above the armor belt and below the casemate armor. Thus in the Maine class about half the 800 tons of armor devoted to the protection of the 6-inch rapid-fire guns was used to cover the space below the deck on which they are mounted; and in the Pennsylvania class a space about 250 feet long and 15 feet high was covered with 6-inch armor, weighing about 1200 tons, to give protection to twelve 6-inch guns.
It was not considered enough to completely enclose the deck on which the 6-inch guns were mounted with armor; but the deck below, although it contained little of importance, must be equally protected lest the free entry there of explosive shell produce serious destructive effect upon the deck above. It seemed to be doubtful if the result of this disposition of armour was a security commensurate with the expenditure of weight. Six inches of armor was by no means a sure defence against large-calibre shell carrying explosive charges, and one such shell, especially if it entered anywhere near fore and aft, might well put half, or even more than half, the 6-inch guns out of action. It is true that such a raking effect was guarded against by partial transverse armored bulkheads between the guns, but the time had come when complete isolation of all guns, either singly in closed armored casemates or in pairs in turrets, was a practical necessity.
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