The unprotected cruisers of the United States were three in number, the DETROIT, the MARBLEHEAD, and the MONTGOMERY, all authorized in 1888 and completed in 1893 and 1894. They had a thin protective and water-tight deck of 5/16-inch steel on flat and 7/16-inch on slopes. These vessels rely for protection upon their cellulose packing and coal-bunkers, their thin water-tight plating, and their numerous compartments. While the shot of an enemy may easily pierce the sides or the deck, a dangerous inflow of water is likely to be prevented by these protective devices. The vessel may be pierced even below the load-line without flooding the compartments containing the engines boilers, and magazines. These boats are provided with very roomy accommodations for officers and crew, they being mainly intended for long cruises on distant stations.
Montgomery (Cruiser # 9), Detroit (Cruiser # 10) and Marblehead (Cruiser # 11) were lightly-protected cruisers, the smallest of that type in the 1898 U.S. Navy. All three were completed in 1894. These 2,000 ton steel cruisers, known as cruisers Nos. 9, 10, and 11, were authorized by an Act of Congress approved September 7, 1888, the limit of cost being $700,000 each.
By advertisement of May 24, 1889, the Department invited proposals for the construction of the three cruisers of about 2,000 tons displacement each, at a cost of not more than $700,000 each, authorized by act approved September, 1888; and by another advertisement of June 14, invited proposals for the construction of the two cruisers of about 3,000 tons each, at a cost of not more than $1,100,000 each, authorized by the same act. All the proposals were opened at the Department 22 August 1888, as follows for the construction of three 2,O0O-ton cruisers, Nos. 9, 10, and 11 :
- The Bath Iron Works, Bath, Me., for the construction of one of such cruisers (hull and machinery to be constructed according to Department's plans and specifications) $780,000
- The William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company, Philadelphia, Pa., for the construction of ono of such cruisers (hull and machinery to be constructed according to Department's plans and specifications) $875,000
- Same company, for the construction of another of such cruisers (hull and machinery to ho constructed according to Department's plans and specifications) $875,000
- Same company, for the construction of the other of such cruisers (hull and machinery to ho constructed according to Department's plans and specifications) $875,000
As the amounts for which these several proposals offered to construct the vessels were in excess of the limit fixed by Congress all of them were rejected. It was decided to re-advertise for proposals for the construction of the three 2,000-ton vessels, and the advertisement was accordingly issued August 24, 1889. The law having directed that in the contract for these vessels such provisions for increased speed and premium should be made as in the discretion of the Secretary of the Navy might be deemed advisable, the conditions of the previous advertisement were so far modified as to reduce the required speed from 18 knots to 17 knots, and to fix the premium for increased speed at $23,000 lor each quarter-knot in excess of the guarantied speed of 17 knots. A penalty of $25,000 was affixed for every quarter-knot that the vessels failed of reaching the guarantied speed ; and in case of failure to develop and maintain, for four consecutive hours a speed of 16 knots, the vessels could be rejected. The time fixed for completion was also extended from two years to two years and six mouths. The following proposals were received:
- The Union Iron Works, San Francisco, Cal., for the construction of one of said vessels (hull and machinery to be constructed according to Department plans and specifications) $775,000
- Same company, for the construction of two of said vessels (same plans and specification») $1,450,000
- Same company, for the construction of three of said vessels (same plans and specifications) $2,054,001
- N. F. Palmer, jr., & Co., New York, N. Y., for the construction of one of said vessels (same plans and specifications) $674,000
- Columbian Iron Works and Dry Dock Company, Baltimore, Md., for the construction of one of said vessels (samo plans and specifications) $625,000.00
- Same company, for the construction of two of said vessels (same plans and specifications) $1,225,000.00
- The Bath Iron Works, Bath, Me., for the construction of one of said vessels (same plana and specilications) $675,000.00
- Same company, for two of said vessels or three of said vessels at same rate.
- Harrison Loring, Boston, Mase., for the construction of one of said vessels (same plans and specifications) $674,000.00
On 28 October 1888 the Department awarded to the Columbian Iron Works and Dry Dock Company of Baltimore, Md., contracts for the construction of two of these cruisers for the sum of $612,500 each, and on the first of November awarded to Harrison Loring the contract for the construction of the other cruiser for the sum of $674,000.
The principal dimensions are as follows: length on load water line 257 feet, extreme breadth 37 feet, depth of hold to under side of spar deck plank amidship 19 feet 6 inches, draft of water mean normal 14 feet 6 inches, displacement in tons to load water line 2,000, tons per inch at load water line 15£, area of immersed midship section 665 square feet, transverse metacentre above centre of gravity 7 feet, moment to alter trim 1 inch 200 foot tons, indicated horsepower (forced draft) 5,400. Maximum speed per hour, 18 knots in smooth water. Complement, officers and crew, 185.
They are twin-screw protected cruisers, with poop and forecastle decks, with open gun deck between, fitted with a water-tight deck of 17| lb. plating at side, reduced to 12 Ib. in center, extending the entire length of the vessel, this deck being below the load water line at the side 86 inches. Below this deck is placed the machinery, magazines, and steering arrangements. Among the improvements in these vessels is an increase of speed, rearrangement of battery, which is to be composed entirely of rapid fire guns, a cofferdam protection extending throughout the entire machinery space.
The berthing accommodation and officers' quarters have been greatly improved. Quite an innovation on previous arrangements has been made in the location of steerage, which is aft of the ward room, giving the senior officers quarters nearer amidships, which is freer from the jar of machinery and motion of the ship ; the entrance to the steerage is effected through the after 6-inch gun supports, which leave an exclusive entrance to the wardroom for the officers quartered there, and at the same time giving spacious and more retired accommodation to the steerage.
The main battery is composed of two 6-inch rapid fire B.L.E. and eight 4-inch rapid fire B.L.R. The secondary battery consists of two 6-pounder, two 3-pounder, two revolving cannons, and one Gatling gun. The torpedo outfit of these vessels will be six torpedo guns or launching torpedoes, fixed one in the stem and stern, and training tubes on the sides. Automobile torpedoes will be fired from these tubes, and there will be a complete outfit of boat spar torpedo gear and charges.
A conning tower, oval in shape, is located on the forecastle deck, being 7e feet athwartships by 4 feet fore and aft, and 5 feet 4£ inches above the deck. The tower is fitted complete with steam steering wheel, engine-room telegraphs and speaking tubes. A wood pilot or chart house is fitted forward of the conning tower having plate glass windows, steam steering wheel, engine-room telegraphs, tell-tale for rudder, chart table, &c.
The rig is that of a two-masted schooner having a small spread of canvas. The normal coal supply is 200 tons, but the bunker capacity is 435 tons. This coal is disposed in wake of the machinery and boilers, so as to give the greatest protection. There was an installation of electric light on board. Means are provided for securing natural and artificial ventilation in the living and storage spaces, utilizing frame spaces, together with louvres and cowls fitted along the top, sides, and such ducts as are necessary to effect communication with the spaces below. Automatic valves are fitted in ventilating pipes where they pass through water-tight bulk-heads to prevent the flow of water from one compartment to another. Escape for the explosive gases generated in the bunkers is provided for by means of inlet and outlet pipes, and trunks leading to the funnel casings.
There is a complete steam pumping arrangement fitted, to be used for bilge drainage or fire purposes ; also hand pumps for draining the water-tight compartments, engine and shaft bearers, platforms, &c., delivering overboard or into the fire main. The fire main is worked nearly the whole length of the ship, and can be charged with water at a high pressure from the steam pumps, being also connected with hand pumps, and fitted with the necessary nozzles and hose.
The motive power for the twin screws is furnished by two triple expansion engines of 5,400 horse-power, with cylinders of 26, 39, and 63 inches diameter, and a stroke of 33 inches. The engines and boilers are placed in separate water-tight compartments. There was independent air and circulating pumps, and auxiliary condensers and pumps for auxiliary machinery. The crank shafts are made interchangeable. All framing, bed plates, pistons, &c., are of cast steel, with working parts of best forged steel.
The boilers are of steel, designed for a working pressure of 160 pounds, and are five in number, of the return fire tubular type. Three of them are double-ended and two single-ended. The latter are to be used as auxiliaries, but when steaming full power can be connected with the main engines.
During the Spanish-American War, they were actively employed in the Cuban and Caribbean areas. Detroit was disposed of in 1910, but the other two continued in service through the First World War. The watertight deck of this class of cruisers was more a risk than a protection. Their stability was poor and, because of this, the two initially installed 152 mm bow gun had to be replaced by only one 127 mm gun and their apron shields had to be removed. The engine room was very uncomfortable.
USS Montgomery, a 2094-ton cruiser, was built at Baltimore, Maryland. Commissioned in June 1894, she operated along the U.S. east coast and in the Caribbean until 1899. During the Spanish-America War, she was active in the blockade of Cuba. Montgomery was stationed in the South Atlantic in 1899-1900. She thereafter stayed in the vicinity of the U.S. Atlantic seaboard, serving as a cruiser, torpedo experimental ship and Naval Militia training ship. Renamed USS Anniston in March 1918, she was part of the American Patrol Detachment during the First World War. Decommissioned in May 1918, the old cruiser was sold in November 1919.
USS Detroit, a 2094-ton cruiser of the Montgomery class, was built at Baltimore, Maryland, and commissioned in July 1893. She spent her early years in South Atlantic and Asiatic waters. During the Spanish-American War, and for several years thereafter, Detroit mainly operated in the Caribbean area. In 1903-04, she also cruised off South America and off the U.S. east coast. Decommissioned in August 1905, she was sold in 1911.
USS Marblehead (Cruiser # 11, C-11, later PG-27), a 2072-ton cruiser of the Montgomery class, was built at Boston, Massachusetts, and commissioned in April 1894. Her early service years were spent in Caribbean, European and western Atlantic waters. During the Spanish-American War, she operated off Cuba and participated in the capture of Guantanamo Bay in June 1898. In 1899 Marblehead steamed to the Pacific, serving there as a cruiser and Naval Militia training ship until 1918, when she transferred to the Caribbean area for World War I operations. Returning to the Pacific after the war, Marblehead decommissioned in August 1919. She was reclassified as a gunboat (PG-27) a year later and was sold in August 1921.
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