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Torpedo Cruiser No. 1

The US Congress, under the act approved June 30, 1890, appropriated for one swift torpedo cruiser of about 750 tons displacement, to cost, exclusive of armament, not more than $350,000. Plans in accordance with the above act were prepared in the Bureau by the instructions of the Department; the term "swift" being fixed as not less than 23 knots per hour on the measured mile. Bids were asked for from all reputable shipbuilders for Torpedo Cruiser No. 1, but by February 1891 none were received within the limit of $350,000 fixed by Congress, as the amount appropriated was considered too small.

According to the plans prepared at the Navy Department, the vessel was to be of the following dimensions: Length on deck, 246 feet; length on the load-water line, 259 feet; breadth of beam, 27 feet 6 inches; draught of water forward, 8 feet; aft, 10 feet, or a mean of 9 feet, and displacement, about 750 tons. The speed required was twenty-three knots, which is equivalent to a speed on land of twenty-six and miles an hour, the average rate of travel of an ordinary railroad.

In order to secure this extraordinary rate of progress through the water the vessel was to be supplied with two complete sets of direct acting triple expansion engines, with four cylinders in each set. It was calculated that each engine should be capable of working up to 3,000 horse power, and thus the two, working together, would develop 6,000 horses, au amount of power never before given to a vessel of the above dimensions. This is nearly 1,000. horse power more than that of the engines of the Chicago, a ship of 4,500 tons displacement All this horse power ls to be used in rapidly revolving two propellers of three blades each. The steam to work the engines was to be supplied by eight Thornyoroft boilers. It was only by the best quick steam-generating boilers working with an intense draft of air by fans that such machinery can be made to do the work required. The total weight of he machinery and boilers when full of water will be only 250 tons.

In order to operate at a considerable distance from a base the cruiser must carry a fair amount of coal. It was intended that this vessel shall stow 190 tons when her bunkers are filled. For ordinary running purposes between ports, and where coaling stations are at hand, she will carry only some fifty tons. With her 190 tons on board and working with forced draft this craft was estimated to be capable of steaming 920 knots, about 1,060 land miles, in forty hours. At a speed of ten knots an hour she should steam 3,360 knots.

In view of the fact that this class of vessels was receiving great attention from many naval powers, the Bureau recommended to the Department that Congress be asked to increase the appropriation to $512,000, being an increase of $102,000 above the amount originally appropriated. The high cost was due to the great power of the engines of the vessel, which are required to develop 6,000 I. H. P., and are estimated to cost $325,000. This power, remarkable for a vessel of this size, should enable the required speed of 23 knots to be obtained without difficulty, and will give the Navy a vessel unsurpassed in her class by any contemplated abroad.

At the prices of labor and material shipbuilders declared there was no chance for profit in the work at this limit. Many in the department were very doubtful about the vessel ever being built, and some of Secretary Tracy's have advised him against building her, tha there is little use in the American Navy for vessels of her type, which are not serviceable for ordinary or for duty on foreign stations. It was contended that such vessels are more necessary in the European navies, where distances ar short and where fleets of boats can be operated from the enemy's home base.

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Page last modified: 22-07-2011 17:43:22 ZULU