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STRENGTHENING THE NAVY.

The following .is the conclusion of Lord Brassey's lecture on the «Position of the British Navy in 1897':SHIPS'IN COMMISSION. If we turn from, the comparisons already given of the total available force in men and ships to the fleets in commission it will be seen that the British Navy is well able to hold its own. The battleships in commission or partial commission in European waters are as follow -.—England, 20 first, 6 second, and 2 third class; France, 10 first class, 8 second class ; Russia, 5 first clasß, 4 second class. Our total strength is 28 Bhipß, as against 27 for France and Russia, the British ships being distinctly superior in fighting efficiency. In reserve we have the first class battleships Renown and Victorious, 4 second class, and 8 third class, including old friends of Captain Neville's, the Hercules, 'Sultan, Bellerophon, Triumph, four ships of the Audacious type. We have six coast defence ships. The French have in reserve three wooden second class battleships.

On foreign stations the British force in commission includes 1 battleship, 5 armored cruisers, 4 first class, 10 second class, and 9 third class protected cruisers of modern type, 11 third cruisers of the older types, 25 sloops and gunboats, the Monarch, the coast defence ships at Bombay and Melbourne, and the cruisers carrying reliefs to the several stations. France has on foreign stations the old armored cruiser Bayard, 4 second class cruisers, four third class, seven sloops, and gunboats. In the China seas the Russians have 4 powerful armored cruisers, 1 second class cruiser, and 2 coast defence ships.

In this connection reference may appropriately be made to the recent review of the fleet at Spithead. It was not the least impressive of the incidents connected with the recent celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen. No fewer than 165 vessels were brought together, manned by more than 50,000 men, and our powers of men were not exhausted then. There were still available 2,000 ratings in the Portsmouth Reserve alone; the marines and the coastguard had been only partially drawn upon ; the reserve had been barely touched. COMPARATIVE STRENGTH GENERALLY. It has been the special object of the present paper to review the naval strength of the British Empire. In a general comparison we should not fail to take note that as a military power we have many legions at our disposal. The approximate strength of Ihe British armies exceeds 900,000 men. In the regular army we have 220,000 men, in the army reserve 80,000, in the militia—which with little additional expenditure could be made a most efficient force—loß,6oo, in the yeomanry and volunteers 232,000 men. The Australian and Canadian contingents have each a strength of 30,000. All these are men of our own race. In addition we have the Native forces in India and other parts of the Empire. We have recently for the first time in peace effectively organised the transport and supply services. Two corps, aggregating 70,000 men, are ready to take the field. We alone of all nations could place our armies at short notice in any part of the globe. This power of transport may be set in the scale against the superior numbers of foreign powers.

It has been said that money is the Binewa of war. Our financial position was described in glowing terms by Sir Michael HickaBeach in moving the Budget for 1897-98. He showed that in the sixty years of the present reign the public revenue of the United Kingdom had increased from £52,000,000 to £112,000,000 a year; the imports-from £67,000,000 to £442,000,000 a year; the deposits in the savings tanks from £19,000,000 to £155.000,000. In no quarter of the House of Commons was a speaker found to contest the soundness of the British financial position, or to express a doubt as to the general prosperity and steady improvement in the condition of the people. While regretting the necessity for the rapid growth of expenditure on warlike pre. parations, it is difficult to find any indications that the Mother Country is sinking under her burdens. Never has the public revenue been more elastic; never haa the traffic on the great railways of the United Kingdon been so active ; never have the numbers of the unemployed in the skilled trades been so few as to-day. The increased appropriations for the navy have been pro* vided in great part by a succession duty. That impost has fallen heavily on landowners. It has compelled reductions of expenditure, which have chitfly been felt in the rural places, where fine old mansions have been closed, and troops of retainers have been dispersed. But the money raised has g»ue at once into circulation elsewhere in payments for materials and for the wages of the workers employed in shipbuilding. It is not clear that the country at large has suffered by this redistribution of money. lb is by no meaus certain that trade would have been more prosperous if the vast sums lately spent on the navy had been invested in reproductive enterprises. Certain it is that the increase of production would have reduced prices, ami that manufacturing enterprise iB, and has long been, far from remunerative by reason of that very overproduction. All will agree that we have not suffered the exhaustion which would nave been caused if a like amount had been spent on the purchase of ships built for the the British Navy in foreign yards.

It has been, and it is, our duty to create snch naval forces as will ensure the eafety of the Empire, and secure due respect for our rights and consideration for our viewa and opinions. In the present anxious posture of affairs we shall not relax our efforts, but if in the process of time we can brine about a closer union between ourselves and the United States, if we can establish a perpetaal league for settling differences by arbitration—nay, more, for mutual defence u , t . h T. eatcned by external foes—then we shall have changed the circumstances. Our latent resources will be too overwhelming to be challenged or contested, and the day may at length have come when the vast resources which we are now expending on preparations for war may be devoted to the arts of peace. As we read the .'Naval Annual,' let us cherish the hope that a consummation so happy may some dav be reached by the sagacity of statesmen-" and the growing wisdom and goodwill of kindred peoples.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18970918.2.49.20

Bibliographic details

STRENGTHENING THE NAVY., Evening Star, Issue 10423, 18 September 1897, Supplement

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1,085

STRENGTHENING THE NAVY. Evening Star, Issue 10423, 18 September 1897, Supplement

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