Proper loading is the business of the land forces and should be
conducted by trained officers so as to ensure the shipment of
materials and men. To make landing effective the necessary supplies
should go on the vessels with the troops. A loading plan should be so
drawn up in advance as to meet all emergencies. The length of time
consumed for loading depends on the distance of the voyage.
At the most the limit of a short sea voyage for us has been considered
about forty-eight hours. This is too small an estimate; it should
undoubtedly be doubled. The Italian General Staff estimates the length
of a short sea voyage to be five days. Besides, to preserve the
fighting worth of our troops, we must allow sufficient time for rest.
The troop transport capacity of a ship has heretofore been calculated
by the ship's tonnage, that is, sixty per cent. of the ship's capacity
is net ton loading space. The necessary space for us, for a long sea
voyage, is set at two tons for each man and six to seven tons for
each horse. The English and Russian estimates are about the same. But
the English transports to Cape Town accommodated a larger number of
troops than was thought possible, and the American transports to Cuba
were increased by one-third.
As for the arrangements which must be made for sleeping, cooking and
washing and for a hospital service, we need not go any further here,
as they have been discussed at length in the press. The stowing of
equipment and baggage should be done in such a way as to make the
articles available on landing in the order in which they are needed.
The ship's space required for maintenance supplies for man and horse
figures relatively as about one to five.
Coming next to the loading of the artillery, the rule should be to
place all common and machine guns on deck. A certain amount of
ammunition should be stowed so as to be quickly accessible. This is an
essential measure to afford the transport protection from some
privateer. The guns should be securely placed to prevent their
movement by the motion of the sea and to render feasible their use on
deck. Trials will soon be made to find the suitable means whereby
field artillery may be put to successful use on shipboard, and this
testing will certainly repay us. All rolling stock will be stowed away
firmly in the freight space without removing the wheels. The material
and personnel of the field hospital should be divided among the ships,
so that a ship's hospital division may be formed. The airship division
should be placed on deck in such fashion that observation flights may
be made during the voyage.
The shipping of horses is especially difficult. By former methods the
horses had to stand the entire trip and had practically no exercise.
This left them in a weakened condition and made necessary a long rest
after arrival. For a war transport, in which is required a rapid and
successful offensive, such horses are not useful. Because of the
important work to be done by them after landing, careful attention
should be given to the horses to keep them in good working condition.
To this end, proper nourishment must be given and facilities provided
for daily exercise while on the transports, which should consume at
least three-quarters of an hour for each horse.
Ships that are built particularly for the transportation of horses can
be adjusted with four decks over each other, including upper deck
stables and two courses for exercise, so that a transport of from
three to four thousand net tons capacity can carry over one thousand
horses. Three ships would accommodate two cavalry brigades. On every
large steamer many horses can be shipped for a long trip, in addition
to its regular quota of men and supplies.
After the transports have been prepared, about seven hundred and fifty
horses, equal to one cavalry regiment, or six batteries, can be loaded
daily on the lower decks. Cleanliness, ventilation and care are the
three most important factors for the good health of the horses. Every
horse transport must be given ventilating apparatus to assure
sufficient fresh air. Artificial ventilation is to be preferred to
natural ventilation, for if the latter becomes too strong the horses'
lungs are easily affected. Through this cause, for example, the
American transport to Cuba lost the greater number of their horses.
Likewise condensers are required for the necessary quantities of
drinking water. It is recommended that each ship be given its own
condenser. The provision of only one or two large condensers on
special ships which supply the entire demand of the transport fleet,
as the Americans employed in their expedition to Cuba, has not proved
For the short sea voyage, our transports would be able to despatch
substantially more troops, through Germany's geographical position.
The strength of near-by powers requires, though, the immediate
utilization of all ships and materials at our disposal, if the
operations are to succeed. For short expeditions, the general rule
will be to ship as many troops as the transports will carry. The
forces will bivouac on the upper and lower decks and receive only
straw bags and covers. They will keep their whole baggage with them.
Cooking will be done in large field kettles. If time permits, it is
recommended that the same adjustments as for a long journey be made
for the horses, at least to provide separate stalls. This will prevent
heavy losses in case of rough weather. Guns and accessories can be
disposed of in the same manner as for long voyages.
The length of time for embarkation depends on whether the loading can
be done from the wharves of the harbors or whether the troops and
materials must be taken out by lighters and then transferred to the
ships. The latter method is a waste of time and is dependent on wind
The time required for loading is as follows: Fifteen minutes for one
hundred men, one minute for one horse, ten minutes for a cannon. In an
operation by the Russians, 8,000 men, including infantry and cavalry,
were embarked in eight hours. In our loading of East Asia transports,
it required one to one and one-half hours to load one battalion. The
speed of our loading has amazed departmental circles in general. It is
certain, though, that this time can be greatly reduced through
detailed preparation and training. Napoleon I, in the year 1795, had
ostensibly drilled his troops so well that he could plan to put
132,000 men and their materials on shipboard in two hours.
It must be remembered that everything, troops, guns and supplies must
eventually be landed on open coasts. Portable flat-bottom boats and
building materials for piers must therefore be carried on the
transports. Special vessels must accompany the transport fleet with
large reserve supplies of food, equipment, ammunition, coal and so
forth. A cable-laying ship is also required.
We must now consider to what extent Germany is able to load forces for
the execution of operations which involve only a short voyage, in
which success depends so much on speed. For embarkation on the North
Sea, Hamburg and Bremen alone could furnish so many steamers capable
of being converted into transports, that with their tonnage capacity
the loading of four infantry divisions is possible in a period of four
days. With the addition of ships from Emden, Wilhelmshaven, Glueckstadt
and Kiel we would be able to despatch in the same length of time, at
least six infantry divisions, or five infantry and one cavalry
division. To these must be added several especially large and fast
German steamers, partly for the shipment that might be delayed and
partly to expedite the return to home waters. A large number of troops
can also be shipped from Baltic ports. Besides this, a repeated trip
of the transport fleet is possible if the command of the sea is
For longer sea voyages, in which the importance of speed is not so
great, our transport fleet can be greatly increased through chartering
or purchasing ships of foreign nations. Still, we are at present in
the position to despatch about four infantry divisions, with present
available ships, within ten or twelve days.
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