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Sea Voyage





For transporting troops over the sea, it is the chief problem of the
navy to clear the course to the hostile shore. All enterprises of this
kind are dependent on the battle fleet, whose first aim, therefore,
must be to run down and attack the enemy's fleet which the transports
might encounter; if the opportunity is afforded our fleet must bring
about an engagement for the command of the sea at least by the time of
embarkation. As the mobilizing of the battle ships is finished before
the transport fleet is ready to put to sea, they can undertake an
early offensive to make secure the passage of the expedition. Also,
throughout the voyage offensive operations can be undertaken by the
battle fleet, in waters distant from the transport, which would serve
the same ends of keeping the course clear.

The escorts of the transport squadron should consist of just enough
ships to give immediate protection. A large number would increase
unnecessarily the size of the transport fleet without increasing its
safety, while every addition of strength to the battle fleet is of the
greatest value. The task of the escorts is only to protect the
transports from attacks by single or several small vessels of the
enemy. Our torpedo boats are particularly adapted for escort service,
and make it feasible to restrict the number of large battle ships used
for this purpose. During the assembling of the transports, these
boats may devote themselves to secure the safety of the traffic
between the loading harbors.

The departure of the transports from the various harbors must be so
regulated that they sail in close union, to assure a safe voyage and a
quick landing. The loading commission must take appropriate means to
expedite the loading in those harbors farthest removed from the
central assembling points. As a rule, the transport steamers would
sail with the battle fleet; but in the English expedition to South
Africa and ours to East Asia, this rule was not followed.

An essential requirement is that the transports put to sea as soon as
the loading is complete. They cannot wait for news of the success of
the battle fleet. A certain risk is involved, but it is not great, for
the transport fleet can always turn back. Only an early departure
would insure successful, unexpected landing. The shorter the voyage
the greater the necessity for a surprise attack.

In the event of our battle fleet being attacked, it does not follow
that the transport operations must be abandoned, for if the voyage be
short an energetic continuation of the venture will command a fair
prospect of success. Even the victor in a great naval battle might not
be able to carry out an attack against the transport squadron. An
individual hostile battle ship or cruiser would find it difficult to
break into the transport fleet.

An important factor in the sea voyage, perhaps the most important, is
the weather. For short distances, it is possible to a certain degree
to choose favorable weather for the passage, with the help of
scientific forecasts. Conditions might be such that a delay would not
harm the operations. Adverse weather conditions would more seriously
affect long-distance transporting, to a degree that might cause
abandonment. Our vessels must be so improved as to make them
independent of wind and weather, to make certain the speed of the
voyage and to permit the establishing of a time record. For the time
of the passage, the highest speed of the slowest boat is the standard,
which could probably be increased by towing with tugs.

In putting to sea all transport ships must retain the order of
position they are to take in the squadron; this order is not broken
until after leaving the harbor, so that the object of the voyage is
known only to the home officials. The advance guard of troops will
sail in the fastest ships so that they can make the unexpected
landing. The pioneer and airship divisions are placed with the advance
guard. The ships which have artillery ride on the flank of the troop
transports. Then follow the ships carrying supplies. The cable ship
comes last. The laying of the cable gives a continuous communication
with the home country. For extensive voyages, preparations must be
made for taking on coal on the open sea. The commander-in-chief of the
expedition corps should be on a transport steamer so that in event of
a fight the transport fleet will not be without proper guidance.

On long sea voyages, gymnastics, drilling and target practise can be
pursued. Ample daily exercising of the horses will occupy the greater
part of the time of the cavalry. For short sea voyages these features
are not so necessary. In general, strict discipline must be exercised
to overcome the tediousness of the trip.

While the command of the troops on every transport is in the oldest
officer, the command of the ship remains in the hands of the captain,
who is inferior in rank to the commander of the troops. If this
captain has not served in the German navy, a midshipman may be signed
as a coordinate officer. It is our policy to provide every transport
ship with a naval officer.





Next: Landing

Previous: Embarkation



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