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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

kation. 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.