Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


This is coolbert:

"Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today." - - Beatty at Jutland - - 1916.

There was something wrong with the “bloody ships” under the command of Beatty at Jutland [1916]. Weaknesses, made manifest only DURING COMBAT, led to the repeated destruction of British combat vessels.

“Flash”, from the detonation of a German naval shell penetrating the roof of a gunhouse, traveling down the barbette, through the supposedly foolproof, interlocking safety doors, causing a catastrophic explosion of disastrous consequences within the ship’s magazine.

"flash - - 8.the sudden flame or intense heat produced by a bomb or other explosive device."

Barbette: The cylinder connecting the gunhouse with the innards of the ship. Hoists and lifts [elevators] within the barbette allowing shells and propellant charges to be moved from the magazines to the gunhouse. Possesses safety doors with interlocking mechanisms.

"the barbette is the non-rotating drum beneath the rotating gun turret (properly known as the "gunhouse") . . . It [the barbette ] forms the protection for the upper ends of the hoists that lift shells and their propelling charges (e.g. cordite) from the magazines below"

Design flaws [barbettes insufficiently armored?], doctrine [rapid firing preferred over safety concerns], safety interlocking door mechanisms over-ridden, callous and lax attitude toward ammunition handling, all contributed to serious deficiencies ONLY BECOMING APPARENT DURING ACTUAL COMBAT!!

Consider the catastrophic losses from internal magazine explosions the British suffered at Jutland:

* Indefatigable. ". . . Indefatigable was ripped apart by another magazine explosion, sinking immediately with her crew of 1,019 officers and men, leaving only two survivors."

* Queen Mary. "disintegrated when both forward magazines exploded, sinking with all but nine of her 1,275 man crew lost."

* Defence. ". . . . which detonated her magazines in a spectacular explosion . . . she sank with all hands (903 officers and men)."

* Invincible. "Invincible's flash detonated the magazines below . . . killing all but six of her crew of 1,032 officers and men, including Rear-Admiral Hood"

* Lion. [Beatty's flagship] "far larger destruction was averted when the magazine doors [were] shut and the magazine flooded. This prevented a massive magazine explosion at 16:28, when a flash fire ignited ready cordite charges beneath the turret and killed everyone in the chambers outside "Q" magazine."

ONLY two survivors. All but nine - - lost. All hands [lost]. All but six of her crew.

Lion was NOT lost, but almost was!

"Each of the British battlecruisers was penetrated through her turret roof and her magazines ignited by flash passing through turret, and shell handling rooms." [into the magazines, setting off a sympathetic detonation that blew up the entire ship]

"the British BCF had adopted a philosophy of having exceptionally high rates of fire as a tactical advantage. Flash protection and interlocks were considered an impediment . . . in some cases BCF ships had removed what rudimentary flash protection they had, to speed up ammunition feeds."

"British cordite propellant . . . tended to burn violently causing uncontrollable "flash fires" when ignited by nearby shell hits . . . Moreover the British magazines were not adequately protected against the intrusion of flash fires, and the Royal Navy emphasised speed in ammunition handling over safety procedures . . . leaving the ships vulnerable to chain-reaction ammunition fires and magazine explosions."

"the cause of the British ships' tendency to suffer from internal explosions. On this evidence, a major part of the blame may be laid on lax handling of the cordite propellant for the shells of the main guns"

"In practice drills . . . the cordite could not be supplied to the guns rapidly enough through the hoists and hatches [with all interlocks working as intended] . . . many safety doors which should have been kept shut to safeguard against flash fires were opened . . . 'bad safety habits' carried over into real battle practices."

“'There is something wrong with our ships,' . . . 'And something wrong with our system.'” - - Beatty at Jutland [during a latter stage of the battle]!

Indeed, there was. AND, ONLY found out about during COMBAT. At the worse possible moment, flaws, deficiencies, problems, etc.

Mr. Murphy at work?


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