In warfare, few of the improvements made in engineering or invention have altogether displaced existing weapons; they have merely increased the number of weapons. The boats which are carried by our ships of war are the same in their essentials as the galleys which the Greeks and Romans used; and many of the crudest weapons, such as the bayonet and hand grenade, are in active use to-day. The battleship, however, is so much more powerful than the Roman galley that any comparison based on mathematical formulae would bewilder the understanding. To say, however, that a battleship is a million times more powerful than a Roman galley would be far inside the truth.
Everything which the inventive genius of man can accomplish, when applied to the mechanic arts
and aided by the resources of the greatest countries in the world, finds its highest expression in vessels
of the kind here pictured. The mechanical energy of one 14-inch gun is equal to that of sixty
thousand muskets; and yet a turret containing three 14-inch guns can be handled with greater pre-
cision than can any automobile. There is no kind of mechanism in existence which can handle large
masses so quickly, accurately, smoothly, and reliably as can the turret mechanism of a battleship.
The same kind of statement as to perfection of mechanism may be applied to every vessel illustrated
in these pages. It is on the sea, and pre-eminently in naval vessels on the sea, that mechanical
genius has made its most splendid triumphs.
But do not look at these wonderful creations as masses of material only. A vessel such as one of these, when secured alongside of a dock, with the fires put out in its furnaces, and divested of its crew, is an inert mass of material; but when in action, when it is dashing through the water at its appropriate speed, turning to the right and to the left, taking part in the maneuvers of a fleet and firing its enormous guns in target practice or in battle, it is a living thing, expending more energy than any other living thing of which we know.
And do not think of these ships as the Navy. The ships alone are masses of inert matter; they are of themselves powerless. The thing that makes the ships alive, the thing that makes them turn to the right and to the left, and take part in maneuvers, and fire their guns, is the spirit of man. It is the spirit of man that designs and makes and operates and vivifies the ships. The Navy is not composed of ships: the Navy is composed of men. The ships are the tools they use.
NEW YORK BRADLEY A. FISKE, APRIL, 1917 REAR-ADMIRAL, U. S. N.