The Secretary of the Navy, in his annual report to the President, recommends that Congress appropriate nearly $70,000,000 for the construction of new ships. His recommendations are based upon those of the General Board and the Board on Construction. The ships which it is proposed to build are as follows: Four 20,000-ton battleships of the "Delaware" type, each to cost $9,500,000; four scout cruisers of the "Chester" type, each to cost $2,500,000; ten destroyers of the same type as those recently contracted for; four submarines of the "Octopus" type; one ammunition ship; one repair ship; two mine-laying ships, which are to be formed by the conversion and equipment of two cruisers now on the navy list; and four fleet colliers. This programme of new construction is designed, in addition to increasing the strength of the fighting line, to strengthen our navy in elements in which, at present, it is somewhat weak, and in which other leading naval powers are moving ahead of us in the matter of construction. At present our navy is deficient in destroyers, submarines, and colliers; for, in building up our battleship strength, we have overlooked the importance of these three essentials of naval efficiency. The proposal to build 20,000-ton battleships is to be commended. Our own experience with our larger vessels, and the consensus of opinion and practice in the leading navies of the world, point to the big one-gun ship as the ideal fighting unit of the immediate future. It will be noticed that there is no recommendation for the construction of either armored or unarmored cruisers. The former has merged into the battleship; the place of the latter is taken by the fast unarmored scout, of which four are recommended in this report. It is suggested by the Secretary that the four colliers, a type of ship in which our navy is sadly deficient, be built in the navy yards on the Atlantic coast. The absence of the Atlantic fleet during its cruise to the Pacific will leave our eastern navy yards with very little work to do, and the construction of these colliers on the vacant slips would serve to keep our efficient navy yard forces together until the fleet returns. The total appropriation is a large one, the largest in fact that has ever been asked for by any Secretary of the Navy for naval increase, at any one time; but we must remember that the nation has been growing in wealth and numbers at a rate which is even greater than the rate of increase of naval expenditures. If our navy is to fulfill its great function of preserving the peace, it must be maintained at a standard of strength commensurate with the interests over which it stands guard.
This article was originally published with the title "Proposed New Ships for the Navy"