We have recently added to the navy three protected cruisers which, in view of developments since the Japanese war, are of doubtful value, These are the “Charleston,” built at Newport News; the “Milwaukee,” built at San Francisco; and the “St. Louis,” built by Neafie&Levy, of Philadelphia. In view of the size of these ships, 9,700 tons, it is unfortunate that they should be so poorly protected. Their armor plans show a protective deck only 2 to 3 inches in thickness, and a partial belt of 4-inch armor, with 4-inch armor for the protection of the central battery. The ships carry each fourteen 6-inch 50-caliber guns, one mounted forward, one aft behind shields, and the other twelve being carried on the gun and main decks within the central battery. The vessels have made speeds of slightly over 22 knots on trial. which is half a knot above the contract requirement. Fifteen hundred tons of coal can be stored in tljJ bunkers, The fighting value of these ships is small; though they are no worse than the contemporary, British ships of the “County” class, several of which have visited our eastern harbors in recent years, In a modern engagement, these vessels would be quite unable to engage the up-to-date cruisers of some foreign navies, and against ships of their own type they would be terribly cut up by shell fire of the rapid-fire batteries. They will be useful for scouting purposes; but could engage only ships as poorly protected as themselves
This article was originally published with the title "Protected Cruiser “Charleston”—Class of Three Ships"