EVERY naval conflict, no matter how insignificant, or how great the disparity between the rival fleets, should furnish its quota of that technical information, upon which the designs of fighting ships are based and by which changes in the strategy and tactics of the future are modified. Those of us who have followed modern naval history with any close attention will call to mind the historic fight between Chilian and Peruvian armored ships, and the value which was placed upon the technical re-suits of that struggle. The principal object lesson of the present war between Italy and Turkey is that of the great value of the command of the sea. War had not been declared many hours before the Turkish government found itself as absolutely separated from Tripoli, the cause of contention, as though that place were located upon the planet Mars instead of upon the opposite shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The situation will turn the; minds of all thoughtful Americans to the far-distant Philippines, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal; and the question will be asked Is not four, rather than two battleships a year the correct standard, if we are to hold these distant possessions beyond all possibility of loss?" Granting that in the strength of their land forces the Italian and Turkish nations are fairly well matched, it is evident at a glance that the disparity in the naval forces is ho great as to render the present contest on the high seas almost farcical. If the Turkish navy should give a good account of itself, it will certainly not be because of its strength in ships, guns and men. With few exceptions, all the ships Turkey possesses were obsolete before the keels of the modern fleets of the nations were laid. The Turkish fleet consist of three battleships, the Hairredin Barbarosse the Torgud Reis and the Messudiyeh The first two are cast-offs of the German navy, which were built twenty years ago and were unloaded on Turkey last year. They were formerly the Friedrich Wilhelm and the Wiessenburg, and they carry, each, six ll-inch guns of an old pattern, in three center-line turrets. The armor is of the old compound type and the original speed of the ships was 17 knots. The third battleship, the Messudiyeh built in 1874, reconstructed in 1902, is of 10,000 tons displacement, 16 knots speed, and is armored with two 9.2-inch guns and twelve 6-inch, and protected with 12-inch iron armor. These three battleships combined would te no match for any one of the modern Italian battleships In the protected cruiser class, Turkey possesses three modern vessels, the Hamidieh and a sister ship, both of which were built in Europe. They are of 3,800 tons, and 22 knots speed, and carry two 6-inch and eight 4.7-inch guns. Another modern vessel is the Medjidieh of 3,330 tons, built by the Cramps, in 1904. This is also a 22-knot vessel, carying two 6-inch and eight 4.7-inch guns. All . three of these cruisers rely for protection on a 4-inch protective deck. The rest of the fleet is made up of four obsolete vessels, of 2,400 to 5,000 tons displacement and 12 knots design speed, built in the 60's, carrying iron armor and four 6-inch guns, which are to-day of practically no value. Two 775-ton gunboats, built in 1906, a 500 ton gunboat built in 1907, one of 775 tons built in 1890 and seven of 213 tons and 12-knot speed, built in 1907-09, with eight other gunboats of 200 to 600 tons, and 12-knot speed, complete the list of larger vessels of the Turkish navy. In destroyers Turkey possesses some modern vessels, including four of 620 tons and over 30 knots, and four of 305 tons and :;8 knots. The navy includes also fourteen tor- pedo boats, built between 1901 and 1907, of 26 to 27 knots speed. From the above enumeration it will .be seen that the Turkish navy is incapable of fighting a fleet action with a modern navy. Her fast cruisers, in the hands of skilfull and daring officers, might prove effective in damaging Italian commerce or threatening the line of Italian communications; ai-though Italy fast cruisers should be able to capture and destroy these vessels or drive them under the shelter of Turkish land fortifications. The Italian navy is worthy of a maritime people who have contributed largely to the development of the modern types of warships. The battleships in particular are noted for carrying unusually heavy armaments and possessing speeds that are higher than the average of other navies. The most important vessels are three of the “Conti di Cavour” class, 21,500 tons and 22.5 knots, which are the first battleships to carry thirteen 12-inch guns, nine of them in three 3-gun turrets and four in two 2-gun turrets, all on the center line. Practically completed is another fine ship, the “Dante Alighieri,” 19,000 tons, 23 knots, which will carry twelve 12-inch in four 3-gun center line turrets. Of pre-dreadnoughts the Italian navy possesses four of the “Vittorio E'ma' 'ele” class (1904-7), viz., the “Emanuele,” “J -ina Elena,” “Napoli” and “Roma") 12,625 ons, 21 knots, carrying in turrets two 12-inch and twelve 8-inch, and protected by a 10-inch belt of Terni face-hardened armor: The “Benedetto Brin” and “Regina Margherita” (1901), of 13,427 tons and 202 knots, are heavily armed, but lightly protected battleships, mounting in turrets four 12"s, four 8's and twelve 6's, and protected by a belt of only 6-inch maximum thickness. The “San Giorgio” and “San Marco” (1908), of 9,830 tons and 23 knots, carry four 10's and eight 7.5's, all in two-gun turrets. They are protected by an 8-inch belt. The “Pisa” and “Amalfi” (1907-8), of 10,118 tons, 23.6 knots, carry the same armament and belt. In armored vessels the Italians also possess five armored cruisers, of 7,400 to 9,800 tons (1897-1902), which are of the same general class as the “Cristobal Colon,” of the Spanish war, and the “Kasuga” of the Japanese navy. These are the “Garibaldi,” “Varese” and “Francesco Ferruccio,” of 7,400 tons and 20 knot speed, protected by a 6-inch belt, carrying one 10-inch gun and two 8-inch in turrets and a broadside of fourteen 6-inch. The other two are the “St. Bon” and “Fili-berto,” 9,800 tons, 18 knots speed, 9%-inch belt, carrying four 10-inch in turrets and eight 6-inch and eight 4.7-inch guns in broadside. The “Carlo Alberto” and “Vettor Pisani” (1895-96), 6,500 tons and 19 knots, are protected by a 6-inch belt and mount twelve 6-inch and six 4.7-inch in broadside. The “Marco Polo” (1892), 4,583 tons, 19 knots, protected by a 4-inch belt and mounting six 6-inch and four 4.7 inch, dates from 1892. The above completes the list of modern armored vessels of the Italian navy, and the fact wiil be recognized that the ships are generaily of first-class design. Of old armored vessels Italy possesses the “Sicilia,” the “Re Umberto” and “Sardegla” (1887-91), of 13,500 tons and about 18 knots speed, armed with old 13.5 and 6-inch guns, and protected by a 4%-inch belt. Then there are the “Dandolo,” “Italia” and the “Lepanto.” The first-named was built in 1878, and mounts four 10-inch, seven 6-inch and five 4.7 inch guns. The “Italia” and “Lepanto,” of about 15,500 tons, built in 1880-8:', were phenomenal ships of their day, since they had no belt armor and yet mounted four 17-inch 100-ton guns. They were orig-nally built for 18 IP10tS. (Continued on page 377.)
This article was originally published with the title "Relative Strength of the Italian and Turkish Navies"