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offing, would be placed at a serious disadvantage by the almost certain continuance of foggy weather at sea, which should leave the inshore waters, in which the defending force would operate, altogether unobscured. There is another advantage due to the geographical peculiarities of this region, which would add greatly to the strength of a defending squadron, however weak numerically. The island of Sakhalin has already been compared to a screen. It does indeed perform exactly the office of a screen to a great portion of the Siberian coast. To blockade that coast effectually, provision would have to be made against egress either by the gulf to the south or by the Liman of the Amoor to the north. This could only be secured by employing two separate forces, one stationed in the Sea of Okhotsk and the other in the Japanese Sea. The blockaded navy, acting on interior lines, might with ease combine to operate against either one of these without its being in the power
of the other to come to its assistance in time. A consideration of the above facts can hardly fail to show the remarkable strength of the Russian naval position in the Pacific as compared with that of any other European nation, not excepting ourselves. Now that Russia has resigned Alaska and the Aleutian Archipelago to the United States, her dominions lie altogether within a ring fence. In addition to that, Possiette Bay, Vladivostok, and Olga Bay are at no great distance from the path taken by the ships that trade to Shanghai, the Yang-tze, Northern China, and Japan. Vladivostok, indeed, is only 1,600 miles from Hong-kong, and is therefore nearly the same distance from it that the latter colony is from Singapore. It is only about four days' run north of Shanghai. The possession of an island station in the narrow waters between Japan and Corea or off the southern extremity of the latter peninsula would, without doubt, to a great extent neutralise these advantages. In the absence of such a possession it would seem that the only course open to a navy called upon to protect the trade of this country against cruisers issuing from the Siberian ports would be to attack them in form and destroy the ships which they might contain. One significant anecdote may be given, which will explain with much distinctness what the escape of a cruising squadron from those harbours would imply as against our commercial interests in the Pacific. When, towards the end of 1878, the late
* It should perhaps be noted that very large ships cannot pass from the Gulf of Tartary to the Liman of the Amoor; but it is not likely that ships of such a class would be employed on either side in those waters. Prime Minister was presented with a gold box by the British residents in San Francisco, the spokesman of the deputation, Mr. Harrison, said in the course of his address, We had thirteen Russian cruisers lying in our harbour, and some 600,000 or 700,000 tons about leaving it.'*
As the greater part of the cargoes of the ships whose sailing depended upon the event of peace or war, was composed of food for this country, we may concede that there was something more than mere business interests that might have had to look to our navy
The strength of the force at the disposal of the Russian governor of the maritime province has of late been considerably increased. The navy of Russia is divided into several distinet divisions, of the Baltic, the Black Sea, &c. The men and the ships stationed in the newly acquired dominion belong to the Siberian fleet. Both officers and seamen are engaged on terms of service differing from those in force in the other sections of the navy, and are paid on a different and a higher scale. The normal strength of the personnel is, as has been said above, one équipage or ship’s company,' of about 2,500 men, a number which probably falls but little short of that of the united crews of our whole China squadron, and is about equal to those of our Pacific and Australian squadrons put together. In order that the seamen may be free to man the vessels of the Siberian fleet, it appears, if we may trust recent accounts from China coming from an English source, that a large force of Cossacks has been ordered to the country in consequence of the threatening aspect of the relations of Russia with the Chinese Empire. The military force maintained in the whole Amoor region is some 15,000 strong, of which about twothirds are to be found on the lower portion of the river and in or near the coast ports. An ordinance of the middle of May of the present year directs the formation of four battalions of riflemen from amongst the settlers.
The ships of the Siberian fleet of all classes numbered till recently five sea-going cruisers of moderate size, and nearly twenty transports, gunboats, and river steamers. These have been considerably reinforced, and one of the latest pieces of intelligence received concerning this portion of the Russian navy is that five vessels of large dimensions are to be added to it. The well-built and rapid ocean steamers purchased by
• Commander Gurdon, R.N., says (Journal of Royal United Service Institution, vol. xxi. p. 686): 'I have seen 70,000 tons of British shipping lying at anchor at one time in the harbour of San Francisco.'
the Government and by patriotic societies during the Turkish war have been employed to run at regular intervals between Odessa and Vladivostok, carrying convicts and warlike stores, and being prepared to remain out if circumstances should render their presence in the far East desirable. One of these, the Nijni Novgorod, is just about to make her second trip from the Black Sea. These vessels have great speed and exceptional coal-carrying capacity, and are, in fact, exactly the kind of craft which would prove most formidable in war to an enemy's commerce. It will be remembered that our own Admiralty made preparations, during the complications in the East of Europe, to equip, if desirable, a certain number of the faster steamers of our mercantile marine, with the special object of aiding in the protection of our ocean trade. The authorities of St. Petersburg have actually put into practice that which we have been providing for as a possible future expedient. In a list of the ships of the Russian navy now before us we can count no less than twelve of such vessels purchased from the merchant service at home, in Germany, and in the United States; whilst another, which promises to be the most efficient of all, is being constructed by a French company at La Seyne, near Toulon.
In addition to this Siberian squadron the Russians have also a regular division of ships in Chinese waters under an admiral who is, in peace at all events, quite independent of the commander of the former. For some years this has consisted, as a rule, of a large cruiser as flagship and four or five smaller ones, all unarmoured. But a short time ago it was powerfully reinforced ; two armour-clads, the · Minin' and the Prince Pojarski,' and three new swift and well-armed cruisers of the new type, two of which spent some time at Spithead on their way out, have been added to it. One of the armoured vessels has, however, lately passed through the Suez Canal on her return to Europe. There are thus two distinct naval divisions available for the different duties of defending the base of operations and of harassing the commerce of an enemy who may have an important Pacific trade.
The other European navies most largely represented in the different parts of the Pacific are the French, the German, and our own. The first has a stationary force in the colony of Cochin-China, some small vessels, generally not steamers, at the islands in the southern portion of the ocean, and a China and a Pacific squadron, which together comprise two armourclads and nine cruisers of the second and third classes. The Germans usually have four or five ships, all unarmoured, in the waters of China or cruising at large throughout the Pacific. They have recently sent one armoured vessel to the coast of South America for the protection of their interests during the war between Peru and Chili; and, as the imperial government appears resolved to second the efforts of private adventurers to effect a settlement or establish a colony at Samoa, an extra vessel or two will probably continue to be employed in that neighbourhood. Our own force in number of vessels is highly respectable. We have, in the China, the Pacific, and the Australian stations, thirty-four vessels, besides harbour ships and sailing schooners. Of these three are efficient armourclads, one is an old-fashioned turret-ship for the defence of Hong-kong, another is a powerful coast service turret-ship belonging
to the Government of Victoria, and fourteen are cruisers of different sizes; the remainder are gun-vessels and gunboats not adapted for cruising purposes. This force is at present much above the strength at which it was kept for several years previous to 1878. In those days it was, without question, superior to that of any other Power in the Pacific. At present it would seem as if not only Russia, but Japan also, with her three new armour-clads, can show squadrons which do not fall very much behind it.
The possession of a suitable base is a powerful factor in determining the real strength of a naval force. However numerous the ships composing it may be, and however efficient their condition, they cannot be depended upon to carry out extended operations if required to act at a distance from a coaling station. In the western portion of the Pacific we possess no coaling station north of Hong-kong which would be available in war.
Ample supplies of coal may indeed be obtained in Japan, and probably within a short time in Northern China. But these countries have now become recognised members of the family of nations, with which the regular forms of international courtesy must be observed. Both would hasten to issue a proclamation of neutrality were a war to occur between European nations with fleets in their waters; and both are to a great extent provided with the means of enforcing respect for their neutrality. The Russian ships would have the enormous advantage of a long line of coast and many harbours to which they could resort, where they would find plenty of fuel and supplies of all kinds procured on the spot or brought to them by a land route quite secure against attacks from hostile ships. No other European Power has the same resources on the spot.
The French colonies in Cochin China and in the South
Pacific are too isolated, and in some cases too completely commanded by our own dependencies near them, to prove formidable to us for any length of time, were we ever so unfortunate as to be engaged in war with France. The same may be said of all the transmarine possessions of the other European powers which belong to what has been called the Pacific system. However little may have been done towards protecting the outlying dominions of the English Crown against maritime enemies, there can be no question that the great Australian colonies have already reached a pitch of development which would enable them, in case of emergency, to play a very distinguished part in a naval contest in the South Seas. It is certainly to be regretted that no attempt has been made as yet to organise the materials which they possess in evident abundance for the equipment of a cruising navy which might, at the least, prove equal to neutralising the advantages red by a hostile power from the occupation of a station near them. The labours of the Royal Commission on Colonial Defence • may result in devising some satisfactory arrangement for utilising the undoubted powers of self-protection which our fellowcountrymen at the Antipodes enjoy.
One other country possesses a strategic position on the Pacific which is even more formidable than that held by Russia in the Gulf of Tartary and further north. The Californian harbours of the United States are in intimate connexion with the rest of the Republic, are situated in a temperate latitude, and, besides having the command of practically unlimited wealth, have every appliance for the equipment and repair of ships. In addition to this, San Francisco is placed directly on the flank of the trade route which runs from the Straits of Magellan and the Isthmus of Panama to our colonies in British Columbia and Vancouver. It is not too much to say that this port, which contains a naval yard of old standing,
practically dominates the whole northern portion of the Eastern Pacific. In some local peculiarities, such as those to which attention has been called in enumerating the advantages of the maritime province of Eastern Siberia, the Californian coast is strategically inferior, as a base for a force acting on the defensive, to the Russian. But this inferiority would be to a great extent, if not entirely, compensated by the excellence of its geographical situation. As a matter of fact, however, we can afford to disregard the striking superiority of the American naval position in the ocean more readily than that of any other important power. By far the greater part of our trade in that quarter of the world is with San Francisco itself, and