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Admiral_Thrawn_1

Were the Small boats ever launched prior to Battles?

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Got looking at the Launches and other small boats ships like a Battleships carried and got thinking about how they likely would get blown to pieces in battle and they could be more useful in picking up survivors or prisoners or something If intact. So question is would those craft ever be launched prior to engaging enemy if time permitted?

Edited by Admiral_Thrawn_1

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No but the subject has been revisited many times. Latest ideas are drone anti submarine boats. Drone interdiction boats. 

Basic immediate ideas involve embarking Israeli drone patrol boats. 

Yes the idea of dumping a score of PT boats in the water for night action was looked at. Towing your patrol missile boat worked well for India. 

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Naval engagements are very fluid with lots and lots of movement.  They'd be left far behind.  A number of engagements have also taken place at night, so dumping your rescue boats to only leave them far behind in the middle of the night while your surviving crewmen are in the cold water, in the dark isn't doing anything good for them.

 

This is a pretty "static" defensive action for the Allies, yet you can see quite a bit of movement even by the defenders.

3Db_surigaostrait04.jpg

Battle of Vella Gulf

map2.jpg

Empress Augusta Bay

EABM1.jpg.dba6f40739c8bd628835a9d9c637c1

Battle of Sunda Strait

My-Sunda-Battle-Map-May-03.jpg

 

There's also no true telling of when and where the engagement is going to start.  So when do you drop the life boats off early?  What happens if your forces need to move further?  How is this going to go in the middle of the night?  Are you going to stop your task force just before contact to drop these boats off?  Sometimes these battles have surprised both sides.

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Those boats are actually used while in port or other harbors for ferrying sailors to and from shore.  Supply runs etc.  Not really designed for the open sea.

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Our XO had and question and answer program on closed curcuit tv on the ship weekly. One week someone asked since we constantly run drills for everything why don't we ever have abandon ship drills? 

The XO answered, son If we ever have to declare abandon ship we will be in bad shape that whoevers left will just get off the best they can. 

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The only "abandon ship" drill I ever did was at RTC...  On a submarine you don't really get many chances to practice and like we told people, the escape trunks are there for your family, not you...

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2 hours ago, Admiral_Thrawn_1 said:

Got looking at the Launches and other small boats ships like a Battleships carried and got thinking about how they likely would get blown to pieces in battle and they could be more useful in picking up survivors or prisoners or something If intact. So question is would those craft ever be launched prior to engaging enemy if time permitted?

In most cases, in an actual war, many of those boats would be left back in port, and additional floats ect... would be embarked. Notice that some ships have cradles for boats and boats themselves blocking turrets or on top of turrets. I read somewhere that one  of HMS Hood's launch's is still around today, as a result of of being offloaded when WWII started.

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2 hours ago, monpetitloup said:

Wooden ships of the line launched boats before action, guess the steel ones didnt.

 

Part of the 'clear decks for action', all the ships boats would be launched and roped together, and trailed behind the ship. The livestock some ships carried would also be put out in the boats

 

2 hours ago, Viper069 said:

Those boats are actually used while in port or other harbors for ferrying sailors to and from shore.  Supply runs etc.  Not really designed for the open sea.

 

1 hour ago, SgtBeltfed said:

In most cases, in an actual war, many of those boats would be left back in port, and additional floats ect... would be embarked. Notice that some ships have cradles for boats and boats themselves blocking turrets or on top of turrets. I read somewhere that one  of HMS Hood's launch's is still around today, as a result of of being offloaded when WWII started.

^^ this.  The ships usually only carried the boats during peacetime. Due to harbor limitations, most warships could not usually tie up to a dock. Those boats were the only means for the ships crew to go ashore. If you look carefully, most of the ships have a gangway stowed on board as well as a platform to allow the crew to embark and disembark from the ship into those boats.

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It was US protocol that the decks be cleared of all splinter hazards before the ship went into combat. This included the compliment of ship's boats.

 

Examples:

 

Here's New York in Feb. 1942, preparing for her first deployment to the Atlantic theater.

 

i67RBfN.jpg

 

And here she is in August '42.

 

UkTIPDg.jpg

 

Notice that the boats are gone and have been replaced with rubber rafts that presented no splinter hazard.

 

Here's another example.

 

Brooklyn in 1939.

 

Ug5SJSZ.jpg

 

Notice the boats stored amidships.

 

Brooklyn again in 1943.

 

G1i5aJb.jpg

 

Boats removed.

 

Boats were convenient in peace time, but in war time they were nothing but splinter hazards. The compliment of boats was drastically reduced in wartime.

 

This is one of my biggest contentions with the way New York is modeled ingame. Those boats that restrict the traverse of her center turret should not be there.

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6 hours ago, ramp4ge said:

Boats were convenient in peace time, but in war time they were nothing but splinter hazards. The compliment of boats was drastically reduced in wartime.

 

To expand on this, apparently cruiser crews hated float planes, too. Especially after the first battle of Guadalcanal when almost every cruiser in the formation caught fire amidships because of the airplanes stowed and their fuel stowage. Fabric-covered airplanes have doped wings, fuselages and tail surfaces and doped fabric burns. Rapidly and intensely. And even most metal planes in WWII had fabric-covered control surfaces, at the very least. That, along with spare parts, furniture, fuel, oil, ammunition for guns and flares, depth bombs and the blasting charges for the catapults were all extra flammables stored and almost never failed to actually be a detriment to the ship itself. After the first battle of Guadalcanal, crews started shoving planes overboard and purging the avgas tanks and fuel lines and filling them with nonflammable gasses, just as a general safety measure.

 

I don't know if this was ever actually approved by CNO, but it became common practice from cruiser to cruiser. 

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On 7/29/2018 at 7:35 AM, Viper069 said:

Those boats are actually used while in port or other harbors for ferrying sailors to and from shore.  Supply runs etc.  Not really designed for the open sea.

Makes sense since I could see how some Warships would be unable to pull up to docks and that some of those small boats would indeed get in the way of combat operations.

Although recently found out how the Yamato carried their boats in special internal storage areas in the stern near aircraft hangars, makes me wonder if that ship might have kept them on board due to the fact they would not obstruct deck space and if Yamato pulled into island bays it would be more in need of them than other Warships.

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This isn't about ship's launches, but torpedo boats carried by battleships.  The late 19th Century Italian battleship (maybe turret ship is more accurate) Caio Duilio and sister ship Enrico Dandolo had a hidden compartment in the ship's stern which contained a torpedo boat which could be lauched while at sea in order to make a combined torpedo and gunfire attack against an enemy vessel. 

This may seem incredibly impractical but remember fire control for warship's guns in 1880 was fairly primative, and while these ships carried the largest naval guns in the world at that time; the Armstrong 100-ton 450 mm (17.7 inch) cannons, they could only be fired every six minutes by one source or every fifteen minteen minutes according to a second source.  Plus, the effective range of these guns (and anyone else's largest naval guns) was probably less than 3,000 meters, though the maximum theoretical range was about 6,000 meters.  (The effective range is a guess based on the British military; both Army and Royal Navy, saw these vessels as a potential threat to both Malta and Gibralter and decided they needed guns which could effectively fire out to a range of 3,000 meters to counter the Italian ships.  Ironically, the British ended up purchasing exactly the same model from Armstrong that the Italians had purchased for the Duilio's.  You can see examples of them today if you visit either Gibralter or Malta as they were too large and heavy to be easily moved and scraped.  

Now the Duilio and her sistership had a top speed of around 15 knots, which was considered very good speed at that time.  I would guess the torpedo boat had a top speed of not more than 22 knots because turbine engines wouldn't be introduced for almost another twenty years.  So in an actual fight the torpedo boat might be launched anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 meters from an opponent.  Whitehead torpedoes had a maximum range of around 600 meters at that time, so it wasn't impossible that a successful torpedo attack against a single opponent might be made.  An attack against a line of enemy warships would probably have resulted in the torpedo boat being turned into splinters.   Here's a diagram showing how the torpedo boat was carried.  Unfortunetly, I don't have any information on how long it took to open the stern doors and launch the boat, but you can see the torpedo boat was carried right at the waterline.

 

2018-12-18 21_25_49-WARSHIPSRESEARCH_ A hidden torpedo boat in Italian ironclad Caio Duilio accordin.png

Edited by Pigus_Drunkus_Maximus
better image

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Ship's boats had specific purposes assigned to them and that's why they were put on the ship.  A WW 1 to 1939 battleship typically would carry one or two steam launches for the Captain's gig / launch and one for an embarked admiral.  The second might be used to take officers on liberty or ashore too.  There would be several large launches for the ship's crew to be taken ashore for liberty and for use doing things like hauling a naval landing party (armed) ashore, or doing things like bringing out the mail and hauling supplies.  There'd be several smaller boats for things like working parties painting the ship or doing other stuff over the side.  In addition there would be several whaleboats (pointy both ends) in davits for man overboard.

In WW 2, the USN in particular started pulling most of the boats off their ships to reduce top weight.  This allowed them to remove not just the boats, but associated cranes, cleats, chocks, and other weight.  This allowed for more AA guns and splinter armor to be fitted.  What they did instead was pool the boats at harbors and anchorages and dole them out to ships that came in from operations.

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14 hours ago, Murotsu said:

Ship's boats had specific purposes assigned to them and that's why they were put on the ship.  A WW 1 to 1939 battleship typically would carry one or two steam launches for the Captain's gig / launch and one for an embarked admiral.  The second might be used to take officers on liberty or ashore too.  There would be several large launches for the ship's crew to be taken ashore for liberty and for use doing things like hauling a naval landing party (armed) ashore, or doing things like bringing out the mail and hauling supplies.  There'd be several smaller boats for things like working parties painting the ship or doing other stuff over the side.  In addition there would be several whaleboats (pointy both ends) in davits for man overboard.

In WW 2, the USN in particular started pulling most of the boats off their ships to reduce top weight.  This allowed them to remove not just the boats, but associated cranes, cleats, chocks, and other weight.  This allowed for more AA guns and splinter armor to be fitted.  What they did instead was pool the boats at harbors and anchorages and dole them out to ships that came in from operations.

 

8 hours ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

More ship space for Dakka.

Not to mention that the ship's boats were a fire hazard, a source of shrapnel, easily damaged in a fight (by both enemy and the ships own weapons).
Most of the boats removed were replaced by floater nets and Carley floats, which were more survivable, and lighter.

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18 hours ago, Pigus_Drunkus_Maximus said:

This isn't about ship's launches, but torpedo boats carried by battleships.  The late 19th Century Italian battleship (maybe turret ship is more accurate) Caio Duilio and sister ship Enrico Dandolo had a hidden compartment in the ship's stern which contained a torpedo boat which could be lauched while at sea in order to make a combined torpedo and gunfire attack against an enemy vessel. 

This may seem incredibly impractical but remember fire control for warship's guns in 1880 was fairly primative, and while these ships carried the largest naval guns in the world at that time; the Armstrong 100-ton 450 mm (17.7 inch) cannons, they could only be fired every six minutes by one source or every fifteen minteen minutes according to a second source.  Plus, the effective range of these guns (and anyone else's largest naval guns) was probably less than 3,000 meters, though the maximum theoretical range was about 6,000 meters.  (The effective range is a guess based on the British military; both Army and Royal Navy, saw these vessels as a potential threat to both Malta and Gibralter and decided they needed guns which could effectively fire out to a range of 3,000 meters to counter the Italian ships.  Ironically, the British ended up purchasing exactly the same model from Armstrong that the Italians had purchased for the Duilio's.  You can see examples of them today if you visit either Gibralter or Malta as they were too large and heavy to be easily moved and scraped.  

Now the Duilio and her sistership had a top speed of around 15 knots, which was considered very good speed at that time.  I would guess the torpedo boat had a top speed of not more than 22 knots because turbine engines wouldn't be introduced for almost another twenty years.  So in an actual fight the torpedo boat might be launched anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 meters from an opponent.  Whitehead torpedoes had a maximum range of around 600 meters at that time, so it wasn't impossible that a successful torpedo attack against a single opponent might be made.  An attack against a line of enemy warships would probably have resulted in the torpedo boat being turned into splinters.   Here's a diagram showing how the torpedo boat was carried.  Unfortunetly, I don't have any information on how long it took to open the stern doors and launch the boat, but you can see the torpedo boat was carried right at the waterline.

 

2018-12-18 21_25_49-WARSHIPSRESEARCH_ A hidden torpedo boat in Italian ironclad Caio Duilio accordin.png

They're steam launches, you'd have to deploy them some time before an action so they have time to get the boiler hot. They were probably more useful for security, by forcing a hostile ship to keep it's distance if the Italian ship was caught in harbor and needed time to get up steam to maneuver and defend itself. Launching and recovering craft while underway in that era was pretty dicey, and those launches probably aren't seaworthy enough to risk having them deployed in the middle of the Med.

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22 hours ago, SgtBeltfed said:

They're steam launches, you'd have to deploy them some time before an action so they have time to get the boiler hot. They were probably more useful for security, by forcing a hostile ship to keep it's distance if the Italian ship was caught in harbor and needed time to get up steam to maneuver and defend itself. Launching and recovering craft while underway in that era was pretty dicey, and those launches probably aren't seaworthy enough to risk having them deployed in the middle of the Med.

The concept was to launch them at sea.  You can't see it in the picture I posted, but there is a large ventilator shaft leading from the torpedo boat compartment to the top deck above.  They could have fired up their boiler inside the compartment.  The French had the same idea, but the ship they used (Foudre launched in 1895) carried it's torpedo boats on deck.  These boats were also supposed to attack at sea; obviously in calm weather, but I imagine they would have had to be launched behind a screen of warships.  The Danes also had two coast defense ships which carried 2 torpedo boats, but in their case, coast defense ships often operated in shallow waters close to shore and in the relatively safe shallows, there would have been time to launch the boats, get their engines fired up; and the launched torpedo boats wouldn't necessarily have to be recovered by the ship, they could sail to shore or harbor.  The Royal Navy also had a vessel that carried torpedo boats; HMS Vulcan launched in 1889, but I believe this ship was just a torpedo boat tender vessel and repair ship.  I haven't read that it's boats were intended to be launched at sea.  (The Danes also had one small ocean going cruiser that operated in the Far East and later West Indies, that carried 2 torpedo boats, but I haven't found much information about it.) 

Obviously, this was an idea that didn't catch on with most navies because it wasn't very practical.  These torpedo boats needed time to become operational and could only be used at sea under very calm conditions.  The torpedo boats themselves weren't particularly fast and with the creation of the torpedo boat destroyer, the use of torpedo boats became limited to night actions and small operations close to shore, or within a bay or harbor as you suggested.  The French Navy converted the Foudre into a repair vessel in 1907 and later a seaplane carrier in 1911 (seaplanes launched by crane).  The Vulcan was converted into a depot ship sometime after 1900.  The two Danish vessels operated until the 1930's, but I would bet they would have left their torpedo boats ashore long before then. 

Below: Foudre demonstrating launching torpedo boats.

 

La Foudre - torpedo boats.jpg

Edited by Pigus_Drunkus_Maximus

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Ya and I wish they would remove those boats from the ships in game but hay I guess it gives them an excuse as to why battleships burn so easy. All that extra wood to fuel the fires.

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7 hours ago, donaldEpott said:

Ya and I wish they would remove those boats from the ships in game but hay I guess it gives them an excuse as to why battleships burn so easy. All that extra wood to fuel the fires.

There are many causes as to why a warship would light up easily.  Most pre-WW 2 ships have wooden decks.  Many have wooden partitions (as opposed to bulkheads of metal) and other wooden internal fittings and finish in them.  Most have wooden chairs, tables, etc., for messing the crew, etc.  There are also the crew's own possessions like clothing.

Ships with ventilation systems, including draft blowers for the boilers, get filth in those that builds up over time.  That allows the fire to propagate through the ship.  Seen that one for real in the Navy on a couple of occasions.  Insulation on electrical cables is usually flammable to one degree or another.  Too much paint on bulkheads and whatnot will provide lots of fuel for a fire.

Then if you have things like aircraft with avgas, liquid oxygen torpedoes, poor coal storage (a major cause of fire for Russian ships at Tsushima because they were carrying extra coal outside their bunkers), or other major flammables, these become fuel for fires.  In the grand scheme of things, the ship's boats are a minor fire hazard overall.

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Ya but in real life they would not carry all those boats with them into combat and they just look tacky anyway. I just wish they would remove them for that reason alone that they just clutter up the decks..... same reason the Titanic didn't have enough lifeboats.

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The big two reasons navies in WW 2 in particular started to go to floats, rafts, and floater nets was these would be installed such that if the ship sank they'd float to the surface on their own being loosely hooked such that they could come off in that event.  The other reason was even if damaged, they still worked as they were made from material that floated naturally.

That gave the crew a bit better chance for survival, but the rule generally is If your ship sinks, you die.  If the ship doesn't sink, no matter how battered and broken it might be, you probably will survive.  The tanker Neosho is an excellent example of this.  The Japanese bombed and torpedoed her such that she sank to the main deck but remained afloat, barely.  Most of her crew and a big portion of the destroyer escorting her (sunk too) stayed with the wreck and were eventually rescued.

Edited by Murotsu

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