REFERENCE DOCUMENTS & RESOURCES - OFFICIAL ADMIRALTY DOCUMENTS
ADM 1/8586/70: FINAL REPORT OF THE POST-WAR QUESTIONS COMMITTEE (1920)
Updated 18-Oct-2007

This document is a modern transcription of Admiralty record ADM 1/8586/70. It concerning naval lessons learned from the First World War. It was transcribed by David Chessum on behalf of the the Royal Navy Flag Officers 1904-1945 website. The original file is held at the The National Archives at Kew, London. This Crown Copyrighted material is reproduced here by kind permission of The National Archives.

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REPORT ON PARAGRAPH 1 OF TERMS OF REFERENCE.

1. “To consider in the light of the experience of the war, the military uses and values of the different types of war vessels.”

 

INDEX.

THE BATTLESHIP

Para.

Military uses

Military value

THE BATTLE CRUISER

 

Military uses

Military value

SPECIAL CRUISERS

CRUISERS

THE LIGHT CRUISER

 

Military uses of Fleet Light Cruisers

Military uses of detached Light Cruisers

Military value

THE MONITOR

 

Military uses

Military value

THE FLOTILLA LEADER AND TORPEDO BOAT DESTROYERS

 

Military uses

Military value of a Leader

Military value of Destroyers

THE SUBMARINE

 

Military uses

Military value

THE FLEET AIRCRAFT CARRIER

 

Military uses

Military value

THE MINELAYER.

 

Military uses

Military value of Mining

Military value of offensive Minelayers

Military value of defensive Minelayers

THE MINESWEEPER

 

Military uses

Military value

THE COASTAL MOTOR BOAT

 

Military uses

Military value

ANTI-SUBMARINE VESSELS

 

Sloops, P. and P.C. Boats, Patrol Gunboats and Trawlers

 

Military uses

Military value

Detection apparatus

“Q” Ships.

 

Military uses

Military value

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THE BATTLESHIP.

1. Military Uses.

(a) To destroy her opposite number, or to deny her the sea except at the risk of action.
(b) To act as a support for all other craft.
(c) To threaten or to bombard enemy’s coasts, thus necessitating expenditure of energy in coast defence.
(d) She is the best police force, having heavy artillery and a large landing party always available. She is a training ship, a workshop, and a depot for men and stores.

2. Military Value. – The Battleship is the highest form of sea-going, self-contained war vessel, and as such is the final arbiter in naval warfare.

THE BATTLE CRUISER.

3. Military Uses.

(a) To destroy her opposite number, or to deny her the sea except at the risk of action.
(b) To reconnoitre for the Main Fleet, and support the light advanced forces.
(c) To support light forces in independent operations.
(d) To make the sea unsafe for smaller types of surface craft unsupported by Battleships.

4. Military Value. – Lies in the combination of great speed and gun power.

THE SPECIAL CRUISER.

5. We are unable to assess the military uses and values of the Special Cruisers in the light of their employment during the war.

THE CRUISER.

6. Although obsolescent, all British (armoured) Cruisers did good service till the end of the war.

THE LIGHT CRUISER.

7. Military Uses of Fleet Light Cruisers.

(a) To scout for the Fleet.
(b) To attack the light forces of the enemy and to beat off their attacks on our Fleet.
(c) To attack Capital Ships with torpedoes.

8. Military Uses of detached Light Cruisers.

(a) To support minelaying, aircraft and Destroyer operations, and to defeat similar enemy attacks.
(b) To patrol against raiders and to hunt them down.
(c) To support convoys.
(d) To carry out minor operations.
(e) To transport small bodies of troops, and to support them on shore.
(f) To bring pressure to bear on small States.

9. Military Value. – Depends on numbers; hence ships must be of moderate size and of sufficient but not undue power.

THE MONITOR.

10. Military Uses.

(a) To bring a heavy gun into shallow water.
(b) To bombard forts and land forces and support the flank of an army resting on the sea.

11. Military Value. – Lies in their heavy gun armament on a good gun platform, moderate immunity from under-water damage, and cheapness and rapidity of construction.

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THE FLOTILLA LEADER AND TORPEDO BOAT DESTROYER.

12. Military Uses.

(a) Fleet flotilla duties, i.e., offensive tactics, screening and patrolling.
(b) Striking forces, i.e., Flotillas working in a unit separate from a Fleet. Examples: Harwich Force; Dover Patrol; operations in support of the Army at Gallipoli.
(c) Minelaying.
(d) Minesweeping.
(e) Escort of convoys and ships.
(f) Anti-submarine patrol, including hunting flotillas.
(g) Any other auxiliary duty for which the type is suitable; for instance, rescue work in heavy seas, etc.

13. Military Value of a Flotilla Leader. – Lies in her being a better sea-boat than a Destroyer, possessing good navigational and signalling appliances, etc., which make her a suitable ship from which to lead and direct a flotilla of destroyers.

14. Military Value of Destroyers. – Lies in their being fast, handy craft, operating in numbers with or without the Fleet. They have proved themselves indispensable, but size must not be increased beyond that absolutely necessary, the essence of the Destroyer being handiness, cheapness, and the small personnel required.

THE SUBMARINE.

15. Military Uses.

(a) Look-out duties of the enemy’s coast.
(b) Attack on surface ships.
(c) Attack on Submarines.
(d) Mine-laying.
(e) Attack and defence of trade.
(f) Patrol duties off our own bases at home and abroad.

During the war the above were all single ship duties. In the future we shall have the Fleet Submarine and probably, in some cases also the Patrol Submarine, working in Flotillas.

16. Military Value. – The military value of the Submarine has been proved by the efficient carrying-out of the above duties in the late war.

The results of torpedo attacks against enemy ships during the war were small, partially due to the failure of the torpedo. The Submarine was the shark of the sea and succeeded against the slow and the maimed, but seldom against the fast, well-screened ship, though the moral effect of the Submarine menace was very great.

Though the actual results attained were small, we do not consider they can be taken as a fair criterion of the Submarine’s military value, which your Committee assess at a higher figure for the future.

A Submarine is a cheap type of war vessel, as she has a long life.

THE FLEET AIRCRAFT CARRIER.

17. Military Uses.

(a) To ensure that the force with which she is operating is self-contained for aerial reconnaissance, and that this reconnaissance is continued as long as required.
(b) To carry the aircraft necessary for the Fleet aerial offensive.
(c) To enable aircraft to attack enemy bases and forces, or to reconnoitre his defended waters.

Her functions are those of the mobile depot rather than the fighting ship.

18. Military Value. – Is at present great and will increase with the development and utility of the machines she carries until such time as aircraft become altogether independent of Carriers.

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THE MINELAYER

19. Military Uses. – To lay offensive and defensive minefields against both surface craft and submarines.

20. Military Value of Mining. – Is measured by the loss inflicted on the enemy by the extent his Fleet is hampered in its movements, and by the expenditure of men and material imposed on him by his minesweeping organisation.

21. Military Value of Offensive Minelayers.- The value of each of the different types of minelayers necessary to lay offensive minefields depends on their ability to lay undamaged mines in exact position and unknown to the enemy.

22. Military Value of Defensive Minelayers. – The military value of defensive minelayers depends on mine capacity and ability o lay undamaged mines.

THE MINESWEEPER.

Sloops, Twin- and Single-Screw Minesweepers, Paddle Sweepers and Trawlers.

23. Military Uses.

(a) To keep clear the approaches to our ports.
(b) To search for and locate enemy minefields.
(c) To sweep up enemy minefields and our own when no longer required.

24. Military Value. – Depends on their ability successfully to carry out the above duties; in clear water it is enhanced by the co-operation of aircraft (especially lighter-than-air).

THE COASTAL MOTOR BOAT.

25. Military Uses.

(a) Attack on defended harbours.
(b) Attack on surface craft previously located.
(c) Reconnaissance in shallow or mined waters.
(d) Minelaying.
(e) Anti-submarine work.
(f) Smoke screening.

26. Military Value. – Is limited by their poor sea-keeping qualities, their low endurance and their present inability to face heavier-than-air craft by day.

They have great value for night operations.

ANTI-SUBMARINE VESSELS.

Sloops, P. and P.C. Boats, Patrol Gunboats and Trawlers.

27. Military Uses.

(a) Anti-submarine patrol.
(b) Submarine hunting.
(c) Anti-submarine escort work.

28. Military Value. – Lay in their ability generally to harass submarines, and this duty they performed with success, as far as their means allowed.

29. Detection Apparatus. – Your Committee wish to emphasis their opinion that no vessel or combination of vessels can make the sea safe, or even reasonably safe, against submarines until a submarine-detecting apparatus has been perfected.

Q Ships.

30. Military Uses.

(a) To destroy submarines.
(b) To make submarines regard all merchant ships with suspicion, thus limiting possible methods of submarine attack.

31. Military Value. – Lay in their concealed armament, and though their value for (a) fell off s their character became known, their value for (b) remained.

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