REFERENCE DOCUMENTS & RESOURCES - OFFICIAL ADMIRALTY DOCUMENTS
ADM 1/8586/70: FINAL REPORT OF THE POST-WAR QUESTIONS COMMITTEE (1920)
Updated 16-Mar-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 2 OF TERMS OF REFERENCE.

“2. To report which types of vessels (including aircraft) should compose the Principal Gleet on mobilisation for war and in what proportions they should be provided, with the reasons for the necessity of each type. Regard should be had to the fact that considerations of construction and maintenance demand that the number of different types should be kept as small as possible, and the possibility of fitting ships for alternative purposes should be considered.”


INDEX

 

Para.

TYPES OF VESSELS (INCLUDING AIRCRAFT) TO COMPOSE PRINCIPAL FLEET ON MOBILISATION FOR WAR

PROPORTIONS OF EACH TYPE

(a) Unit Battle Fleet
(b) Unit Battle Cruiser Force

 
 

REASONS FOR THE NECESSITY OF EACH TYPE OF VESSEL

(a) The Battleship.

(d) The Flotilla Leader and Fleet Destroyer  

(b) The Battle Cruiser

(e) The Fleet Submarine  

(c) The Fleet Light Cruiser

(f) The Fleet Aircraft Carrier  

SPECIAL TYPES PROPOSED TO COMMITTEE

ALTERNATIVE PURPOSES FOR SHIPS


1.- TYPES OF VESSELS (INCLUDING AIRCRAFT) TO COMPOSE
PRINCIPAL FLEET ON MOBILISATION FOR WAR.

The Principal Fleet, i.e. those ships actually required for fighting a Fleet Action, should consist on mobilisation for war of the following types:-

Battleships
Battle Cruisers
Light Cruisers
Destroyers, including Flotilla Leaders.
Submarines.
Fleet Aircraft Carriers (for Reconnaissance Machines, Torpedo Machines, Fighters, special types and reserve gunnery spotting machines.

2.- PROPORTIONS OF EACH TYPE

In order to tabulate the proportions in which the above types should be provided the Unit Battle Fleet has been taken as 10 and the Unit Battle Cruiser Force as 5, so as to ensure having 8 and 4 ships respectively fit for service.

(a) Unit Battle Fleet.

No of Ships in Unit.

Type of Ship.

Remarks

10

Battleship

This figure is taken as the unit to ensure having eight fit for service.

10

Light Cruiser

To ensure having two Light Cruiser Squadrons of four Light Cruisers each fit for service.

44

Flotilla Leader and Fleet Destroyer.

To ensure having two Flotillas fit for service, each Flotilla consisting of:-

Flotilla Leaders 2

Four Divisions of four T.B.D.’s each 16

Spare T.B.D.’s __ 4

Total 22

14

Submarine

To ensure having two Flotillas of six each fit for service.

2

Fleet Aircraft Carrier

To carry all Aircraft for the Battle Fleet except those carried in fighting ships.

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(b) Unit Battle Cruiser Force.

No of Ships in Unit.

Type of Ship.

Remarks

5

Battle Cruiser

This figure is taken as the unit to ensure having four fit for service.

5

Light Cruiser

Ditto.

22

Flotilla Leader and Fleet Destroyer.

To ensure having one Flotilla fit for service, each Flotilla composed as under Unit Battle Fleet.

1

Fleet Aircraft Carrier

To carry all Aircraft for the Battle Cruisers except those carried in fighting ships.

 

3. - REASONS FOR THE NECESSITY OF EACH TYPE

(a) The Battleship.

The Torpedo was proved in the late war to be an essentially limited weapon compared with the gun, but because of its existence the modern unit fleet must be composed of different types of vessels.

It is impossible to arrest the development of gun power at the Light Cruiser or any intermediate stage until we reach the maximum in the Capital Ship.

Therefore the Capital Ship is the final arbiter, in other words the Battleship retains her old predominant position.

This does not mean that the present type of Capital Ship must necessarily be the Capital Ship of the future. What has been shown is the necessity for a ship which will bear a corresponding relation to the other types of ships composing a Fleet which the Capital Ship of to-day does to existing smaller craft.

(b) The Battle Cruiser.

The Battle Cruiser is the Capital Ship of all fast craft but, owing to the limitations her speed imposes on her offensive power, she must be inferior in strength to a contemporary Battleship.

Should no other Power possess Battle Cruisers we should not require them.

(c) The Fleet Light Cruiser.

Her necessity lies in the need for self-contained war vessels of fair gun power and good look-out facilities.

Speed is essential with the Fleet, as she is required to fight and destroy light fast craft in addition to carrying out her intelligence duties.

(d) The Flotilla Leader and Fleet Torpedo Boat Destroyer.

The Flotilla Leader and Destroyer are required for Fleet torpedo offensive, for breaking up by gunfire the torpedo attack of their opposite numbers, for Fleet screening and other Fleet duties.

Hunting and Mining Flotillas are referred to in Report on paragraph 4, Terms of Reference, but any division of Destroyers should be capable of taking on hunting duties.

(e) The Fleet Submarine.

No Fleet is complete without submarines of a surface speed at lest equal to that of the Battle Fleet trained to work as an integral part of that Fleet to attack enemy heavy ships.

(f) The Fleet Aircraft Carrier

As at present aircraft are limited in their endurance and are required to fly at sea and return to ships, the Aircraft Carrier is necessary to keep them ready for action and to receive them on return.

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4.- SPECIAL TYPES PROPOSED TO COMMITTEE

Proposals have been put forward for future special vessels, such as Torpedo Cruisers, Mining Cruisers and even Smoke Screen Cruisers to form part of the Principal Fleet.

Your Committee has considered these special types and has come to the conclusion that none of them are required.

The experiences of this war have gone far to confirm the wisdom of our traditional policy, founded on centuries of experience, of building “General Service” Ships. This is the more satisfactory as financial difficulties in time of peace will confine new construction within very narrow limits.

5. ALTERNATIVE PURPOSES FOR SHIPS.

As regards using ships for alternative purposes, your Committee considers that this is not desirable for those ships composing the Principal Fleet, but as certain types becoming obsolescent for Principal Fleet duties they can, at slight outlay, be altered into efficient vessels for subsidiary purposes as laid down for Torpedo Boat Destroyers and Flotilla Leaders in the section of this report of those craft.

There are, however, certain existing vessels not belonging to the Principal Fleet, which it is convenient to consider here under the heading “alternative purposes.”

“Courageous” and “Glorious” could be used for minelaying in addition to supporting Light Cruiser Squadrons. Each can carry 200 mines, landing their A.W. tubes when mines are embarked and replacing them when their mining is finished.

“Erebus” and “Terror” could be used for defensive minelaying in addition to their proper work. With a small amount of alteration each vessel could carry 400 mines.

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