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"Why the World’s Greatest Naval Power Opposed the..." Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 3:41 p.m. PST

… Use of Steam Ships.

"From the start of the 19th century, the race was on to create steam-powered navies. This would eventually take the world's fleets from wooden sailing ships to the high-tech vessels we know today. But the process of change was slow, and Great Britain, the greatest naval power of the era, opposed this advance in technology.

Steam power was developed in the 18th century, as the first steps were taken in the industrial revolution. Initially used for processes such as powering factories and pumping air out of mines, steam engines became increasingly compact and powerful, in particular through the work of Scottish inventor James Watt.

The USA was the first country to produce a steam-powered warship. The Demologos was developed to solve difficulties fighting Britain during the War of 1812. Twin-hulled and driven by internal paddle wheels, she was little more than a floating artillery platform. Utterly unseaworthy, she was still able to help defend the harbor at New York…"
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GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Apr 2017 3:24 a.m. PST

Dear me Tango you really do find some tosh !!

Can't you find REAL sources not just rubbish like this.

wminsing21 Apr 2017 7:28 a.m. PST

Well, the article isn't entirely wrong; the British Admiralty was not thrilled at the strategic shift the steam engine represented, since it offered a whole new array of options to an enemy army trying to cross the channel . But the article gets it wrong that the British tried to hold the technology back or interfere with it; they simply kept abreast of developments and kept pace. I think it's very telling that the first RN steamship (the Comet) entered service in 1821, while the first French steamer (The Sphinx) didn't enter service until 1829.


StarCruiser21 Apr 2017 7:55 a.m. PST

Yep – Britain wasn't in a hurry to replace the reliable "wooden walls" that had protected them for centuries – along with building an empire.

On the other hand, they weren't a bunch of fools trying to hold back progress either. There was, of course, quite a bit of hide-bound traditionalism in the Admiralty but, there were also plenty of people in the right places who could see the need to update the fleet – logically…

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2017 11:01 a.m. PST

I always tried my friend… with no so good results… (smile).

I don't consider it that bad….


Mithmee28 Apr 2017 12:27 p.m. PST

Well it took skill to manage a Sailing Ship, far more than a Stream powered ship.

EJNashIII29 Apr 2017 11:52 a.m. PST

"Britain wasn't in a hurry to replace the reliable "wooden walls""
While over the hill admirals have always been conservative, actually, Britain pushed the new idea of iron hulls. Simply put, getting good, big, old growth timber was getting harder to do. In addition, the shear size of the newest and biggest ships was simply pushing the limit of wooden construction techniques.

joedog01 Sep 2018 4:51 p.m. PST

Steamships were an improvement in some ways, but had limitations in others – range for one.

A sailing ship could travel the world, stopping only for water and food.

A steam ship needed a reliabel source of fuel before it could travel very far – this meant coaling stations (and then fueling stations) strategically placed any where the steam powered navy wanted to go.

Whemever122 Sep 2018 3:19 p.m. PST

Were there ever any notable engagements between wooden hulled naval sail and wooden hulled naval steam?

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2018 9:48 a.m. PST

Only on the gaming table. :-)

- Ix

Brigman200025 Sep 2018 3:24 p.m. PST

Perhaps not noteworthy but somewhat of interest perhaps…

Battle of Campeche – Texas, and Mexico fight a battle to a draw? Sailing versus some steamships. Ironclads maybe…?1843


Panfilov05 Oct 2018 6:28 p.m. PST

Check out D. K. Brown, "Before the Ironclad"; Totally refutes the hidebound admiralty meme, and caused me to rethink who really innovates.

Twoball Cane30 Oct 2018 4:46 p.m. PST

The pomp of British generals and admirals gets them in trouble in ages past. They didn't embrace the machine gun in ww1 deeming them a waste of bullets. The British liked cold steel and horses….using the shock of irresistible charges, which were ineffective vs fixed positions and machine guns..or their love of frontal assaults (general haig). Not supplying their troops properly for inclement weather during the Crimean conflict…

In battles past they underestimated the Japanese and paid the price. well as the boers …at least Iinitially. More famously they underestimated the USA continentals. They didn't adjust well their line tactics to our hiding in the trees. Lots of examples of the British command not reacting correctly to major changes in technology or tactics. The hms hood….had wooden decking, ….on and on.

The British generals of ww1 were assessed harshly by the quote "lions led by donkeys"

My view is critical…but their losses and blunders speak for themselves…not a critique on British soldiers…but many of the aristocrats etc who led them in days past.

Akalabeth02 Nov 2018 8:09 p.m. PST

Yes such losses and blunders that they ruled 1/4th the world and the 19th century is referred to as Pax Britannia, the peace of Britain, after their victory of Napolean.


CptKremmen06 Nov 2018 3:35 a.m. PST

I am sure British generals made mistakes and clung to old ideas sometimes…

But so did every other countries Generals.

After our experiences in the American war of independance we fielded some of the finest light infantry in the world in the Napoleonic wars and used it as well as any other nation, better than most

Likewise after the Boer war the British stressed marksmanship in 1914 the British Tommy could out shoot any other army in the world, there just wasn't many of them.

I can never make my mind up about British generalship during WW1. Did the Germans, French, Italians or any other nation do much better in the trenches of the western front. All sides carried out suicidal assaults.

The British did carry out massive mining with significant success. They also invented and fielded the Tank.

The British are a strange race, we love to run down our leaders as idiots and fools where most other countries love to promote their own leaders as 'Awesome' sometimes without justification….


Maxshadow07 Nov 2018 6:40 p.m. PST

Interesting article. Thanks Tango

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