Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander, Battleship Division Nine, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

 

BATTLESHIP DIVISION NINE

UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET

U.S.S. NEW YORK, Flagship.

13 April 1918.

From:     Commander, BATTLESHIP DIVISION NINE.

                     UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET.

To:       Secretary of the Navy, (Gunnery Exercises and

Engineering Performances).  

Via:      Force Commander.1

Subject:  Battleship Division Nine – Pair Concentration Gunnery Exercise.

Reference:(a) Comdr. 6 B.S. file 179 of 13 March 1918.|2|

     1.  The NEW YORK, TEXAS, FLORIDA, DELAWARE and WYOMING held target practice with turret guns on Wednesday, 20 March 1918, in accordance with reference (a), (copy attached), in rentland Firth, in connection with the firing program of the FIRST BATTLE SQUADRON. An attempt was made to fire the previous afternoon but the visibility was such that the Division returned to anchorage without firing.

     2.  The ammunition used was three rounds per gun originally assigned to the 5000 yard Short Range Director Practice and three rounds per gun remaining from that originally assigned to the Division Practice. These were the only reduced charges available, but this combination of powder was bad as there appeared to be wide difference, (as much as 700 yards), between the two indices. This made more work for the spotters and produced more dispersion than was hoped for, but it should be borne in mind that the NEW YORK’S m.v. was probably not more than 1850 f.s., though normally 2000 f.s. for reduced charges and the other ships were similarly affected.

     3.  The objects of the exercise were:-

          (a) Division Control.

          (b) Signal Control.

          (c) Pair Concentration.

          (d) Volume of fire.

          These objects were accomplished. The NEW YORK and TEXAS fired as a pair; the FLORIDA and DELAWARE as a pair; and the WYOMING singly. Both pairs fired promptly and without clashing, using their half minute sectors of mean time.

     4.  The speed was 18 knots throughout. Both firing ships and towing ship ziggaged [i.e., zig-zagged], the latter changing course every three minutes.

     5.  The weather was fair. The visibility was good enough when the NEW YORK and TEXAS were firing, but became progressively worse with mist and precipitation around the target until the target was only a smudge for the last two salvoes of the WYOMING. In general it was about what is to be expected.

     6.  Spotting was difficult on account of the low visibility and the large pattern. Special attention is invited to the fact that the NEW YORK’s chief spotter estimated within 50 yards, the mean point of impact of his first four salvoes.

     7.  Rate Keeping was difficult, (as usual), because it was impossible to estimate the target angle of the target under the conditions; and it was impossible to use the target angle of the towing ship because with an 800 yard towline the target does not follow the towing ship.

     8.  The NEW YORK and TEXAS fired their first three salvoes with different indices of powder. Their ranges were different and their hitting gun ranges different. Neither could have helped the other with concentration information. The TEXAS began with the approximate rate; the NEW YORK did not. The NEW YORK’S spotting was good; that of the TEXAS was indifferent. Both ships used another index of powder (the same index on both ships), on and after the fourth salvo. The NEW YORK got a down 700 when she began with this powder. Thereafter the hitting range of both ships was the same, and both had the approximate rate. The last two salvoes of both ships were incorrectly spotted. The rangefinder rates of both ships were unreliable although correct in places. The mean pointsof impact for the TEXAS were all short.

     9.  The FLORIDA and DELAWARE could not have been of much help to each other with concentration information as their hitting gun ranges were different for their indices of powder. The range finder rates of both ships were approximately correct. The FLORIDA’S rate was generally correct, except at the end (which lost her one straddle); her hitting gun range was inconsistent as her third salvo was short and her fifth over for no apparent reason. The DELAWARE’S rate was generally correct, but she suffered by under spotting on her first and fifth salvoes.

     The average of the mean points of impact for the FLORIDA was high. All of the DELAWARE’S m.p.i. were high. The DELAWARE was the only ship to mix here two indices of powder equally for each shot.

     10.  The WYOMING’S practice was very difficult and marred by absence of range finder data on account of the low visibility. However, her third salvo was a straddle; but, because of her shift to another index of powder, her fourth salvo was about 800 yards over for no other reason, and the spotter could not estimate it nor the succeeding salvoes on account of low visibility. The target was not visible on the last salvo. Meanwhile, there were several casualties in turrets. In turret I, a green rammerman carried away the director firing cable. This turret, thereafter fired by percussion. The procedure was faulty and the shots were so short as to be disconcerting rather than useful.

     11.  The exchange of concentration information was unsatisfactory on account of poor equipment, short firing time, and inexperience.

     12.  The date show the following:

Date

NEW YORK

TEXAS

FLORIDA

DELAWARE

WYOMING

Mean range

12900

12047

11860

12170

11758

Shots allowed

60

60

60

60

72

Shots fired

60

54

55

59

59

Salvoes required

6

6

6

6

6

Salvoes fired

6

6

6

6

6

Av.shots per sal

10-100%

9-90%

9.3-93%

9.7-97%

9.8-82%

Time

5.9

5.8

5.8

5.8

4.9

First sal.strad.

3rd

1st

2nd

3rd

3rd

Straddles

2

2

2

3

2

Mean pat.salvoes of 4 shots or more

829

1000

857

654

1075

Pat.under 500yds

0

1

1

1

0

 

     13.  Copies of reports of ships are attached.3

<Hugh Rodman>

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 382. Notation “6/D” appears in the upper-right corner of the first page. Heading “Comdr. B.D.9 to SecNav (G.E. & E.P.) file 179 of 13 April 1918.” appears at the top of second and third pages. Addressed below close: “To: SecNav (G.E. & E.P.) (2)/Copies to: CinC.Atl.Flt. [VAdm. Henry T. Mayo]/ C.B.P.2/ N.Y.,WYO.,TEX.,/ FLA.,DEL.,File./ CinC.G.F. [Adm. David Beatty, R.N.]/ A.C.1st B.S./A.C.2nd B.S./ A.C.4th B.S./A.C.5th B.S./A.C.B.C.P.”

Footnote 1: VAdm. William S. Sims.

Footnote 2: For a gunnery exercise of 19 March 1918, Rodman spelled out procedures to be followed in this set of orders, including: the number of rounds to be fired, the range, the formation that the battleship division was to adopt, the method of fire, and the procedures to be followed. DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 382

Footnote 3: These individual ship reports are no longer with Rodman’s report.

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