492-493

From TheMorganReport
Revision as of 20:13, 8 December 2005 by Jere Krischel (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
Previous Page Next Page

Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp492-493 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

Text Only


-p492-

unprotected they are of no value, and Germany has equal rights in the former.

The concession in 1887 of Pearl River, in Hawaii, to the United States for use as naval station, with exclusive privilege of establishing a dry dock, storehouses, and repair shops, is a valuable one, but has never been utilized. The situation is admirable, and the estimated cost of necessary fortifications and harbor works is moderate in view of the great advantage to our nation.

Our position with regard to dry docks in the Pacific is peculiarly weak. Modern war vessels require docking at intervals, and a fleet to maintain command of the sea must have dry docks in which to make repairs and maintain the ship in a state of full efficiency as to speed. We have not one dock outside the mainland of our country which would be available for our ships in time of war; and on the entire Pacific coast have at present but one large and one small dock, at the Mare Island navy-yard, and one building in Puget Sound, and our vessels in the Pacific would have to return to them whenever docking was requisite.

Great Britain, on the contrary, has made ample provisions in this respect. Bordering on the Pacific she has Government dry docks at Esquimault, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Hongkong, while many private docks are available in the ports of Australia, New Zealand, Hongkong, Singapore, Penang, and India.

France has Government dry docks in New Caledonia and Saigon, Cochin China. Holland has governmental dry docks, which would probably be available for Germany, in Sourabaya and Batavia; and Russia has two large ones in the southeast corner of Siberia, at Vladivostock. We must have additional docking facilities if we are to maintain either naval power or trade in the Pacific waters it time of war.

Coming now to the strategic advantages from coast defense point of view.

No naval force can operate on a hostile coast without a friendly base within easy distance. Our Atlantic coast is faced by a line of foreign bases. England has strongly fortified Halifax on our Northeast border, and built Government dry docks both there and at St. Johns. Six hundred and ninety miles from New York, and less than 6OO from the Carolina coast, she has at great expense fortified Bermuda, furnished it with the largest floating dry dock in the world, and supplied it with great stores of coal and shops for repair work, and all for the sole purpose of maintaining a base from which British naval forces could operate against the Atlantic coast of the United States in time of war. Jamaica and St. Lucia perform the same duty with regard to our Gulf coasts and the isthmus transit; and it is a notable fact that the defenses of all these places have been extensively augmented since an isthmus canal became a possibility of the near future.

France has St. Pierre and Miquelon on our Northeast borders, with Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Cayenne on the South coast. Spain has her bases in Cuba and Porto Rico; the Dutch in Curacoa, and the Danes in St. Thomas; and it is not improbable that either of the two latter may be available for a German base should occasion arise.

Any power which has not such a naval base off our coast can not make successful war upon the United States, a fact which was quickly appreciated by Italy during a late diplomatic incident; and an early move of the United States in a war with either of the European powers possessing these bases would have to be their capture and retention, if

-p493-

possible. If the United States held all the bases named it would be practically free from attack on its Atlantic coast.

In the Pacific we now have the opportunity to secure our Western coast by accepting possession of Hawaii as our most rational form of coast defense. With adequate fortifications on these islands, and a suitable naval force in the Pacific, our coast would be far more secure in time of war than it could be made by any expenditure for harbor defenses on the mainland alone.

Further, if our commercial interests are to predominate in the future in those waters our fleet must predominate there also, and a properly proportionate fleet would be a sufficient guaranty that serious attack would not be made on this most important naval base.

The same is equally true of our entire Pacific coast, as with such a fleet, with bases at San Francisco, Hawaii, and the entrance to the Nicaragua Canal, not only would our Pacific trade be secure and that of any other power untenable, but our coast line would be equally secure, and American control of the canal, so far as the Pacific end of it is concerned, would be assured.

Excepting Hawaii the only base for possible extensive naval operations against the Pacific States is the British station at Esquimault, which is susceptible of capture by a land expedition.

It must be distinctly understood that Hawaii can not remain independent supported only by moral force. It is of too great strategic value and will assuredly meet the fate of all islands and isolated points of like value at the hands of either Great Britain, France, or Germany, each of the two former having already once seized them (once in 1843 and once in 1849). Even if the United States were by moral force to preserve Hawaiian independence during time of peace the islands would undoubtedly be seized by the first naval power with whom we went to war, and held by all the force it could muster, as a base from which to attack our Western coast and gain control of the prospective canal.

For the United States to expend great sums on the local defense of San Francisco in the shape of forts and harbor defenses, and leave Hawaii to become a base for operations against them, is a short-sighted and extravagant policy.

As Bermuda is a standing menace in front of our Atlantic coast, so will Hawaii become a similar one to our Pacific coast, if we do not hold it as an essential part of our coast defense.

COAL.

To make the advantage of Hawaii to this country from a naval standpoint clearer I will devote a little time to some details of the question of coal and coaling stations. The possession of unlimited coal is a great advantage to a nation, but in order to convert it into naval advantage it must be placed on board of a ship of war. This is a simple thing with us so long as our naval vessels are in home ports, or so long as we are at peace, wherever the ships may be. It is in time of war that the difficulties of making our naval strength felt away from our own coasts will become apparent. Neutral ports will then be closed to our cruisers so far as supplying their coal necessities is concerned, for coal will be contraband of war as much as is other ammunition. Coaling in the open sea from supply ships is, up to the present time, an unsolved problem, and even if satisfactory mechanical arrangements be devised the supply vessels must run the gauntlet of hostile cruisers for great distances. A certainty of finding


Previous Page Next Page