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1929 CAJ V71 n3

1929 CAJ V71 n3

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Published by birds_eye
Picks up from the J US Artillery reflecting the concerns for coastal defence after WW1.
Picks up from the J US Artillery reflecting the concerns for coastal defence after WW1.

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Published by: birds_eye on Sep 17, 2012
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03/30/2014

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THE COAST ARTILLERY JOURNAL
Volume71September, 1929Number 3
Mine Defense-Today and Tomorrow
 By
MAJOR FRANK
S.
CLARK, C.
A.
C.
T
HE onesurvivingtar whorelated in the jingling "Yarn of the NancyBell" how he omnivorouslyeame to be-"At oncea cook,and a captainbold,Andthe mateof the Nancybrig,Anda bo'suntight, anda midshipmite,Andthe crewof the captain'sgig"-had nothing on the modern Coast Artilleryman. In diversity of weaponsand missions,the Coast Artilleryman must be gunner, sailor, chauffeur,mechanic,and electrician. He is as amphibian as his brother in arms, theLeatherneekMarine, and at one time or another in his career he demon-l'trates the assimilated talents of a wholecrew. The targets assigned tohimare in the air, on land and water, and under the sea.In the halcyon days beyond reeall-pre-war and pre-prohibition-con-trolled mine defense was well recognized as one of the most importantmissionsof the Coast Artillery Corps. Out of a total of one hundred anddghty active companiesin the Corps, forty-eight were mine companies.Furthermore, as the old-timer regretfully remembers,each of these minecompanies.had at least onehundred and nine soldiers,while certain com-panies on foreign service had an even greater number. In those happydays, when officerswere assigned by the War Department direct to or-ganizations,the assignment to a mine company was a hall-mark of 
dis-
tinction,and to hea mine planter commanderwas
ta
be recognizedas oneof the fair-haired b03-°sof fortune. Themine planters themselvesoperateddirectly under the orders of the Chiefof Coast Artillery, and their normalconditionwasexpectedto beand wassuehthat at an:rmomentthey couldpassa critical Admiral's Inspection.Followingthe war, the enormousexpansionof Coast Artillery missions
to
include, besides:fixedguns and mines, the new railway, tractor, andantiaircraft artillery, coupledwith the subsequent drastic decreasein thestrength of the Coast Artiller:r Corps,spread us out sothin that eachele-ment of our mission had practically to be skeletonized. In the drasticprocess,mines sufferedperhaps more than anything else. This fact mayproperlybeascribedto the personal enthusiasmsengenderedby recent war
181
 
182
THE COASTARTILLERYJOURNALexperience for the newer railway, tractor, and antiaircraft weapons. Thereis now little to be gained by recounting in detail the damaging effects onmine defense brought about by the extreme swing of the pendulum oCoast .Artillery thought. One symptomatic 'note was the fact that the De-partment of the Coast .Artillery School which was known before the waras "The Department of Engineering and Mine Defense," was designatedafter the war merely as "The Department of Engineering." Today, theactual number of active mine batteries assigned to mine defense, includingtwo batteries of Philippine Scouts, is nine, and the pitiful inadequacy othe authorized strength of these mine batteries for the work they have todo is too well known to require painful elaboration in cold print. Thepractical effect of the subordinated status of mine defense since the waris that, in the present-day Coast .Artillery, only a small proportion ocaptains and lieutenants have had or can have immediate contact and ex-perience with the unique problems of mine defense, and the pre-war bodyof trained mine soldiers has gradually been shrinking to an inadequatenucleus for the key positions in the expanded mine organization whichwould be necessary to put down mine projects on the imminence of war.However, it is both trite and true that the more violently the pendulumof military opinion swings away from normal, the more quickly and surelywill the swing come back to (if not through) the norm of sound commonsense. In the case of the attitude toward mine defense, this returningswing occurred several years ago. The history thereof is significant andinteresting, but the details are out of place in a paper of this sort, whichpresumes to nothing mfre than a personal and wholly unofficial summaryof observations concerning the recent trends and developments in sub-marine mine defense. This much may be said:
.As
the result of a thoroughufficial survey, which has taken into consideration every relevant militaryand naval problem and policy, the status of mine defense among otherCoast .Artillery missions has been redefined precisely and logically, andin such a manner that the individual Coast .Artillery officer can and shouldvisualize
his
personal participation in an assignment to mine defense asbeing in that of a major mission of the Coast .Artillery Corps.Coincident with the restoration of submarine mine defense to itsproper place
in
Coast .Artillery policy, there have occurred significant de-velopments
in
submarine mine methods and materiel. The hope that abrief sketch of some of these developments may be of present interest toCoast .Artillery officers constitutes the only justification for the present in-vasion of space in the COASTARTILLERYJOURNAL.The first development to record is the progressive rehabilitation of mineinstrnction at the Coast Artillery School. This salutary process has beenunder way for two years, and with the fruition during the coming yearof the plans resulting from the untiring efforts of the Director and in-structors of the Department of Engineering, a course in submarine mining
 
MINE DEFENSE-TODAY AND TOMORROW
183
for battery officerswill
be
provided which will enable a battery officertostep into a subsequent mine assignment with assurance and which will becommensurate in allocation of time with the relative importance of thesubject in the curriculum. Also, in the Department of Enlisted Spe-cialists, for the first time in many years, an adequate coursein operationand care of electrical mine equipment will
be
included in the curriculumfor electrician sergeants.The recent emphasis on mine instruction for the battery officershasbeen accompaniedby a certain amount of mental distress on the part of someof the officerssubject to the process of reorientation. Witness thefollowingreaction of one of the officersconcerned:
'Tis well I know how guns are tripped, and mortar grease-cups shined;With care in sweeping dust from drains my weary brow is lined.But now there rise before my eyes wonders I have not seen:I hear the loud alarm of bells, and see red lamps and green!One drops a mine into the drink; 'tis fastened
to
a string;The string runs out beneath the bay so you can find the thing;A milliameter is hitched
to
th'
end of this frail cord,And the sergeant says you can tell by that how the damn thing is,b'Gord.I don't suppose I'll ever know why you ground the A. C. switch,And if I know why the red lamp glows, I'll
be
a - - - - .
During the last fewyears there has been a notable developmentin newsubmarine mine materiel. Passing overthe items that are still in the ex-perimental stage or that are for one reason or another confidential, thedevelopmentsof greater or less importance are the Standard Single Con-ductor MineSystem,the mooringswivel,the endfitting for marline-coveredmooringrope, and the circuit closer,model 1926.Unquestionably,the most important as well as the most necessary im-provement in controlled mines
in
many years is that embodied in theStandard Single Conductor Mine System. Until its adoption
in
1927,thestandard control system was that with which all the older officersof theCorps, at least, were familiar, which depended upon the use of a 19-con-ductor rubber-insulated armo~d cable to connect the distribution box of each group of mines to the shore. This 19-conductorcable was the wealink of the system, not only becauseit was heavy and laboriously difficultto handle, but especiallybecause,within the sizeand weight limitations, itwas essentially short-Jived in sto:r:age. This fact, coupled with the twoothers that 19-eonductor cable was costly to manufacture and that sincethe war appropriations have not been forth-coming to replace the de-teriorated stockof cableonhand, resulted in the progressivebreakdownof all mine defense projects for the simple lack of multiple cable. Conse-quently, the necessaryalternative wasto get awayfrom 19-conductorcable,and the logical step waSto developa simple control system which wouldpermit the selectivecontrol and firing of the mines in a group bJ-the use

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