1907-12-24 THE FUTURE OF THE NAVY
London Times, 24 December 1907, p. 3: RUSSIA./THE FUTURE OF THE NAVY. (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.) ST. PETERSBURG, DEC. 18. At a meeting of the Russian Navy League, Lieutenant Riznitch delivered a lecture on the importance to Russia of a submarine fleet. The revival of the battle fleet would, said the lecturer, necessitate an outlay of 1,500 million roubles (£150,000,000) and an annual provision of 250 million roubles (£25,000,000) in the Budget. Such expenditure Russia could not afford to make at present, the more so that the money would inevitably find its way out of the country. It would, therefore, be much more profitable to build a submarine fleet, which is so much required and would be so much efficient for the protection of the Russian seaboard. Submarines possessed the advantages of cheapness of construction, invisibility, the faculty of reducing the superior strength of the enemy, even when the latter had a first-class battleship fleet, convenient transportation by rail, enormous destructive power, and the comparative advantage of being constructed by home, not by foreign, yards, whereby the money remained within the country. Of equal importance was the speed with which they could be completed; a whole fleet of submarines could be constructed in 12 months, whereas a battleship required five years, and a small squadron at least eight years. A battleship cost about 20 million roubles (£2,000,000), a submarine, forming likewise a fighting unit, at most one million (£100,000). The navies of the world included about 200 submarines, of which 50 were British. The type of submarine in the Russian navy was mainly that of the Delfin and Kasatka, designed by Captains Beklemisheff and Bubnoff. Most of the accidents that had occurred were to be attributed to negligence on the part of their commanders, and six out of the total of seven to neglect to close the airhole while submerging.
Before the lecture began the chairman stated that the lecturer would have to leave out parts of it at the insistance of the Ministry of Marine, who were not in agreement with its deduction in favour of an exclusively submarine fleet. As already stated, the Ministry will shortly lay before the Duma alternative programmes of shipbuilding both based on the revival of the battle fleet, the more modest scheme providing for a nucleus of the future battleship squadron, the other on its immediate construction. It is very doubtful, however, if the latter can be seriously considered in the present state of Russia’s finances.
Provided by Stephen McLaughlin