Archive for March, 2015

Log Books of World War I Era British Warships

March 31, 2015

318 fully transcribed logbooks are available online. Log books are arranged by type /class of ship, campaigns, fleets, stations, and by name. Clicking on a ship’s name will give a brief history of the ship, accompanied by charts of its voyages and the stations visited. This site gives unparalleled access to the day-to-day operations of ships at war.


“A sailor differs as much from a landsman, in mind and morals, as a fish from a quadruped”

March 26, 2015

Just a random observation I came upon from “American Seamen,” Western Monthly Magazine, and Literary Journal, 1(August, 1833): 358-362.

The Naval Pocket-Book

March 20, 2015

As the [London] Spectator wrote about the 1896 edition: “This is a little book which will prove most interesting and useful to all who are in- terested in the Navy, and that ought to mean the whole nation. Practically it is a dictionary of the ships of all nations, and in it any foreign vessel may be identified, and its size, armament, &c, realised. In addition, the Pocket-Book contains a calendar giving an interesting naval event for every day in the year.” An incomplete run of this annual is online, 1896-1915. Of further note is its founding editor, W Laird Clowes, who authored among other works the seven-volume The royal navy, a history from the earliest times to present (1897-1903). A. T. Mahan acted as a co-author.

Brassey’s Naval Annual

March 19, 2015

This work has undergone several name changes over the years, but it was originally published as a means of keeping the public informed about naval developments from around the world. As it states in its preface to the first volume (1886): “It is intended that the ‘Naval Annual’ shall appear annually, and it is hoped that it may be the means of bringing together a large amount of information on naval subjects, which has hitherto only been obtainable by consulting numerous publications and chiefly from foreign sources.” A vast amount of information is contained within each volume: relative strengths of navies, detailed analysis of the British fleet, ordnance, list of airships, naval costs, the “health” of the navy, essays on certain topics, etc. Of particular interest are those volumes published during the war years (publication was suspended in 1917-18); these tomes contain reproductions of statements and papers of the Royal Navy (They are Part IV of the 1915, 1916, and 1919 volumes). Each edition is heavily illustrated as well. For a contemporary look of the world’s fleets around 1900, and what occurred during World War I, this series is worth a look.

Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute

March 13, 2015

Initially published as Record of the United States Naval Institute, the Proceedings… (volumes 1-47 online) contains a vast, wide-ranging collection of writings on all matters of things naval; for instance, one can peruse The Naval Use of the Dynamo Machine and Electric Light (1882), or dip into the Operations of the Mediterranean Squadron Under Commodore Preble, in 1803-1804 (1879; article based on his letters and journal, the latter reproduced fully at the end), or read about Ships’ Libraries (1915). Unhappily, I can find no reliable online index to this title, so serendipity has to come into play; each issue has a table of contents, but I cannot find a cumulative one.

Portsmouth: A Chronology

March 12, 2015

This Financial Times piece is an 800-year brief history of this maritime center.

The Royal Navy’s Fleet Plans

March 9, 2015

Lest we forget what the current Royal Navy is planning, this research brief from the House of Commons Library – The Royal Navy’s surface fleet: in brief – should be of help; embedded links add to the utility of this document.

U.S. Navy Shipbuilding Plans

March 9, 2015

This CRS report, (CRS=Congressional Research Service, I use it all the time), Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, explains what the current thinking is in the Navy with regards to future development of the fleet. It is an extremely informative read with a great deal of additional references to further research.


Autobiography of Alfred T Mahan

March 9, 2015

One of the most influential writers on seapower, Alfred T Mahan, wrote voluminously (here is a bibliography of his work; access to many of his writings online are available as well), expressing his opinions and research over a vast panoply of naval topics. However, finding more intimate knowledge of the man himself is a bit more elusive. That can be solved by having recourse to his From sail to steam; recollections of naval life that was published in 1907. It is an anecdotal telling of his life from his first sea service until his presidency of the Naval War College.

Committee on Naval Affairs

March 4, 2015

Both chambers of Congress had these committees, both in existence for over a century; you can find a history, scope, and responsibilities of the House Committee here and the Senate Committee here. Hundreds of 19th century documents can be found here; they deal with the mundane, such as the appointment of rear admirals to significant pieces of legislation that discuss discipline in the navy. Dozens of additional documents, most in the 20th century, are found here. Both committees were absorbed into their respective Armed Services Committees in 1947.