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duration of their vessels is now computed at about 13 years. Sometimes alltheir repairs are estimated at one-seventy-second per year of the quantity of timber afloat, or equal to one-fourth of what is deemed necessary to keep up annually their establishment entire.
But, as might be expected, considering the inferior durability of fir and of all other oak to live oak, and the less proportion of repairs required 09 frames than other parts of a vessel, all these expenditures are in a ratio nearly one-half larger than our estimate for future small repairs on only our live oak frames, and, making a due allowance for every circumstance, rather confirm than impair the results which I have before stated.
Assuming, then, for the present, what will hereafter be further examined, that our force now afloat will not, for some years, be essentially diminished or enlarged, the quantity of 3,400 feet of live oak annually, will, it is probable, prove sufficient for the small ordinary repairs of all our live oak frames afloat, and will, therefore, constitute the first item in our permanent yearly demands for this kind of timber, to be in some way, and from some quarter, hereafter supplied.
Our annual purchases, and actual use of live oak timber for building, independent of common wear and tear, form the next subject of inquiry. It is well known that these purchases have heretofore been very irregular. But all this timber which has been used in the frames of public vessels constructed since A. D. 1797, whether originally purchased for that or other purposes, has been about 974,363 cubic feet. (H, 2.) This is on an average about 27,838 feet per year. What may be the extent of our annual demands on this account in future, will depend, in some measure, on fluctuations in policy as to the whole size of our naval establishment, on the amount of force deemed proper to be kept in commission, on misfortunes in war and by shipwreck, on the future decay of our vessels already built, and much on the circumstance whether the quantity of live oak required in consequence of these causes, shall, for many years, be supplied entirely or partially by rebuilding anew, and by purchases for that object, or entirely by substituting other vessels now in ordinary and on the stocks, and by taking frames already in depot.
But should this quantity be supplied hereafter in such manner as not to diminish the sum total of our present force of live oak in commission, in on dinary, and on the stocks, though we might advantageously, as new vessels are wanted in commission, supply our necessities from those in ordinary, when of the size wanted, and proportionably increase the number of those on the stocks, since vessels in the latter state are preserved with less injury than in the former; and should it be made in such manner as not to diminish our frames in depot, but allow their annual increase in the mode lately practised, and now, as well as heretofore, earnestly recommended, we shall then pursue that manner in furnishing the quantity needed which seems to me least exceptionable and most consonant to the only correct general policy on the subject of our navy. In that event, there would probably be required about one-twentieth of the present quantity of live oak in commission, or 0,274 feet, and one-thirtieth of that in ordinary, or 10,754 feet, to supply the average annual losses by large and entire decay in the frames of vessels of those two descriptions. To this may be added, in order to meet every probable and almost possible contingency, about one-half of one per cent for losses by shipwreck on those in commission, amounting to about 827 feet, and about one-third of one per cent. more for losses by accidental fire on all in conmission, in ordinary, on the stocks and on all timber in depot under sheds. This last one-third of one per cent will be about 4246 feet. These estimates for shipwreck and fire exceed any thing which our experience, as hereafter detailed, would justify, but are adopted to meet any plausible though large computation for the future. These all would constitute, under this head, about 24,101 feet per year as a second item in our annual permanent demands to be supplied. This quantity, it will be seen, is about one-twentienth or 5 per cent of the whole frames afloat. If the amount for small repairs be added to it, making together 27,101 feet, it would be almost 54 per cent., or over one-eighteenth of the whole aftoat. This is deemed requisite to keep up, in all respects, the live oak frames of the entire establishment in commission and ordinary. In England it is estimated by some that one-eighteenth is necessary for that purpose, including all parts, instead of only the frames of the vessel, and all those consisting of inferior kinds of timber. The commissioners of our navy board estimate it at 6 per cent. on the live oak frames, or about one-seventeenth of the whole afloat. (F.)
This would make a difference of only about 1,785 feet, and, to avoid mistakes, and to cover all deficiencies, I shall assume that per cent. as correet in my future calculations, and thus increase the sum per year for large repairs and rebuilding to about 25,886 feet. To illustrate the basis of these compu tations a little more by details, it will be seen that the estimates under this head are founded on the supposed continuance, during some years, of our force afloat at its present size, as not being loo large for all our legitimate wants.
So far from its present size being deemed too large for those wants, or at all arlapted to the expensive scale of one, two, and three hundred vessels in commission, or to ane, three, and five hundred vessels built and building, as practised by some of the great maritime powers of Europe, and so far from its looking to any extravagant project for either ostentation or future naval conquests, or the gratification of mere national pride, it differs but little from what was estimated as judicious in December, 1798, the very first year this department went into operation.
The Secretary of the Navy at that time suggested that a proper permanent force at command should not be less than • 12 ships of 74 guns, as many frigates, and 20 or 30 smaller vessels." In January, A. D. 1801, a similar estimate was presented, and, in December, 1811, a like opinion was expressed by the department, except a recommendation to augment the number of frigates to 20, and leave the smaller vessels to be regulated by future convenience and exigencies. The instructive lessons taught on this subject during the late war, and our experience during the last seventeen years, confirm the sound political wisdom of now maintaining an establishment at least equal to our present one. The more extensive range of our commerce, its new exposures in barbarous countries, the great increase of our seaboard by the purchase of Louisiana and Florida, and the convulsions that now agitate many parts of the civilized world, would seem to dictate a considerable increase rather than reduction, since the original estimates of the only species of force which can yield to our commercial interests abroad efficient protection, maintain there “the rights and independence” of the Union, " secure the personal liberty of our citizens,” and be in readiness, on any emergency at home, to aid powerfully in the defence of our great coasting trade, and our very extended maritime frontier.
Presuming, then, that the expediency of continuing, for some years at least the present strength of our disposable force, has been satisfactorily shown, it is believed that the allowance before proposed for annual losses by acci
dent and decay will, on a little inquiry and reflection, be deemed amply sufficient. Many of the vessels afloat, which have been launched withio the last fifteen years, will probably endure more than one-fourth of a century longer, while some of them, built earlier, may perish sooner. Four of our present frigates, the Constitution, the United States, the Congress, and the Constellation, were all afloat before A. D. 1800, and three of them in 1797. Though they have since undergone frequent repairs, yet their original frames, except where destroyed by too large and frequent boring for treenails, or where constructed of timber not well seasoned, mostly remain sound. As the improved practice of bolting with copper and iron, and, consequently, of making smaller and fewer holes, sha!l prevail extensively, the first named source of injury to our ships of war will diminish; and though from ten to fifteen years is the average estimated duration of an English oak vessel in commission, and only from six to ten years the duration of the vessels of many European powers when made of other oak or of fir, fet our experience, and the changes above mentioned, justify a belief, that from forty to fifty years, will in future be nearer the truth, in respect to the serviceable duration of the frames of vessels built of well seasoned live oak, and used from time to time as ours have been, alternately in commission and in ordinary, and, when in ordinary, protected as ours now are, with great skill and attention. Should our present excellent system of ventilating, cover ing, and inspecting vessels, while in ordinary, continue, 'their frames when of live oak, will probably last many years without being much impaired, and the allowance proper on account of their future decay will be somewhat less than that for vessels while in commission. Accordingly, we have estimated the average duration of those now in commission at about 20 years; and, as many of the vessels now in ordinary are comparatively new, as the frames of some others have not been injured by frequent boring and repairs, and all of them are so well protected from the weather, it might be safely calcu. lated that the whole in ordinary if put into use as needed, in the place of those in commission, would not, on an average, perish under thirty years.
The manner of building, as to care and closeness of finish, the dryness and good ventilation of the inside of the vessel after launched, as well as the thorough previous seasoning of the timber--all have a material influence on its durability, and have of late years, received particular attention in our service. To these remarks bearing on the correctness of the above allowances, it may be added that, during the last thirty-five years, since our present navy commenced, only a single live oak vessel in our service is known to have been chiefly lost by natural decay, and only two small ones by ship wreck. This has scarcely any thing like a parallel, unless in what is report ed of the finely built vessels of Teak, at Bombay. Some decays and inja ries in most of the live oak frames of our vessels have, of course occurred from common wear and tear, and some from the other special causes pas viously enumerated.
But most of the repairs in our vessels hitherto having been in other par tions of them than such as are made of live oak, little is justly chargeable de great decay in the live oak frames. Another series of facts-resting og careful computations will lead us to a similar conclusion. Of the whole quantity of live oak put into the frames of public vessels in building them site 1797, being about 974,363 cubic feet, there now remain about 165,480 l in commission, 322,633 feet in ordinary, and 354,000 feet on the stocks leaving only 132,250 feet not now on hand. (Hi) of this last quantity, 8030 feet were sold by order of Congress, in A. D. 1801, 68,375 feet were ?
tured and supposed to be destroyed by our enemies in four different wars: 44,500 feet were burned by ourselves in 1814: 3,375 feet have perished by shipwreck, and only about 8000 feet by great natural decay, requiring rebuilding. (H 2) This makes a loss of live oak vessels in 35 years, by the last cause, of nominally almost nothing, as the only vessel considered to have been thus lost is the original John Adams, which, having been imperfectly built by contract in a private yard, and with timber not known to be thoroughly seasoned, experienced a premature failure. But, in reality, the loss by decay has been only the above amount of 8000 feet; and what has been supplied as before suggested, in small quantities, in the ordinary annual repairs, and some more extensive injuries before referred to in the older vessels, arising from peculiar circumstances, and which injuries, for reasons before named, will not probably so often occur hereafter. Though the extent of all the repairs, which, technically, ought to be charged to rebuilding, cannot be exactly ascertained, I think that a liberal estimate has been presented for them, and for entire rebuilding from all kinds of losses in future, by computing it at 25,886 feet annually, or a little more than enough for one trigate of the first class every year. I have made no specific estimate for losses in future wars to be hereafter supplied, because it is hoped those losses will prove few and far between, and because, if greater than what we may acquire by captures, they could readily be replaced from frames in depot, the great safeguard and reliance in this respect in any national emergency.
Our whole purchases of live oak,' made to promote the increase and improvement of the navy, and placed in depot, form another topic of inquiry. They have been mostly paid for, except some early specific appropriations, from a rateable part of the general appropriations gradually to promote that increase and improvement, and have amounted, in all, to about 909,911 feet. Of this whole amount, much has been already employed in the construction of some of our present vessels afloat, and on the stocks; but the quantity which has not heretofore been burned while in depot, nor used for either repairing or building vessels, nor for any other purposes, and now remains on hand de signed for building, and not for repairs, is about 431,845 cubic feet. (1,) of this quantity the annual purchases the last ten years have constituted a large portion of the whole, and have been, on an average, about 33,000 feet per year; or about enough annually for the frame of one ship of the line, or of one frigate and one sloop of war.
Should the policy that has prevailed on this subject during those ten years continue for some time longer, and the present appropriations for gradual improvement be renewed by Congress, the above quantity of 33,000 cubic feet will constitute a third and last item in our permanent annual de mands, of live oak timber to be in some way hereafter supplied.
For reasons assigned in the report from this department, made December 3d, 1832, the long continuance of the policy before mentioned as to this kind of timber, as well as other useful materials for ship building, and munitions for naval warfare, seems to me highly judicious. Some additional reasons for it, as regards this kind of timber, can on this occasion be more properly presented.
It is to be recollected, that if, as now estimated, we should, in a spirit of liberal foresight, continue to follow this policy of gradually placing a reasonable supply of live oak timber in depot, before it may be wanted for immediate use, still our provision for all kinds of timber necessary for naval purposes will not be extravagant; but, on the contrary, will probably require much further attention than has hitherto been bestowed on it.
I have before remarked, that the frames of vessels constitute only about one-fourth part of the whole timber used in their construction; and collecting and preserving thal one-fourth seasonably, fully, and carefully, as we may,
there is, in addition to be provided, either before hand, or from time to time as needed, the large quantity of treble as much other timber, consisting generally of white oak, pine, larch, cedar, locust, and elm, but which, being more perishable and more widely diffused over the country than live oak, and not usually costing more than one-third as much per foot, does not attract so much public consideration.
Our proceedings, in respect to the timber other than live oak, under the .act for the gradual improvement of the navy, whether in reserving public lands on which it grows, or in purchasing it for deposite, and all our actual means, and our true policy as to obtaining hereafter the other kinds of naval timber, do not come within the scope of this communication, and, consequently, are not now detailed. But as their quantity must be so large as threefourths of the whole consumed, this circumstance renders the subject worthy of much attention, and enforces, very strongly, the expediency of securing now in live oak, while the opportunity continues, in our power, at least quarter of our whole future wants.
This is peculiarly incumbent on us, when we are able to secure it in sueh an invaluable kind of timber as, being placed in a due state of preservation, will probably remain sound for ages.
The difference between the duration of vessels built of timber recently cut, and those of timber in this way well seasoned, is generally computed at about one-third in favor of the latter, and, in respect to live oak is greater than one-third; and alone furnishes another strong argument for a continuance, as well as an enlargement of the present policy of procuring, long in advance, and of thoroughly seasoning by immersion in water, and then by sheltering under sheds, the whole of our live oak timber designed for naval architecture. From all these data, it appears, that all our annual wants, while our present force and present policy remain not essentially changed, will amouut to about 62,286 cubic feet of live oak timber. This is 3,400 feet for small ordinary repairs; 25,886 for rebuilding to supply accidental losses and great natural decay; and 33,000 for deposite for gradual improvenient
In order to ascertain how this quantity is hereafter to be obtained, it may be usful first to advert å moment, to the whole aggregate amount of our supplies of live oak timber heretofore procured, and the manner and places in which they have been procured. As before stated, we have here tofort purchased in all, about 168,000 feet of live oak, for repairs; about 974,363 cubic feet, that has been made up into vessels, and about 431,845 feet now in dopot for gradual improvement exclusive of repairs.
The only deficiency in this amount arises from some small quantity of live oak timber in depot during the late war, having been used in the ordnance service for gun carriages and platforms, and about 15,000 lei having been destroyed in the conflagration in this city in 1814. [I.] Batt of these quantities did not probably exceed 20,000 feet. The whole amogai of our supplies then, heretofore obtained in any way, and from any quarter, having been about 1,594,208 cubic feet, these would, on an average, be about 45,549 feet per year, and about one-fourth less than the whole quantar per year estimated as proper and necessary to be hereafter obtained.
These supplies have been procured nearly in the followiog manner ad places: From 1797 to 1800, the demand for live oak for public use was and considerable, and was chiefly satisfied from the islands and coasis of