The Ericsson battery Tecumseh was launched on Saturday morning last from the yard of Secor & Co., at Jersey City, at eight o'clock. This vessel - one of the finest of her class - was built under the superintendence of Mr. George Burkbeck, Jr., and is a specimen of excellent workmanship throughout.
The number of spectators present was somewhat over five thousand. The yard, housetops, windows, adjoining piers and every available place was thronged with people, while the deck of the vessel was crowded with invited guests. It shows interest our people take in the progress of the iron-clads to see so many of them abroad at such an early hour to witness the launch of a vessel. A majority of the spectators were of the fair sex who seemed to enjoy the excitement of the hour.
At half past seven o'clock the workmen commenced to wedge her up, and at eight o'clock she began to move slowly down the ways towards her native element. As she moved from the stocks, Mrs. Kate Gregory, daughter in law of Admiral Gregory, in a most pleasing manner, amid the cheers of the multitude, christened the vessel by breaking a bottle of wine over the bow with the words "In the name of Neptune, I christen you Tecumseh."
Tugs were in readiness, and it was not long before the vessel was snugly moored alongside of the wharf, and the guests came on shore. To those who had tickets a most sumptuous repast was in waiting. This part of the morning's ceremonies was prepared in the mould room, a large and spacious building, well adapted to its use on this occasion. The Staudinger Bros. soon had the tables in readiness, and at a signal the guests fell to with a will, and the early hour and the fresh air gave them a relish for the good things set before them. Wine was in abundance, and as a matter of consequence speeches and toasts were for a time the order of the day. Senator Ryan, of California, and others, made speeches on our progress in iron shipbuilding, and on the present state of affairs in this country, and congratulated the builders of the Tecumseh upon their success in the construction of the iron clads for the United States Navy.
There was a large number of distinguished persons present, among whom we noticed Admiral Gregory, Capt. Craven, who is to command the ship; Lieutenant Commander Miller, Chief Engineers Stimers, Farron, Lawton; Lieutenant Gregory and other naval officers who are attached to the corps of iron-clad vessels at this station; Senator Jas. Ryan of California; Capts. Comstock, Luce and Bell, M. Stetson of the firm of Lasell, Perkins & Co., and many others.
The Tecumseh is of the following dimensions:
|Extreme length over armor||235||--|
|Length outside of stem and sternpost||190||--|
|Extreme beam over armor||46||--|
|Broadth of beam of boat proper||37||8|
|Depth of hold||13||--|
|Shear of deck||--||12|
|Crown of deck amidships||---||5|
|Distance from stem to extreme end of boat proper||9||--|
|Distance from stem to extreme end of armor forward||11||--|
|Distance from sternpost to extreme end of boat aft||20||3|
|Distance from sternpost to extreme end of armor aft||25||--|
The form of the vessel is not unlike the Montauk and vessels of her class, excepting that her lines are finer, giving more speed and greater buoyancy, and there is no overhang forward, nor the wide hips to keep her from rolling. The iron hull is built of three-fourths inch iron plating, fastened on to a frame of angle iron, six inches wide by three-quarters of an inch thick. From a point three feet and a half below the water line a shelf extends outward, on which rests the wooden backing for the armor plates. This is covered by five wrought iron plates, each one inch thick and five feet long by five feet wide. In addition to the armor plating, the Tecumseh has wrought iron stringers four and one half inches thick inserted under the plating, making the armor nine and one half inches thick and giving this vessel immense power as a ram. The deck beams are of oak, twelve by twelve in the centre, and ten by twelve at each end, placed only twenty inches apart, and filled in with the same material. The deck is planked with pine seven inches wide and eight inches deep. The deck is flush, with a gentle slope upwards from the centre. The hatches are wrought iron frames, set in flush with the deck, and in action they are closed with wrought iron covers, which are securely fastened from below. The deadlights in the deck which light up the lower deck are also fitted with covers, and fasten in the same manner as the hatch covers.
The plating on the deck is composed of two plates, one and a quarter inch in thickness, rendering it bomb-proof. The turret is twenty-two feet in diameter and nine inches in height. It is constructed of eleven thicknesses of one-inch iron, and is pierced for two guns, which stand parallel with each other in the turret. The pilothouse is placed on top of the turret, and is eight inches in thickness, six feet in diameter and six feet in height. It is pierced with eight lookout holes, so that every part of the horizon is visible, each hole covering about forty-five degrees of it.
By means of heavy pieces of wrought iron, each weighing upwards of six thousand pounds, the ports are closed up immediately after the recoil of the gun. One man can readily open and close these ponderous port stoppers. The mechanism for working this gun, both by compressing and to run it out, it is not proper to give; but suffice it to say three men can readily run out or in that monster fifteen-inch gun, which weighs 42,200 pounds. The English were obliged to abandon the use of their fourteen ton gun, because they could not get men enough in the cupola to work it.
The top of the turret is framed with heavy rafters of wrought iron, upon which are laid bars resembling railroad iron, and three are covered with wrought iron plates, perforated with holes, to allow a free circulation of fresh air through the vessel.
The ventilation of the Tecumseh will be up to the standard of advancement thus far made. She will have two blowers, and the air conducted to all parts of the vessel in tubes. She will have two of Martin's boilers and two direct acting engines of forty-eight inch cylinder, two feet stroke, capable of giving her a speed of at least ten knots per hour. Her cabin and wardrooms are fitted up in a tasteful manner, and now the vessel is complete, with the exception of her turret and smokepipe, which will be put on in a few days, when she will be turned over to the Navy Department, fully equipped (excepting guns, ammunition, coal, &c) for active service. The work of constructing this vessel has been pushed forward with great energy. Her battery is to consist of a fifteen-inch gun and a three hundred-pounder rifle. Mr. Secor has two other iron-clads in course of construction, one of which will be launched in about three weeks, and the other about a month after.
While writing of this subject we deem it a good opportunity to speak of an invention by which one of the greatest drawbacks to navigating iron-clads has been overcome. We refer to the steering compass. All kinds of experiments have been tried, and many of them have failed totally. Magnets has been placed in different localities, but the magnetism is not constant either in direction or degree, and just in proportion as the changes occur, just so the measures to counteract the influence are false.
The motion of the vessel in a violent sea often gives a deal of trouble, as the compass card oscillates so much that it is almost impossible to tell where the needle is really pointing.
The Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography has adopted Ritchie's standard compass for the use of the iron-clads, and the one placed upon the Leigh gave in its short trial excellent satisfaction.
We have taken some pains to obtain a correct description of this valuable instrument, which is to be applied to all iron ships of the navy. In this compass, the needles are enclosed in a tube or cylinder with two integral arms, forming four cylinders meeting together at right angles, perforated through the middle, but air-tight. The weight is equal to the volume of liquid displaced, consequently it would neither rise nor fall. Within the perforation is a small gimbal ring, which attaches the cylinders to a shaft or axis, allowing free motion in every direction, yet when the needle turns or revolves, the shaft must also turn. As the lower end of the shaft, and attached in the same way by a gimbal ring, is the card which is formed of a hollow ring or short vertical cylinder, on the outer edge of which is painted the usual cardinal divisions. This is also exactly balanced by the liquid. The shaft is formed of a thin air-tight tube. Thus when immerse in the liquid, which is water and alcohol to prevent freezing, the water weight is buoyed up by the liquid, and, as both needle and card are attached to the axis, when one moves of course the other follows.
The outer case is of brass, and forms a cylinder of five inches in diameter. This is surmounted at the top by a globe eight inches in diameter. In this globe are the needles, while the cylinder, which is seven feet in length, passes into the pilothouse on top of the turrets six inches, where the card is located directly under the eye of the helmsman.
The day is not far distant when we shall have an iron-clad navy, which in all its details will be second to none ,and as each obstacle arises, the fertile brains of Captain Ericsson and his assistants find some remedy for it. The value of this compass arrangement is incalculable, and it adds another trophy to the scientific attainments of America.