AN ECHO OF THE GENEVA NAVAL CONFERENCE [To the Editor
of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—Your correspondent, Mr. Candler, states that in American naval circles it is believed that at Geneva the Admiralty stood out for the six-inch gun cruiser because the six-inch gun is the largest that can be -mounted on an ocean liner or merchant ship. This suggestion was denied by Lord Jellicoe, who gave good and valid reasons in disproof of such a suspicion, and I had hoped that his denial would have been accepted in America. It is difficult to understand how such a belief can continue to exist.
It is, of course, quite true that England possesses a large number of mail steamers of great size and speed, but the armed merchant cruiser is not of much use as a fighting ship. She presents a large target and contains much woodwork and other inflammable material. To convert her into an armed • cruiser would require that she should be reconstructed inter. nally, with the result that we would destroy a valuable transport or mail steamer to get a bad cruiser.
The smaller armed merchant ships like the Moewc ' or the ' Wolf ' are effective as commerce destroyers. For they have great fuel endurance and can replenish with stores, fuel, and water from captured merchant vessels. But England does not want commerce destroyers : she wants coMmerce pro- tectors which will destroy commerce destroyers, and as she has 80,000 miles of trade routes she wants a great many of them. But the eight-inch gun cruiser costs England about two million sterling, and she cannot afford such in expensive ship when a six-inch gun cruiser costing less than half the money will serve the purpose quite well. For reasons of economy, therefore, the English delegation pressed for-the adoption of the six-inch gun cruiser as the standard.
It is not disputed that lightly armed merchant ships may be utilized in war—e.g., as patrol ships, for examination and visit and search, as transports, supply ships, &c.' But it would be a waste of good material to convert them into defective and inefficient cruisers.—! am, Sir, &c., GRAHAM BOWER.'
Studied! Lodge, Droxford, Hants.