Anti-torpedo bulge

The anti-torpedo bulge (also known as an anti-torpedo blister) is a form of defence against naval torpedoes occasionally employed in warship construction in the period between the First and Second World Wars. It involved fitting (or retrofitting) partially water-filled compartmentalized sponsons on either side of a ship's hull, intended to detonate torpedoes, absorb their explosions, and contain flooding to damaged areas within the bulges.

HMS Glatton in drydock IWM SP 2083
HMS Glatton in drydock, circa 1914–1918. Note the width of the torpedo bulge

Application

Anti-torpedo bulge
A schematic cross-section of a ship with anti-torpedo bulges.[nb 1]

Essentially, the bulge is a compartmentalized, below the waterline sponson isolated from the ship's internal volume. It is part air-filled, and part free-flooding. In theory, a torpedo strike will rupture and flood the bulge's outer air-filled component while the inner water-filled part dissipates the shock and absorbs explosive fragments, leaving the ship's main hull structurally intact. Transverse bulkheads within the bulge limit flooding to the damaged area of the structure.

The bulge was developed by the British Director of Naval Construction, Eustace Tennyson-D'Eyncourt, who had four old Edgar-class protected cruisers so fitted in 1914. These ships were used for shore bombardment duties, and so were exposed to inshore submarine and torpedo boat attack. Grafton was torpedoed in 1917, and apart from a few minor splinter holes, the damage was confined to the bulge and the ship safely made port. Edgar was hit in 1918; this time damage to the elderly hull was confined to dented plating.

The Royal Navy had all new construction fitted with bulges from 1914, beginning with the Revenge-class battleships and Renown-class battlecruisers. It also had its large monitors fitted with enormous bulges. This was fortunate for Terror, which survived three torpedoes striking the hull forward, and for her sister Erebus, which survived a direct hit from a remotely-controlled explosive motor boat that ripped off 50 feet (15.25 m) of her bulge.

Older ships also had bulges incorporated during refit, such as the U.S. Navy's Pennsylvania class, laid down during World War I and retrofitted 1929-31. Japan's Yamashiro had them added in 1930.

Later designs of bulges incorporated various combinations of air and water filled compartments and packing of wood and sealed tubes. As bulges increased a ship's beam, they caused a reduction in speed, which is a function of the length-to-beam ratio. Therefore, various combinations of narrow and internal bulges appeared throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s. The external bulge had disappeared from construction in the 1930s, being replaced by internal arrangements of compartments with a similar function. An additional reason for the bulges' obsolescence was advances in torpedo design. In particular, the proximity fuze allowed torpedoes to run beneath a target's hull and explode there, beyond the bulges, rather than needing to strike the side of the ship directly. However, older ships were still being fitted with new external bulges through World War II, particularly US ships. In some cases this was to restore buoyancy to compensate for wartime weight additions, as well as for torpedo protection.

See also

  • Torpedo belt, a later development of torpedo defense system. Essentially a torpedo bulge built on the inside of the hull so as to not protrude and cause unnecessary drag.
  • Torpedo net, earlier torpedo defense system - far more effective, but could only be used whilst stationary.
  • Spaced armor, a similar concept used primarily on tanks and armored cars.

Footnotes

  1. ^ The inner bulge is free-flooding and filled with water. The outer layer is filled with air. Lateral baffles prevent the entire bulge flooding in the event of it being pierced. Notice that the main armor belt (dark grey) only extends to just below the waterline.

Bibliography

  • Brown, Derek K. (2003). The Grand Fleet; Warship Design and Development 1906–1922. Chatham Publishing. ISBN 1-84067-531-4.

External links

Blister (disambiguation)

A blister is a small pocket of fluid in the upper layer of the skin.

Blister may also refer to:

Anti-torpedo bulge, also known as an anti-torpedo blister

Blister (TV series)

Blister (band), a Norwegian band

Blister (Portuguese band)

Blister pack, a type of packaging

Blistering, an online heavy metal and hard rock magazine

Blister (song)

"Blisters", a song by War from the album Deliver the Word

An asymmetrical spinnaker

Another name for a mustard plaster

Danton-class battleship

The Danton-class battleship was a class of six pre-dreadnought battleships built for the French Navy (Marine Nationale) before World War I. The ships were assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet after commissioning in 1911. After the beginning of World War I in early August 1914, five of the sister ships participated in the Battle of Antivari. They spent most of the rest of the war blockading the Straits of Otranto and the Dardanelles to prevent warships of the Central Powers from breaking out into the Mediterranean. One ship was sunk by a German submarine in 1917.

The remaining five ships were obsolescent by the end of the war and most were assigned to secondary roles. Two of the sisters were sent to the Black Sea to support the Whites during the Russian Civil War. One ship ran aground and the crew of the other mutinied after one of its members was killed during a protest against intervention in support of the Whites. Both ships were quickly condemned and later sold for scrap. The remaining three sisters received partial modernizations in the mid-1920s and became training ships until they were condemned in the mid-1930s and later scrapped. The only survivor still afloat at the beginning of World War II in August 1939 had been hulked in 1931 and was serving as part of the navy's torpedo school. She was captured by the Germans when they occupied Vichy France in 1942 and scuttled by them after the Allied invasion of southern France in 1944.

German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin

The German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin was the lead ship in a class of two carriers of the same name ordered by the Kriegsmarine of Nazi Germany. She was the only aircraft carrier launched by Germany and represented part of the Kriegsmarine's attempt to create a well-balanced oceangoing fleet, capable of projecting German naval power far beyond the narrow confines of the Baltic and North Seas. The carrier would have had a complement of 42 fighters and dive bombers.

Construction on Graf Zeppelin began on 28 December 1936, when her keel was laid down at the Deutsche Werke shipyard in Kiel. Named in honor of Graf (Count) Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the ship was launched on 8 December 1938, and was 85% complete by the outbreak of World War II in September 1939. Graf Zeppelin was not completed and was never operational due to shifting construction priorities necessitated by the war. She remained in the Baltic for the duration of the war; with Germany's defeat imminent, the ship's custodian crew scuttled her just outside Stettin in March 1945. The Soviet Union raised the ship in March 1946, and she was ultimately sunk in weapons tests north of Poland 17 months later. The wreck was discovered by a Polish survey ship in July 2006.

Gorgon-class monitor

The Gorgon-class monitors were a class of monitors in service with the Royal Navy during World War I. Gorgon and her sister ship Glatton were originally built as coastal defence ships for the Royal Norwegian Navy, as HNoMS Nidaros and HNoMS Bjørgvin respectively but requisitioned for British use. Gorgon commissioned first, in June 1918 and bombarded German positions and other targets in Occupied Flanders. She fired the last shots of the war by the Royal Navy into Belgium on 15 October 1918. She was offered for sale after the war, but was used as a target ship when there were no takers. She was sold for scrap in 1928. Glatton was destroyed by a magazine explosion only days after she was completed in September 1918 while in Dover Harbour. She remained a hazard to shipping until the wreck was partially salvaged and the remains moved out of the way during 1925–26.

HMS Cossack (1907)

For other ships of the same name, see HMS Cossack.

HMS Cossack was a Tribal class destroyer of the Royal Navy launched in 1907 and sold in 1919.

HMS Erebus (I02)

HMS Erebus was a First World War monitor launched on 19 June 1916 and served in both world wars. She and her sister ship Terror are known as the Erebus class. They were named after the two bomb ketches sent to investigate the Northwest Passage as part of Franklin's Lost Expedition (1845-1848), in which all 129 members eventually perished.

Monitors were designed as stable gun platforms with a shallow draft to allow operations close inshore in support of land operations and were not intended to contest naval battles. Erebus was equipped with two 15 in (381 mm)/42 guns (removed from Marshal Ney) in a single forward turret mounted on a tall barbette to extend the range of fire to 40,000 yd (22.7 mi; 36.6 km).

The Erebus class were designed to outrange German heavy shore batteries and they were also fitted with highly effective anti-torpedo bulges on each side of the hull.

HMS Glatton (1914)

HMS Glatton and her sister ship Gorgon were originally built as coastal defence ships for the Royal Norwegian Navy, as Bjørgvin and Nidaros respectively. She was requisitioned from Norway at the beginning of World War I, but was not completed until 1918 although she had been launched over three years earlier. On 16 September 1918, before she had even gone into action, she suffered a large fire in one of her 6-inch magazines, and had to be scuttled to prevent an explosion of her main magazines that would have devastated Dover. Her wreck was partially salvaged in 1926, and moved into a position in the northeastern end of the harbour where it would not obstruct traffic. It was subsequently buried by landfill underneath the current car ferry terminal.

HMS Gorgon (1914)

HMS Gorgon and her sister ship Glatton were two monitors originally built as coastal defence ships for the Royal Norwegian Navy, as HNoMS Nidaros and Bjørgvin respectively, by Armstrong Whitworth at Elswick. She was purchased from Norway at the beginning of the First World War, but was not completed until 1918 although she had been launched over three years earlier. She engaged targets in Occupied Flanders for the last several months of the war and fired the last shots of the war against such targets on 15 October 1918. She was used as a target ship after several attempts to sell her had fallen through before being sold for scrap in 1928.

HMS Medway (1928)

HMS Medway (Pennant F25) was the first purpose-built submarine depot ship constructed for the Royal Navy. She was built by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness during the late 1920s. The ship served on the China Station before the Second World War and was transferred to Egypt in early 1940. Ordered to evacuate Alexandria in the face of the German advance after the Battle of Gazala in May 1942, Medway sailed for Lebanon at the end of June, escorted by a light cruiser and seven destroyers. Her strong escort could not protect her; on 30 June a German submarine torpedoed and sank her.

HMS Repulse (1916)

HMS Repulse was a Renown-class battlecruiser of the Royal Navy built during the First World War. Originally laid down as an improved version of the Revenge-class battleships, her construction was suspended on the outbreak of war because she would not be ready in a timely manner. Admiral Lord Fisher, upon becoming First Sea Lord, gained approval to restart her construction as a battlecruiser that could be built and enter service quickly. The Director of Naval Construction (DNC), Eustace Tennyson-D'Eyncourt, quickly produced an entirely new design to meet Admiral Lord Fisher's requirements and the builders agreed to deliver the ships in 15 months. They did not quite meet that ambitious goal, but the ship was delivered a few months after the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Repulse, and her sister ship Renown, were the world's fastest capital ships upon completion.

Repulse participated in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in 1917; the only combat she saw during the war. She was reconstructed twice between the wars; the 1920s reconstruction increased her armour protection and made lesser improvements, while the 1930s reconstruction was much more thorough. Repulse accompanied the battlecruiser Hood during the Special Service Squadron's round-the-world cruise in 1923–24 and protected international shipping during the Spanish Civil War in 1936–39.

The ship spent the first months of the Second World War hunting for German raiders and blockade runners. She participated in the Norwegian Campaign of April–June 1940 and searched for the German battleship Bismarck in 1941. Repulse escorted a troop convoy around the Cape of Good Hope from August to October 1941 and was transferred to East Indies Command. She was assigned in November to Force Z which was supposed to deter Japanese aggression against British possessions in the Far East. Repulse and her consort Prince of Wales were eventually sunk by Japanese aircraft on 10 December 1941 when they attempted to intercept landings in British Malaya.

HMS Vindictive (1918)

HMS Vindictive was a warship built during the First World War for the Royal Navy (RN). Originally designed as a Hawkins-class heavy cruiser and laid down under the name Cavendish, she was converted into an aircraft carrier while still being built. Renamed in 1918, she was completed a few weeks before the end of the war and saw no active service with the Grand Fleet. The following year she participated in the British campaign in the Baltic against the Bolsheviks during which her aircraft made numerous attacks against the naval base at Kronstadt. Vindictive returned home at the end of the year and was placed in reserve for several years before her flight decks were removed and she was reconverted back into a cruiser. The ship retained her aircraft hangar and conducted trials with an aircraft catapult before she was sent to the China Station in 1926. A year after her return in 1928, she was again placed in reserve.

Vindictive was demilitarized and converted into a training ship in 1936–1937. At the beginning of the Second World War she was converted into a repair ship. Her first role after the conversion was completed in early 1940, however, was to transport troops during the Norwegian Campaign. She was then sent to the South Atlantic to support British ships serving there and, in late 1942, to the Mediterranean to support the ships there. Vindictive returned home in 1944 and was damaged by a German torpedo off the coast of Normandy after the Allies invaded France. She was reduced to reserve after the war and sold for scrap in 1946.

Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano

Shinano (信濃) was an aircraft carrier built by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during World War II, the largest such built up to that time. Laid down in May 1940 as the third of the Yamato-class battleships, Shinano's partially complete hull was ordered to be converted to a carrier following Japan's disastrous loss of four fleet carriers at the Battle of Midway in mid-1942.

Her conversion was still not finished in November 1944 when she was ordered to sail from the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal to Kure Naval Base to complete fitting out and transfer a load of 50 Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka rocket-propelled kamikaze flying bombs. She was sunk en route, 10 days after commissioning, on 29 November 1944, by four torpedoes from the U.S. Navy submarine Archerfish. Over a thousand sailors and civilians were rescued and 1,435 were lost, including her captain. She remains the largest warship ever sunk by a submarine.

Japanese battleship Yamato

Yamato (大和, "Great Harmony") was the lead ship of her class of battleships built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) shortly before World War II. She and her sister ship, Musashi, were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed, displacing 72,800 tonnes at full load and armed with nine 46 cm (18.1 in) Type 94 main guns, which were the largest guns ever mounted on a warship.

Named after the ancient Japanese Yamato Province, Yamato was designed to counter the numerically superior battleship fleet of the United States, Japan's main rival in the Pacific. She was laid down in 1937 and formally commissioned a week after the Pearl Harbor attack in late 1941. Throughout 1942, she served as the flagship of the Combined Fleet, and in June 1942 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto directed the fleet from her bridge during the Battle of Midway, a disastrous defeat for Japan. Musashi took over as the Combined Fleet flagship in early 1943, and Yamato spent the rest of the year, and much of 1944, moving between the major Japanese naval bases of Truk and Kure in response to American threats. Although present at the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, she played no part in the battle.

The only time Yamato fired her main guns at enemy surface targets was in October 1944, when she was sent to engage American forces invading the Philippines during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. On the verge of success, the Japanese force turned back, believing they were engaging an entire US carrier fleet rather than a light escort carrier group which was all that stood between the battleship and vulnerable troop transports.

During 1944, the balance of naval power in the Pacific decisively turned against Japan, and by early 1945, its fleet was much depleted and badly hobbled by critical fuel shortages in the home islands. In a desperate attempt to slow the Allied advance, Yamato was dispatched on a one-way mission to Okinawa in April 1945, with orders to beach herself and fight until destroyed, thus protecting the island. The task force was spotted south of Kyushu by US submarines and aircraft, and on 7 April 1945 she was sunk by American carrier-based bombers and torpedo bombers with the loss of most of her crew.

Renown-class battlecruiser

The Renown class comprised a pair of battlecruisers built during the First World War for the Royal Navy. They were originally laid down as improved versions of the Revenge-class battleships. Their construction was suspended on the outbreak of war on the grounds they would not be ready in a timely manner. Admiral Lord Fisher, upon becoming First Sea Lord, gained approval to restart their construction as battlecruisers that could be built and enter service quickly. The Director of Naval Construction (DNC), Eustace Tennyson-D'Eyncourt, quickly produced an entirely new design to meet Admiral Lord Fisher's requirements and the builders agreed to deliver the ships in 15 months. They did not quite meet that ambitious goal, but they were delivered a few months after the Battle of Jutland in 1916. They were the world's fastest capital ships upon their commissioning.

Repulse was the only ship of her class to see combat in the First World War when she participated in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in 1917. Both ships were reconstructed twice between the wars; the 1920s reconstruction increased their armour protection and made lesser improvements, while the 1930s reconstruction was much more thorough, especially for Renown. Repulse accompanied the battlecruiser Hood during the Special Service Squadron's round-the-world cruise in 1923–24 and protected British interests during the Spanish Civil War between 1936–39. Renown frequently conveyed royalty on their foreign tours and served as flagship of the Battlecruiser Squadron when Hood was refitting.

Both ships served during the Second World War; they searched for the Admiral Graf Spee in 1939, participated in the Norwegian Campaign of April–June 1940 and searched for the German battleship Bismarck in 1941. Repulse was sunk on 10 December 1941 in the South China Sea off Kuantan, Pahang by Japanese aircraft. Renown spent much of 1940 and 1941 assigned to Force H at Gibraltar, escorting convoys and she fought in the inconclusive Battle of Cape Spartivento. She was briefly assigned to the Home Fleet and provided cover to several Arctic convoys in early 1942. The ship was transferred back to Force H for Operation Torch and spent much of 1943 refitting or transporting Winston Churchill and his staff to and from various conferences with various Allied leaders. In early 1944 Renown was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean where she supported numerous attacks on Japanese-occupied facilities in Indonesia and various island groups in the Indian Ocean. The ship returned to the Home Fleet in early 1945 and was refitted before being placed in reserve after the end of the war. Renown was sold for scrap in 1948.

Torpedo belt

The torpedo belt was part of the armouring scheme in some warships between the 1920s and 1940s. It consisted of a series of lightly armoured compartments, extending laterally along a narrow belt that intersected the ship's waterline. In theory this belt would absorb the explosions from torpedoes, or any naval artillery shells that struck below the waterline, and thus minimize internal damage to the ship itself.

Torpedo belts are also known as Side Protection Systems or SPS, or Torpedo Defense System or TDS.

Torpedo net

Torpedo nets were a passive ship defensive device against torpedoes. They were in common use from the 1890s until the Second World War. They were superseded by the anti-torpedo bulge and torpedo belts.

USS Archerfish (SS-311)

USS Archerfish (SS/AGSS-311) was a Balao-class submarine. She was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the archerfish. Archerfish is best known for sinking the Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano in November 1944, the largest warship ever sunk by a submarine. For this achievement, she received a Presidential Unit Citation after World War II.

Archerfish's keel was laid down on 22 January 1943 in the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine. She was launched on 28 May 1943, sponsored by Miss Malvina Thompson, the personal secretary to first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The boat was commissioned on 4 September 1943, Lieutenant Commander George W. Kehl in command.

USS Idaho (BB-42)

USS Idaho (BB-42), a New Mexico-class battleship, was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the 43rd state. She was the third of three ships of her class. Built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey, she was launched in June 1917 and commissioned in March 1919. She was armed with a battery of twelve 14-inch (356 mm) guns in four three-gun turrets, and was protected by heavy armor plate, with her main belt armor being 13.5 inches (343 mm) thick.

Idaho spent most of the 1920s and 1930s in the Pacific Fleet, where she conducted routine training exercises. Like her sister ships, she was modernized in the early 1930s. In mid-1941, before the United States entered World War II, Idaho and her sisters were sent to join the Neutrality Patrols that protected American shipping during the Battle of the Atlantic. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Idaho and her sisters were sent to the Pacific, where she supported amphibious operations in the Pacific. She shelled Japanese forces during the Gilbert and Marshall Islands and the Philippines campaigns and the invasions of Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

Idaho was among the ships present in Tokyo Bay when Japan formally surrendered on 2 September 1945. With the war over, the ship was decommissioned in July 1946. She was sold to ship breakers in November 1947 and subsequently dismantled.

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