National Geographic : 1920 Feb
120 THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Z the winter months. Not until 27 i~ days after the operation had be ° gun was the group finally com pleted. Some improvement had " o been made. No ships had been oz. seriously damaged, although z many minor accidents had hap Spened. ° ° There was some consolation e that our rate of sweeping was S slightly better than that of the two British detachments engaged in clearing their portions of the 8> o barrage; but it was far from ."- satisfactory; the rate had to be S tripled if we were to finish in =a 1919! F> THE CHIEF CAUSES FOR SLOW ,,a PROGRESS o The principal losses of time •- were due to the frequency that .rHoo sweeps parted, with the conse Squent delay in repairing them, and to the difficulty in navigat ing with sufficient accuracy to insure that every square foot S" of the field had been covered. o This latter difficulty necessitated • - sweeping the same area over and over again to make sure no mines o were left. S The first cause offered little o. room for improvement; with =w ° practice, the sweeper crews be S came more dexterous in mending U. sweeps and repassing them, but " cx '. the explosions which parted the wires could not be avoided. "4 The second cause of loss of N . time presented many possibilities 3 o for improvement: First, by plac 14 '-2 ing all tht vessels in formation, i c so that all the ground could be o definitely covered; then have A- ,them steam longitudinally down S the field. The experiment made . by the three pairs of sweepers wo3 on the previous operation showed " that this was practical; they had suffered no greater losses than the other sweepers, and, although their rate of sweeping was no z = I faster than the others, it was . plainly due to the difficulty of -?-, telling where they were.