National Geographic : 1919 Feb
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE LIGHTERS CONTAINING MINES GOING ALONGSIDE THE "SAN FRANCISCO," FLAGSHIP OF THE AMERICAN SQUADRON: INVERNESS FIRTH, SCOTLAND The San Francisco and the Baltimore each carried 350 mines at a time, while four new ships could carry 860 each, two others 61o each, and the remaining two 350 (see text, page 96). Our Captain Murfin was sent over in November, 1917, to supervise the prepa ration of these bases and be in charge of them when completed. The buildings, grounds, and adjacent vacant land of two idle distilleries afforded good accommo dation for offices, men's quarters, mess rooms, kitchens, and storage and ample space 'for erecting the mine assembly and storage plant. When finished, these bases could to gether prepare I,ooo mines a day. Cap tain Murfin had twenty officers and a thousand men at each base and two out lying detachments, of three officers and sixty men each, at the unloading points Fort William and Kyle. With every reason to establish the mine-field barrier at the earliest possible date, the estimated rate at which the new mines could be manufactured was taken as the basis for determining the capacity of the new mine-laying squadron. It was expected that the output would be I,ooo mines a day, and that one mine laying operation could be accomplished at best in five days for the round trip. Hence the mine-laying squadron should have an aggregate capacity of 5,000 mines. THE MINE SQUADRON We had two ships to 'begin with-the San Francisco, Capt. Henry V. Butler, and the Baltimore, Capt. Albert W. Mar shall. They were fine old war horses, dating back 28 years, but sound in wind and limb and as responsive as any thor oughbred. They and the gunboat Du buque, Commander T. L. Johnson, a ves sel much too small for the North Sea operation, constituted the original mine squadron under my command. We had been developing and training in the art of mine-laying for over two years and were prepared to undertake any operation of the kind. As if in an ticipation of this very war operation, we had planted a three-line mine field just below Sandy Hook one fine day in De cember, 1916-200 loaded mines. We did not tell the press about it, as it might have caused anxiety, and we took them all up next day.