THE NAVAL EXHIBIT.
UNIQUE among the other exhibits is that made by the UNITED STATES NAVY DEPARTMENT. It is in a structure which, to all outward appearance, is a faithful, full-sized model of one of the new coast-line battleships designed by the Bureau of Construction and Repairs of the Navy Department, and now being built at a cost of about $3,000,000 each by CRAMP & SON, Philadelphia, and the UNION IRON WORKS, San Francisco. This imitation Battleship of 1893 is erected on piling on the Lake front in the northeast portion of Jackson Park. It is surrounded by water and has the appearance of being moored to a wharf. The structure has all the fittings that belong to the actual ship, such as guns, turrets, torpedo tubes, torpedo nets and booms, with boats, anchors, chain cables, davits, awnings, deck fittings, etc., etc., together with all appliances for working the same. Officers, seamen, mechanics and marines are detailed by the Navy Department during the Exposition, and the discipline and mode of life on our naval vessels are completely shown. The detail of men is not, however, as great as the complement of the actual ship. The crew give certain drills, especially boat, torpedo and gun drills, as in a vessel of war.
The dimensions of the structure are those of the actual Battleship, to-wit: length, 348 feet and width amidships, 69 feet 3 inches; from the water line to the top of the main deck, 12 feet. Centrally placed on this deck is a superstructure 8 feet high with a hammock berthing on the same 7 feet high, and above these are the bridge, chart-house and the boats.
At the forward end of the superstructure there is a cone-shaped tower, called the "military mast," near the top of which are placed two circular "tops" as receptacles for sharpshooters. Rapid firing guns are mounted in each of these tops. The height from the water line to the summit of this military mast is 76 feet, and above is placed a flagstaff for signaling.
The battery mounted comprises four 13-inch breech loading rifle cannon; eight 8-inch breech loading rifle cannon; four 6-inch breech loading rifle cannon; twenty 6-pounder rapid firing guns; six 1-pounder rapid firing guns; two Gatling-guns, and six torpedo tubes or torpedo guns. All of these are placed and mounted respectively as in the genuine battleship.
The superstructure shows the cabins, staterooms, lavatories, lactrines, mess-rooms, galley and fittings, mess-table for crew, lockers, berthings, etc., also the manner in which officers and enlisted men live, according to the rules of the Navy. On the superstructure deck and bridge is shown the manner in which the rapid firing guns, search lights, beats, etc., are handled. The entrance to the conning tower is from the deck, in which are all appurtenances that the captain has at his disposal when taking the ship into battle and during the progress of a fight at sea.
An electric light plant is installed and provision made for heating with steam. On the berth deck are shown the various fittings pertaining to the hull, machinery and ordnance; ordnance implements, including electrical devices, gun-carriage motors and range finders; models showing typical ships of the past and present; samples of the provisions, clothing, stores and supplies, bunting, flags, etc.; in short, the thousand and one things that go to make up the outfit of a man-of-war.
The traditional costumes of the sailors of the Navy from 1775 to 1848 are shown by janitors dressed in those costumes.
On the starboard side of the ship is shown the torpedo protection net, stretching the entire length of the vessel. Steam launches and cutters ride at the booms, and all the outward appearance of a real ship of war is imitated. This imitation Battleship was designed by Mr. FRANK W. GROGAN, Architect of the Naval Exhibit, under the direction of Captain R.W. MEADE, U.S.N., representing Navy Department, and member of the Board of Management, United States Government Exhibits, and Lieutenant E. D. TAUSSIG, U.S.N., Assistant.
The idea of having a structure to represent a man-of-war, manned, and with all appliances in position, was conceived by Captain MEADE.
Nothing of the kind was ever before attempted. The cost of this curious and original structure is about $100,000.