Cadet Cruise #2
Engineering Report, Cruiser Olympus
12 September 1908
Summary of Observations Aboard USS Richmond, 10 September 1908
Cadet Sous-Lieutenant aérien Alexander Ducrocq
At the behest of Lieutenant aérien Vuillet, I am submitting my observations of the American vessel USS Richmond.
I was assigned to the engineering boarding party sent aboard the American ship on 10 September 1908. The fact that we even found the ship in the middle of the hurricane, let alone tied alongside of her, was impressive.
When we came aboard the American ship, we were met by her Capitaine, Sky Captain Martin Hart, and her Chief Engineer, named Peterson (rank unknown). We were told that they had been hit several times by lightning and it had led to a burst fitting in her electroid balancing pump. The rupture had forced the forward engineering crews to abandon their posts when the electroid flooded the compartments. In the process, two of their boilers had gone out. The loss of power led to a loss of electrical charge, which was causing the ship to lose altitude. We were at 1,000 meters and at her current rate of decline, aided by the hurricane winds, we had less than two hours before she hit the Atlantic.
The Chief Engineer took us below decks. I spoke English and was able to translate for most of our team. They had to evacuate the leaked electroid from the boiler rooms and attempt to re-fire the boilers. Their attempts to use the floor vents failed due to the constant pitching of the ship. It should have worked, and this may be a design defect given the wind forces outside.
Lieutenant Vuillet suggested using a low-voltage charge on a pipe to attract the leaked electroid out. The Americans had heard of such techniques but had never considered this. Apparently our expertise in such areas was greater than their own. We had to weld together a “siphon pipe” and rig the charge to it from the operating generators.
The American teams worked very quickly. From what I saw, they did not require a great deal of direction and were very good at improvising. This may be a good indication of how their damage control teams are trained. French teams would have required the direction of an officer. Many of these men were enlisted ranks and worked with little guidance from their officers. Matters were compounded with the violent rocking of the ship in the wind. Both crews struggled to stand, and in the end, we were forced to do the work on our hands and knees.
We were able to begin siphoning the excess electroid from the boiler rooms rather quickly, after about 20 minutes of work. The Americans had rigged a tank for capturing the material while we were siphoning it. It was impressive that they had this kind of spare material available to them, something we may want to consider for our own stores.
I was on the first team in their boiler rooms and have included a sketch of their boiler configurations. We assisted them in relighting the boilers. They had a quick-light method for their coal that used an electrical rack to fire up a large amount of coal quickly. This method differs from our use of kerosene for fast ignition, and their method seems to be more efficient. I strongly suggest that we explore this concept for our own adoption.
I took notice of several features aboard the USS Richmond. At the suggestion of Lieutenant Vuillet, we calculated the electrical output of their generators in relation to the boilers, the size of their electroid tanks, and the estimated tonnage of the ship. While these calculations are estimates, they are based on the dimensions the engineering team approximated while aboard the ship. The conclusion: The American battle cruiser is generating an excess amount of electrical output. All Ganys generate excess output at approximately 10-15 percent. From what we have been able to tell, the American ship generates 22 percent excess. This hunch on the part of Lieutenant aérien Vuillet proved insightful.
If it had not been for that excess electrical capacity, the ship most likely would have gone down before we arrived. The amount of engineering space and equipment needed for this excess capacity hints that the Americans may have a need for that capacity. Perhaps they have a weapons system or some capability aboard their Ganys that requires such output.
There were antechambers in the engineering section near the generators that the Americans were quick to bar us from. We could not see what was inside these rooms; they were protected by reinforced hatches and had an excess of brass piping leading into and out of them. Lieutenant Guibert has suggested that they may be auxiliary electroid pumps. Lieutenant Vuillet was able to get a somewhat better view of these areas. Based on our own re-tracings of the piping assemblies upon our return to the Olympus, it would appear that Lieutenant Guibert is in error. These chambers are attached to the electrical generators and may be part of a power-distribution control of some sort.
It is the recommendation of the boarding party that this matter be investigated further by the appropriate intelligence services. It may prove to be a potential threat to the balance of power if the Americans have a technological innovation that alters the capabilities of Ganys.
Respectfully and honorably submitted,
Cadet Sous-Lieutenant aérien
To Be Continued…