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Washington Times Magazine, December 29, 1907, page 3:
Every Admiral Can Now Hear Bob Evans Voice Giving Orders Altho' Miles Away
DEFIANCE HURLED AT FOG AND STORM BY LATEST WONDER
THE dawning of the New Year finds its most notable new invention in operation on the high seas.
For the first time in history the telephone is playing an important part in world events. The first genuine telephone central ever established on shipboard at sea is being operated on Admiral Robley D. Evans' flagship, the Connecticut, which is leading the famous peace fleet to the Pacific.
Marvelous as this is--it would be almost beyond belief ten years ago--it has attracted little public attention. Yet think how much it means to the safety of those at sea.
In the fiercest gales in storms at night, and in the densest fogs where the old-time signals are useless, ship may talk with ship or with a dozen ships at once as easily as if they were anchored along a city street.
VERY comforting will be a little talk, for instance, when Admiral Evans' armada is passing through the narrow and tortuous Strait of Magellan in South America, known and dreaded by all skillful navigators as the most dangerous and difficult passageway in the world. During its entire length of 300 miles the tide rises over forty feet in six hours and falls twenty again in the same time while the current rushes torrent -like along at more than ten miles an hour.
Admiral Evans, however can call up from his emergency cabin, for instance, the food supply ship Glacier, at the four-mile end of the trail obscured by the winding waterways and the towering cliffs and canyons.
"Hello Glacier, how and where are you?"
Quickly in a few seconds, from the distant vessel electrical voice waves come into the receiver.
"Just entering the first narrows of the straights. All well."
Twenty-eight Now Installed.
Twenty-eight of these wireless telephones are now installed on the various ships of the outgoing fleet, comprising the principal battleships and the supply ship Glacier, the repair ship Panther, and Admiral Evans' dispatch ship, the Yankton. The American Navy is the first to possess and adopt the wireless telephone.
To maintain an unbroken and positive method of communication between the Commander in Chief and the rest of the fleet is a stragetical problem of supreme importance, especially under conditions of warfare, as well as in the annual practice of fleet maneuvering. Toward this end the Government after some practical and satisfactory trials has decided to extensively adopt and try the possibilities of the new wireless telephone. Under the conditions which prevail on a long cruise, such as the Atlantic fleet would make on its long journey to the shores of the Pacific, will offer exceptional opportunities in experimenting with the value and capabilities of the telephone.
Form Gigantic Chain.
While steaming miles apart, all the way from four to ten, the squadron will be like a gigantic chain, each link entirety separate from its fellows, and strung together by invisible bonds. By means of this device Admiral Evans will be enabled from his emergency cabin camp on board the Connecticut to direct the movements of the whole fleet with almost as much ease as he can give orders to the engineer of his own ship by means of the speaking tube. Thus tail end of the last ship maneuvering can understand perfectly what to do and obey instantly the orders, though five or six more miles in the rear of his flag-ship.
After many official tests of the apparatus the navy has adopted this instrument as most essential and advantageous in naval service, affording a safe and ready means of inter-ship communication and the transmitting of messages and orders along the entire line of vessels, or talking between sea and shore to lighthouses as the case may be; the latter will undoubtedly be equipped in the near future with the new instruments.
Advantage in War Times.
The two wireless phones which have been in use on the Connecticut and the Virginia have been employed long enough to demonstrate that it can be used to great advantage in naval strategy and warfare. When the fleet went to Provincetown, Mass. for maneuvering and gun practice last summer the wireless telephone was put on the Connecticut and another onboard the Virginia, and the instruments were subjected to all kinds of tests, and it was found that the wireless phone was of the utmost importance.
In addition some very successful trials were carried on with this new system by naval officers in connection with the inventor, at Norfolk, when both the tactical value and the working efficiency for communication between ships at sea and signaling over the old flag method was conclusively demonstrated. When the fleet returned from its cruise the results of the experiments with the wireless phone, upon the recommendation of Admiral Evans, the Navy Department ordered that all the principal vessels going to the Pacific, twenty-eight in all, should be equipped with the apparatus. The instruments cost about $1500.
The fleet of six little torpedo destroyers, consisting of the Whipple, Truxtun, Hull, Hopkins, Stewart and Lawrence, which left December 1 in advance of the main squadron, are to be equipped with the wireless phone. Owing to the lack of room on these tiny crafts the set of instruments will be encased in a portable waterproof wrought iron box, nearly three feet square and suspended down below the bridge.
Will Conquer Many Difficulties.
The wireless telephone is destined to offset many dangers difficulties which it was impossible to overcome with the old method signaling, which was accomplished by means of the stringing out of a number of flags or by wigwagging. But these methods, while well enough in fair weather and while ships are in sighting distance of each other, have their disadvantages on dark, stormy nights and in times of dense fogs.
As is well known, the fog is the worst enemy with which the naval signal man has to contend, as even a light does not carry its rays ten feet. Oftentimes and on such occasions, of course, navigation has to be carried on with extreme caution, as the whereabouts of other vessels is of doubt and collisions are at all times possible.
The navy contract calls for talking distance of only five miles with the wireless phone, though eleven has been officially accomplished, and twenty-five unofficially reported, the latter between a battleship in the Norfolk navy yard a merchant liner of the Old Dominion Company.
Not only has the navy adopted the wireless telephone most extensively, but the army likewise, as the latter has two sets in operation at the torpedo and submarine school at Fort Monroe, Virginia. One set is installed on the torpedo planter Major Ringgold, which goes out to sea five or more miles with a class for instruction in the planting of mines for harbor defense. This boat also tows out the target and results and scores of the shooting is at once accurately reported to the fort. Orders from the fort to the operators out at sea five miles distant for the carrying on of work have been most satisfactorily accomplished.
The army branch, owing to small pay, has great difficulty in obtaining good wireless operators, and the wireless telephone seems to have abolished the need for their services. The principles of wireless telegraphy are now fairly familiar, since nearly everyone knows that the human voice, like other sounds, produce waves in the atmosphere, which radiate in space and quiver along aerial wires. While the production and transmission of these waves is practically the same as it is in wire telephoning the production and method of receiving is an entirely different manner.
Makeup of Instrument
The accompanying photograph shows first wireless telephone just set up in Admiral Evans' emergency cabin aft on the flagship Connecticut, with one of his staff signal officers sending a message to a five-mile distant vessel, which will constantly be done during the coming cruise en route to the Pacific. To the right is the delicate receiving box with the "tuning" device on top. In the center is the telegraph key, similar to the ordinary buzzer, which, by simply cutting out the microphone with a switch in front, enables the apparatus to be used for wireless telegraphy, sending the ordinary Morse signals. This is intended only as a special signal device, which, by a series of extra loud sounds, given to the particular call of a ship is destined to readily attract the ear of the wireless telephone operator of the ship.
The transmitter is shown on the left, with the projecting mouth-piece. One of the features of this is the nickel arc or oscillator seen on the right, having an alcohol lamp beneath. This indicates when the proper oscillations or voice waves emitted from the aerial wire take place, and causes a small incandescent pilot lamp to glow, shown at the top of the transmitter box, when talking can be carried on. Increasing the range of talking is now going on in experiments, and it is only a matter of time until the wireless telephone can be used over as great distances of space as is the ordinary long distance telephone on land. In fact, the inventor states that it is a technical and scientific possibility in the near future for the transmission of the human voice from America to Europe.