Page 10 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - October 2018
P. 10

Wire Rope – The Secret Weapon

                                 of World War One

                                                    by Don Sayenga

         When World War One began in 1914, the German Navy realized their cruisers
         and battleships were no match for the Royal Navy. The British had twice as many
         big fighting ships as any other nation. Beginning with the launch of their modern
         battleship Dreadnought in 1906, “Britannia rule the waves” became much more
         than a popular patriotic song. The development of little short-range military aircraft
         had just begun. The only other available form of naval warfare was an attack from
         beneath the waves, so the Germans concentrated on building the world’s largest
         fleet of submarines. This in turn caused creation of an anti-submarine weapon by
         the U S Navy in a program with a lid on it so tight that no one outside a small group
         of naval employees ever knew about it.

                n May 7, 1915 the Cunard    ships, went down in
                passenger liner S S Lusitania,   less  than  20  minutes.
         Oone of the largest, fastest ships   This was a sharp con-
         afloat, was sunk as it neared the end   trast with the 1912 ac-
         of its transatlantic voyage from New   cidental sinking of the
         York to Liverpool. More than 1000 ci-  R M S Titanic when
         vilian passengers drowned, including   an iceberg punched a
         many women and children, some of   hole in the hull but the
         whom were American citizens. It had   ship was still afloat two
         been hit by a single torpedo launched   hours later.
         from  the  German  submarine  U-20.   According to the  on-
         The huge  vessel,  which was much   line  Encyclopedia Bri-
         larger than any of the British battle-  tannica, the small Ger-
                                            man torpedo caused an
                                            internal  explosion  of a
                                            cargo of ammunition
                                            (being sent  covertly to
                                            the  UK)  which  blew
                                            open the hull. Although
                                            Cunard was a British
                                            company and the USA
                                            was  officially  neutral,
                                            both sides  used the  in-
                                            cident for propaganda.
                                            Woodrow Wilson was
                                            the U S President in the
                                            middle of his first term.
                                            In his  campaign slo-
                                            gan for his second term
                                            bragged “he kept us out
                                            of war” but he was  un-
                                            der   heavy  pressure  The secret weapon mine attached to its self-acting anchorage.
                                            from warmongers to get
                                            American armed forces into the Euro-  gers. He addressed a special joint ses-
                                            pean fighting. Wilson was re-elected by   sion of Congress, citing (among other
                                            a very narrow margin in 1916.      things) the German submarines. He
                                              The British use of unarmed passen-  asked for a declaration of war against
                                            ger ships to carry supplies from Amer-  Germany.  He  was  supported by sig-
                                            ica caused the German navy in Febru-  nificant  public  sentiment  because  of
                                            ary 1917 to announce a new policy of   the submarine threat. Also, the British
                                            unrestricted submarine warfare in the   announced  they had intercepted and
         Admiral William Sims, USN, who conceived   Atlantic Ocean. Two months later Wil-  deciphered the “Zimmerman telegram”
         the secret weapon.                 son caved and yielded to the warmon-                continued on page 12
         10     Wire Rope News & Sling Technology   October 2018
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