Page 12 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - October 2018
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         when a German diplomat urged Mexico
         to declare war against the USA with
         the intent to regain California, Ne-
         vada, Utah, plus parts of Arizona and
         New Mexico, which had been annexed
         by the USA in 1848 at the end of the
         Mexican American War.

         A Hasty Jump Start For Military
         Intervention
           The USA was poorly prepared to get
         involved. To create an army, Congress
         had to authorize conscription of young
         men via the Selective Service Act of
         1917. General John J. “Black Jack”
         Pershing  (1860-1948)  was named to
         take charge of the American Expedi-
         tionary Force (AEF). The first units of
         the AEF were transported to France in
         the summer of 1917. Pershing insisted
         they would remain unified as an Amer-
         ican army and not be used as trench re-
         placements for the British and French.
         At that time Admiral William S. Sims
         (1846-1937)  was  the  primary strate-
         gist for the United States Navy. He
         had been advocating modernization of   Map of the North Sea showing how the multiple rows of overlapping minefields closed off
         the Navy’s weapons  for  many years.   U-boat access to the Atlantic Ocean. Illustration by 2D Graphics
         America’s  declaration  of  war  on  April   to be a round steel ball with an anchor   the top secret program was minimized.
         6 freed him to implement a few of his   point and fuses pointing outward in all   The Roebling family wanted to make
         most innovative new concepts under a   directions. Inside the ball they poured   sure their customers and the rest of the
         cloak of secrecy.                  300 pounds of molten TNT. Attached to   public knew the whole story. They ex-
           One of the most effective weapons   the bottom of the ball was a self-acting   plained: “The whole amazing episode…
         applied against entrenched  groups of   device which could be programmed to   was hidden from general knowledge…
         soldiers was known as an artillery bar-  release a plummet line to measure a   by the ‘smokescreen’ of secrecy which is
         rage. Hundreds of cannons fired shells   specific depth below the surface, com-  traditional in the Navy”
         simultaneously  into an enemy-held   bined with a longer, stronger line that   Belknap’s description  of how  the
         area  without  aiming  at  any  specific   would  allow  the device to continue   mines  and anchors  were  created in
         target. Sims reasoned the equivalent   sinking below the mine to rest on the   great haste and secrecy seems to obvi-
         of an artillery barrage would be some-  sea bottom as an anchor. A factory near   ously omit naming all the factories that
         thing like the strings of floating mines   the Norfolk VA naval base was convert-  cooperated because there were simply
         used to protect harbors. If there could   ed to manufacture the weapons.  too many involved to name everyone:
         be some existing techniques to position                                 “The  terms  ‘impossible’ and  ‘foolish’
         large numbers of such mines deep un-  Manufacturing The Mines And The   were freely applied to the scheme. Con-
         der water, it would have the effect of a   Self-Acting Anchors        tracts for 100,000 mines would have to
         barrage to halt submarines. After the   Recently,  Rik  Paulsen,  formerly   be let, and tens of millions more spent
         war, the U S Navy’s Captain Reginald   President and CEO of Paulsen  Wire   outright, both here and in Great Brit-
         Belknap (who was placed in charge of   Rope, brought to my attention a book-  ain, based on test of the mine only by
         running the secret program) said:                                     parts,  since  a complete  new  mine  did
           “Reducing a new invention to practice   let published after the war by the John   not yet exist… the undertaking had the
         in  a few  months  is  no  small problem,   A. Roebling’s Sons  Company at Tren-  unqualified approval of everyone in au-
                                            ton, NJ. Rik said it was the “first time
         especially when it is a mine to be plant-  I have ever seen wire rope get the credit   thority, from the President down. Secre-
         ed  much  deeper,  and  over  bottom 100                              cy, as well as haste, necessitated divid-
         fathoms deeper than ever before – yet   that it deserved  in war efforts.” The   ing the construction of the mine among
         this had to be done to meet the enemy’s   Roeblings had experienced two big fires   500 contractors  and subcontractors.
         submarine campaign, the most serious   that were thought to be the work of sab-  Parts manufactured in different places
         menace to the cause of America…”   oteurs. Apparently when Belknap’s re-  were  sent to a third  place for joining,
           Admiral Sims had conceived a weap-  port appeared in a national magazine,   and  all  were  finally  sent  to  Norfolk,
                                            the cooperation of American wire rope
         on which  didn’t  actually exist. It was
                                            producers and other manufacturers in   Virginia, whence they were shipped to
                                                                               Scotland, where the mines would be as-
             Note from the Author: When Rik Paulsen encountered a copy of the Roebling   sembled complete…”
            booklet, I felt immediately it was my own obligation to lacate all of the original   In January 1917,  the U.S. Govern-
            sources I could find, to tell the tale for Wire Rope News & Sling Technology.   ment had asked the American Iron and
            Rik and I hope you will find it interesting.                       Steel Institute to form a committee to
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