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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/560

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How Our Naval Officers Play at Battle

In the naval war game all the world's at war and all the men merely officers and fighters

���One of the players is receiving an order. On his decision rests a move which if faulty will score heavily against his side. The table on which the game is played represents the sea

��THE game-board on which our naval officers fight out imaginary naval battles based on a problem with which they would be confronted in real war is a low table which represents a section of the sea. It is divided into small squares. The pawns in the game are small leaden vessels that represent in outline the differ- ent classes of warships. When the problem is first assigned, the players, who are usually experts at the Navy War College, Newport, R. I., are divided into two sides. Each has its Commander-in-Chief, who is assisted by a staff just as he would be in war. The game begins on a chart. When the scouts report "Contact with the enemy" the problem is transferred to the game- board, on which the supposed engagement is fought out to its smallest detail. Fuel supply, casualties, wind and weather figure in this theoretical battle.

The ships are moved on written orders which may be either radio or flag signals. In the illustration one of the players is receiving an order, and on his decision rests

��a move, which, if faulty, will score heavily against his side. The track of each ship, 'as it moves across the squares, is marked by chalk to show its position at any time of the twenty-four-hour fight staged on the board. The tracks help in working out the torpedo runs so that effect of torpedo fire may be plotted.

When the fleets come in effective range, say at 14,000 yards, fire is opened. The effect of the fire is marked by a card system on the blackboard in rear of the players. Actual war conditions are thus simulated. A ship damaged fifty per cent, for instance, is marked down in loss of speed and maneu- vering ability.

The importance of approach to battle is driven home; for a slight initial error may turn out to be the pivotal point in the fight. The game-board trains officers to make quick and accurate surveys. Delays in making the right move spell disaster. Maneuvering for the best position to be ready when fire action opens is another point on which stress is laid. Every detail

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