Page 14 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - October 2018
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         make decisions about the handling and
         distribution  of  wire  rope.  The  chair-
         man was Karl Roebling and the other
         two  members were  Frank  Baackes  of
         American Steel and Wire  in  Trenton,
         and  John  Broderick  of  Broderick  &
         Bascom in St. Louis, MO. Beginning
         in May 1917, all government require-
         ments for wire rope of any kind were
         passed through this committee for al-
         lotment to the ropemakers.  Baackes
         headed a  sub-committee to  make  all
         the allotments and assure the smaller
         ropemakers who  did not draw their
         own wire were guaranteed adequate
         wire  from the wire  mills.  When  the
         big requirement for the anchor devices
         came,  the  industry  was  prepared  to
         cope with it. In a similar way, the auto-
         mobile industry coped with making the
         ball-like mine casing spheres.
         Making The Wire Ropes              A mine finding its position at the desired depth below the surface of the sea.
           Captain Belknap placed a naval offi-  the Roebling factory they attached   and most technically  advanced sub-
         cer at every wire rope factory to oversee   500,000 sockets and hooks, often as   marine fleet of any nation. Because of
         and confer regarding the status of pro-  many as 6,000 per day, and spliced a   their ability to attack without exposing
         duction. The entire American ropemak-  large number of four-leg lifting slings   themselves, Admiral Sims’ secret wire
         ing industry was involved. The level of   that were used to handle the mines.   rope plan would confront those vessels
         secrecy was so high, everyone assumed   Because the program was constantly   in their own hidden environment. But
         the  ropes  were  needed by the  surface   changing and evolving many inge-  it was very essential to keep the whole
         fleet.  The  full  quantity  manufactured   nious  decisions  were  made  without   plan under wraps until it was com-
         for the subsurface mine barrage alone   having any plan to guide the workers   pletely in place. A wise  decision  was
         was over 80 million feet. Here’s how   or the Naval personnel.        made to ship  the spheres  to Europe
         that production was allocated:       In 1917 there were only two Ameri-  before installing any detonators. All of
           • John A Roebling’s Sons,        can  companies making  aircraft cable.   the various parts were accumulated at
             Trenton, NJ     27,363,200 feet  When a transportation difficulty arose   Norfolk, VA. From there a squadron of
           • American Steel & Wire,         interrupting production at one of the   very small transatlantic steamers car-
             Worcester, MA   14,000.000 feet  two factories, the other had to step up   ried the parts to Scotland where they
           • A. Leschen & Sons,             their own production to supply 80% of   were assembled to be loaded on Ameri-
             St Louis, MO   10, 503,000 feet  the needed amount so as to continue   can mine layers. One of these 24 small
           • Broderick & Bascom Rope,       meeting the schedule. All of the work   ships, the “Lake Moor”, was sunk  by
             St Louis, MO     4,241,380 feet  and the changes  were  done without   a U-boat en route, and her crew of 41
           • Hazard Manufacturing,          any experimentation. The government   perished, but this was the only loss of
             Wilkes-Barre, PA   3,975,950 feet  relied  entirely  upon  the  experience  of   human  life  during  the  transfer.  The
           • Macomber & Whyte Rope,         the American ropemakers. The ability   steamers also carried fuel, fruit and
             Kenosha, WI      3.919,900 feet  to cut  accurate  lengths  for  placement   vegetables to mask their purpose and
           • Williamsport Wire Rope,        on the spools was a very important as-  sustain  the  American  assembly team
             Williamsport, PA   2,982,600 feet  set.  The Navy presumed the factories   entirely from the USA.
           • Waterbury Co.,                 would  be good at it, and they were   Perhaps the most risky decision was
             Brooklyn, NY     2,818,200 feet  right.  Despite the burden of secrecy,   to load all of the spheres with yellow
           • Wright Wire Co.,               the effort moved forward so rapidly the   TNT explosive while they were still
             Worcester, MA    1,391,520 feet  strategists on Admiral Sims staff began   in the USA. TNT was the most widely
           All of the work of attachments to   thinking  about a  smaller  but equally   used military explosive. It is relatively
         the anchor device spools was done in   important plan. Italy was  an ally of   insensitive to shocks, solid at room
         Trenton by AS&W and Roebling Sons.   Britain and France,  but the Ottoman   temperature, and melts into a thick
         They mounted the plummet lines on   Empire on the opposite side of the Adri-  liquid  at  about  175°F  (80°C)  which
         special spools after cutting them to a   atic Sea was a German ally. Sealing off   allows it to be poured into metal con-
         specific short length, dipping them in   the Adriatic with a mine barrage was   tainers such as the spheres. The heat-
         fish oil and connecting them in a way   suggested as the next project.  ing kettles used for melting emitted
         that when they made a sudden stop                                     noxious vapors which were very dan-
         at  the  specified  depth  they  wouldn’t   Activating The Submerged North   gerous during the hot summer weath-
         tear loose.                        Sea Barrage                        er. One sailor died, and others were
           There were 125,000 spools and the   At the beginning of the war,  the   sickened from breathing the fumes at
         rate of production sometimes was   German navy’s fleet of unterzee boats   the melting location in a building near
         as high as 4,000 per day. Also, at   (known  as U-Boats) was  the largest              continued on page 16

         14     Wire Rope News & Sling Technology   October 2018
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