AT SEA: In-Fighting

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Floating mines are not outlawed by international convention. But, like anchored mines after they break loose, their danger period is supposed to be limited to one hour. A small submarine can carry 20 mines, can plant them through specially constructed mine tubes while submerged if necessary. Larger craft have special devices for submarine egg-laying and can put down 40 or more charges per trip.

Famed German subsea minelayer of World War I was U-J5, which sowed the northwest outlet of Scapa Flow. The British knew she was working there and diligently swept up after her. What they did not know was that U-J5's mine-carrying capacity had been increased by 16 over older models. After they had swept up the supposedly correct number (20) of mines, they let their ships go out through the field and one of the extra mines blew up the cruiser Hampshire, with War Secretary Earl Kitchener aboard. Other submarine-mining triumphs of 1914-18 were sinking the British dreadnought Audacious off the Irish Coast; also S. S. Laurentic, with £5,000,000 in gold aboard to pay for U. S. munitions. And a U-boat mine sank the U. S. armored cruiser San Diego right near Fire Island off the New York coast.

Partial object of mining in or near an enemy's channels is to fill them with wreckage that will menace other ships. Last week on the British east coast, three small British ships ran fatally afoul of the sunken Canada.

>The British India steamer Sirdhana (7,745 tons) blew up last week as it left Singapore harbor. William ("The Great") Nicola, U. S. magician, lost tons of paraphernalia but he, his wife & troupe were saved. A gang of 137 Chinese deportees had to be turned loose from their prison in Sirdhana's forward hold, recaptured later. The third officer of a Japanese steamer moored nearby rushed to the rescue in a small boat. Blamed for the disaster was a recently derelict British mine, broken loose from the Singapore naval base defense field.

> Threat-of-the-week by Germany was publication of a list of British and French passenger ships which, since they are armed, will henceforth be "treated as enemy warships." Included were Aquitania, Britannia, Cameronia, De Grasse, Empress of Russia, Georgic, Mauretania, Queen Mary. De Grasse reached Manhattan safely this week. Cameronia arrived, too, wearing a new suit of orange-buff paint as camouflage. Theory: any attacking submarine must come to the surface to identify her fully, could then be gunned.

>France counter-threatened that any German ship acquired by a neutral since hostilities began might be treated as an enemy. This applied pointedly to the $20,000,000 Bremen, reported last week to have been taken over by Soviet Russia in exchange for supplies for Germany.

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