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When the commander-in-chief desires to form the column in the shortest possible time, without regard to the positions of the vessels in it, he has but to make general signal full speed. It will sometimes happen, however, that vessels coming into column thus will interfere with each er, when the junior officer must slow down until his or has passed him.
With a fleet of more than twelve vessels, the angle formed by the course of the obliquing vessels with that of the leader of the column, should be at least two points, since if it be less the fleet will be too long in forming. For instance, twenty-four vessels in line, in close order*, heading N., will be three hours in forming 'column of vessels," steering N. by E., if the angle of obliquity be but a half point, fifty-six minutes if it be two points, thirty-two minutes if it be four, and twenty-three minutes if it be six points. I think four points should be preferred when practicable, especially in the presence of an enemy, since the vessels while forming would be in direct echelon, and, by "slowing," the wing nearest the forming column could be thrown into double echelon, thus making, with the vessels already in column, the three sides of a square impossible to penetrate.
* As the arcs described by the different vessels in coming to the oblique course will not be exactly the same, this is not mathematically correct, but it will be found practically so, provided the vessels continue at full speed until on the oblique course.
2. The fleet being in line heading N., to form it into columns of vessels from the right of divisions, preserving the original direction.
From the right of divisions, form columns of vessels-fleet N. E.—right vessels N.*
Flag-ships of divisions signal: Division N. E.right vessel N.*
The vessels on the right of divisions keep their course; the other vessels steer N. E., and come into column in the wake of their leaders.
*Right vessels' (1, 9, and 17) distinguishing pennant must here be hoisted over compass sigual N.
The commander-in-chief signals:
From the right of divisions, form columns of vessels-fleet E.-right vessels N.*
Flag-ships of divisions signal: Division E.right vessel N.*
The vessels on the right of divisions keep their course; the other vessels steer E, and come into column in the wake of their leaders.
It is evident that the fleet can be formed into columns of vessels from the left of divisions, and from the right and left of squadrons, preserving the original direction, according to the same principles.
3. The fleet being in line, heading N., to form it into double column, from the right, preserving the original direction.
* Distinguishing pennants of 1, 9, and 17, to be hoisted over compass signal N.
The commander-in-chief signals:
From the right of fleet, form double column-fleet N. E.-right vessels N.*
Flag-ship of van division: Division N. E.— right vessels* N.
Flag-ships of centre and rear divisions signal : Division N. E.
The two vessels on the right of the fleet keep their course; the others steer N. E; the oddnumbered vessels coming into column in the wake of one, the even-numbered in the wake of two.
The commander-in-chief signals :
From the right of fleet form double column-fleet E-right vessels N.*
*Distinguishing pennants of
and 2 hoisted over com
pass signal N.