Dear George: The First Letter. (Appendix 2.)
I quote me.This jumps ahead a bit, but the Germans in 1898 feel cocky and confident. They have just forced a concession from the Chinese and the fool, and there is no other word for the man in this case, Kaiser Wilhelm II, now orders his admiral of his East Asian Fleet, after this "victory" to go poke his ships into Manila Bay, into a free fire zone, look the situation over and see if Germany can cut a deal with Aguinaldo for a piece of the Philippine Islands or something. Meanwhile the German Foreign Office is playing games with Spain to see if Germany can buy pieces of the soon to be defunct Spanish empire which they eventually RTL do as part of the Paris peace settlement. They also offer to share the Philippine Islands in a side deal split with the United States in exchange for a worthless bit of territory they have further south in the Pacific in the RTL. The Americans react badly to this utter imbecility of an offer. This, before it even happens, is all known to the Americans as likely to happen before the Germans even figure it out for themselves, that is how ad hock it is. Anyway, the upshot is that not only is the Kaiser a damned fool to send a whole fleet into a live war zone, instead of single show the flag presence ship as the more prudent British, French and Japanese did in the RTL according to the prevailing rules of the game among the Great Powers, but so is RADM von Diederichs, who commands it, who promptly conducts hostile operations against the Americans short of war, such as if to survey Subic Bay for a German naval station and sending agents to meet with the Filipino illustrados, while Dewey is in the middle of a tense three-sided fight with GEN Merritt of the US Army (They hate each other. McP.), Emilio Aguinaldo and that Spanish double-crosser GEN Fermin Jaudenes, the new governor of Manila after Madrid fires Bustin who wants to surrender and get his people out of there before Aguinaldo's guerreros come into Manila to massacre the Spanish residents and garrison. It would only take one small misstep by the inept Otto von Diederichs and Dewey starts shooting. That would have been the RTL disaster. But for whom? The Germans are not only outmatched by a MUCH better trained navy, though gun-power is about equal, they are in the presence of a recently battle experienced fleet. The Germans frankly do not know what they do. The Americans of 1898 are incredibly dangerous. The Americans of that day, navally, actually know what they do and they do it extremely well.
More like a callback.Hell of an Easter Egg there....
This is correct. The 1898 naval gun crisis was as RTL critical as the 1941 torpedo crisis and for much the same reasons.I'm not the engineering and ordnance scholar that you are, but I'm gathering that the USN is identifying deficiencies and has plans to fix them, but between administrative/legal/budget/diplomatic/ and engineering limitations, the fixes aren't likely to occur as quickly as wanted or needed.
The actual top USN leadership was not that bad, politically on the civilian side, (John Long and Teddy Roosevelt) or at the command level, (General Board). With members like Henry C. Taylor and Alfred Thayer Mahan, the problem was not at staff. It was the captains and admirals at sea. Half of them were too old to handle the war stress, and the other half were certifiably insane.I'm also gathering that leaders near the top of the food chain, have identified their less-than-adept counterparts and within the limits of protocol are working to offset the worst of the impacts. As you note with the re-assignment of Adm Sigsbee, the shortage of proven top talent is grave. The trouble there is peace-time command needs and promotions don't always work on the same wavelength as the path that requires war-time skills. (And this navy hasn't fought a real war for 30 years)