By Julian Gwyn
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Additional resources for Ashore and Afloat: The British Navy and the Halifax Naval Yard Before 1820
Dependent only on careening yards in Halifax harbour and on Manhattan Island, naval commanders-in-chief, when ships needed major structural repairs or thorough rebuilding, were forced to order them to be patched up in one or other of these bases before making a summer's crossing to Plymouth or Portsmouth, both already heavily burdened. The construction of the drydock at Halifax would have obviated this need. The navy could have operated for long periods independently of home dockyards. To have taken the decision would have also meant that those in London intended to supply from England the necessary artificers - principally shipwrights, caulkers, and ship's carpenters to carry out the work.
The careening storehouse was too small to contain the careening gear, working hawsers, and other gear. 43 As a consequence the hammocks themselves became damaged. This raised for Commissioner Duncan the suitability of slate roofs in that climate. 44 He learned that in 1785 some H£369 were expended on this item alone, while an estimated H£604 would suffice to unslate the roofs and replace them with shingles, which were thought to last twenty years. When he asked why the slates were laid dry rather than in lime, the yard officers told him that the roofs were not framed for that purpose and to reinforce them would cost an additional H£l,295.
93 William Fowler was the chosen storekeeper. After Boston was relinquished and New York successfully invaded in 1776, Fowler was sent there and spent the entire war running with consummate skill what grew into the most important naval base in North America. The first significant test of the value of the navy's material investment in the Halifax careening yard came with the outbreak of this first American war. Hostilities at sea began within days of the battles at Concord and Lexington in April 1775.
Ashore and Afloat: The British Navy and the Halifax Naval Yard Before 1820 by Julian Gwyn
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