If a fleet of sixteen men-of-war were lying at
anchor and surrounded by the enemy, how many ships might be sunk if
every torpedo, projected in a straight line, passed under three vessels
and sank the fourth?
In the diagram, the fleet is in
a square formation, where it will be seen that as many as seven ships may
be sunk (those in the top row and first column) by firing the torpedoes
indicated by arrows.
Anchoring the fleet as we like, to what extent can
we increase this number?
Remember that each successive ship is sunk
before another torpedo is launched, and that every torpedo proceeds in
a different direction; otherwise, by placing the ships in a straight
line, we might sink as many as thirteen!
It is an interesting little
study in naval warfare, and eminently practical—provided the
enemy will allow you to arrange his fleet for your convenience and
promise to lie still and do nothing!