Wuxiaworld > Release that Witch > Chapter 394: The Seed of a Navy

Chapter 394: The Seed of a Navy

Chapter 394: The Seed of a Navy

Translator: TransN Editor: TransN
...

Roland watched the second cement boat slip into the water with satisfaction His subjects cheered loudly.

The two cement boats looked simple in terms of structure, but they were actually much better than previous models, namely the Littletown. A framework of dense steel reinforcement had been added to the internal structure, and the quality of the cement had improved tremendously. The overall strength of the boat was thus several times greater than the Littletown.

To expedite the shipbuilding process, Roland reserved slots and ports for steam engines, transmission mechanisms and paddle wheels when he designed the hull. This way, laborers only needed to weld bolts into the metal components. They could quickly build the boat putting pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Meanwhile, the mold was now made of iron rather than temporary masonry. This change not only guaranteed a high density of the poured concrete, thereby improving the boat's waterproof performance, but it also ensured that each boat was almost exactly the same. This helped to avoid errors when installing the power system. In order to create a complete design of the mold, Roland had scrapped at least seven or eight testing samples. Fortunately, cement was no longer scarce these days. Steam engines had replaced human labor, from stone grinding all the way to kiln feeding. It was the only large-scale industrial project that did not rely on witches' abilities in Border Town.

With ample materials, reliable molds and skilled laborers, the only factor that limited the production of hulls was the hardening rate of cement. However, with the help of Paper's reaction acceleration ability, it only took one day (rather than the original one to two months) to launch a cement boat. In other words, the shipyard could launch an unpowered vessel every two or three days if Roland wished to.

If the speed of steam engine manufacturing could catch up with that of crew training, he would most likely develop a huge shipping fleet in a short period of time and fill the Redwater River with his own cement boats. They would look like "dumplings in boiling water".

That was the appeal of industrialization.

Now that the hull had been completed, the next step would be the installation of power units. The mechanical equipment was pretty much the same as those on the modified boats of the Chamber of Commerce at Crescent Moon Bay. The craftsmen already had practical experience, so he didn’t need to worry about it.

"I don't understand. Why did you tell these things to subjects?" Nightingale asked.

"To advertise the national power." Roland smiled faintly.

"I'm sorry?"

"I mean to behold the tremendous changes the town has gone through." The prince stroked his chin. "You probably never expected a boat made of stones could float on the water before seeing the Littletown. My subjects think the same way. After realizing what is impossible, they'll have a greater sense of township. It's a comprehensive upgrading in mentality, which can even turn into a belief that there's nothing they can’t achieve."

"I don't quite understand." Nightingale sounded a little confused.

"You just see it as a means of propaganda, and that will do," Roland smiled and said. In this era, the nobilities only celebrated with civilians for big events or ceremonies, both of which were almost entirely noble affairs. If it weren’t for the free food, many civilians wouldn’t attend. Nevertheless, the cement boats were the combined work of hundreds of laborers, and they were part of the festivities.

After witnessing constant miracles, members of the territory would gradually develop their confidence and sense of identity, collectively referred to as "superpower mentality" in later generations. Once a territory had become powerful and prosperous, the mentality of its subjects would inevitably experience positive changes.

...

A week later, Roland met over twenty townies who had applied for the captain's position in the castle's hall.

He was quite surprised at first when Barov reported the number, as he did not expect there would be so many "top-notch talents" among the refugees taken in by this town. When he read the detailed report that he couldn't help laughing. There were quite a few fishermen who operated rafts and small fishing boats, even some boatmen who made a living providing ferry services. They could indeed be regarded as "captain", in a sense.

Among all the applicants, there were only three people with experience operating sloops on the inland river, one of whom claimed that he used to work as a commander for a merchant fleet, and had earned a living on the sea for a long time.

Roland thought for a while, then decided to recruit all twenty people.

Steam-powered boats belonged to a completely different system from that of sailboats, and were also operated in a distinct way. Even an experienced captain would not necessarily learn the operation of paddle steamers that fast. Besides, he knew nothing about operating a boat himself, so it would be better for them to learn as they went.

Since he was starting from scratch, he needed to be resolute and have the courage to explore.

"I've reviewed your applications," Roland glanced at the group of people kneeling in the hall, "Today I've summoned you here to tell you that you've passed the preliminary assessment, and have gloriously become the first group of captain interns. Please rise."

"Yes... Your Highness," all the people rose gingerly, exchanging looks with one other. They looked rather confused about the term "captain intern".

The prince took the initiative to explain, "Being an intern means you haven't been officially hired yet. You'll only get half of the salary stated in the post until you are officially on board, ten silver royals a month. The first two months will be the learning period, during which you will get yourselves familiarized with the performance, operation method and procedures of the new boat. The third month will be the trial period, during which you'll be assessed in terms of your learning ability. Only the qualified ones will be promoted to official captains and paid full salary. Those who aren't willing to accept these terms can leave now."

Nobody in the group moved. After a while, an old man suddenly spoke, "Your Highness, who'll teach us and who'll assess us to see if we’re qualified?"

Roland cast him a glance with great interest. He was the one who claimed to be an experienced fleet commander. His name appeared to be Cacusim. If Roland remembered correctly, he was a relative of the policeman from the assassination case two months ago. Judging from the old man's tone, Roland could tell that he didn’t think there was anyone qualified to teach him how to operate a ship. Indeed, there was none.

"The ‘teachers’ will be yourselves," the prince nodded and said.

These words caused a stir among the group.

"Your Highness, what does that mean?" Cacusim asked, confused.

"How much do you know about steam engines?" Roland replied with a question. As he expected, not a single person could answer. "The steam-powered boat is brand new in every aspect. Your past experience will not actually help much, therefore you need to explore and find a way yourselves. Of course, I'll send the craftsmen from the steam engine plant to assist you in familiarizing yourselves with machines." He paused for a little bit and said, "The assessment approach is very simple. Those who are able to operate the boat with a group of sailors and complete a transportation task will be regarded as qualified."

Although the saying 'It takes ten years to build an army and a hundred years a navy' was exaggerating slightly, it did indicate the difficulty in building a navy. If this group of people could master the operation of the steam-powered boat, they could for sure foster a large group of capable crews for the Western Region. These crews could be directly employed to build steam-powered shallow water gunboats later.

He wondered what kind of navy it would turn out to be.