CABLE, a rope or chain used for connecting a ship with her anchor. Chain cables are generally used, but on account of their weight they are unsuitable for mooring in very deep water, when several lengths of cable would be hanging at the "hawse pipe ; " and they cannot be used, also on account of their weight, when it is required to lay an anchor out at some distance from the ship. Hempen cables are, therefore, supplied to all ships as well as chain cables. For sizes, number, and lengths of cables carried by ships of the Royal Navy and required by Lloyd's rules to be supplied to merchant ships, see article ANCHOR.
The length of a chain cable is 100 fathoms, and that of a hempen cable 101 fathoms. The term "a cable's length," by which the distance of vessels from each other is usually given in nautical parlance, is understood to mean 100 fathoms, or 200 yards. Cables are sometimes made of common chain, but the best and most approved are made of stud-link chain, as shown in fig. 1, which gives the relative proportions of the various parts. Cables are made in lengths of 121 fathoms, connected together by " joining shackles," as shown at D. Each length is " marked " by a piece of iron-wire being twisted round the stud of one of the links, the wire being placed on the first stud inside the first shackle, - i.e., the stud nearest to the shackle on the side remote from the anchor, - on the second stud inside the second shackle, and so on, so that the length of cable which is out may always be known. For instance, if the mark is on the sixth stud Inside the first inboard shackle, it is known that six lengths, or 75 fathoms, of cable are out, measuring from that shackle. In joining the lengths together the round end of the shackle should be placed towards the anchor. The end links of each length C, C are made without studs in order to receive the shackles, and it is necessary to make them of iron of greater diameter than that used for the stud links. in order to keep them of equal strength. The stud keeps the link from collapsing, and increases its strength considerably.
The next links 13, 13 in their turn have to be enlarged to enable them to take the increased size given to the links C, C. It will be observed from the sketch of the shackle D that the pin is made oval, its greater diameter being in the direction of the strain. Thl pin of the shackle which attaches the cable to the anchor, and is called the "anchor shackle " in distinction from the "joining shackles," may project and be secured by a forelock ; but as any projection would be detrimental when the chain is running out (sometimes with great rapidity) through the hawse pipes, the pins of the joining shackles are made as shown, and are secured by a small pin d. This small pin is kept from coming out by being made a little short, so that a lead pellet may be driven in at either end to fill up the holes in the shackle, which are made with a groove, so that as the pellets are driven in they expand or dovetail, and thus keep the small pin secure in its place.
The cables are stowed in the chain lockers, the inner ends being firmly secured to the ship by a " slip." This is done to render it impossible for the cable to run out and be lost accidentally, the slip being provided so that the cable may be let go without difficulty if stress of weather or any other cause renders such a proceeding imperative. It is necessary to fit one or two swivels in each cable to avoid turns being taken in it as the ship swings. When a ship is moored with two anchors the cables are attached to a mooring swivel (fig. 2) ; if this is not done the cables get entwined around each other, forming what is termed a "foul hawse,' which is a troublesome thing to clear.
The cable is hove up in large vessels by a capstan, and in small ones by a windlass. It is brought directly to the capstan, the inner end passing to the deck pipe, and thence to the chain lockers ; or it is brought in by means of a messenger, which is an endless chain passing round the capstan and a roller on each side of the deck near the hawse pipes. The cable is stoppered to the messenger by rope or iron nippers, and as the messenger goes round with the capstan the cable is brought in, the nippers being shifted as required. Messengers are now almost entirely superseded by the improved make of capstans.
Various means for checking the canle as it is running out, and for invading it, have been devised. The oldfashioned plan is to fit a strong iron lever called a " compresser" under the deck pipe, fixed at one end in such a position that when the other end is hove round by a tackle the cable will be jammed between the compresser and the lower edge of the pipe. In place of compressers, or to act in conjunction with them, several kinds of stoppers have been used, fitted either at the deck pipes, or just inside the hawse pipes ; those patented by Harfield and Co. find the most favour in the Royal Navy, but the compressers are
almost invariably fitted with them. Ships are generally held when " riding at anchor" by one or two turns of the cable being taken round the " riding bitts," which are strong structures of iron or wood, placed for this purpose near the hawse pipes. " Stopper bolts" - i.e., ring-and-eye bolts, placed in the deck forward - are also fitted, to which the cable may be secured while the turns are being put on or taken off the riding bitt, while the mooring swivel is being attached, or at other times. (T. IVL)