Have shipbuilders for years past been making the ship's rudder too large ? If so, no man can estimate the thousands of tons of coal which have been wasted on our ocean steamer lines. The American Shipbuilder describes the discovery made by the late Captain Albers of the "Deutsch-land," who died suddenly while on his last voyage to Hamburg. While the speed of the "Deutsch-land" under the most favorable conditions had never before exceeded twenty-three and a half knots, Captain Albers observed upon this last voyage that she was logging twenty-five knots an hour, and for a full day was consistently maintaining that extraordinary speed. Investigation into the causes disclosed the fact that the vessel had lost all but a small portion of her rudder, and that thereby a considerable surface of resistance to the sea had been done away with. The result of this loss of resistance had been an increase of speed to the extent of, on an average, two knots an hour, and with no added expenditure of energy or coal consumption. In other words, a large vessel of the "Deutschland's " capacity, with a small rudder, it would seem to have been proven, could, without added expense, shorten in time the distance between port and port by something like two hundred miles. When, in addition to this fact, it was found that on the high sea the vessel was easily directed by the use of the twin screws for steering purposes, and that in the harbor and narrow waters of any port so huge a vessel could be steered with the assistance of the propellers, by a rudder which was a mere shadow of its former self, a principle seemed to be established which may work a revolution in the construction of the steering gear of our ocean greyhounds. There may prove to be, on further consideration, serious objections to the changes which the incident suggests, and what chance has appeared to demonstrate may in the cold light of reason and of experiment prove to lack permanent value, but the episode is an interesting one.

If it proves of enduring value it will not be the first time that sheer accident has resulted in the discovery of principles of great scientific importance, as well as of practical commercial value.