At the time of the receipt of the invitation of this Institute, I had agreed to prepare a paper for publication in "the United Service" quarterly, which I have the honor to read on this occasion, relating to the subjects which engage our attention.
The purposes of a Navy are more complex, important, and constant than are supposed by persons who only regard it as a means of offence and defense in war, and who are ignorant, in a great degree, of the training necessary to efficiency. Many suppose that in time of peace we need no Navy; that, should a war occur, our merchant marine would supply us amply with officers and men, and as well with vessels, which, with the mere addition of fitments of armaments and appliances, would become formidable vessels-of-war. It is intended to show the important, not to say the indispensable functions, performed by the Navy in time of peace; and, as well, that a Navy cannot be improvised, capable of meeting an enemy having a personnel more thoroughly trained and disciplined, and provided with vessels built actually for war purposes.
A farmer surrounded by lean and hungry stock ready to overrun and feed upon what was not hedged around, would be thought foolish were he to try to raise a crop or even graze his own stock undisturbed, without in advance planting his hedges. In vain would he endeavor to supply the deficiency when his enemies were upon him.
The nation that would establish no carefully devised system of de fence against aggression from within and without, would be no wiser than such an improvident farmer. The Army and the Navy are the hedges of a nation, more or less properly planted and sustained, and are no less indispensable to a nation's security and prosperity than the hedges to the farmer. I hope to show that they do not occupy ground idly or unprofitably; that they bear their fruits,—none the less valuable to the nation because they are, as it were, common property.
There is hardly a projected "Internal Improvement" throughout our wide territory, that has the shadow of national importance, that is not planned, if not superintended in its execution, by the Engineer Corps of our Army. There is not a menace to public order, or a riot whose object is plunder, where the humble Infantry soldier is not hailed as the useful and timely friend to the "man of good will," be he rich or poor.
You hear it said that these outbreaks should be met by "citizen soldiers,"—by the volunteer or the militia-man. The employment of such forces, without the aid of United States soldiers or of sailors, in the riots of July, 1877, was, at no one point, satisfactory; wherever there were disorders and no United States forces present, there was great destruction of property, entire insecurity of life, and especially to the luckless wight who stood as a volunteer or militia-man, the guardian of the lives and property of his fellow citizens. The wrath of the mob knew no bounds against him, when, at the same time, the forces of the United States were not assailed, and their presence and authority were respected. It seems to me that the lives of our citizens are of too much value to make them the targets of the blind rage of the mob, of the men who, under pretence of being laborers without employment, are disposed not to labor except upon their own demands, and to violently prevent others from laboring, yet quite willing to gain what they can by violence and robbery.
I beg your pardon for apparently wandering from the subject which is designed to be discussed,—that of the purposes of the Navy, the services of which, at the time referred to, were not without value. The soldier and the sailor were alike recognized as the friends of "men of good will," and their presence and their authority were respected by the mob.
The operations and objects of a Navy are mostly afloat: on the high seas the navies of the world form a common police, without which life and property would be wholly insecure. The nation that, in time of peace, should disregard its obligation to perform its part of a common duty, would, in time of war, suffer disadvantages and losses which would be incalculably greater, arising from a want of preparation for defense and aggression. The spirit of piracy exists now, as ever; there are no pirates, or rather piracy is rare, simply because the seas are policed by the navies of the world.
There are other purposes also, in time of peace, which employ the active energies of the Navy. As an example, we may refer to the Expedition of Commodore Perry to Japan, in 1854. This event is so recent that it seems hardly necessary to more than mention it. Had this Expedition not been sent, or had it been less ably commanded, it is altogether probable that the Japanese would still be an isolated people instead of occupying a distinguished position among the nations, due to their high character and ability, and to their great artistic taste. Let it not be supposed, by those not conversant with the history of the Expedition, that it was used as a force to bring about commercial relations. It was, in fact, rather a formal exhibition of the appliances and advancement of European civilization, and a demonstration of the advantage which peoples derive from a free intercourse, not in matters of trade solely, but even, in a greater degree, to the speedy dissemination of knowledge, due to the aggregate gains of many races and nations.
The only demand made by that Expedition was the right of refuge in Japanese harbors to our vessels suffering shipwreck or injured from stress of weather, on their coasts. The Japanese were informed also that, whilst the government of the United States desired commercial intercourse, in the belief that it would be mutually advantageous, it recognized the fact that, even when allowed by treaties, it could only exist when it was found to promote the interests of both parties. Thus thirty-five millions of industrious, intelligent and highly ingenious people were added to the family of commercial nations, due wholly to one of the purposes of a Navy,—a fact at variance with the assertion that we have no need for a Navy in time of peace.
This Expedition, so ably commanded, was engaged in making all possible surveys to render navigation safe in those comparatively unknown and unvisited seas, and in pursuing a vigorous routine of training to officers and men, which was of the highest value in promoting the efficiency of the Navy. It was, in fact, the commencement in our naval service of a more methodical and thorough training, that had become necessary through the use of steam as a motor, and the improved armaments on board ship.
About the same time, one of our vessels-of-war visited Paraguay, made a survey of some two thousand miles of the river Parana and its affluents, and did much to bring that nation, then isolated, into common relations with commercial nations.
By our Navy officers the river Amazon has been explored from its head waters to the sea; and now that magnificent stream is navigated its entire length. Only last summer, hundreds of miles of the river Madeira, one of the affluents of the Amazon, was admirably surveyed by one of our vessels-of-war, which will serve, ere long, to enlarge the commerce of that region, with our own and other nations.
Within the past eight years the Navy has completed surveys wherever required,—of the water-sheds of inter-tropical America, from Tehuantepec to far up the waters of the river Atrato, leaving nothing in doubt as to the solution of the Inter-oceanic Canal question across this continent. It has, at the same time, determined by telegraphy, with extreme accuracy, the longitudes of many important points in the West Indies and on the eastern coast of South America, and has sounded two lines across the wide Pacific, and one from San Francisco to Australia, to facilitate the laying of marine cables in the future.
The two large Expeditions to the Pacific, the one commanded by the late Rear-Admiral Charles Wilkes, and the other by the present Rear-Admiral John Rodgers, require mention,—the valuable surveys made by them, and the civilizing influence which the visits of those Expeditions exerted over the many savage inhabitants of the Pacific islands.
It will be remembered too that our Navy did much in examining the route for and in laying the first cable between Europe and America.
Surveying the oceans, with their innumerable it lands, rocks and hidden dangers, is the legitimate duty of the navies of the world, and, I may add, necessary to the safety of the commerce of the world. Unless this is done by them, it will remain undone forever; hence, it should be regarded as a duty in common. From its magnitude, it is a work of many years, if apportioned out by agreement between the nations themselves; and, when the whole field has been covered, from the constant physical changes, much of it would require re-survey, making this duty, in fact, interminable.
Our Navy has furnished inspectors of light-houses and officers for the hydrographic duties of the Coast Survey, both of which are of great importance to our commerce and to that of other flags visiting our coasts.
I was reminded, by an intelligent friend, of the great advantage derived by our merchants in many foreign ports, through the appearance, occasionally, of a vessel-of-war, especially in such countries as have unstable governments. A cursory examination of a Chart of the Globe will show the very great number of ports of this character, and the necessity of protection, beyond a "moral support." On two occasions, during a brief period, when I was Acting Secretary of the Navy, after conferring with the State Department, it became necessary to state with precision, through our Naval commanders, what was expected on the part of the Powers concerned; the response to which was prompt and satisfactory. Such have been the purposes of the Navy, more or less, since its formation; such will be its purposes, more or less, as long as it is efficiently directed, and as long as it exists in a state of efficiency.
The actual knowledge required to make a useful officer of the Navy is diverse and considerable; and the training, special and onerous, can only be acquired by encountering the vicissitudes of the sea in varied forms, over the wide expanse of the navigable waters of the globe; nor would this experience suffice without previous careful primary instruction. Every vessel-of-war, properly commanded, is a school of instruction; in every sea vessels-of-war are or should be engaged in making partial or extended surveys; in sounding out the depths of the oceans, and, as before stated, in maintaining the police of the seas, without which there would be no security.
At the breaking out of the Civil War, the Prince de Joinville, who was conversant with our naval training, expressed a very favorable opinion, which was published at that time, as to the efficiency of our Navy. He stated that our people would not be disappointed, so far as its operations were concerned. I will leave to others the expression of an opinion on this point, but call attention to what was anomalous and difficult in connection with those naval duties, and their results. Hundreds of officers were appointed from the merchant service, many of them having excellent qualities, and knowledge as seamen, who readily learned the routine of naval duty, and how to manage large numbers of men effectively, on the deck of a vessel. They fully appreciated whatever was effective in the routine of the Navy, and soon had practical experience in fighting ships and batteries, and the methods of instruction of the crews adopted and carried out most effectively by the ablest officers of our Navy. I feel sure that our officers, in general, will take pleasure in acknowledging the high character and professional ability of some of these officers, which would make them a creditable accession to any Navy List.
A certain number of these volunteer officers, less gifted in the positive and special qualities which belong to the able officer, were less useful, and to a certain extent were disposed to depreciate what they could not comprehend nor attain. It need hardly be added that these officers were in general inferior in proper conduct, without which effective officers cannot be made, however gifted they may be otherwise. The volunteer officers called into the service were many times more numerous than the officers belonging to the regular Navy; and such would doubtless be the case again should we have a war with a great naval power. Hence the necessity of having a sufficient number of well trained officers in the Navy to meet the exigency which must arrive, that is in fact only a question of uncertain length of time with every nation. It would be impossible to conceive in advance the mass of confusion, of ill-directed effort, of misspent money, of national calamity and disgrace which would ensue were we to act upon the supposition that a Navy was of no use in time of peace, and could be effectively improvised in time of war.
However able, as seamen, those of our merchant service may be, and however gifted in character, as a class, they would require special training to enable them to effectively direct and control the operations of large numbers of men, in which they have no experience in the merchant service, and in the appliances and use of heavy ordnance, in itself requiring aptitude on their part, as well as considerable experience in gunnery on board vessels-of-war of the officers who might be detailed as instructors.
In this connection the latent force that a nation possesses, existent and ever ready in a large retired list of competent officers becomes apparent. The government of Great Britain so fully appreciates this, and the importance of promotion at a proper age, that to effect these objects several methods of retirement are offered. A Rear-Admiral may retire at his option at fifty five years of age; a Captain at fifty; a Commander at forty-five; and a Lieutenant at forty; but when five years are added to their respective ages, retirement becomes compulsory. If however, an officer has not served for five years in some of the grades, or seven in others, whatever his age may be, retirement is compulsory. Under such regulations it is difficult to suppose that an objectionable or incompetent officer can be continued on the active list; and it is apparent also that some officers at least of those grades, of high professional worth and unexceptionable character must be retired without a suspicion even of mental or physical infirmity. A position is made for advancement on the retired lists carrying with it substantial benefits, establishing plainly the purposes of these compulsory retirements, which are indeed fairly expressed in the order.
The advantage derivable to a Navy from officers attaining responsible positions in command before they are too old, is a marked feature of the British system of retirement and promotion; indeed, it is fairly the object of retiring the officers at the ages stated; an officer kept too long in a subordinate position loses, after a certain time, the ability to bear what is known as responsibility; and after that, whatever his character and professional attainment may be, he lacks an essential element to usefulness in a high grade. Our system of retirement, or rather of replacement on the active list, through legislation, of officers who have been lawfully retired, seems calculated to seriously impair the efficiency of the service; officers of the higher grades of the best character, and who have rendered the best services afloat in the line of duty, pronounce upon the merits and professional qualifications of those who have become eligible for promotion by seniority. It would seem most difficult if not impossible, to name another tribunal that would as well guard the interests of the government and also that would be disposed to consider and protect the reasonable claims for advancement to the officers. It is usually assumed and asserted by those interested that an officer has a "right" to be prompted, and that great injustice is done when he is passed over or retired.
I suppose there exists entire unanimity of opinion among the officers present that our government should consider strictly its own interests in setting aside those officers who, from whatever cause, are not efficient, even though the disability should be from wounds received in action and the officer himself be a brilliant exemplar. It is presumed however that his merits have justly won and entitle him to a retired pay proportionate to his rank and his professional worth in the past. It is an injustice to consider that an officer not recommended for promotion, and who under present laws will be retired, may not have excellent qualities, and may not have done excellent service.
I will venture to say that there is not one among us, of the older officers at least, who has not a high personal regard and a warm friendship for many brother officers who have been compulsorily retired, when he believes too that the best interests of the service required such action on the part of the retiring board. The intelligent discussion of this subject by the Institute will not fail to show whatever difference of opinion exists among its members, and it will serve to enlighten our friends on a very important point.
During a period of more than six years in charge of the Office of Detail, a position advisory to the Secretary of the Navy in making assignments to duty, as all present are aware, I have no recollection of any senator or member of Congress pressing a recommendation for orders of any one against the reasons given, when fairly expressed and understood.
Nearly if not all of the legislative difficulties respecting the Navy grow out of expressions of opinion on the part of ourselves, either crudely digested, or arising from personal or partial views and motives, through which a part of the Navy or its interests, is presumed to be greater than the whole. If we can agree among ourselves and present fairly the questions that belong to making the Navy efficient, to and through the Navy Department, I think there will be no difficulty in attaining a satisfactory end so far as legislation is concerned.
In relation to the adaptation of vessels built for the merchant service to the fighting purposes of a Navy, it may be said that there is not one in a hundred that, with the same displacement, would stand an equal chance in a naval engagement with the best types of vessels built for fighting. In general, inferiority of a vessel, in time of war, results in her capture, instead of capturing her enemy. The result is altogether more serious than inferiority in the ordinary pursuits of commerce, especially when it is one of speed, and perhaps due to no greater difference than having a fouler bottom.
It may be assumed that all sea-steamers hereafter built for our merchant service will have compound engines with the boilers, and the steam connections placed so high relatively, with vessels built for war purposes, as to make the chances of striking them with shot or shell far more probable, and thus increasing the chances of disabling the vessel. There is a popular error that compound engines give increased speed, when, in fact, they only effect economy of fuel when a vessel is kept at a high and uniform rate of speed. A vessel thus furnished has a conditional advantage of economy in fuel, advantageous in the ordinary pursuits of commerce, and, on the other hand, with disadvantages, for a vessel-of-war, in having more liability to breakage from an increased number of working parts, with whatever disadvantages may exist in being compelled to carry a high steam pressure to attain a fair speed. Whatever may be thought of the effect of an explosion of boilers for compound engines, so far as the safety of the hull is concerned, or of the relative scalding effects on the crew between decks, with boilers having less steam pressure, in either case when the shell of a boiler is pierced, all of the heat will escape instantly to the boiling point, and as well of the water, which, owing to the increased pressure, is much hotter in the boilers of the compound engine than in those of the ordinary low-pressure, considered with the normal speed. The view here presented, so far as concerns the relative values of compound and ordinary low-pressure engines for vessels-of-war, corresponds with that of a very capable officer who has commanded vessels having compound engines for several years, and who has a practical familiar knowledge of the ordinary low-pressure engines also, such as are common in vessels-of-war.
No wooden propeller steamers of any size are built, except on this continent. A want of rigidity of frame, not of course demanded for the safety of the vessel, but for the security of the engines against bad lineage, and consequent frictions, heating of parts, and then break-downs, makes them inferior to iron vessels when the latter are "sheathed" or are "composite,"—neither of which are common in our merchant marine, if they exist at all, and are not likely to be built for the merchant service, as their construction would be more expensive than the ordinary iron vessel.
There is no "composition" or paint known, that will prevent the fouling of the iron bottom of a vessel; and that too so speedily that a month passed in inter-tropical or warm waters would so reduce the speed that a sheathed and coppered vessel of the same model and power would either overtake or run away from her, as might be desired. It follows that vessels with iron bottoms would be unsuccessful in capturing those with coppered bottoms, and, on the other hand, would be liable to capture, from a comparative want of speed, under the conditions that are unavoidable to cruisers.
There is another point fatal to the use of unarmored iron ships, and not "sheathed," for fighting purposes. Whilst a shot or shell enters them without special damage, when passing out on the opposite side it usually disrupts or tears off a whole sheet of plating, making it impossible for the vessel to be kept afloat when so injured. This was shown to be the case in the attack on Fort Obligado, on the river Parana, above Rosario, in 1845. The same result was shown in the sinking of the Hatteras by the Alabama, and so quickly, too, that, although the water was smooth, there was barely time to transfer the crew to the other vessel before the Hatteras went down.
In short, the merchant steamer of to-day, with us, is not even well adapted to pursue and capture the commerce of an enemy,—certainly not, if the bottom be of iron exposed to the action of salt water, from the rapid loss of speed before alluded to, through fouling. Not only is the bottom soon covered by oysters and barnacles, but with a wonderful vegetable growth, much like a thrummed mat applied to the bottom of a ship. So far as fitting them in any manner to meet vessels of war of equal tonnage successfully, the average result would prove entirely disastrous.
The war purposes of our Navy demand at least the protection of our inland waters, such as Long Island sound, and our great bays, as well as the immediate vicinity of the entrances to our principal harbors so that no enemy could feel secure in those localities. We should also be able to send on the high seas, along the great routes of commerce, vessels capable of greatly injuring the commerce of our enemy; and no types of vessels could do this more effectively than the classes which we should build and send abroad in time of peace to police the seas, to serve as schools of instruction, and to carry out the other purposes of a Navy, which I trust have been shown to be substantial, indeed indispensable to the best interests of a great commercial power.
As for "convoys” and "blockades," we may suppose that they will be rare indeed; a convoy requires long and vexatious delays, and, in transit, a relative low rate of speed, which would make protection altogether doubtful. A blockade of a port, or even many of them, would only increase railroad transportation with us; the blockade of the ports of any country of Europe, even if considered possible, would seem only to make supplies of whatever kind arrive through the ports of friendly adjacent powers, and to transportation by railroads.
There is so much diversity in the recognized weapons of naval power, and such a diversity of models, of the means of propulsion, and of displacement of vessels-of-war that will directly antagonize each other in war, that a great diversity of opinion must exist even among those best informed concerning them and their relative fitness for destruction,—the end in view. Those instruments, whether simple or complex, which will effect the best and most satisfactory results at the least cost, are those which are the most worthy of adoption. Unless the end be kept rigorously in view, the consideration of the subject becomes ideal and intangible.
I venture the opinion that the time is not distant when the Marine Ram will take the place of the enormously expansive armor plated gun-bearing ships of to-day, and when iron framed steamers, "sheathed" and "composite," with good sailing and great steam power, will form the cruising naval force, supplied with such aid as may be desirable from movable torpedoes, whether carried in torpedo boats guided by a crew, or like the "fish" torpedo, left to their own guidance when released.
I am quite aware of the existence of a strong prepossession on the part of many officers for wooden-built ships, and recognize some points of superiority which they possess, particularly in battle. Without entering into a close comparison between wooden-built vessels-of-war and iron vessels of the "sheathed” and "composite" constructions, I think that past experience has shown that hitherto constructors have failed to give the necessary rigidity to the frame work of wooden propellers having long shafts, and hence the impossibility of driving them at a high rate of speed for any length of time without a break-down. The iron frame and sheathing of iron vessels when sufficiently heavy, and built with a proper distribution of metal, is practically rigid; whatever the unequal distribution of weights in sections as compared with their displacements, no change of model will occur, at least within the limits imposed by the distributions of weights, with ordinary batteries and other conditions required for vessels-of-war.
While the first cost of the "sheathed" and "composite" vessels-of-war will be slightly greater than that of wooden vessels of the same displacement, at least until we have a proper "plant" for their construction and experience in it, they will doubtless be found far more economical when the time for repairs arrives. When the frame of a wooden vessel requires repairs to any extent, the cost becomes actually greater than the construction of a new hull, and the result quite unsatisfactory, as the vessel is serviceable only for a short time, and then, is added to that long list of disabled or partially serviceable vessels with which our Navy is unhappily filled. On the contrary, the vessel having an iron frame is readily repaired at a comparatively small cost and then becomes substantially a new vessel.
I doubt not that so far as what has been said relating to the purposes of our Navy will be supported by the observation and experience of every one conversant with the subject; and that much more could be said of great weight in support of its necessity as a peace establishment. On so broad a subject as the best methods of attaining naval efficiency, and as to the classes of vessels and the implements required, there must necessarily be wide differences of opinion. The very many changes that have occurred in naval architecture in the past half century are quite remarkable, and there seems to be no reason to suppose that we have reached the models and constructions that will stand the test of time, or that we now have the enginery and armaments of permanent adoption. It seems worth while for us neither to be fixed in the idea that we have reached a state of comparative permanency, nor on the other hand to expect to rely upon supposititious and untried developments of naval strength. The time of peace, however, is the time to design and test whatever seems calculated to make naval warfare formidable, destructive and economic, remembering that nothing is economic that is not effective.
So far as the personnel of our Navy is concerned, relatively with that of other powers, I think that we may feel satisfied. Considered physically, mentally, morally and professionally, I think our officers are not surpassed by those of any other Navy. After a careful selection and training at the naval school, and during "practice cruises," comes the practical instruction on board of a vessel-of-war, with its fatigues in watches, drills, labors and experiences which teach. There is perhaps no training more calculated to give vigilance and coolness in peril than that of naval life at sea. Every day brings its alarms, feigned or real; the alarm of fire without previous warning awakes the sleepers, and only after all of the preparations are made to extinguish it, the ordinary result shows it to have been an exercise. Fierce winds sweep suddenly across the ocean, and vigilant indeed must be the officer who is not at some time ''caught napping." The life is one of intelligent routine, and at times earnest struggle for existence itself, and that too when the dangers of war do not exist. Courage is a natural quality, far more common than many suppose,—at least, sufficient cour9,ge to do a recognized duty; but that alone will not suffice. That eminent divine, the Dean of Westminster, said, "Courage, self-control, discipline,—these are the gifts by which victories are won on earth." These are golden words: if they are taken to heart by our young officers, we have nothing to fear afloat from the power of any adversary.
Comdr. William Gibson. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen: I have listened with the greatest pleasure, as we all have, to the able and interesting paper we have just heard from Admiral Ammen; and I am sure he will pardon me if I call attention to what, I think he will agree with me, was inadvertently omitted from that paper,—namely, a reference to the duties of the Hydrographic service. It is simply impossible to exaggerate the importance of that service. The men-of-war in time of peace cannot be better employed, it seems to me, than in marking out the ocean highways, in tracing the perilous lines of coast, in scouring the harbors, in marking the lurking shoal and the bold reef. These duties belong to the Hydrographic Office, and none are more important in the range of the Naval service. These charts, prepared by the Hydrographic Office, take away from us the terrors of Charybdis, and save us from the jaws of Scylla. You, Mr. President, know that in doing this work, our brave men often carry their lives in their hands, and you will join in the sentiment and regret that, to the noble army of martyrs in this field, headed by Cook and La Perouse, must now be added the name of William King Bridge, commander and representative of the unfortunate brig Porpoise. Of him we question the great deep, and there is no reply.
But it is of the Hydrographic Office I would speak. This Office is at present organized and is in the way of its enlarged and ever enlarging sphere of usefulness. It is the center and source of all this work. Under its auspices vessels are despatched on their errand of usefulness; for it is necessary to do this work on the field, and charts must be constructed from the actual surveys they make, for the benefit of all our ocean travel. And, gentlemen, how interesting and beautiful is this chart-making! How wonderful to watch the working sheet—the chart growing into shape and recording, in unerring lines, the results of the skill and pains-taking labor of the brave men in this service! How full of interest to trace the growing lines from peak to peak, from headland to headland, and from point to point, covering, as with an aerial net-work of triangles and curves, every square yard, as it were, of the ocean's floor. These charts, thus made, by the Hydrographic Office are not only furnished to our men-of-war, but are given to the world. They are sold, I believe, to the commercial marine, for the cost of paper and printing alone, and they are of incalculable value. A more valuable service could not, I believe, be rendered to the commerce of the world than the making and publication of these charts.
As an illustration only, I will mention the meteorological chart just completed by Lieutenant T. A. Lyons. In place of the confused and complicated old Maury charts this chart gives us on every square of latitude and longitude, barometric notes, lines of the winds and currents, and everything essential and useful to know, in clear and legible and beautiful outline, so that "he who runs" his vessel "may read" them by the dim light of a cabin lamp.
I mention this as a mere incident to illustrate one of the features of this service, and not to the disparagement of much other valuable work done by that office. It is a simple expression of my estimate of the importance of the duties with which that office is charged, and which it is so efficiently performing for our naval department.
Rear Admiral Ammen. I have to thank Commander Gibson for reminding me and the Institute of the very great value of the Hydrographic Office. It only goes to show how extensive and varied the purposes of a Navy are; and I am quite sure that I have taken too much interest in Hydrography to fail for a moment to appreciate that work. The fact that I did not name it in my paper is simply other evidence of the truth that so wide and multiform are the purposes of the Navy that the limits of a single paper such as I had prepared, could not be expected to include all of these important interests and offices of the naval service.
Captain S. R. Franklin. Mr. Chairman if there is nothing more to be said by way of conversation or discussion of the paper just read, I move that a vote of thanks be extended to Admiral Ammen for his very able and instructive paper.
The motion was agreed to and the vote of thanks unanimously passed.
Rear Admiral Ammen. I feel very much obliged to you, gentlemen of the Institute, for your kind appreciation of my paper.
Rear Admiral John Rodgers (the President). It seems to me, gentlemen of the Institute, a fear may well be entertained that the regular men-of-war will not engage with any great earnestness or heart in making surveys. The officer employed in the specific duties of a man-of-war, looks perhaps with impatience at work which, more or less, diverts him from the main objects and purposes of a regular cruiser. You cannot expect a company of soldiers, enlisted for military duty, to make canals, or to construct railroads willingly, however necessary these may be, and however useful to the country.
It seems to me, therefore, that surveys must be assigned to special vessels. I know that when officers of men-of-war have been called on to make charts, they have looked upon it as something outside of their regular line of duty. It often happens that officers of good attainments know little about hydrography; some of them, I fear, care little about it. They naturally prefer to see the surveys and charts made by those who have specially studied hydrography, and who know exactly how these things should be done. I think, therefore, it is important that vessels should be sent abroad charged with the special duty of making charts, and having officers specially detailed for this important part of naval work. The world is full of erroneous charts: we do not want to increase their number. What we need now is something more accurate and more reliable than we find in antiquated charts of half-civilized countries. The time of running surveys is virtually past. What we want, where we have need of new work, is, specific, accurate, and minute surveys.