Motto: "Know Thyself."
Owing to the fact that naval development lay dormant in the United States for many years after the Civil War, the Atlantic Fleet is a result of comparatively rapid and recent growth, and its present size and power are a source of pride. It is not believed that the types of vessels built at present are surpassed in offensive power by those of any other country. The efficiency of the personnel is assumed by the nation to be of a high standard, judging from the expressions of opinion in the press, and the existing confidence in its capability is most gratifying to the service.
The best judge, however, of whether such confidence is merited or otherwise is the navy itself, for it possesses the technical knowledge sufficient to determine, not only what the fleet is capable of accomplishing in time of war, but also the extent of the preparations and training that exists in the navies of foreign powers.
To a great extent efficiency is a matter of comparison, and until we of the navy can feel that our preparedness for war with any probable enemy is as complete as our best efforts can make it, the pleasing articles in the current press should not be allowed to blind us to shortcomings if they are found to exist, or to the prompt adoption of steps for their removal.
For many of the ideas in the following article the writer can claim no originality. They have been acquired in conversation and discussion with brother officers who have given the subject much consideration and who have appreciated the lost motion that is believed to exist in the Atlantic Fleet, in the endeavor to produce the state of preparation that will be found necessary on the day of the supreme test.
The greatest need of the fleet to-day is a carefully prepared schedule of operations, or routine of work and play, giving due consideration to all the elements which, enter into fleet efficiency.
If the statement is made and accepted that there is something vitally necessary which is lacking at present, in the routine of the fleet, it is but natural to assume that its efficiency can be increased if present conditions are changed, and it is believed that this assumption is correct.
To the question "Are we ready to go to war to-morrow with a first-class power?" it will require a radical optimist to answer in the affirmative; and if it is still further asked in what particulars the fleet is subject to improvement, the reply may be:
Can it carry out the movements and scouting that are necessary before contact with the enemy, with the confidence that is born of training under actual conditions of sea and weather, and with the assurance that such maneuvers are in accord with the best practice, so far as can be determined in time of peace?
Is there a plan of battle approach which has been decided upon, through actual experiment, as the best that can be devised?
In time of war will battleships be defended against torpedo attack according to present conventional methods, or will a radically different plan be employed?
Are torpedo-nets required or are they not?
Are serious efforts being made to develop a system of signals that can be used in battle with a reasonable probability of success?
Is there co-ordination between the fleet and the War College?
Is the staff of the commander-in-chief organized for other than routine and administrative duties in time of peace?
Is the internal organization and routine of a battleship such as to produce the best results?
Is the personnel being trained to the best advantage?
If the answer to any of the above questions is other than affirmative, it behooves the line of officers of the navy to devote their best energies towards bringing to the highest possible perfection the instrument already in their hands. Wars come suddenly in these uncertain days, and remote as they may appear, as far as the United States is concerned, the only sound basis for the navy to assume is that hostilities are imminent and to prepare accordingly. The immensity of the stake permits of no other assumption.
In gunnery, systematic and serious work has been and is being done to raise the standard, and the results are a matter of pride. Much remains to be accomplished, but compared with other elements of naval efficiency, gunnery is far ahead. The present skill in gunnery is due:
(a) To a keen realization of its original and present defects.
(b) To a careful and systematic planning of methods by which these defects are to be overcome.
(c) To trained personnel.
(d) To improvement in material brought about by increased skill of personnel.
"Scientific management" existed in the gun crews of the navy several years before it became so widely advertised in the press. It is probable that efficiency in gun drill and target practice led to the praise given the general efficiency of the fleet by the board of civilian experts on management, whose members spent a short time on some of the ships of the fleet a couple of years ago. Such praise, coming as it did from civilians who are not well informed on all the elements that enter into military preparedness, is of little value.
During the past year and a half, three rather comprehensive maneuvers were planned, and two of them were abandoned on account of rough weather. From what was accomplished, it was found that the game-board and actual conditions do not always co-ordinate, and defects were brought to light in several of the ships that had been previously unsuspected, due to cruising mostly in fair weather. More maneuvers were not carried out on account of lack of time.
This record, however, is no worse, and perhaps better than that of preceding years. The so-called maneuvers of past years consisted of elementary search problems or "drill book tactics." In 1903 two search problems were carried out; in 1904 a search problem, and some combined army and navy maneuvers; in 1910 a search problem.
In July and August, 1912, the battleships, destroyer flotilla, and submarines engaged in a series of exercises from which valuable experience was gained. Unfortunately, these exercises were somewhat curtailed, owing to an insurrection in Cuba, but they excited great interest in all engaged, and pointed the way to further work.
The effect that conditions of weather, and reliability of material will have on problems that have been planned on the game-board still remains to the fleet a sealed book. In this connection it is believed that the tendency to seek mild weather and smooth seas for the work of the fleet is conducive to inefficiency. It takes hard knocks and rough weather to develop both personnel and material. The high standard of efficiency in the Revenue Cutter Service is due, no doubt, in part to the amount of cruising done under all conditions of wind and weather. During the winter months on the North Atlantic, the cutters are standing by to render assistance to distressed vessels under the most difficult circumstances.
So little cruising is done by naval vessels in cold weather that the old-time types of heavy flannel underclothing and woolen socks are no longer carried by the paymaster, since they are no longer in demand. If the fleet is ever required to carry out a winter campaign under conditions that existed off Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War, the present type of heavy clothing carried for the men probably will be found most inadequate.
The number of times that the fleet has been exercised at battle approaches does not greatly exceed the number of attempted grand maneuvers. The formation and tactics by which a fleet is to be led in battle against an enemy are by no means settled. Is it to be battle plan X or battle plan Y? Many opinions are expressed, but how can any of them be sound when they are not based on results that have been obtained in actual drill with the fleet?
A certain officer has a method of battle approach by which he can defeat a greater number of vessels, on the game-board, provided a certain standard of signalling is assumed. This method is unfavorably reported on by the War College. Later one of the officers of the War College is converted to a belief in it by conversing with the originator. It has not yet reached the fleet. In the above, which is an actual case, the value or otherwise of the proposed method is of no moment in the present argument. The point that it is desired to bring out is that such a scheme is not seized upon with avidity by the fleet, discussed, dissected, analyzed, and tried out under actual conditions. What could be of greater interest than any proposed method of so maneuvering as to gain the advantage before gun-fire begins?
By the frequent exercise of squadrons acting against each other and maneuvering for position under battle conditions of speed and signalling, far more valuable experience will be gained than by any amount of time spent in the " evolutions " unfortunately shown in our signal books, assisted by speed cones, stadimeters, swarms of signalmen, and other aids that will be impracticable in action. In the minds of many officers to this day "fleet tactics" consist of the signal book diagrams.
DEFENSE AGAINST TORPEDO ATTACK.
At the present time the method that will be employed in actual hostilities to defend the fleet against torpedo attack is in a very nebulous state. The conventional method of turning on all searchlights and cutting loose with the small-caliber battery has lost its charms, due to long-range torpedoes and the limited range of search-lights. A suspicion has also been awakened that the searchlights are of considerable assistance to the attacking vessels, which is deplorable if true, and which is worthy of close investigation. Questions are also being asked as to why the United States is the only one of the great naval powers that has consistently refused to employ torpedo-nets. No doubt these questions have been stimulated by the sight of undiscovered submarines coming to the surface within a few yards of the attacked vessel.
The question of the best practicable method of defense against torpedo attack still remains to be solved, and it cannot be solved without long, consistent and consecutive work. Enough work has been done to lead one officer of high rank to state that after opposing nets for thirty years, he was at last converted to a belief in their necessity, and to many expressions of opinion that searchlights are useless—all of which tends to show that there is much more still to be learned.
THE NAVAL WAR COLLEGE.
The Naval War College has now been in existence for over twenty years. Its early life was somewhat precarious and was several times threatened with extinction; but it managed to survive, through the patient and persistent work of its adherents and it stands to-day on a firm foundation, a splendid tribute to its founder, Rear-Admiral S. B. Luce, U. S. N., whose keen, analytical mind has been devoted for so many years to the advancement of professional skill, and whose record in war and peace stands as a beacon-light to those who follow. The works of Admiral Mahan were the result of studies at the War College, and are accepted as classics in all countries.
What can be more intimately connected with the education of an officer than the work that is being done at the college—the conduct of a fleet in war and battle? It is the essence of all naval endeavor. Consequently it seems most remarkable that there has existed in the past, and exists to-day in the service, a certain amount of antagonism and opposition to the college.
This past and present antagonism is probably due to the following causes:
(a) The blue-water school of officers who hold honest convictions that the only place for training officers is on ships at sea.
(b) The theoretical graduate of the War College, who may know the art of war as taught by books, but who is unable to make a success of the practical duties of his profession. It is this class which, according to the blue-water school, is "unable to reconcile the turning circle of a swivel chair to that of a battleship."
(c) Failure on the part of the War College to advertise its aims and methods to the service, and to disseminate information.
It is a peculiar fact that while the United States was the first to establish a Naval War College, and to produce an author whose works on naval warfare are used as text-books in foreign navies, other nations have profited more from the example and teachings than our own.
The following extract taken from Admiral Makaroff's "Discussion of Questions in Naval Tactics," regarding the War College, is interesting:
The first example of work in this direction [higher military training] was afforded by officers in the United States Navy, who in the year 1884 conceived the idea of establishing a higher naval and military school. The initiator of this work was Admiral Luce, whom the author met in the fall of 1896. In support of his assertions of the necessity of military training for naval seamen, Luce cited the example of the English generals Montague and Blake, who had commanded the English fleet. He said that the landsman with military training is more competent to control the military actions of the fleet than the professional sailor unacquainted with military science. He added that great military exploits can be expected for that fleet in which the necessary scientific knowledge and skill in the art of conducting war are to be found combined with practical training, from early years, in all branches of the naval profession. Admiral Luce's representations were fruitful, and a Naval War College was opened at Newport.
The Americans in Relation to Scientific Investigations.—The Americans are a wonderful people. In no country are men more practical than in the United States, and it would seem to follow naturally that in the land of Practical men a prejudice would exist against all kinds of theoretical and scientific work. But precisely the contrary is the case. The practical American considers science his helpmate.
The complete naval officer should combine the characteristics of (a) and (b). Unless an officer knows the varying moods of wind and weather, the capabilities of ships, guns and machinery; unless he is a student of human nature, and watches the health, happiness and efficiency of officers and men under his command— in other words, unless he is a seaman—he cannot be considered a success. And unless his plans and dispositions for a campaign, or his maneuvers in battle, are in accord with the principles of strategy, or the best ideas of tactics, he very probably will be a failure. The fleet and the War College can each do work for which the other is not fitted. Acting separately they are seriously handicapped. Acting together they can accomplish much toward increasing the efficiency of the fleet.
Many of the maneuvers and exercises of the fleet are repeated by different regimes, due to lack of knowledge of what has gone before. One of the duties of the War College should be to tabulate and summarize such work and publish it to the fleet, pointing out what was learned, and suggesting lines along which future exercises are to be directed. In this way a consecutive history of such work will be available to a new commander-in-chief and his staff. That such co-operation has taken place at one time is shown by the following extract from a report of the president of the War College, Captain A. T. Mahan, U. S. N., dated October 4, 1887:
At the date of writing. the North Atlantic Fleet, under the command of Rear-Admiral Luce, is in port, and various practical exercises arc now in course of arrangement under his orders, which will serve to illustrate and give point to teaching given orally in the lecture room, as well as diffuse information connected with the new material of the navy, more rapidly than could otherwise be done. Thus that squadron will co-operate with the ends of the college in accordance with the original plan, and, it may be believed, to the benefit of the officers both of the fleet and of the class.
The above is the only reference in official reports that the writer has been able to find of actual co-operation between the fleet and the War College. The present lack of co-operation is wasteful of effort, which, in machine-shop parlance, is "not in accord with the best modern practice."
ORGANIZATION OF THE STAFF OF THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF.
Whether the staff of the commander-in-chief, as at present organized, can perform the duties that will be required of it in time of war is open to serious question. It certainly cannot unless some or all of the members have passed through a course of training at the War College and can act as real assistants to the commander- in-chief in time of war. Most of the, regulations (1909) governing the, duties of the chief of staff are concerned with routine and administration. He passes his opinion on requisitions and leaves of absence; he keeps a journal of movements, a roster of officers, a record of signals; in fact, more space is devoted in the regulations to the manner in which the signal book is kept than to any other one subject. In a council of war he acts as recorder, and in time of battle he assists the flag officer "in every manner possible," keeping an eye on the signal record, and collecting data for his journal at the same time. If the regulations provided that he "assist the flag officer in every manner possible to prepare for battle," instead of waiting until the battle began, they would be more to the point, and the chief of staff might be of more value. It will be seen that the duties of the chief of staff are mainly administrative and clerical, and he is not considered in connection with the training of the fleet. The duties of the other members of the staff are mainly administrative.
Much of the correspondence that is now handled on the fleet flag-ship should never be allowed on board. Leaves of absence, records of summary courts martial and most requisitions should be handled by commanding officers subject to the general regulations on the subject. Routine reports are usually of little or no value. The regulation which requires certain papers to be passed upon by the "Senior Officer Present" may well be abolished. The "Senior Officer Present" is a variable who usually has no interest in the document. During the naval review in New York, in October, 1912, it was necessary for the commander-in-chief to give directions to hold the records of summary courts martial on board the various ships until they were dispersed after the review, as it was impossible to handle them on the fleet flag-ship. This fully illustrates the absurdity of the regulation. But a handful of Papers and a worried look will often gain a reputation for hard work if managed judiciously, and the tendency is to resist any curtailment of "Reports and Returns."
The duties of the staff in time of peace should consist principally of the following:
(a) Preparations of plans for maneuvers and exercises, and analyzing the results therefrom in conjunction with the officers of the fleet and the War College.
(b) Inspections of the units of the fleet.
The present conception of staff duty in the navy is very similar to that described by Upton in "The Military Policy of the United States," p. 262, as existing in the Adjutant General's Department of the U. S. Army at the beginning of the Civil War, from which the following is a quotation:
But while success in the Supply Department did not demand previous military education, the same reasoning should not be applied to the Adjutant General's Department, whose officers in peace and war should possess a thorough knowledge of the military art. Unfortunately, our government has never deemed such requirements necessary, neither have the officers of the department thus far sought to rise above the mere drudgery of official routine.
To issue orders, write letters, examine returns, grant furloughs, such is the conception in our service of the duty of the adjutant general.
We often ridicule the apparent stupidity of foreign governments in placing members of the nobility in command of corps and armies, forgetting that if the commanders so selected have not been carefully educated, the government takes special pains to place at their side chiefs of staff able to perform all the duties of a general-in-chief. These chiefs of staff, together with all the officers subordinate to them in their own departments, have had the benefit of careful instruction at war academies especially designed for their instruction. Learning there all the principles of strategy and grand tactics and the importance of a knowledge of military geography, studying the theory of moving and directing troops in battle, impressed with the idea that their value as staff officers depends upon the assistance they can give to their generals in planning campaigns and fighting battles, they look with contempt upon any official occupation which may tend to degrade them to the position of a clerk. They, therefore, turn over the multitude of details relating to the proper work of the army to aides-de-camp, or officers detailed for this purpose.
From the striking resemblance between the duties described in the first part of the quotation and those at present specified in the regulations concerning the staff, it will be seen that we are in the same relative position to-day as was the Adjutant General's Department of the army fifty years ago.
This is a subject regarding which it is not unreasonable to assume that all line officers are thoroughly familiar, since there is no branch of the profession which concerns them more intimately. In sailing-ship days organization was a comparatively simple matter. The ships were more or less uniform in type; sails and guns were all handled in the same manner. With the advent of steam there came a disquieting element in the form of an engineer's force. This was left to its own devices so far as organization was concerned so long as sufficient men were provided for the powder division, the machinery was ready for use, and the decks were not soiled. Since the handling and maintenance of engines, boilers, and auxiliaries are a thoroughly definite and concrete task, which permits of no experimental or theoretical organization, a working system was adopted which exists to this day, the only sound, military organization aboard ship. An officer is placed in charge of each of the three sub-divisions—engines, boilers, auxiliaries. He is responsible not only for the maintenance of the machinery in his sub-division, but for the cleanliness and preservation. The men under his command repair or clean as they are directed, and by him alone.
Outside the Engineer Department an entirely different system of organization has prevailed. The division officers have exercised direct control over their divisions only at quarters and drill. The cleaning of the ship was under the executive officer, who had for his assistants the boatswain, carpenter and master-at-arms. Since an executive officer's reputation has depended on the cleanliness of the ship, it was naturally foremost in his mind, the ability of the ship to shoot being a secondary consideration. The executive's duties under this system were naturally onerous, and to relieve the situation, a first lieutenant was introduced who was charged with the cleanliness of the ship outside the Engineer Department, while the executive officer was designated fire control officer and encouraged to take a more active interest in the gunnery of the ship. Whether the condition of affairs thus created was a success or not depended on the personality of the first lieutenant and the ordnance officer. It was a violation of the principles of sound military organization in that it placed the division officers under, two superiors, each of whom was charged with radically different duties. The only sound method of placing the division officer In charge of both drill and cleanliness was not tried, although it already existed on board in the Engineer Department. The above organization exists to-day, but it is fair to state that boards have been appointed to consider the subject and recommend changes.
The waste of personnel in the above method is evident. This subject is thoroughly covered in the prize essay of the Naval Institute, 1909, "Some Ideas about Organization on Board Ship," Lieutenant E. J. King, U. S. N.
TRAINING OF PERSONNEL.
History records few instances where battles were won by any but trained men. The ease with which the United States vessels defeated those of Spain in 1898, and Japan those of Russia in 1904-5, was due to a more highly trained personnel. Jervis paved the way for the victories of Nelson by training the personnel. The sea remains the same now as then, and it is probable that the victories of the future will be won by men who have become skillful through long practice in all the elements which unite in the makeup of a naval seaman—knowledge of the art of war, ability to handle great fleets, a thorough knowledge of the power and endurance of his instruments, and the confidence of those under his command.
The ability to handle ships and men can only come through practice at sea. At this time when half of the commissioned personnel have been out of the Naval Academy not more than six years, and when a great proportion of enlisted men are raw recruits on their first enlistment, the question of training is of special interest. Yet a proportion of the younger officers appear to be more interested in securing an appointment to a course of ordnance or engineering on shore, than in learning the primary duties of a naval officer.
The officer of the deck on a modern battleship is entrusted with a great responsibility which calls for unerring judgment and quick decision in time of emergency. These are primarily qualities that are trained by actual practice at sea. The ability to handle enlisted men is a necessary qualification of a naval officer. Mid shipmen upon graduation from the Naval Academy are notoriously but naturally deficient in this important subject. Some are by nature better qualified than others to acquire it quickly, but it requires a number of years of actual experience at sea to develop the necessary firmness, forbearance, and knowledge of the life, that are necessary in the officers if the ship is to be efficient, and at the same time happy. The actual experience can only be gained by the close association with enlisted men that results from division work. Yet it has been proposed to have all junior officers after a couple of years at sea spend a year or so in machine shops ashore in order to become practical machinists, and to be better fitted to handle the genus homo known as a navy yard workman.
The writer does not wish to be understood as advocating the actual spending of time at sea unless it is employed in useful work. The mere fact of actually being out of sight of land accomplishes nothing unless the time is devoted to some professional purpose. It is in the elimination of useless cruising that the field for improvement lies. The "sea habit" which is acquired by passing time at sea with no useful employment is of doubtful value. The annual coal bill of the navy is becoming so great, that it, alone, furnishes a strong argument for making every mile underway count for some useful purpose.
The truth of the matter is that we have gone material mad and have lost sight of the great fact that if the personnel is trained as it should be, it will demand material of the highest quality, and will get it. As an example of how skilled personnel will demand and obtain material of excellent quality, even under adverse conditions, may be mentioned the ordnance of the British navy. It was not until 1891 that the control of naval ordnance was entrusted to the Admiralty, being designed and supplied before that by the Ordnance Department of the army. To this day all British naval ordnance is built at Woolwich, or by private firms. Yet their ordnance has been in no way inferior to ours, and at one time could be considered superior. The general design of our ordnance was defective or antiquated until it was forced to a higher plane by a great increase of skill in gunnery. It was a case of personnel demanding and getting what it wanted in material. In the report of the chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Rear-Admiral J. G. Walker, U. S. N., of 1888, is found the following remark:
The recent tendency of intellectual activity in the service has been rather towards subjects connected with the development of material. While no one should underrate the importance of high training for officers in this direction, it must be admitted that the material development would be useless without a corresponding training in the art of conducting naval war.
Clausewitz, in his work "On War," makes the following statement:
Formerly by the term "Art of War," or "Science of War," nothing was understood but the totality of those branches of knowledge and those appliances of skill occupied with material things. The pattern and preparation and mode of using arms, the construction of fortifications and entrenchments, the organism of an army and the mechanism of its movements, were the subject of these branches of knowledge and skill above referred to, and the end and aim of them all were the establishment of an armed force fit for use in war. All this concerned merely things belonging to the material world and a one-sided activity only, and it was, in fact, nothing but an activity advancing by gradations from the lower occupations to a finer kind of mechanical art. The relation of all this to war itself was very much the same as the relation of the art of the sword cutler to the art of using the sword. The employment in the moment of danger and in a state of constant reciprocal action of the particular energies of mind and spirit in the direction proposed to them was not even yet mooted.
These words were written nearly a century ago; yet even at that time the false conception existing 4n our naval service to-day that the construction and preparation of material constitute preparation for war, had disappeared from Prussia.
PRESENT EMPLOYMENT OF TIME.
In considering the number of branches in which there is opportunity for improvement, the impression may be gained by one not familiar with actual conditions that the fleet is idling its time away. With regard to the energy expended nothing can be further from the truth. In fact there is some complaint about the fleet being overworked.
The following extracts from the Annual Report of the chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, 1912, are quoted:
A general physical deterioration of officers and men has been noted in the Atlantic Battle Fleet. Apparently there is no lack of muscular strength, nor has there been a percentage of sick beyond the average for other vessels or stations, yet their appearance conveys the impression of lowered vitality, their actions lack vigor and animation, and there is ever present an inertia which requires a great mental effort to overcome. During competitions nervous energy drives the flagging body to great activity, but immediately following there is a period of lassitude and the routine drills lack " snap " through an apparent indifference on the part of those engaged. Further, the brief periods of relaxation are spent in sleep below decks, instead of healthful mental or physical exertion in the open air. In many cases, rather than undergo the effort necessary to take advantage of the opportunity of change resultant upon too short trips ashore, individuals prefer to lie around decks or sit in their rooms, doing nothing. Slouching carriage, shuffling gait, and a lack of smartness in uniform are commonly seen and even the officers do not possess the necessary energy to combat them. These conditions, associated with pallor, dull eyes, and lax, expressionless faces, occurring in a body of young men, all indicate a mental and physical weariness that should not exist.
DETERIORATION OF OFFICERS AND MEN ON BATTLESHIPS.
Relief from the high nervous tension produced by unremitting night and day drilling, month after month, by proper methods of relaxation, is urgently recommended as a necessary reform. The present system has the effect that overtraining has on an athletic team, and it is believed that not only the individual welfare of officers and men demands some modification of the present strenuous life afloat, but that military efficiency would be directly promoted thereby. Some reserve of nervous energy may well be safeguarded in time of peace, to be drawn upon, if necessary, in the emergencies of war.
The above represents the views of those directly charged with the physical welfare of the personnel. As a combatant officer, the writer believes that the whole amount of drill engaged in at present for any one year is not excessive and, in fact, should be increased. A summary of the elements of military preparedness in which the fleet is lacking at present, shows that it certainly is not "overtrained." The fault is believed to lie in the fact that the periods of drill and liberty are not properly proportioned, and drill periods are prolonged to a point where grounds for complaint of overwork may be more or less justified. To counteract this, a visit to a liberty port is made, drills are abandoned, the ship becomes demoralized, and another strenuous drill period is required to regain efficiency. It is either a feast or a famine. This condition of affairs will continue to exist until a more uniform intermingling of work and play is attained.
At none of the ports or anchorages frequented by the fleet are there adequate facilities in the form of athletic fields for officers or men, with the exception of Guantanamo. At Hampton Roads a field is obtained through the courtesy of the army. This lack of opportunity accounts in part for the lack of desire to indulge in athletic sports, but it may be that the officers in our service show less inclination to keep themselves in physical condition than those of other navies. A British service periodical, in commenting upon the physical tests prescribed by official order, sarcastically stated that, "It is difficult to conceive of such an order being necessary in the British navy, as our officers have sufficient sporting instinct to maintain themselves in fit physical condition without compulsion."
Owing to the wandering proclivities of the fleet, and the location of navy yards in large cities where space is valuable, no athletic fields have ever been obtained for our service. How many times have we envied our British cousins in their possession of Happy Valley, or the spacious fields of Malta or Esquimalt!
The lack of interest now taken in much of the work of the fleet is probably due to a lack of knowledge of what the exercises are intended to develop and what conclusions have been drawn upon their completion. Also, where exercises are prolonged to such an extent that physical exhaustion results, lack of interest is bound to exist. This is best shown in the target practice exercises as held under present conditions in the Atlantic Fleet. Officers who were in the fleet during the visit to England in 1910 state that the British squadron based on Plymouth carried out target practice by getting under way in the morning and returning to the base in the afternoon upon the completion of the day's firing. Over night liberty was given and the practice resumed the following day under the same conditions. This represents one extreme, and the method followed by the Atlantic Fleet represents the other. It cannot be denied that there is usually a feeling of relief when target practice is over, a condition which should not exist.
In the work of the fleet there always seems to be the necessity of haste to finish one task in order to take up another. The schedule of work is prepared for but a few months in advance. Orders concerning it are hastily issued, and in some cases are followed by counter orders and disorder.
The Naval Academy, which stands well as an institution of learning, has a curriculum of studies and drills mapped out for the four years' course. The Atlantic Fleet, which is a university having a thousand officers and fifteen thousand enlisted men for students, and which represents a monetary value of $200,000,000.00 in material alone, has a curriculum which is prepared from month to month and subject to the varied ideas of every new commander-in-chief and his staff. It would be an exactly similar case if the present course of study at the Naval Academy was abolished, and the superintendent directed to prepare, at his own discretion, such courses of study as he saw fit from month to month.
In looking back over the movements of the Atlantic Fleet for a number of years, it is found that there is one general routine that has been more or less followed—the ships are north in the summer and south in the winter. Bar Harbor, Rockport, Provincetown, Newport, and Hampton Roads have been used for operating ports in summer, and Pensacola, Culebra, and Guantanamo in winter. On one occasion the fleet made a cruise around the world, and on another, a cruise to European ports. The northern port chosen .usually has been left to the commander-in-chief, the southern drill ground being settled upon for target practice, and Guantanamo for a winter base.
It has not been practicable to determine what schedule of operations is followed in the British, French, and Japanese Navies. It is known that extensive maneuvers are carried on annually by the British and French. The following translation from the Deutsches Ofliziersblot of August 3, 1911, gives in a general way the program carried out in the German Navy.
THE ANNUAL PROGRAM OF THE MOVEMENTS OF THE HIGH SEA FLEET.
After the conclusion of the maneuvers, in the middle of September, the ships of the squadrons are taken to their home ports where they are given an overhauling at the Imperial yards. At the same time the usual changes in the personnel of the crews take place. Men who have served their time are discharged, those remaining will be required to participate in the work of repairs, the new recruits, who are distributed to their ships, receive their first instruction. Admirals, commanding officers, and officers also are subjected to transfers. This short period of transition offers the new hands an opportunity to adapt themselves to their new surroundings on board.
The new year of instruction proper for the fleet commences after leaving the yards. An extensive program is to be carried out; the main purpose being to place the fleet again in a condition of readiness. Right from the beginning the training of the individual goes hand in hand with the instruction of the units. Already in October the squadrons undertake from their respective stations practice trips conjointly, and in November the entire High Sea Fleet is assembled for the winter's cruise, which generally has the North Sea for its destination. Individual exercises of the units are carried on in the intervals of the joint maneuvers, and after return from the winter's cruise. These individual practices of the different units are very numerous, as the commanding officers will have to use this time to the best advantage in view of The fact that bad weather usually prevails in the winter.
The first inspections of the ships as to their progress of training for battle fall in the second part of December. Thus, after scarcely three months' instruction, each man is to demonstrate his ability to fill his place in action. It is also expected that up to this time a part of the instruction in gunnery and torpedo practice has been brought to a close.
All the exercises in gunnery and target practice of the First Squadron stationed at Wilhelmshaven have this year for the first time all been carried out in the North Sea.
Whoever knows the North Sea in winter, realizes what difficulties are encountered in carrying on gunnery practice, and especially target practice in these waters. Up to this time it was held impossible to hold these exercises at the mouths of the Elbe and Jade. More favorable conditions were created with the improvement of the Helgoland harbor. The heavy target material, difficult to be towed, the large pontoon targets having the same draft as a battleship and towed by strong tugboats by means of a hawser 1000 meters long, can now find safe protection in bad weather in the port of Helgoland, as also the tugboats and steamers used for marking purposes. Of great importance is the saving of time, as compared with the former practice when the targets had to be towed out from the Jade. Notwithstanding this, however, target practice in the North Sea still has decidedly more disagreeable features than in the Baltic Sea, for the fact alone that ships are compelled to remain the greatest part of the practice season at the inhospitable roadstead of Helgoland. The praise, therefore, which the admiral of the First Squadron bestowed upon his ships for the well-executed gunnery and target practice in the North Sea, conducted without any casualties whatever, is surely well deserved.
The individual exercises of the ships last until April when the main inspection, connected with inspection in gunnery practice of all arms, takes place. The purpose of this inspection is to demonstrate that the training of the crews in all branches is finished, so that in the event of absence, or casualty of an officer, even of the commanding officer, and in case of technical casualties, the ship will be able to maintain its position in the fighting line.
The assembling of the squadrons for the spring cruise follows immediately after the conclusion of the main inspection. During this cruise attention will be principally paid to primary tactical evolutions.
The division of scout cruisers belonging to the High Sea Fleet will have made a cruise already in February for the purpose of tactical instruction.
In order to offer an opportunity to the school and experimental ships to participate in. maneuvers, they will be assembled in April of every year to form a squadron to which are attached torpedo-boat and submarine flotillas.
In June all units of the High Sea Fleet are assembled in Kiel Harbor. During Kiel week—in the second half of June—the sporting contests: sailing and rowing contests, football and other sports are carried out. Frequently the crews of foreign men-of-war who happen to be in the harbor participate in these sports, for instance this year the American crews. This participation naturally heightens the interest. The fostering of sports in the navy doubtless furnishes the best means for the crew to keep up bodily exercise after removal of the rigging, confined as they are to a narrow space on board. The .sports stimulate the crews to a spirit of emulation. Each crew likes to be in the lead.
After Kiel week, the High Sea Fleet starts on its summer cruise, after which the strategical maneuvers begin in September.
The officers of all branches of the army, detailed to the different ships about this time, are given an opportunity to study the administration of the High Sea Fleet and through personal observation formulate their impressions as to the tasks of the navy in time of war.
During the summer cruise the exercises consist principally in the solution of tactical problems, tactical reconnoitering, battle problems, torpedo attacks, etc. In the summer of ispo8 the High Sea Fleet went to the Canary Islands; in 1909 it visited the Spanish ports; in two the Norwegian waters, which will also be the destination of this year's cruise. The longer the cruise the more Severe will be the test to which the Supply Department of the fleet is subjected. The concluding maneuvers, always based upon a great strategical problem, and in which the reserve squadrons participate, are carried out in either the North Sea or the Baltic. They last about 8 to 10 days. The most interesting feature of these maneuvers is, probably the strategical reconnoitering exercises on a large scale; very exciting also are the attacks against the fortified ports, for in observing these attacks an idea can be formed of the blockade wars of the future.
EMPLOYMENT OF TIME.
Since the fleet is now said to be overworked and so many serious shortcomings exist, how is it possible to improve conditions?
A noted engineer in civil life discovered that by eliminating unnecessary movements, it was possible for an ordinary bricklayer to double his capacity.
Perhaps the foregoing fact may suggest a remedy. We developed a method of eliminating useless time from gun loading and firing several years ago. Cannot the same method be extended on a grander scale to the work of the fleet?
The only reason for which the battleship fleet exists is to succeed in battle. Hence all its training should be with that end in view. By bearing this in mind it may be found that the time spent in some of the drills can be spent to better purpose in others, and that the whole subject of the movements of the fleet may be subject to improvement with reference to results accomplished for energy expended. In a scrutiny of the table, analyzing the work of the fleet, one is impressed with the large number of days underway on which no drills or maneuvers were held. Is it not possible to decrease column 1 and increase column 2?
In working out any schedule of operations there are several elements which enter into the proficiency of a fleet and which must be taken into consideration. The most important of these are:
(a) The drills and maneuvers in which the crews, ships and fleet should be exercised.
(b) The upkeep of the material.
(c) Contentment of personnel.
(d) Political considerations.
DRILLS AND EXERCISES.
In any conception of the conditions that will exist at the outbreak of war, the one that may be assumed to develop the dispositions and maneuvers in which it is necessary for the fleet to be proficient is the one where the enemy is known to be underway with the view of attacking our coast, or seizing a base within or without the country. This calls for an attempt on our part to discover his whereabouts at the earliest possible moment, or scouting on an extended scale. Haying once found the enemy, and assuming ability to remain in touch, the commander-in-chief must move his main fleet in such a manner as to attack under the most favorable conditions. Defense against torpedo attack becomes necessary as the fleets approach, and a favorable battle formation must be assumed before contact takes place. After the contact, gun fire comes into play, and all the maneuvers that will take place between two great fleets, whatever they may be, with additional factors of torpedoes and floating mines. Speed may, or may not, be an important consideration. But reliability of machinery will be most decidedly so. In this rough and incomplete sketch, gunnery is the only factor in which consistent and systematic endeavor is being made toward proficiency. Considerable progress has been made toward increasing the reliability and efficiency of the motive machinery but a great handicap still exists in the uncertainty of time for upkeep and overhaul. This will be considered later.
The principal exercises in which training is required may then be enumerated:
(a) Maneuvers on a large scale involving dispositions of main fleet and scouts.
(b) Torpedo defense.
(c) Battle formations.
(d) Gun fire.
(e) Exercises with torpedoes and mines.
While few in number, the above exercises afford a large field for work and study. Proficiency in them may be considered absolutely necessary for success in battle.
In addition to the above are the secondary drills, intended for individual ship efficiency, and training of the personnel. The latter can always be carried out at such times as not to interfere with the former.
UPKEEP OF MATERIAL.
In any schedule, the upkeep of machinery must receive the greatest consideration. The guns will be of no use on the day of battle unless the machinery is in condition to bring them there. The comparative value of the Oregon and the Indiana at the battle of Santiago is still fresh in our minds. Had that war been with a naval power of equal strength, this reduction in value of a first-class battleship, due to inefficient machinery, might have spelled disaster. The general deterioration of the armored cruisers on the Pacific station a few years ago, due to lack of time for upkeep resulted in General Order No. 49, showing that the Navy Department was awakened to the situation. Some improvement followed, but of no great amount. In any temporary, hastily proposed schedule the Engineer Department is the one that suffers most heavily. The value of the time at anchor for overhaul can be doubled or trebled by announcing beforehand how long and when the time is to be. Work can be planned, arrangements made in advance, and material collected. Apart from the low speed at which the vessels cruised, one of the main reasons for the creditable machinery performance of the battleships on the cruise around the world, was the fact that the dates and length of time at anchor were known months in advance.
In order to investigate a statement that the overhauling of machinery on the Atlantic liners was done by shore mechanics at each end of the run, the writer recently visited several large vessels belonging to the larger companies. Instead of a number of skilled mechanics going on board as soon as the lines were made fast, and placing everything in excellent condition, as naval tradition has it, it was found that a few laborers were hired to help clean the fire sides of boilers—not more than a dozen on some of the larger vessels. The ship's own force overhauls all machinery, taking valves, cylinders, bearings, and water sides of boilers in rotation, and doing as much as possible at the end of each run. The time that the vessel is to be in port is known exactly for a year in advance, and the work can be blocked out accordingly. The number of men in the engineer's force of these vessels is of course considerably less than on naval vessels. The George Washington, of 20,000 horsepower, has an engineer's force of one hundred and seventy men, and the s Lusitania, of 70,000 horsepower, has three hundred men. Yet after five years' service without a break in the running schedule, the latter vessel has just had her first overhaul period of two months.
In time of peace our battleship fleet has no more important duty than to prepare for war, and bearing in mind that there is no more important consideration than the maintenance of the motive machinery in efficient condition, we may well take some leaves from the merchant engineer's note book, and adopt a schedule that will permit of thorough upkeep. A week at anchor for even week underway is a fair basis to adopt, and it is none too much. A period of less than seven days is not of much value for the overhaul of boilers, condensers, and other items where considerable time is spent in dis-assembling and assembling. To develop the defect's of machinery, it is necessary to use it under severe conditions, but if this is done, it is also absolutely necessary to allow regular and frequent periods of overhaul.
A subject closely connected with upkeep of material is that of navy yards. These are at best a necessary evil—necessary because of "repairs and alterations beyond the capacity of the ship's force," but an evil, not only because the vessel ceases to be a military unit while at the yard, but because of the demoralization of personnel that results from the presence on board for long periods of time of a horde of navy yard workmen. It takes an appreciable length of time after leaving a yard for a ship to recover from the effects of the visit. So if any means can be devised by which the number of repairs to be done at a yard can be reduced and these repairs done on board, or with the assistance of the repair ship, it will redound to the efficiency of the fleet. It may be remarked that under the present system when the navy yard is the "home port" and the "overhaul period" is the only definite period known in advance relative to the whereabouts of the ship, there is a disinclination on the part of the personnel of the ship to reduce the length of the period. It is but natural under present conditions. If a working port is selected for the fleet, the present tendency to favor the navy yard will disappear.
The following considerations should govern the work done on vessels of the fleet at navy yards, and the time of their visit:
(a) Extensive alterations never to be done on vessels of the active fleet.
(b) A vessel to be sent to a navy yard at once upon the development of any defect that will interfere with her efficiency in time of war. This will include major defects developed in service such as defective guns, boilers, engine parts, etc.
(c) No vessel to go to a navy yard except when designated by the commander-in-chief.
It is realized that such a procedure will interfere with the uniformity of the number of workmen employed in navy yards, but the efficiency of the fleet is believed to come before that of repair yards. Give the vessels of the active fleet a rational schedule that will permit of upkeep and a good repair ship with an opportunity to use it, and the necessity for navy yards, as far as the fleet is concerned, will largely disappear, except for emergency jobs, and docking purposes.
The fleet abstained from navy yards for fifteen months during the cruise around the world and the machinery was reported in more efficient condition at the end of the cruise than at the beginning. The most efficient battleships we have had in both personnel and material were the Oregon and the Wisconsin, when on the Asiatic station several years ago, where no navy yard existed.
Train the personnel in the way it should go and the material will follow.
Chief Engineer McAndrews, of Kipling fame, realized this when he said:
"We're creepin' on wi' each new rig—less weight and larger power.
There'll be the loco-boiler next, an' thirty knots an hour.
Thirty an' more. What I ha' seen since ocean steam began
Leaves me no doot for the machine, but what about the man?"
CONTENTMENT OF PERSONNEL.
The contentment of personnel is so closely connected with its efficiency that the former word is more comprehensive than appears at first glance. Call it morale, esprit de corps, or any other name, it means efficiency in the end, for a personnel cannot be efficient unless it is contented. To be contented, there must be interest in the work; the purpose for which the fabric exists must be understood by all. Work well done must be recognized with praise, and work badly done with just but thorough condemnation. And in addition to all must be given the opportunity to enjoy as many of the natural phases of human existence as the service will permit. Life on board ship is an unnatural one at best. Seagoing has improved since Dr. Johnson made the statement that he preferred a jail to ship life, since the company was no worse and he was considerably safer, but there still remain certain unavoidable discomforts which are inherent to the life and which cannot be eliminated. On the other hand it has a certain charm in the possibility of adventure and the fascination of strange lands that has been the theme of writers since the beginning of fiction. This phase has long been appreciated and employed in recruiting.
So in the employment of the fleet there are two classes of enlisted personnel to consider:
(a) The men who have decided to make service in the navy their lifetime vocation. This class is the backbone of the enlisted personnel and comprises the bulk of the petty officers. Many of them have married and contracted home ties. Decidedly the schedule of employment should be such as to permit these men to spend a fair proportion of time with their families. There is little prospect of shore duty for such men except in a few isolated cases which bear a -small percentage of the total number in the service. It is usually impracticable for an enlisted man's family to "follow the ship," so that the only time that can be counted on is the annual leave. The prospect of fifteen or even thirty days at home out of every year is not sufficiently alluring to hold many men in the service when they realize that the disposition of the remaining time may be such as to preclude any opportunity of time at home.
Of the men of this class who return to civil life, a large proportion are of such character as to make their retention in the service most desirable. A man who has sufficient courage, and confidence in his abilities to make a success of life outside is usually the type of which it is desirable that the corps of petty officers consist. Here is a great field for the accomplishment of two objects, with no increase of cost, energy or time. Can we retain such men in the service, receive the value of their training, and insure them a fair proportion of time spent in the enjoyment of home ties? It can be done, and done only by the adoption of a permanent home or working port. Not the present "home port" as afforded by a navy yard, which changes every time the ship is shifted from one division to another, and where, for the good of the navy, as little time should be spent as possible, but a port on which the fleet is based for the carrying out of exercises during a large part of the year.
(b) The other class of men to be considered in a schedule of employment is that composed of men in their first enlistment, generally young in age, who have been attracted by the romance of the sea, the possibility of seeing foreign lands, and other inducements held forth by the recruiting officer. It is probable that for a number of years the navy will have to depend on this class for the rank and file. They are usually bright, able youngsters, who make fair sailormen after a couple of years' training, and who drift back into civil life at the end of the enlistment, their impressions of the service being based generally upon the extent to which naval life measured up to their original expectations upon enlistment. It is only fair to these men that a schedule be adopted which will fulfill as nearly as practicable the promise on the part of the government of "opportunities to see foreign lands." The impressions of a happy shore leave in a Mediterranean port do much to wipe out the unpleasant recollections of less congenial experiences. Such a man in civil life, whose reminiscences of his naval service deal with strange ports whose names all his audience have heard, and few seen, becomes a potential recruiting officer.
A cruise to our own ports and those of the West Indies and Europe every four years is easily possible and should be provided for in whatever schedule is adopted.
At the present time is the personnel of the fleet contented or otherwise?
As an indirect answer to this question reference may be made to the large number of desertions, and small proportion of continuous service men in the enlisted force, and the strong desire on the part of officers for shore duty at the end of a three years' cruise or before if possible.
In the decade ending with 1911, thirty-five thousand men deserted from the naval service, and in 1910 the retired list numbered but three hundred.
This condition of affairs is assuredly unhealthy. The practice of his profession at sea is the primary duty of a naval officer, and the one for which he has been trained at considerable expense by the government. If the performance of this duty is considered an irksome task which must be endured in order to retain a position in the naval service, it indicates a symptom which should be investigated most carefully. Due allowance must be made for the "sailor's growl," but it will be found that where general growling exists, there is usually a sufficient cause.
From the past history of the fleet it will be found that its movements in certain cases are dictated by political reasons which may be classified as follows:
(a) Visits to ports on 4th of July.
(b) Naval reviews.
(c) Visits to certain ports at odd times at the requests of senators, chambers of commerce, etc.
(d) Visits to Caribbean ports due to uncertain political conditions.
Of the above visits (a), (b), and (c) serve to advertise the navy and afford an opportunity to many people to visit the fleet. They cannot be eliminated, nor is it desirable to do so, and (a) and (b) are easily provided for in any schedule. The only drawback to them under present conditions is that they are decided upon very shortly beforehand and break up some proposed plan of operations, with resulting confusion. (c) and (d) are more difficult to provide for, and in such cases, to prevent a disarrangement of the schedule, it would be necessary to use reserve ships. There are few conditions that may arise in the Caribbean which require sending battleships of the active fleet there, a transport loaded with marines being more to the point. During the recent insurrection in Cuba the Havana newspapers extracted considerable amusement from the question how the battleships would succeed in chasing the insurgent general over the mountains of Oriente. But when their services are really needed, the disruption of a fixed schedule becomes unavoidable.
In the Report of the Bureau of Navigation for 1900 is found the following plaintive statement:
The vessels of the North Atlantic station have, as heretofore, been engaged with a program of drill and instruction for the vessel organization as units and for the officers and men individually. It is much to be regretted that the drills planned for this squadron are compelled to be often interrupted by attendance of the vessels at local celebrations. These interferences invariably tend to demoralize the efficiency of the personnel.
NECESSITY OF A HOME PORT.
When the problem is studied of increasing the output of the fleet in battle efficiency without increasing the effort involved, which is already excessive, no solution can be reached which does not require the adoption of a home or working port for the fleet for the greater part of the year. To increase the number of days underway carrying out maneuvers, the time lost in making passages from one port to another must be eliminated. Every time the fleet gets underway it should be for some definite purpose, the reason for which has been threshed out beforehand and the information diffused. The coal thus burned and the energy expended will be to a useful end,
For the upkeep of machinery, the time not spent underway in fleet work should be at anchor in the home port with the repair ship, the exact time at anchor known long in advance. Only in this manner can work be planned, material collected, and the facilities of the repair ship utilized. The latter is an expensive luxury unless her repair plant is kept busy. The cost of maintenance of the Panther is $180,000 a year, and if this is added to the work she has done, as an overhead charge, the cost will be found rather high. A repair ship, however, is a military necessity, and the expense of maintenance cannot be avoided.
To give the officers and crew the usual amount of leave and liberty, and to give it under conditions most advantageous to themselves and the ship, requires a definite schedule and a home port. Leave for the engineer's force can best be given when the ship is underway, thus rendering their services available when at anchor, and when they are most needed. By giving to commanding officers the authority to grant leave, subject to general regulations, a mass of useless detail will be lifted from the flag-ship. And by a known schedule and known locality, the captain is able to plan the leave for months ahead. If a man of the rank of captain is considered competent to command 900 men and a vessel valued at $10,000,000 to $16,000,000, surely he can be considered competent to decide whether or not a member of his crew can be given a few days' leave.
SELECTION OF A HOME PORT.
Whatever port is selected for a home port or base must possess certain characteristics.
(a) It must provide sufficient anchorage room for the fleet.
(b) It must be near the open sea.
(c) It must be so located as to furnish a good liberty port for the crew.
On the whole Atlantic Coast there is but one port which possesses these three characteristics, and that is Narragansett Bay. The coast of Maine is too foggy, and possesses no good liberty ports. Provincetown is no liberty port. New York is too far from the sea, and is crowded with shipping. Hampton Roads is hot and unhealthy in the summer, and is no liberty port.
No other port offers equal facilities for liberty men to scatter to nearby large cities. Fall River is one hour away, Boston and Providence two hours, and New York six hours. None of the large cities of Connecticut or Massachusetts are more than six hours distant.
In addition to the necessary natural characteristics of great anchorage room, and nearness to the sea, there is a coaling station, torpedo station, training station, and War College already located there. In any well regulated scheme of affairs, the War College will be indispensable to the fleet.
BLOCKING OUT A SCHEDULE.
It has already been shown that in working out a schedule the following elements should be considered:
Drills and exercises of the fleet,
Co-ordination with the War College,
Upkeep of material,
Leave and liberty,
Visits to United States ports,
Visits to foreign ports,
Naval reviews, and
Necessity of a home port.
The general strategic and tactical exercises of the fleet can be worked out only by taking the results of what has already been accomplished, so far as they can be determined, as a basis; then with the aid of the best talent available, map out the plan of exercises to be followed. This cannot be done specifically, as future exercises may depend upon the results reached in those that have been completed. It is in the working out of these exercises that there must be co-ordination between the fleet and the War College. The task of analyzing the results of exercises would seem to be one that properly belongs to the War College. No strategic or tactical exercise should be undertaken without some definite object in view, and the different exercises should be numbered, discussed, analyzed, and conclusions drawn as carefully as in an experiment in a chemical laboratory. All exercises that are to be held should be explained and discussed in conference by the officers of the fleet before the actual performance is undertaken, and should be similarly discussed upon its completion. Knowledge of what is to be undertaken and what results are obtained is the right of every officer in the fleet, and it is a vast waste of time, money, and opportunity to withhold such information from them.
This waste of opportunity is commented upon by Frederick the Great in his writings as follows:
To what does life serve if it be the life of a plant; what use is it to see things only to have seen them? Vegetzie says war should be made a study, should be regarded as an uninterrupted exercise, and he is right.
Experiments should be conducted carefully. Artists arrive at the conception of the fundamental principles only after careful analysis, and in moments of rest prepare new material for experiment. Such investigation constitutes the power of inquiring minds. But how rarely are such persons met; while on the other hand, how frequently do we meet those people who, possessing the use of their senses, never think of employing their minds. Reflection alone, or, to express ourselves more accurately, the power of placing our conceptions in order (to think logically) distinguishes man from the animal. The mule who had made ten campaigns with Prince Eugene was none the better tactician for it, and to the shame of man it must be admitted, in consequence of this idle stupidity, many old (i. e., experienced) officers are not a bit better than the above-mentioned animal.
Such people move when all others move, following the routine requirements of service, absorbed in the performance of their personal duties and looking for something good to eat; they move when others do; they pitch their camp when ostlers pitch theirs; they fight when others do, and this, in the minds of many, constitutes campaigning and participation in war. Here is the source, the true reason, of existence of those masses of persons absorbed in trifles who remain in gross ignorance of military principles, and who, instead of elevating their minds to the heavens, wallow in the dust of routine and never bother themselves to discover the reasons for their successes or failures, although such knowledge would be of the greatest value to them.
By this method a rational, progressive system of work will be established which will continue ,independently of changes of command; the results of the work will not be lost, as at present, and as in the past, and officers ashore or on other stations can keep in touch with the progress of the fleet. This is done at present in gunnery and engineering.
The chart accompanying this article shows a proposed schedule drawn up in such a manner as to reduce useless cruising to a minimum, and to allow for the different elements which must be considered.
Narragansett Bay has been adopted as the base of operations.
The beginning of the calendar year is taken as the beginning of the schedule. While it may be desirable to begin the schedule in May or June on account of the large number of changes in officers at that time, it is deemed better to begin the schedule at the beginning of the year in order that the foreign cruises and time at Guantanamo may be considered as divisional cruising periods, and this period offers the best opportunity for preliminary training. The transfer of officers of the fleet among battleships, destroyers, and gunboats can be done at the naval review, or at the base, at the end of the year. The officers on duty at the Naval Academy, who are detached at the end of the academic year will be the only ones of any number who join the fleet after the serious work begins. No attempt is made to carry out fleet work at Guantanamo. With few exceptions, the work done by the combined fleet under present conditions at Guantanamo consists of work which can be well done by an individual ship. It is an abnormal waste of opportunity to assemble an entire fleet and then engage in swimming or small-arm practice. The value of these accomplishments, while recognized as worthy of some notice is infinitesimal in comparison with other exercises which receive no more attention.
The schedule provides for a European cruise, and a West Indian and Gulf cruise on alternate years. In planning European and West Indian cruises, it should be arranged, so far as practicable, that not more than one ship will be in a port at one time. The official character which a visit with a number of ships assumes renders it a burden to both host and guest. Allowing two months for the European cruise, and going no farther east than Italy, will require about 9000 miles steaming upon the return to the United States. At twelve knots this requires thirty days underway, leaving thirty days in port, or a week in each of four ports. Horta, Funchal, Lisbon, Algiers, Naples, Villefranche, Barcelona, and Gibraltar offer a chance for a Mediterranean cruise. This cruise is taken by the division which leaves directly for Europe the first part of January. The division leaving from Guantanamo for Europe in February can visit English, French, and German ports.
For the divisions visiting Gulf and West Indian ports there is offered the following: Charleston, Pensacola, New Orleans, Galveston, Kingston, Havana, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Barbados, Trinidad, La Guayra and Colon.
The time underway can be spent in ship drills, especially gun drill and sub-caliber practice, as a preparation for the target practice in April.
The time at Guantanamo is spent in torpedo practice, small-arm practice, etc., the ships being given a free hand to carry out such drills as are most needed to develop individual ship efficiency: For torpedo practice the deep, smooth water off Guantanamo offers an excellent locality. Fewer torpedoes will be lost there than in shallow water.
Upon the return from divisional cruising, vessels proceed to the several yards for docking, two weeks being allowed for this purpose. Leave can be given to the deck force during this period, but not to the engineer's force, whose services will be needed on board. Leave for the latter can begin after the docking period. It has been found not only practicable but most desirable to give leave to the engineer's force at periods when the ship is underway.
After docking, the fleet proceeds to the base, the first week underway being devoted to a final preparation for target practice, which takes place in the second week underway.
After this time the weeks at anchor and underway alternate for five months, the only break in fleet drill being 4th of July week, when the vessels scatter to the various ports to be visited. At the end of this week the Naval Militia of the several districts is taken on board for the coming week's work. At the end of this week they are returned and the vessels assemble at the base.
The autumn target practice takes place in September, followed by the naval review, docking period, and steaming trials. Three weeks of fleet drill take place in November and December under more strenuous conditions of wind and weather than obtain under present conditions.
The latter part of December is spent at the base, Christmas leave being given.
From an inspection of this chart it is seen that there is a practically unbroken period of eight months for fleet drill. Assuming that vessels are underway from Monday to Friday, there will be seventy-five days underway, spent in drill or target practice. Thus in eight months there will have been about twenty days more time spent underway for drill than was averaged by the fleet for a whole year under present conditions. The gain comes from the elimination of useless cruising. Within an hour after, leaving port the fleet is upon the drill grounds in deep water and unlimited space.
If we assume that eight of the twenty-four hours of each day underway will be spent in drill it results in six hundred hours instead of three hundred and twenty-three hours or twice the amount. As a matter of fact it will probably be trebled, as the eight hours a day will be exceeded, due to grand maneuvers and night torpedo defense work, and due to the fact that none of the work on divisional cruises is included in the six hundred hours.
The proposed schedule is not as arduous as that under which the fleet works at present, and the time devoted to drill is more than doubled. By drill is meant actual work, and not "drill" according to the pictures in the Tactical Signal Book. It is firmly believed that the time spent in the latter form of "drill" is absolute waste since what is gained in questions of position keeping and turning will be gained in other drills under more realistic conditions. With the different types of vessels which will always compose the fleet it is not practicable with any amount of drill, nor is it necessary to obtain precision in evolutions.
Under this schedule during a four-year enlistment, a man will have visited eight European ports, eight West Indian ports, and all the principal eastern ports of the United States.
An officer or man with home ties is assured of nine months of the year in the neighborhood of his family. By knowing a year in advance the exact movements of the fleet, personal arrangements can be made of considerable pecuniary advantage.
The advantage that is gained in the upkeep of machinery cannot be estimated. But it is safe to say that such a schedule will be hailed by engineer officers with great joy, as it gives them ample time for overhaul, at frequent periods, known long in advance—the three great requisites for upkeep.
Every officer and man can know months in advance when he can go on leave and a present source of discontent, especially in the engineer's force, will be removed.
The amount of tropical cruising is reduced to a minimum, as will be noted from an inspection of the schedule. The longest time in the tropics is three months in one year, and that applies to but one-half the fleet. Any protracted cruising in the tropics, or in the southern ports of the United States, including Hampton Roads, in the summer months, should be avoided. Why schedules have been made out in the past involving such cruising passes understanding. Hot weather bears especially hard on the engineer's force, and, if continued, cannot result in other than deterioration of the personnel. There is no such thing as hardening men to endure unhealthy conditions. There is a great difference between tropical life under an awning on deck and in engine, fire, and evaporating rooms. As an example, on one ship in the fleet the temperature in the evaporating room is 140° when the temperature on deck is 80°. The temperature of a man stationed in this room rose from 98.4° to 100°, and his pulse from 80 beats to 146 beats in an hour and a half. This represents an extreme case, but in many of the ships the temperatures are between 100° and 140°.
The following is an extract from an essay entitled "A Sanitary Study of Culebra as a Naval Base," by Medical Director Howard E. Ames, U. S. N.:
In the tropics the respirations are lessened, and the breathing is gentler. The tidal air being less, the amount of oxygen is diminished. When the temperature is high, the heart movements are slower, the skin acts more vigorously, the urine is reduced in quantity, the amount of urea is diminished, there is less vigor of mind and body; less weight is also observed. No doubt, humidity in combination with heat has a great influence in all these effects. The digestion is not strong. All of these observations show that they are the natural adaptability of the system to adjust the functions of the body in keeping with the climate. When once established they are, for that place, normal; no doubt degraded so far as vigor is concerned, but this does not mean functional degradation or disease. These changes teach us that exertion of all kinds, both physical and mental, must be diminished; that the same amount of activity cannot be demanded that is obtained in the temperate zone.
The strength of nations has been asserted by a certain authority to be a question of latitude, and the statement applies with equal force to navies.
In the tentative schedule which has been proposed any port may be adopted for a working base instead of the one which has been proposed. The amount of time that will be gained by the elimination of useless cruising remains the same. Whatever port is adopted, however, should combine to as great an extent as possible the necessary characteristics of a working base.
The proposed schedule does not interfere with the present schedule of overhaul and docking periods adopted for the fleet, and will not prevent any modifications that may be found necessary in the future.
The reduction of administrative work by the adoption of a schedule similar to the one proposed will be very great. The questions of fuel supply and provisions can be worked out long in advance. More results can be obtained from colliers and supply vessels when their future movements are known with a reasonable degree of certainty.
Target practice and steaming trials have been placed in the schedule at times corresponding with the present custom. As a matter of fact they are both "fleet drill," and can be placed in the schedule at such times and as often as may be found desirable. The only necessary requisite is that the times and methods he known as long in advance as possible—preferably a year.
Last but not least, the fleet athletic officer will have a basis upon which to erect a schedule of his own. The arrangements for the carrying out of the numerous athletic events of the fleet will be greatly simplified.
It has been shown in the preceding pages how the number of hours devoted to drill can be doubled by working from a base and by proper distribution of time, the periods underway and at anchor properly alternating. It is believed that the present daily routine followed by the battleships of the fleet can be modified so as to produce more results in efficiency of crew and upkeep of material than can be obtained under present conditions.
The following extracts are given from the daily routines of the Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla and the battleship fleet:
6.00 a. m. All hands.
8.55 a. m. Turn to. Muster and Inspection. Routine drill.
11.30 a. m. Knock off work.
5.00 p. in. Turn to.
4.30 p. m. Knock off work.
5.00 a. m. All hands (weekdays). (Note.-5.30 when sun rises later than 6.30.)
6.15 a. m. Turn to.
9.15 a. m. Quarters for muster, inspection, and setting up. Drill call.
11.15 a. m. Retreat from drill.
1.00 p.m. Turn to.
4.00 p. m. Knock off work.
It will be noted from the above that a period of two hours and fifteen minutes elapses in a destroyer from reveille until drill begins, while in a battleship it takes four hours and fifteen minutes to arrive at the really important work of the day. A destroyer is a man-of-war fully as much as a battleship, and in proportion to crews has just as much, if not more, work to do in drills and ship upkeep.
An inefficient destroyer is comparatively rare, and although the duty is more arduous for personnel than that on large ships, service in the flotilla is popular with both officers and men.
If the personnel of the flotilla is efficient and contented, a condition exists which is worthy of investigation.
The efficiency and popularity of the torpedo flotilla are believed to be due to a thorough appreciation by the personnel of the military reason for its existence and the elimination of lost motion and useless effort in the work for efficiency, coupled with a closer personal contact between officers and men for bringing about this result.
If reveille can be at 6.00 a. m. and drill call at 8.15 on a destroyer. why cannot it be the same on a battleship? If a man musters for drill in working clothes on a destroyer, which is a very sensible thing to do, why cannot it be done on a battleship?
The destroyer routine provides for one hour and forty-five minutes more time at drill and ship work than the battleship routine—a very appreciable increase. Yet destroyer crews sleep in until 6.00 a. m., a privilege which is granted to battleship crews on Sundays 4nd holidays only.
As an improvement on the present battleship schedule, the following is offered:
PROPOSED DAILY ROUTINE.
6.00 a. m. All hands.
6.20 a. m. Turn to; clean decks.
7.00 a. m. Up all hammocks.
7.30 a. m. Breakfast.
8.30 a. m. Turn to; muster; drill.
11.30 a. m. Retreat.
12.00 a. m. Dinner.
1.00 p. m. Turn to; ship work.
4.00 p. M. Knock off work. All hands wash up and shift into clean clothes by 4.30.
4.30 p. m. Liberty party. Scrub clothes.
6.00 p. m. Supper.
8.00 g. m. Hammocks.
10.00 p. m. Taps.
The advantages claimed for the proposed routine are:
(a) Increased time for drill.
(b) Concentration of drill periods, and ship work periods. • All drills are in the forenoon; all ship work in the afternoon.
(c) Elimination of the "spit and polish" period from 8.13 to 9.30 a. m. A ship with a large amount of bright work usually has the stow holes and dark corners full of filthy cleaning gear.
(d) A more rational hour for reveille.
By scrubbing clothes in the evening instead of during the morning watch, this becomes practicable. One hour for washing down decks should be ample.
Instead of the times when certain drills are to be held being specified in the fleet regulations, it is considered more desirable to enumerate the drills in which ships are .expected to be proficient and to leave to the commanding officer the details of when and how often these drills are to be held.
A complete discussion of the subject of an interior ship routine which will develop the greatest efficiency with the least necessary expenditure of energy is beyond the scope of this article. Questions of employment of time, liberty, and punishments, furnish material for extended study.
It is realized that a spirit of criticism pervades this paper, but it is held to be criticism in the best sense of the word in that it is offered with a view of pointing out defects that are believed to exist in the present organization, and advancing what are believed to be feasible methods of improvement. The readiness of the fleet for war is a subject that should be nearest the heart of every naval officer.
In considering any method for the improvement of the service, optimism should not be allowed to convince us that conditions are thoroughly good, or pessimism that they are utterly bad. Only by a calm, thorough analysis of conditions as they actually exist, with a frank recognition of faults and shortcomings, and an earnest endeavor on the part of all to reach a higher plane of preparedness, can progress be made*.
In his introduction to Clausewitz' "On War," Colonel Maude of the British Army, says:
The ultimate consequences of defeat no man can foretell. The only way to avert them is to ensure victory; and, again following out the principles of Clausewitz, victory can only be ensured by the creation in peace of an organization which will bring every available man, horse, and gun, or ship and gun if the war be on the sea, in the shortest possible time, and with the utmost possible momentum, upon the decisive field of action which in turn leads to the final doctrine formulated by Von der Goltz in excuse for the action of the late President Kruger in 1899:
"The statesman who, knowing his instrument to be ready, and seeing war inevitable, hesitates to strike first is guilty of a crime against his country.
These are strong words, but true, for in the eternal war of "the survival of the fittest," there is no mercy or chivalry, but sudden and deadly blows.
The Franco-Prussian War, the Spanish-American War, and the Russo-Japanese War furnish three appalling examples of the crushing defeat that awaits the nation unprepared. Whether the possibility of war is remote or otherwise has no place in the thoughts of naval officers; but pre-eminent should be the endeavor to bring the greatest strength and skill to the arm that will wield the weapon already forged.
This article simply attempts to point out a method by which the work that is demanded of the fleet in an ever increasing scale as time goes on, may be accomplished with less effort, or more work with the same effort, than can obtain under the routine that has been followed for so many years. All honor to the officers and men, from admirals down, who have striven in the past to develop the great machine. It has been hard, gruelling work, and none but those in the service can appreciate what it has cost in stress of mind and body to develop our Atlantic Fleet as it exists to-day.
But competition is keen and unrelenting, and the struggle must continue. If the ideas advanced herein can in any way further progress, they will not have been in vain.