The organization, administration and policy of the Navy Department are the subjects of frequent discussion in the NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS and in other service publications, but these discussions are usually of a general nature and along broad lines. Officers that have had little duty in the department have often expressed a desire to know the inner workings of the various offices in the Navy Department—"to see the wheels go round," as one expressed it—and this article is an endeavor briefly to describe the central power plant by which the navy is run. The first part of this paper will be found, in even more succinct form, in the Navy Regulations, but it is repeated here as it forms the foundation upon which our naval administration is based.
COUNCIL OF AIDS
Under the present organization of the Navy Department, all naval activities cluster around, and all naval business flows to the Secretary of the Navy through one of the four aids. These aids are without executive authority; they never put their names to papers other than memoranda circulated among themselves, and these memoranda are not forwarded with official mail; yet the aids supervise and present practically all official mail to the Secretary and Assistant Secretary, and give out his approval or disapproval. The only exceptions to this are letters prepared by the chief clerk, the solicitor, and the librarian, and these letters are more legal and historical than naval. Chiefs of bureaus have the right to communicate at any time directly with the Secretary upon bureau affairs, but the official papers prepared as a result of such interviews must be presented to the Secretary by the appropriate aid.
The aids meet daily in the office of the Aid for Operations and are joined periodically by the Secretary and Assistant Secretary, for the discussion of big naval questions—administrative affairs, legislative measures, and important assignments of ships and officers. Before submission to the Secretary, the Council passes upon:—
Changes in and additions to Navy Regulations and Naval Instructions,
Proposed general orders,
Assignments of rear admirals and captains, afloat and ashore,
General Board recommendations.
The duties of the four divisions are clearly defined in Chapter 2, Navy Regulations: the method of carrying out the work of each will be outlined. The work of the bureaus is so familiar to the service at large that any description of it seems unnecessary.
DIVISION OF OPERATIONS
This division has three officers under the immediate supervision of the Aid for Operations, and their duties are as follows:—
1. An officer in charge of the movements of ships, including orders for the movements of all ships in commission and interdepartmental correspondence, particularly with regard to ship's movements. This includes voluminous correspondence with the State Department in times of unrest in Central and South American waters.
2. An officer to handle correspondence with the General Board, War College, other departments, Navy Regulations, Naval Instructions, general orders, and matters relative to the military features of naval and radio stations.
3. An officer to handle cipher and secret code messages, movements of fuel ships, preparation of signal books and other publications.
The Aid for Operations has supervision over the Naval War College, and the offices of Naval Intelligence, Target Practice and Engineering Competitions.
NAVAL WAR COLLEGE
The president of the War College has eight officers on his staff, and at present there are 19 officers taking the long course. There are now four courses: (a) An elementary course of two weeks in summer for officers of the Atlantic fleet; (b) A preparatory course of four months beginning June ; (c) the War College Course; this course has been shortened to one year; (d) a correspondence course, now in preparation.
OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE
The Director of Naval Intelligence, who is also a member of the General Board, has seven officers as assistants. Each of these is familiar with some foreign language. The office keeps records of foreign navies with regard to number of ships, personnel, armor, armament, equipment, port regulations, matters of ceremony, salutes, etc. This office is the source of information on all naval matters; is at the disposal of all naval officers, and is not used as much as it should be by officers outside the department.
OFFICE OF TARGET PRACTICE AND ENGINEERING COMPETITIONS
The Director of Target Practice has three officers who assist him in drawing up, in accordance with the "Rules Board's" decision, rules for each form of target practice and engineering competition; in computing scores, and assigning standings to ships. One officer is an expert in engineering, one in turret and broadside battery work, and one in submarine and torpedo work. These officers attend the various practices of the Atlantic fleet in order to get first-hand data for their publications.
DIVISION OF PERSONNEL
This division includes the Bureaus of Navigation and Medicine and Surgery, Headquarters of the Marine Corps, and offices of the Judge-Advocate General, and Naval Examining and Retiring Board. The Aid for Personnel has one assistant in his office. This officer handles mail from the bureaus and offices of the division, inter-departmental mail relating to personnel, prepares disciplinary letters, and reviews general and summary courts-martial, investigations, etc.
The Bureau of Navigation has supervision over the following offices, some of which are of recent origin: Hydrographic Office, Naval Observatory, Radio Service, Naval Districts, Aeronautics, Naval Militia and Naval Reserve.
DIVISION OF MATERIAL
This division includes the Bureaus of Ordnance, Construction and Repair, Steam Engineering, Yards and Docks, Supplies and Accounts, and the Director of Navy Yards.
The Aid for Material has three assistants:
1. An officer who handles all matters connected with the administration and equipment of naval stations; material questions raised by the General Board; inter-departmental correspondence on work done by navy yards for other executive departments, etc.
2. An officer who handles repairs and alterations to all ships, and the material readiness of ships for service.
3. An officer for miscellaneous correspondence, records of repairs, estimates, surveys, requisitions, etc.
In questions affecting more than one material bureau, the Aid for Material arranges a conference of bureau chiefs for the discussion of the points in question. Their decision is incorporated in a letter which is presented to the Secretary for approval by the Aid for Material. This supplants the former method by which bureaus could independently submit recommendations that might interfere with the plans of other bureaus. For instance if in the construction of a ship Steam Engineering wishes to place more power in the engine room, its letter is sent to the Secretary through the Aid for Material. Upon his advice the Secretary refers it to Construction and Repair and Ordnance to see what effect it will have on the ship's draft, arrangement of engine and ammunition spaces, etc. After a conference by the Bureau chiefs, the Aid for Material prepares a compromise, satisfactory to all bureaus, embodying the essential recommendations of each, and it is approved by the Secretary. The co-operation of the Material bureaus has been eminently successful, and the difficult work of this division is most creditably performed.
DIVISION OF INSPECTIONS
The Aid for Inspections has no assistant in his office. His division comprises the Board of Inspection and Survey for Ships and the Board of Inspection for Shore Stations. The former board, whose important and highly professional duties are well known, consists of a rear admiral and eight other officers of rank and ability, including representatives of the Construction, Medical, and Marine Corps.
The Board of Inspection for Shore Stations consists of a rear admiral, two captains, and a naval constructor. This board was authorized in January, 1910, but has done its most important work during the last calendar year, in inspecting naval stations and submitting comprehensive reports upon their general condition, sanitation, accessibility, protection from attack, trend of development, docking and repair facilities, possible extension, etc.
WORK IN THE BUREAUS
As previously stated, the work in the various bureaus is so well known to the service that reference to it seems unnecessary; yet certain subjects have assumed such importance that they require specialists to handle them. The officers in Construction and Repair, Yards and Docks, Medicine and Surgery, and Supplies and Accounts are specialists by virtue of their corps assignment and their training: yet of these corps, the officers best equipped for the specific office duties are selected for certain desks. Navigation, Steam Engineering, and Ordnance, contain line officers who were selected with a view to their fitness to handle the respective duties of personnel, machinery and ordnance.
METHOD OF HANDLING OFFICIAL MAIL
The change in administration in 1909 was followed by so many varying methods of addressing official letters that a plan was conceived of having all mail, of whatever character, addressed to "The Secretary of the Navy," and employing two expert mall clerks thoroughly familiar with mail handled by different offices to forward all mail to its proper destination. This was not adopted, and for months there were complaints of missent mail. One story circulated in the department was to the effect that a quarterly report of a battleship's "operations" had been forwarded to Medicine and Surgery; another explained the reason for the assignment of the officer in charge of aviation to command a funeral escort on the ground that the deceased was a "highflyer."
METHOD OF HANDLING DEPARTMENTAL MAIL
The following instances show the track of official letters through the divisions and offices of the Navy Department. It may sound circuitous, but it is comparatively simple and insures full consideration upon every type of letter:
(a) A ship Loses a Dinghy from her Lower Boom at Night.—The commanding officer forwards a "missing" survey, with report of the loss, to the Bureau of Construction and Repair direct. The Bureau orders the shipment of another dinghy to the ship; and, not being satisfied with the care exercised over the old dinghy, forwards the survey to the department (Material) for appropriate action. The Aid for Material sends it to Personnel by memorandum recommending disciplinary action. Personnel stamps it to Navigation, which is charged with disciplinary action. Navigation returns it to the department (Personnel) with a letter of reprimand to the officer of the deck charged with the loss, and with a copy of the letter to be filed with his record. The Aid for Personnel has the letter signed by the Secretary and returns the report of survey to Material by memorandum stating that disciplinary action has been taken. The Aid for Material stamps it to Construction and Repair for information and file.
(b) An Additional Gunboat is Needed in Mexican Waters.—Operations informs Material and Personnel by memorandum and inquires when gunboat X at the Portsmouth Navy Yard can be ready for sea. Material telephones it to C. and R., Ordnance, S. E., and S. and A.; Personnel to Navigation, and to the Marine Corps if marines are to be furnished. Navigation, in turn, telephones the Hydrographic Office and Naval Observatory. All bureaus and offices thus notified report when repairs will be completed, crew furnished, and supplies, compasses, charts, etc., on board. The department (Personnel) issues an order placing the ship in commission, notifying Operations and Material by memorandum. The department (Operations) then issues sailing orders and informs all offices by printed circular.
(c) The Bureau of Steam Engineering Desires the Reservation of Certain Oil-Bearing Lands for the Use of the Navy.—The bureau officer in charge of this makes a careful study of the navy's need and of the situation, consulting experts of the big oil companies, the Bureau of Mines and the Geological Survey of the Department of the Interior. The Chief of Bureau informs the Secretary of the result of this officer's work, and the Secretary arranges a conference with the Secretary of the Interior, Directors of the Bureau of Mines and Geological Survey, Aids for Operations and Material, Chief of Bureau of Steam Engineering and his expert officer. The recommendation or agreement of the conferees is forwarded to the General Board (via Operations) for consideration, comment and recommendation. The General Board's recommendation, for lease, purchase, or otherwise, is returned to the department (Operations) and presented to the Secretary with the approval of the Council of Aids, and the solicitor is directed to prepare a provision for submission to Congress embodying the approved recommendation. This provision is forwarded by the Secretary to the Senate and House Naval Committees.
There are of course innumerable variations of these examples: questions may be settled by the Secretary direct; the General Board may consider questions before they reach the stage of investigation, or may even initiate the inquiry; but the above examples illustrate the care with which mail, affecting more than one office, is handled. The bureaus and offices handle directly with ships and yards all requisitions, surveys, requests for stores and supplies, and other matters delegated to them by statute law and the Navy Regulations.
NAVY DEPARTMENT POLICIES
The Navy Department has certain principles, methods and aims upon which the transaction of its business is based, and the "policy of the Department" is well understood by the officers of the Department, although there is no formal announcement of these methods, or of changes in them.
The following policies are in effect:
- SEA DUTY
Naval officers eligible for sea duty must have had sufficient duty afloat in each grade in order to qualify for promotion.
Shore duty beyond seas at Guantanamo, in the Philippines, at Guam and Samoa counts as a cruise, but does not count as sea duty. The period of shore duty at these places should not be longer than two years; the remainder of the three years to be spent on board ship. Shore duty beyond seas at other places than these mentioned does not count as a cruise.
Commanders-in-Chief:—To be selected from flag officers who have served not less than one year as a division commander in the fleet, and who have still not less than three years to serve. Commanders-in-chief when relieved to be eligible for assignment to duty on the General Board, and if they have still not less than two years to serve on the active list, as Aid for Operations.
Division Commanders:—To be selected from flag officers who have not less than three years to serve on the active list.
Flotilla Commanders:—To be a flag officer as young as practicable, or captain, and to be selected from those officers, who on account of age and their qualifications, may be in line of advancement to division commander and commander-in-chief.
Chiefs of Staff:—To be detailed by the department from captains who have made a battleship cruise, and have had War College experience. This detail should not be considered a personal one, but the officer should be selected by the department and assigned to this duty. In case of two or more officers being equally well qualified for the position, the commander-in-chief should be allowed to select. The above applies only to fleets of capital ships composed of one or more divisions.
Captains:—In a short time all captains will have to make a second cruise as such; therefore, junior captains should be assigned to the less important capital ships as soon as they are promoted and their services become available; their second cruises to be in command of the more important capital ships, or as chief of staff of an active fleet. Captains to be assigned to command of ships under construction to be detailed as inspectors of such ships six months before commissioning, if practicable.
Commanders:—Commanders in their first cruise will be assigned to duty as executive officers of capital ships in the active fleet as part of their cruise (not lest than one year) and then to command of gunboats, small cruisers, repair ships, etc., in full commission, or to the command of a capital ship in reserve.
On second cruise commanders will be assigned to command cruisers in full commission and battleships in reserve.
The length of a commander's cruise will be approximately two years. They should have at least eighteen months at sea before promotion. Commanders will be assigned to command divisions of destroyers and submarines in the future.
Lieutenant Commanders:—Supply vessels will be commanded by lieutenant commanders. Selections for commands for destroyers will be made from lieutenant commanders, or from lieutenants near promotion. As many officers as possible should be given experience in command of destroyers. The period of destroyer command should be about two years.
Lieutenants:—Lieutenants will have an average of three years at sea and two years on shore. Lieutenants, junior grade, may be assigned to the postgraduate course after five years at sea; after six years they may be assigned to other shore duty.
Ensigns:—Ensigns should be assigned to capital ships in the active fleets for the first two years after graduation. The most proficient may be considered available for assignment to other vessels after a year at sea if shown by their official records to be qualified for watch-standing duty.
Younger officers' duty will be so rotated that they will gain the different kinds of experience. Duty on gunboats will be, as far as possible, limited to one year for the younger officers.
Selections for Command and all other Important Duty:—Selections for command and all other important duty should be made after close scrutiny of the official records of the available officers, having regard for special fitness as shown by these records.
- DEVELOPMENT OF THE NAVAL WAR COLLEGE
The increase in the number of officers taking the War College Course, the change in this course to one year, and the introduction of a Correspondence Course in which all officers must qualify, constitute a departmental policy of recent adoption. The interest of the Secretary of the Navy in the War College is so strong that he feels that every officer should have a course at that institution before assuming command of a ship; and the experience of cruiser and gunboat commanders in southern waters have proven the advisability of this.
- DEVELOPMENT OF NAVAL AERONAUTIC
The department is committed to the advancement of both academic and practical aeronautics in the navy. An officer skilled in the principles and technicalities of aeronautics is charged with the academic part, which includes the ultimate establishment of an aerodynamic laboratory for scientific investigation; another officer has the supervision of all practical instruction in aviation, and divides his time between the department and the aviation base.
- EXTENSION OF THE RADIO SERVICE
The Navy Department has consistently stood for the control of high-power radio stations on both coasts and the extension of our radio system across the Pacific to Hawaii and the Philippines. The establishment of a high-power station in the Panama Canal Zone is progressing rapidly, and a smaller station with 300-foot towers is being constructed at each terminal, to handle ships coming in from sea and going through the canal. A connecting link between Arlington and Panama, Key West and San Diego, will be erected at Point Isabel, Texas, which will ensure steady communication between those points in any condition of static. When the high-power chain has been established across the Pacific, the Navy Department will be in constant touch by radio with the men-of-war in Asiatic waters. Experiments are under way to test the different types of radiophares by which a lightship may give a ship within radio distance her bearing from the lightship in any weather.
- ACQUISITION OF COAL AND OIL FOR THE NAVY
In co-operation with the Department of the Interior, the Navy Department is investigating certain coal lands in Alaska with a view to having them reserved by Executive Order for the exclusive use of the navy. Congress has been asked for an appropriation to enable the department to acquire a lease of oil-bearing lands in Oklahoma; the reservation of certain oil-lands in southern California for naval use has been made, and the litigation in connection with this reservation is being handled by the Department of Justice.
- "SAVING MONEY AFLOAT TO PUT IT ASHORE"
This policy was inaugurated by the present administration. In economizing ashore, money previously appropriated but not used, has been diverted to more necessary uses afloat. For instance, money amounting to $671,819.00 was saved from appropriations for public buildings, barracks and hospitals, while the savings on armor plate, forgings, turbine drums, and other steel work, amounted to $782,117.00. The saving on projectiles due to competition from England and Germany, and consequent competition in this country, amounted to $1,068,750.00. These amounts saved were considered in estimating upon appropriations for the Navy afloat.
- GOVERNMENT MANUFACTURE OF GUNS, POWDER, TORPEDOES AND ARMOR
In connection with the economy effected in saving ashore, the department desires to cut down the current expenses of the navy still further by the manufacture of armor plate, guns, powder and torpedoes. This policy does not contemplate their immediate manufacture exclusively by the government, but in such proportion as ensure bona fide competition and fair prices among outside competitors.
- EDUCATION OF ENLISTED MEN
The policy with regard to the educational system for enlisted men is described in General Order No. 63, of December 16, 1913. To carry this out successfully, it is believed that the instruction of the men can best be given by the younger officers who have their Naval Academy training fresh in mind. With this in view, arrangements will be made to have professors and other educators address the midshipmen of the senior class on the methods that should be employed in this work. The department is endeavoring to uplift the enlisted personnel by giving them an opportunity to qualify for promotion to assistant paymaster, and, in the case of warrant officers, to ensigns.
A broader way for the promotion of enlisted men is proposed in the legislation now pending, whereby 25 enlisted men who have served not less than two years in the Navy may be appointed as midshipmen to the Navval Academy after such competitive mental and physical examinations as the Secretary may prescribe.
The navy's complement of enlisted men has been completely filled during the present administration, and this has been due to:
(a) the educational system, in which common school and vocational education is furnished every enlisted man in accordance with his aptitude,
(b) the better chance of promotion, and the opening of avenues to promotion to commissioned rank; and,
(c) the cruise of the fleet to the Mediterranean, and the opportunity for men to see more of the world.
- INCREASE OF CHAPLAINS
The pending Naval Appropriation bill contains an increase in the number of chaplains from 24 to 52; it authorizes acting chaplains to serve three years at sea, after which they shall be examined by a board of chaplains and medical officers for mental, moral, professional, and physical qualities to perform the duties of chaplain. The Secretary will nominate young men specially trained and with love for service afloat; and regardless of their ability as a minister in civil life, will retain only such acting chaplains as have shown their adaptability and love for the naval service, and their aptitude for helping and encouraging the personnel.
- MORALE OF NAVAL PERSONNEL
The department desires officers and men of clean, wholesome, temperate lives, and will not condone offences of dishonesty, intoxication, or scandalous conduct. The moral standard of the Naval Academy is rigidly upheld and a midshipman who tells an untruth, is guilty of hazing, drinking, or unofficer-like conduct, will be promptly dismissed.