Motto: Semper paratus: semper fidelis
The service at large—officers and men—are familiar with the enlisted personnel in its relation to a single ship organization. The number allowed for the complement; the number allowed in each rating; the rules and regulations governing advancement in rating; the rules and regulations governing discharges; the methods of training and instruction which make a ship efficient: and the relation each individual man and each group of men bears to the ship organization as a whole, are well known to all. But the why and wherefore of the many rules and regulations; the reasons for making changes in them; the organization of the enlisted men’s division of the Bureau of Navigation, and the methods of conducting the general administrative business of this division; and the relation of the personnel to the navy as a whole in contradistinction to its relation to an individual ship, are matters concerning which officers and men know very little.
This paper, therefore, does not discuss the personnel in connection with the ship organization, but in its relations to the navy as a whole. The numerical strength, distribution, recruiting and recruits, administration, training, and suggestions for improving the general condition, are some of the subjects that will be touched upon. It is realized that all phases of the numerous matters that concern so large a body of men cannot be discussed fully in so limited a paper, but the writer hopes to deal with them in a general way, and to give to the readers some information which, although available in other forms, is not looked for simply on account of the trouble involved.
The authorized numerical strength of the enlisted personnel was 10,000 just prior to the Spanish-American War. During the war there was an increase of over 140 per cent, the maximum reached being 24,123. This number was reduced to 20,000 in 1900, from which date there has been a gradual but irregular increase, until the present allowed quota of 48,000 men and 3500 apprentices was authorized in 1912. This number is exclusive of prisoners sentenced to dishonorable discharge, and of men serving- on vessels loaned to the naval militia of various states. The number of prisoners during the past few years has averaged about 1300. At this writing (December, 1914) there are less than 900, the reduction being due to the new policy adopted in regard to their discharge. There are approximately 400 men serving on board naval militia vessels. It will therefore be seen that when recruited up to the full quota allowed (which is the case at present), there are approximately 52,800 enlisted men in the navy.
A new feature of the last appropriation bill was the insertion of a clause which places the allowed quota not at a maximum, but at an average, so that if during any day or days we are short of the allowed quota, we may bring the average up by being over this quota during the latter part of the fiscal year.
In order not to exceed the authorized strength, the Bureau of Navigation keeps a daily record of all enlistments, discharges, deaths, retirements, desertions, and apprehensions or surrenders of deserters. These records are summarized, and the results carried forward from day to day. Absolute accuracy cannot be claimed for these figures, as the mails must be relied on for the necessary reports; but they are accurate enough for the purpose. In order to check up these figures, the bureau required every pay officer in the navy to report on July 1, 1914, the exact number of enlisted men’s accounts he had on his rolls on that date. The summary of these reports gave a total which was only nine men less than the total carried in the Bureau as made up from the daily reports.
What the numerical strength of the enlisted personnel should be depends upon the policy of the Navy Department as to the number of ships that are kept in commission, and on the number of men expected to be obtained from outside sources in case of hostilities. At present there are approximately 11,000 men who are not serving on board ship in the capacity of part of the authorized crews. This 11,000 is made up of apprentice seamen at the training stations and the men necessary to properly conduct the stations; men under training in the various trade schools and the men required for the proper conduct of the schools; men under treatment in the hospitals and the necessary hospital attendants; men required for service at the various navy yards, naval stations, radio stations, and recruiting stations; men on duty in connection with ships building and men being assembled for vessels about to be placed in commission; men on reenlistment leave and those traveling to and from their respective stations; men awaiting discharge, action of courts, witnesses, etc., and prisoners.
A steady, gradual increase in the numerical strength is more conducive to efficiency than is a large increase every four or five years. In other words, it would be better to have an increase of from 1000 to 2000 men every year than to have an increase of from 5000 to 10,000 every fifth year. By having the gradual ' increase the recruiting will always be normal and we could maintain the high standard required of the recruits. By having a large increase our efforts are to get the men as soon as possible, with the result that the standard depreciates. By a gradual increase our recruiting stations operate in an economical manner; by having a large increase we must increase the number of stations and the amount of advertising abnormally. This is expensive and leads to extravagance. By having a gradual increase the training stations operate under efficient conditions with approximately the same number of men under training all the time; by a large increase the training stations become overcrowded, with the result that either the proper attention cannot be given the individual members under training, or the course of training must be curtailed. By having a gradual increase the proper balance between the petty officers and the non-rated men can be maintained; by not having an increase for several years, the petty officers’ grades become overcrowded, and we have a “hump” similar to that which sometimes occurs in the commissioned officers’ grades. There is such a hump at present. There is no way to remedy it except by increasing the numerical strength of the enlisted personnel, thereby enabling the department to place more ships in commission. This, in turn, would open the now closed avenues of promotion for the necessary petty officers required for those vessels.
In case of hostilities with a first class power we would require men as follows:
For serviceable- ships now on navy list................................... 72,000
For ships building (soon to be completed) ............................... 5,000
For auxiliaries now manned by merchant crews, and
additional auxiliaries that must be purchased........................... 7,000
For purposes other than on board ship................................... 11,000
For reserve (to allow for casualties) ......................................... 5,000
Total ......................................................................................... 100,000
This is approximately 47,000 more men than allowed for the peace quota.
These 47,000 men would be required immediately. There is no doubt that we could enlist them within six months, but the larger portion of them would be raw recruits. It would take at least two years to recruit and train them for efficient service on board ship. Until this were accomplished we would not be prepared to properly employ for war purposes the material at hand.
The distribution of the enlisted personnel depends on the ships actually in commission and the requirements of the training stations, navy yards and stations, and other shore details.
The annual report of the chief of Bureau of Navigation for the fiscal year 1914 gives a general summary of the distribution of the enlisted personnel on October 15, 1914.
As it may be of interest to learn the actual distribution by classes of vessels, the following table is inserted.
The Enlisted Personnel of the Navy
Table Showing Number and Distribution of Enlisted Men Employed
on Board Ship, October 15, 1914
Reserve ........... .............................
Full commission ................
Cruisers 18 knots and above
Out commission .................
Cruisers less than 18 knots
Full commission .................
Reserve (Naval Militia) ....
Out commission (Naval Milita) .............................
Full commission ................
Reserve (Naval Militia) .... ...................................
Out commission (Naval Militia) ............................
Full commission ................
Out commission .................
Full commission ................
Out commission (Naval Militia) ............................
Submarines Number Ships
Reserve ......................................................................... 3
Submarine Tenders (other than monitors)
Reserve (Naval Militia)
Auxiliaries (in commission)
Depot mine ships .................................
Ammunition ships Hospital ships
Station and Receiving ships .....................................
Total number of men on board ships Percentage of total enlisted force ...
The number of men available for detail to vessels could be increased by curtailing the training course, by closing the trade schools, by abolishing navy yard bands, and by reducing the number now employed at various stations. But would the efficiency of the navy as a whole be increased by doing this? It is believed not. In the first place, the department has found it desirable to increase the lengths of the training course for apprentice seamen from four months to six months. This was done because it is considered that increased efficiency would be gained thereby. But this increase in length of the training course means that there will be approximately 1600 more men not available for detail to cruising vessels than is the case at present. This is on the supposition that there will be no immediate increase of the total allowed quota for the navy.
While it would probably be necessary to close the trade schools in war time in order to make the personnel connected therewith available for service on board ship, their continuance in peace times is most desirable and undoubtedly adds to the general efficiency of the personnel. It was necessary to close the Seamen Gunner’s Class at Washington in order to obtain men to place vessels in commission when the Mexican troubles developed. This class has not been reopened, but it soon will be desirable to again open its doors.
The men on duty at hospitals, radio stations and recruiting stations cannot be decreased without affecting the efficiency of the service. In time of war we would have to augment, rather than decrease, all these details.
If the navy yard bands were discontinued, we could stop enlisting musicians for some time and thereby gain a corresponding number of men in other ratings required to man the ships.
Efforts have been made from time to time to reduce the number of men performing duties at the navy yards and stations, but it has been impracticable to effect any material reduction. This is due to the fact that certain work at the navy yards must be done, and the appropriations are not sufficient to employ civilians to do it. The result is that either the material must deteriorate or enlisted men be retained to do the work. In some cases it is desirable that seagoing men should be employed; in other cases it is not. Although some reduction can be made, the number obtained for sea service will be comparatively few unless the maintenance appropriations are increased so as to provide for the employment of civilians to do necessary work that is now being performed by the enlisted personnel.
There cannot be any material reduction in the total of 11,000 men now unavailable for detail to ships, even in time of war. This is due to the fact that although we may decrease the number of men at the training stations, trade schools, and navy yards, we must increase the number of men at hospitals, radio stations, recruiting stations; the number of patients in hospitals, and the number of men who will be enroute to and from their stations or vessels. The number of men not available for detail to vessels will not increase in direct proportion to an increase of the allowed quota; but with such an increase there will be corresponding increase in certain elements that will balance the decrease made by sending men to sea. No matter what is done towards reducing the shore stations in time of war, we will not be able to materially decrease the total of 11,000 men, which we now have, who are not available for duty on board ship.
The proper distribution of the enlisted men among the ships and stations involves much detail work. This can readily be realized when we consider there are 290 ships in commission and 25 shore stations. In addition there are 14 hospitals, 114 recruiting stations, and 51 radio stations. The distribution would be simple if it were not for the fact that each one of the 88 ratings must be detailed to each of the ships and stations in their proper proportions. To do this there must be frequent adjustments in the various ratings in order that there be a proper ratio between them. This ratio varies according to the number of ships that are in full commission, in reserve, and in ordinary. For example, there are relatively more petty officers in comparison with nonrated men on the vessels in reserve and on those in ordinary than on the vessels in full commission. This is as it should be. Otherwise it would be difficult to furnish sufficient petty officers for a reserve ship when placed in full commission. We could not do it unless a full commission vessel were placed in reserve each time. This is the usual procedure at present.
All vessels in commission, when in United States waters, submit a weekly report of vacancies to the Bureau of Navigation. This form contains a list of all the ratings, and columns in which are shown the authorized allowed complement, the number in each rating actually on board, the number in excess, the number of vacancies, and the number for which reliefs are required within the next 30 days. These reports are used by the detail officer to determine the number of men in the various ratings that should be sent to each ship. There would be no difficulty in doing this if there were always a surplus in each rating available for detail on the various receiving ships. As we do not have such a surplus, it is impracticable to immediately furnish all ships with all the men required in each rating. There are some ratings which are seldom available for transfer. The reasons for this will be discussed later.
The receiving ships submit a daily report of men available for transfer. These reports give a list of all the ratings, and columns in which are placed the number of
according to classes. These classes show the length of time to serve as follows:
Class AA; having less than three months to serve;
Class A ; having less than six months ;
Class B; having from six months to one year ;
Class C; having from one year to two years ;
Class D; having from two years to three years;
Class E; having from three years to four years.
Each training station submits a weekly report in which is shown the total number of men under training, and the number of ordinary seamen and coalpassers that will probably be available within two months, with the dates of availability. Each trade school submits a monthly report showing the number of men attending the classes, and the number of months under instruction. These reports enable the detail officer to make as equitable a distribution as practicable in accordance with the requirements of the various ships as shown by the weekly reports of vacancies.
When a number of ships are together in foreign waters it is generally found expedient to transfer a certain number of men for further detail by direction of the senior officer present, who. on account of the delay in the receipt of reports in the Bureau of Navigation, is better able to make a proper distribution.
All men on the Asiatic station are distributed by its commander- in-chief. Men for this station are sent on the army transports which sail monthly from San Francisco. The numbers in each rating to be sent are determined in the Bureau of Navigation from the quarterly reports submitted by the commander-in-chief. These reports show the status at the end of the quarter as compiled by summarizing the reports of vacancies of all vessels on the station; the number of men in hospitals; the number of men in prison, and the numbers in each rating whose enlistments expire during each of the three succeeding quarters.
The detailing of men to ships is complicated by the requirements of the various shore stations, for which suitable allowance must be made. The complements of these stations are fixed at what are considered the lowest practicable numbers to perform the duties. At many of these stations men must be detailed by name, on account of the requirements of the particular duty. Every petty officer and man should be able to perform the duties of his rating on board ship. If they cannot efficiently perform them, they should not hold their ratings. But we cannot expect every petty officer and man efficiently to perform the unusual duties that may be assigned them at various shore stations. A chief electrician (radio) may perform his duties satisfactorily on board ship, where he is directly under an officer. The same man, if placed in charge of one of the important shore radio stations, may be found wanting in some of the qualifications necessary efficiently to conduct the stations. A chief boatswain’s mate or a chief machinist’s mate who performs his duties satisfactorily in every way on board a ship in commission, may be found wanting in certain qualifications which make him desirable for duty with the naval militia. Men detailed to recruiting stations must be specially well recommended as to character, neatness of dress, and ability. They must be thoroughly representative enlisted men who are enthusiastic about the service, and who have had sufficient service to indicate that they are making it a life work. The instructors of apprentice seamen; the instructors at the various trade schools, and men detailed for instruction in the trade schools must have certain qualifications that render it necessary to detail them by name. This necessity for detailing by name entails much clerical work than cannot be avoided. If there was sufficient clerical force in the Bureau of Navigation it might be desirable to increase the amount of detailing by name. But to make all details in this manner would require a prohibitive increase in the number of clerks, and would not be as satisfactory as the present rule of assigning men to ships, and in making transfers, by designating the numbers in each rating.
For several years it has been customary to detail all men of the hospital corps by name. The records of the hospital corpsmen are kept in the Bureau of Navigation and the orders are issued by that bureau; but the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery keeps additional records which enables it to make specific recommendations. This method is generally satisfactory so far as this particular corps is concerned. But there are some drawbacks. For example, an urgent order may be sent to a station or hospital to transfer a certain man or men. It so happens that one or more of the men so ordered may be sick, or on leave, or not available for some other reason. The commanding officer, having been directed to transfer a man by name, does not feel justified in making a substitution. Delay and additional correspondence results.
The detailing of radio electricians by name has recently been adopted. This has been made practicable by the Superintendent of Radio keeping records of men in the radio corps, similar to those kept by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for men in the hospital corps. The detail of electricians (radio) in this manner has resulted in an increase of efficiency that must be appreciated throughout the service. The necessity for adopting this method is due to the large expansion of the number of men in this branch of the service, and to the necessity of giving them the rating of electrician, which term has always applied to men who do general electrical duty. It is hoped that before long the electrician (radio) may be known by some such rating as radio operators or radiomen, both of which have been suggested. This will require legislation, as, at present, there is no provision for paying them unless they are rated electricians.
In the detailing of men to shore stations, the Bureau of Navigation recently has made efforts to distribute the shore duty more equally among all the men who desire it. A study of the enlisted men assigned to shore duty showed that many had been in the service for years and had never been to sea. It was also ascertained that some men were retained in these shore billets for personal reasons, or because their commanding officers believed that there were no other men in the service who could perform the duties so well. The retention of these men for unduly long periods on shore is not only an injustice to the men themselves, who, when sent to sea, find they are not qualified to perform the duties of their ratings on board ship, but an injustice to the large number of worthy seagoing men who desire detail to shore billets, but are prevented on account of the billet being filled by a non- seagoing man. The discontent created was made evident by reports which came to the Bureau of Navigation from various sources.
The transferring of these long-time ashore men was beset with many difficulties. Not only was political influence brought to bear in many individual cases, but some commanding officers made official and personal representations to the effect that the services of such a man could not be dispensed with on account of the peculiar or difficult duties he was performing; or that such and such a man had bought himself a house and raised a family, and that it would be a hardship to him and his family to make him go to sea; or such and such a man had always performed his duties in a satisfactory manner, and, therefore, why remove him? Some of the representations for retention in individual cases were so insistent that one was led to almost believe that the efficiency of the whole station depended on that one enlisted man, and to wonder if the works would stop altogether should he happen to be overtaken by death.
Representations of this sort showed, as a rule, a lack of knowledge of the enlisted personnel, and an unintentional disregard for the rights of others. It is recognized that certain men can fill certain billets better than others. But there is not an enlisted man in the navy performing any specific legitimate duty for whom a suitable relief cannot be found. There are many enlisted men who have families, and who have been at sea a long time, who should not be precluded from obtaining a desirable detail ashore just because the billet is being held by a man who has brought up his family while serving on shore. Many good enlisted men are spoiled because the officers under whom they are serving lead them to believe their services cannot be dispensed with, or that there are no men capable of relieving them. Men of this class are usually found wanting when detailed to a cruising vessel or to some other duty for which they should be qualified.
Instructions issued to commanding officers of all receiving ships require them to detail suitable reliefs for those who have been on shore duty for 18 months or two years, providing men who desire these details, and who have not had shore duty recently, are available. In addition, all receiving ships must report monthly the names of men who have been on the station for 18 months or longer. This enables the Bureau of Navigation to detail suitable reliefs from men who apply for the duty when they reenlist, or from men who make requests through official channels.
There are some men in the navy who appear to forget that the more important duties of an enlisted man are on board ship and that their own personal convenience is not the main consideration in assignments to duty. When the exigencies of the service require them to go to sea, or to serve on some vessel which has a home port other than the one they prefer, or to remain on a vessel that is about to make a cruise to a foreign station, they forget that the military necessity, rather than the personal convenience, must be the first consideration. They feel that they are being discriminated against, or that they are being done an injustice if their requests for transfer are not approved. This attitude is also generally taken by their families, their friends, and their congressmen. It is unfortunate that such should be the case, as it should by recognized by every man who enlists in the navy that he must be ready to undergo some hardships and some personal inconveniences when the military necessity demands. He and his family and friends should not forget that by acquiescing in his wishes, and transferring him to some other duty, usually requires the detailing of a relief to whom the change of station may incur a greater inconvenience or hardship.
The requests for transfer made by individuals, and by their families and friends in their behalf, require much detail work on the part of the Bureau of Navigation. The amount of this work far exceeds what it should be. As the navy increases in size it will be necessary to further decrease the amount of this correspondence. The rules in approving such transfers are that the request must come from the man himself and be submitted in the prescribed form through his commanding officer; it must have the approval of this officer; there must be sufficient reason for warranting the transfer; and the services of the applicant must be required on the ship or station to which transfer is requested. If these requirements are fulfilled the transfer is authorized. If they are not fulfilled, the transfer must be disapproved, as there could be no justification in detailing men to ships or stations where their services are not required.
When members of families, friends, or congressmen request the transfer of men, they are informed that such request will be given consideration if submitted by the man himself through official channels. This is necessary to protect the man, as before this rule was adopted many requests of this sort were made without the knowledge of the man concerned, who had not made request— either because he did not desire the transfer, or because he knew there was no good reason for making a change. When a man resorts to outside influence in order to obtain a detail, rather than submit his request through the regular official channels, it is because, in 99 cases out of a hundred, he is asking for an assignment to some duty for which he is not entitled, or for which he is not qualified.
As the numerical strength of the enlisted personnel increased, the number of individual requests for transfer became so numerous it was impracticable to take action on all of them. This resulted in the submitting of hundreds of requests that were never acted on—it being the understanding that if no action were taken, the request was to be considered as not approved. Many men submitted requests simply because they were temporarily dissatisfied, or on account of some unimportant or insignificant reason. As permanency of duty is an important factor in the efficiency of a vessel, the Bureau of Navigation desired to discourage the submitting of such requests, and directed their discontinuance except in the cases of chief petty officers, and where unusual circumstances made it advisable. By doing this the hundreds of requests which were previously written and not acted on are now no longer made.
The substitution of the monthly summary of requests for transfer, in place of the numerous promiscuous individual requests, has resulted in a saving of much detail work, and a reduction of 40 letters daily, to which attention had to be given on board ship, in the department’s mail distributing room, by the detail officer, and by the file clerks.
An important matter affecting the distribution of men to the various ships and stations, is the cost of transportation involved. If details were made without considering this item, the appropriation available for this purpose would be expended before half the year had passed. Receiving ships, therefore, have instructions to transfer men by public conveyance whenever practicable. This sometimes causes delay in making the transfers ordered; but such delays are considered justifiable in view of the saving to the government. Much saving of the transportation appropriation has been made by strict adherence to the rule that men who are transferred on their own request must bear the cost of transportation involved.
To distribute the enlisted personnel to the best advantage it is necessary to retain the detailing and transferring of men in the Bureau of Navigation, as far as practicable. It is also necessary that these details and orders for transfer be handled by one officer whose duty it is to keep himself cognizant of the needs and prospective needs of all the vessels and stations. He must also keep informed of the men at the various receiving ships, training stations, and trade schools, who are, or will be, available for transfer. If these details were handled by more than one man, confusion would result. It being desirable for the detail officer to keep track of all the men, it is usually necessary to disapprove commanding officers’ requests to authorize the filling of all his vacancies. The reason for such disapproval is because unless the detail officer knows the number of men in each rating that are transferred to each ship, it is impracticable for him to keep the records correct, and, in consequence, he cannot keep cognizant of exactly what men are available.
Recruiting and Recruits
Recruiting stations are maintained in various cities throughout the country. In the larger cities there are main stations, each in charge of a commissioned officer. In the smaller cities are substations, each in charge of a chief petty officer who is directly responsible to the commissioned officer of the main station to which his sub-station is assigned as an auxiliary. The funds for maintaining these stations are appropriated by Congress for this special purpose, and the number of stations in operation depends on the amount of funds available and the necessity for making efforts to obtain men. In order to economize, the recruiting stations are located in public buildings when suitable space is available and if such buildings are situated so as to make it desirable. At navy yards recruiting stations are situated on the receiving or station ship. Ships in commission may always reenlist men who are discharged on board, but cannot enlist recruits unless special authority is given by the Bureau of Navigation, except when in a port where there is no recruiting station.
To each recruiting station are assigned a number of enlisted men to assist the recruiting officer. The number and the ratings of these men depend on the activity of the station and the character of the men recruited. The enlisted men consider assignment to recruiting duty very desirable. This is because it gives a respite from the arduous duties on board ship and brings with it an extra allowance for subsistence of from $1.00 to $1.50 per day. It has always been the rule to detail to recruiting duty only continuous service men with good records; and a recent additional requirement is that the men so detailed must have previously served at least two enlistments. This insures representative men being assigned to recruiting stations.
The Bureau of Navigation has, of recent years, done more or less advertising for recruits. The amount of this advertising, like the number of recruiting stations, depending on the requirements for men and the funds available. This advertising has taken various forms—from insertions in the want columns of daily papers, to half pages in certain monthly magazines, and to the hanging of posters in public buildings—usually the post offices. In order to determine which papers and magazines are best suited for advertising purposes, recruiting officers are required to question each recruit as to what led him to apply for enlistment. These replies are periodically tabulated and summarized. From the results obtained the magazines and papers are selected. Recently there has been very little advertising owing to the quota allowed by law being practically filled.
The Bureau of Navigation has published a book, “The making of a Man-of-Warsman,” which was sent to those who requested information about the navy. This book is out of print, but a new edition, different in form from the old one, is in course of preparation and will soon be ready for distribution.
The old adage that “It pays to advertise ”holds true for the navy. But advertising can be overdone, and too much of it produces a bad impression on the public in general. If there were sufficient recruiting stations it would be necessary to advertise very little when conditions are normal. The navy can recruit as many men as the law allows, simply by maintaining a sufficient number of stations; the mere presence of a station in a neighborhood where desirable recruits are to be found, being the best advertisement. As an example of this may be cited the opening of new stations in Salt Lake City, Utah, and in Richmond, Va., at a time when it was desired to increase enlistments owing to the authorized quota being increased by 4000 men. The opening of each of these stations brought in an average of seven men per week, or a total for both stations for the year of about 700 men. There is no doubt that the larger part of this 700 would not have enlisted had not the recruiting station been close at hand. The conclusion drawn is that the best way to recruit is to establish as many stations as practicable, and not do any more advertising than necessary. No matter what form the advertising takes, or how modest the inducements offered in these advertisements may be, they always produce bad impressions on some of the people. All advertising cannot be done away with because then we would not be in touch with the large number of men in the rural districts where it is impracticable to establish recruiting stations. It is from the rural districts that many of the most desirable recruits are obtained.
The facility with which men are recruited for the navy depends on a number of circumstances. As an example we might cite the Spanish-American War. At the start of the war there were less than 10,000 enlisted men. When it was over there were over 24.000 —an increase of 140 per cent. But in war times we expect the young men of the country to flock to the colors. In peace times there are not the same inducements; but any chance to participate in something unusual brings the men to the recruiting stations. Such, for example, as the trip of the battleships around the world, and the various European cruises made since that time. The mere announcement in the papers, as a news item, that such cruises are contemplated arouses interest among the young men which causes a great many to apply for enlistment. If the quota were immediately increased by 10,000 men, this additional number could easily be obtained in one year by opening 10 new recruiting stations; and in less than a year if the department announced a contemplated cruise to some foreign country or countries—provided sufficient funds were made available.
There are other things besides unusual events that affect the recruiting. Chief among these are the weather, and the industrial conditions throughout the country.
An examination of the recruiting records show that as soon as cold weather begins the recruiting picks up. This is easily explained by the fact that many men who are employed in the open find it a hardship to continue such employment in the inclement winter weather. They enlist because they have learned from friends that a man in the navy always gets three square meals a day and has a warm place to sleep. A further cause for increased enlistments in the fall is due to the fact that young men who stopped school in the spring, and who had been employed during the summer and fall, find that their work is not congenial, and they are on the lookout for something different. If they run across a recruiting station it is natural that they should step inside to see what inducements are offered.
The industrial conditions throughout the country are a big factor. The larger the number of men out of employment the larger the number of applications for enlistment. When there is plenty of work for everybody the number of men who apply at recruiting stations is below the normal. In the summer and fall of 1912 the enlisted personnel was about 6000 men below the authorized strength. This was due to three reasons: first, the fact that the allowed quota had recently been increased by 4000 men; second, because the discharges had been abnormally large due to the abnormally large number of enlistments made four years previously when the fleet made its trip around the world: and third, because of the industrial conditions throughout the country.
Every effort was made to recruit these 6000 men; that is, every effort that the funds at disposal permitted. Extensive advertising was done, but to no avail. The authorities knew that the navy was no less popular than previously, because the usual percentage of reenlistments had continued, and the policy of improving the general condition of the enlisted personnel was still in force. The reasons could be none other than the unprecedented industrial conditions throughout the country which caused the manufacturer and the farmer to seek sufficient men to work their plants, and harvest their crops, instead of the men having to look for such employment. When farmers were paying men three to four dollars per diem, and transporting them to their farms from long distances, it could not be expected that many able-bodied men were seeking the recruiting stations.
The general character of the men recruited at the present time is, as we know, very different from those recruited prior to the days of the Spanish-American War. The change has been for the better. Not that there have not always been many good men in the navy; but that in late years there have been fewer bad men— and the numbers of these latter are growing less all the time. This has been brought about by frequent changes in the Navy Regulations making the requirements of acceptance higher, and by frequent changes in the general conditions throughout the service which makes it more desirable for good men to enlist.
In 1908 a law was passed requiring all men who enlist for the first time to be citizens of the United States or of the insular possessions. Men who are not citizens, and who present themselves for reenlistment within four months from date of receiving an honorable discharge, must be enlisted if qualified. This exception was a just one in as much as there were some aliens who had faithfully served the country for one or more enlistments and who could not become citizens owing to interpretations by the courts of certain naturalization laws. There were a number of men who had served one or more enlistments who were eligible to become citizens, but who never had taken out naturalization papers—either because it was too much trouble, or because they and everybody else came to regard them as citizens purely on account of their service in the navy. The increased pay for reenlistment which applies only to citizens of the United States, and the decision of the comptroller that each individual must show to the satisfaction of his commanding officer that he is a citizen, has resulted in practically all foreign born men (except Asiatics and natives of the insular possessions) now remaining in service obtaining naturalization papers. At present over 96 per cent of the enlisted personnel are citizens of the United States; of the remaining 4 per cent who are not citizens, the greater part are natives of our insular possessions and cannot become citizens of the United States owing to a somewhat doubtful interpretation of the naturalization laws.
The regulations permit men to enlist between the ages of 17 and 30. In 1837 a law was passed to the effect that boys who enlist between the ages of 16 and 18 must do so for minority and have the consent of their parents or guardian. In 1865 a law was passed to the effect that no person under 16 years of age could be enlisted. In 1881 the minimum age was fixed at 14 years. These are the only laws in which ages of recruits are mentioned. As they are still effective, the regulations could be changed so as to authorize enlistments of boys as young as 14. The present limit of 17 is undoubtedly sufficiently low, as boys under this age are not sufficiently developed mentally or physically. On account of these laws all men between 17 and 18 who enlist must do so for minority. All others are enlisted for four years. This results in those under 18 years of age serving less than four years. A young man who enlists when 17 years and 11 months may complete his enlistment (by obtaining a discharge three months in advance of the regular time) in two years and ten months. Owing to the time spent at the training station he would not serve more than two years on cruising vessels. For this reason it would be desirable to have a uniform enlistment period of four years.
The maximum age for enlistment of recruits was recently reduced from 35 years to 30 years. This was done for the following reasons: a large percentage of men who first enlisted when over 30 years of age reenlist and continue in the service, with the result that long before they complete the necessary service required for retirement they are too old for duty on board ship. In consequence, they fill many of the desirable shore billets which should be available for the seagoing personnel. In addition there is no doubt but that most of the men who first enlist after they are 30 years of age, do so because they have not been successful in civilian life. As there is no difficulty in obtaining enough recruits under 30 years of age, the reduction of the age limit from 35 to 30 appears to be a wise change. A further improvement would result if the first enlistment age limit were reduced to 25 years. As this limit is a question of regulation, it would be a simple matter in time of war, when a large expansion in numbers would take place, to placg the age limit to whatever desired. This limit should not exceed 35 even then, unless it is found impracticable to recruit sufficient men who are under that age.
The regulations covering recruiting, and the instructions issued recruiting officers concerning their duties, are framed with a view to obtaining the most desirable men—mentally, morally and physically. This results in only about 20 per cent of the men who apply to enlist being accepted. The larger part of the rejections are due to physical defects; but many are due to mental deficiency and low moral standard. This scrutiny which is given every recruit produces a personnel for the navy which, man for man, is the equal if not the superior to any equal body of men of the same class in the country. The large majority of the recruits are good looking, physically sound young men, who enter the service with a view to becoming professional man-of-warsmen. That they come with this intention, and do develop into such, is a fine thing for the country. To have the personnel made up entirely of men who are in the navy because they want to be, and not because they have to be, leads to a degree of efficiency which could not be hoped for under the latter alternative.
But in spite of the care taken in recruiting we know that some “bad eggs” are enlisted. It could not be expected that this would be otherwise where such a large body of men is involved. The remedy is to increase the scrutiny that is now given each applicant, and not to detail to a recruiting station any officer below the grade of lieutenant. It is not intended to convey the impression that some of the younger officers do not make efficient recruiting officers. All of them do not, and, when such is the case, it is not always their fault. An officer detailed to this duty should have had much experience in dealing with enlisted men. This experience enables him, in most cases, to tell an undesirable man when he sees him, or when he talks with him. The younger officers have not had sufficient experience along these lines. This results in the acceptance of applicants who are physically sound, but who are mentally and morally deficient.
During the last fiscal year 65 per cent of the discharged men who were eligible actually reenlisted. This percentage of reenlistments is as large as is desirable. Any increase of this percentage will be to the detriment of the service as a whole, rather than to the advantage. This may seem a remarkable statement in view of all we hear about men not reenlisting, and all that has been done to induce men to reenlist. An analysis will show the reasons for making this statement. For several years there has been no increase in the total authorized strength, and there appears to be no likelihood of such increase being immediately authorized. The reenlistments, in consequence, have been greater in proportion to the first enlistments than is desirable for the purpose of maintaining a well-balanced personnel. A majority of the men who reenlist are petty officers, or men who have not been rated petty officers because of lack of vacancies. This results in the petty officer grades being overcrowded, and the corresponding stagnation in promotion. Consequently the newly enlisted man has not the opportunities for advancement which he believed were open to him when he enlisted. Discontent is the result. This discontent leads many desirable men to purchase their discharge, as they feel that they can better their condition in civil life. Under normal conditions an average reenlistment of 65 per cent of the honorably discharged men is the proportion of old blood that is best suited for the efficiency of the service as a whole. It is better for the other 35 per cent to enter civil pursuits, where—in the absence of a legally authorized reserve—they actually do form a potential reserve. There is no doubt but that in case of war a large percentage of these honorably discharged men would immediately enlist. They would be our most valuable asset in increasing the personnel.
A certain proportion of new blood is essential at all times. If we do not have this proper proportion the service will suffer at some future time. To make the argument clearer we will suppose that all the men eligible to reenlist actually did so. We would then be able to first enlist comparatively few men. This would result at some future date in practically the whole personnel being composed of old men. This extreme case is taken to show that there is a necessity for limiting the reenlistments.
If we find the percentage of reenlistments increasing beyond the desired proportion, how are we going to reduce it ? The law requires us to reenlist every honorably discharged man if he presents himself within four months of date of discharge, provided he is physically qualified. The physical requirements are strict. Many men who present themselves for reenlistment have physical defects which, although not serious, require a waiver before the recruiting officer will ship them. The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery recommends whether or not the physical defects be waived. The Bureau of Navigation either approves or disapproves these recommendations. Last year over 500 men were reenlisted under physical waivers. By not waiving any physical defects the percentage of reenlistments would be reduced. There would also be a large reduction in the number of partially disabled enlisted men in the service, and in the number of medical surveys required. Another way to decrease reenlistments would be to decrease the amount of gratuity. Every man who reenlists under honorable discharge within four months of date of such discharge receives, in cash, four months pay. This is undoubtedly the inducement that leads many men to reenlist. If we find the proportions of reenlistments need curtailing it can undoubtedly be accomplished by removing this inducement. Aside from the question of an inducement to reenlist, this large gratuity is an expense to the government out of proportion to the benefits accrued. And this expense will increase as the navy increases. At present there are paid in gratuities approximately $900,000 annually. This $900,000 would provide the annual pay and subsistence of 1500 men if diverted for that purpose.
Not only do the men who are entitled to reenlist do so, but, unfortunately, we still find a large number of men not entitled to reenlist doing so by fraudulent means. Deserters from the army, navy, and marine corps; and men who have received dishonorable, bad conduct or undesirable discharges, are continually presenting themselves for reenlistment. Many of these men are being accepted on their oath that they have never had previous service. These men are known as “ repeaters.” There were more of them prior to the establishment of the finger print identification system than at present. There are many now; but their retention in the service is short lived, as, almost without exception, they are apprehended as soon as their finger print records are received in the department.
It has been found by experience that a large number of these repeaters have certain characteristics or marks, which, to a careful observer, identify them aS ex-service men even without recourse to the finger print test. These characteristics and marks have been tabulated and sent to every recruiting officer with instructions that whenever an applicant is suspected of having had previous dishonorable service, his finger prints be sent to the Bureau, and the man be not enlisted until his eligibility has been passed on. In this way a large number of men who would fraudulently enlist are prevented from doing so, and the government is saved the cost of transportation, and the trouble involved in prosecuting the offender.
The number of fraudulently enlisted men detected by means of the finger print method varies from 25 to 75 each month.
The Bureau of Navigation receives over a hundred letters monthly from men not entitled to reenlist who wish to do so. When the numerical strength was below the allowed quota it was the policy to authorize some of the apparently most deserving ones to reenlist in order to give them a chance to rehabilitate themselves. Each case was handled on its individual merits. A few of those authorized to reenlist make good; the large majority do not. The effect of having such men back in the service is certainly not conducive to efficiency. At present only in the most unusual cases are reenlistments of this sort authorized.
The following table shows the number of men in service on June 30, 1914, who were serving under a second or subsequent enlistment:
Second enlistment.................................................................... 10,909
Third enlistment ........................................................................ 4529
Fourth enlistment ....................................................................... 1,588
Fifth enlistment ............................................................................. 745
Sixth enlistment ......................................................................... 407
Seventh enlistment ................................ ...................................... 249
Eighth enlistment..................................................................... 136
Ninth enlistment .................................. ....................................... 47
Tenth enlistment............................................................................ 30
Total ...................................................................................... 18,640
This number is slightly in excess of 35 per cent of the total enlisted force; the other 65 per cent are in their first enlistment. Plaving so large a percentage in the first enlistment may appear to conflict with the argument previously set forth to the effect that we should not endeavor to increase the percentage of reenlistments. But there is no conflict as, by continuing to reenlist 65 per cent of the eligibles we will gradually reach a status which reverses the present ratio between men serving in their first enlistment and men serving in their second or subsequent enlistment. We are approaching this status at the rate of about 2 per cent per year as is shown by the fact that in 1907 only 22 per cent of the total force was serving in their second or subsequent enlistments.
There are 84 ratings for which pay is authorized by the present laws. Considering that there are two distinct classes of gunner's mates—ordnance and torpedo; two distinct classes of electricians—general and radio; three distinct classes of blacksmiths—deck, engineer and moulder; six distinct classes of yeomen—commanding officer, executive, pay, general storekeeper, engineer, and navigator—this total is increased to 114.
Many officers have advocated a decrease in this number of ratings. Some have recommended an increase. While certain of the ratings could be dispensed with, a material reduction cannot be made without a corresponding reduction in efficiency. This is essentially a time of specialization. We must have the specialist among the enlisted men, if the efficiency of a modern ship is to be maintained in all its departments. It is recognized that electricians cannot efficiently perform both general electrical duties and radio duties. Good torpedo gunner’s mates cannot maintain their necessary high efficiency unless they continually operate torpedoes. All gunners’ mates could not be expected to be good turret captains. These are some of the reasons why, in recent years, the number of ratings have gradually been augmented.
If we must have men who are specialists why not call them by names which indicate the special duties they perform? By not doing so it would be impracticable to supply the ships with men required to perform specific duties. The distinction between electricians (general) and electricians (ratio) was a necessity forced upon us. The distinction between gunners’ mates (ordnance) and gunners’ mates (torpedoes) is a necessity which is being forced upon us. We cannot have the general term of petty officer (as some officers advocate) apply to all rated men of the seaman branch, and abolish the specific ratings which indicate the duty these men are best fitted to perform. This is because it would be impracticable to keep track of the special qualifications of every man unless the name of his rating actually indicates that specialty.
It is proposed to discuss the various ratings in detail. For this purpose the order in which they are shown on the weekly report of vacancies (Bureau of Navigation, form No. 25) will be followed, as far as practicable.
The Bureau of Navigation has recently issued an order which will eventually reduce the number of masters-at-arms to about 40 per cent of the present total. The retention of some masters- at-arms is considered necessary to conform to certain statutes and customs. Would it not be better for the service to abolish this rating all together? There is much difference of opinion on this question, not only on the part of the officers, but on the part of the enlisted men as well.
The masters-at-arms ratings should be abolished. This rating came to the United States Navy (as did many of the others) from the British Navy. It originated at a time when a special police force was necessary on account of the general character of the men in the service. The character of the enlisted man has changed in recent years. There is no more necessity for having a special police force for the navy, than for the army or the marine corps. The mere presence of this special force detracts from the value of the other petty officers as disciplinary assistants to the officers. There is a feeling among them that it is the masters-at-arms duty to maintain discipline, and not theirs. This is not as it should be. The remedy is to do away with the masters-at-arms.
There are certain distinctive duties performed by the masters- at-arms which would have to be continued even were the rating abolished. To perform these duties the commanding officer would detail the necessary men from the petty officers (usually boatswain’s mates). These details would not be permanent, but would be at the discretion of the commanding officer. If the man performing the duties of a master-at-arms is not satisfactory in any way it would simply require the detailing of him back to his division, and the selection of another petty officer to perform the duties. We would not have so many poor masters-at-arms who are now retained owing to the difficulties in changing their ratings. We would also be able to suppress that petty grafting which is known to exist, but which cannot be detected. In cases of suspicion it would only be necessary to assign the man to his regular duties with his division.
By reducing the number of masters-at-arms the number of boatswain’s mates must be correspondingly increased, as the total number of men allowed each ship in these ratings is not in excess of the requirements.
The changing of the rating of coxswain to boatswain’s mate third class, would be desirable. In the first place it would make the nomenclature of this branch conform to that of the other branches. In the second place the rating of coxswain is a misnomer as far as the duties performed by a majority of them are concerned. Many of them never act as coxswain of a boat. They perform only boatswain’s mates duties. The time honored title of coxswain should not be done away with altogether, but should be retained to designate such men who are actually in charge of boats. The present pay table authorizes an addition of $5.50 per month for coxswains in charge of boats propelled by machinery. This should be changed so that a man in any rating who is detailed as coxswain of a boat propelled by machinery could draw the extra pay. The large steam and motor launches of the present day require expert handling. When the commanding officer obtains an efficient coxswain he is loath to advance him in rating because by doing so he either loses his services in charge of the boat, or, if retained in the boat, the man loses the additional pay. If the rating of coxswain were changed to boatswain’s mate third class, the commanding officer would then feel justified in placing his most efficient men in charge of the steamers—be they boatswain’s mates first class, second class, or third class. Men would not be deprived of advancement on account of their efficiency in this particular, and we would have much more satisfactory handling of our boats.
Many recommendations have been made to completely separate the ordnance gunner’s mates from the torpedo gunner’s mates. To do this effectively requires a new distinctive designation for those qualified in torpedoes. Otherwise it is impracticable to keep the two classes separate. We must have a new designation such as torpedoman, or something equally as distinctive. This cannot be done without special provision being made by Congress. In the meantime the two classes of gunner’s mates must be kept separated, as far as practicable, by the designations of “ordnance,” and “torpedo.”
The present ratings of chief turret captain and turret captain, first class, are essential.
The duties performed by the quartermasters are among the most exacting on board ship. To perform them satisfactorily not only requires a high degree of intelligence, but alertness and initiative as well. The continual watch standing adds the element of drudgery to the duties of this important rating. The result is that the quartermaster’s ratings are not usually filled, and there are seldom men in these ratings available for detail on the receiving ship. The men prefer to become boatswain’s mates, or gunner’s mates, instead of quartermasters. Ships which have gunner’s mates, boatswain’s mates, and seamen in excess of complement continually request that quartermasters be sent. This in spite of the fact that the excess men in other ratings have been advanced on board. There are usually no quartermasters to send, for the reason that practically all ships are the same in respect to this rating—they do not make them. In order to relieve the situation the complements of quartermasters on board all vessels has been increased—the increase being, in the higher ratings. It is hoped that this will lead more men to aspire for ratings in this branch.
If this plan is not effective the only remaining alternative will be to increase the pay of the quartermasters, so that it will be slightly in excess of the pay of the boatswain’s mates and gunner’s mates.
Numerous recommendations have been made advocating the rating of “helmsman.” We have come to recognize that on a vessel having from one hundred to two hundred seamen, all cannot be trained to become efficient helmsmen. Some readily acquire the art; others can never learn. However, it is essential that a certain number of men on every ship be expert in steering. There are certain ones who are always-called on when special care must be taken. It is not believed desirable to create a new rating for these men, but it does seem that men who are specially proficient as helmsmen should have additional compensation while so detailed. Gunpointers, signalmen, and others now receive such additional compensation. The efficient helmsman on whom much reliance must be placed should not be neglected.
The term “ordinary seaman” is a misnomer. It must be anything but a source of gratification to those men who hold the rating. It is suggested that the designation be changed to seaman, second class, as more appropriate.
The introduction and expansion of the use of radio telegraphy has necessitated the formation of a corps of operators. These men are rated electricians (radio) to separate them from the electricians (general). In order to maintain the distinction between them it becomes necessary to detail all radio electricians by name. As the instructions issued by the Bureau of Navigation require general and radio electricians to perform only the duties indicated by their designations, it would simplify matters if the electricians (radio) were given an entirely distinctive designation. The ratings of “radio operator” and “radioman” have been suggested. The latter is probably better owing to its conciseness. In order to make the designation operative, and to provide a rate of pay, congressional action will be necessary. It would be equitable to make the pay the same as that now provided for electricians.
If the warrant grade of electrician should be established, the enlisted men’s ratings of chief electrician, and electricians first, second and third class, would, of necessity, have to be changed to chief electrician’s mate and to electrician’s mate, first, second and third class, respectively.
Although this paper is not a discussion of the warrant officers, it becomes necessary to refer to them, in order to bring out certain points. The present designations of chief carpenter and carpenter should be changed to chief artificer and artificer as being more indicative of the duties performed. If this were done then the present rating of chief carpenter’s mate should be changed to chief artificer’s mate. The duties of a chief carpenter’s mate require a general knowledge of the various artificer trades. Carpentering is not the only trade he should be familiar with. He should have knowledge of shipfitting, plumbing, blacksmithing and painting, as well. In other words, his title should indicate his duties. By changing the rating to chief artificer’s mate an incentive would be given to the artificers (other than carpenter's mates) to qualify for this higher rating, with the resultant increase in efficiency.
In 1908 Congress passed a rider on the appropriation bill fixing the pay of the enlisted men of the navy at its present rate, plus 10 per cent. Previous to this the rate of pay had been fixed by the President. The result is that at present the pay table is a composite of some statutes and many executive orders. There are many anomalies in it which can now be corrected only through congressional action. Some such legislation would be of benefit to the service owing to the discrepancies which now exist. These discrepancies are more manifest in the various artificer branches than in the others. This is due to the fact that, as the modern man-of-war developed, it was found advisable to add additional ratings and fix a rate of pay that would be sufficient to insure the enlisting of qualified men. These rates of pay when once fixed were never changed, except by the act of Congress above referred to, which made an increase of 10 per cent to all of them.
Let us analyze these rates of pay as now authorized for the artificers who are serving in their first enlistment:
The monthly pay of a boilermaker is ................................. $71.50
The monthly pay of a machinist’s mate first class is .... 60.50
The monthly pay of a shipfitter first class............... is 60.50
The monthly pay of a coppersmith is............... 60.50
The monthly pay of an electrician first class is ........ 55.00
The monthly pay of a blacksmith is................. 55.00
The monthly pay of a plumber and fitter is..... 49.50
The monthly pay of a carpenter’s mate first class is .... 44.00
It will be seen that a boilermaker on first enlistment receives more pay than any other artificer under the same conditions. This pay is even higher than that of most of the chief petty officers. This high rate of pay has resulted in an over supply of boilermakers, many of whom are unsatisfactory. Consequently no boilermakers are now being enlisted, and their enlistment has been discontinued for some time.
No man’s pay should be reduced except for just cause, and the pay of boilermakers now in the service should not be altered. But it would be advisable to enact legislation authorizing boilermakers, first class, at a monthly pay of $60.50, and boilermakers, second class, at a monthly pay of $44, which is now the rate of pay for shipfitters, second class. Boilermakers should be enlisted only in the second class rating and be required to show their efficiency by actual service on board a cruising vessel before being rated first class. If this were done there would not be as many incapable boilermakers as we have at present.
Although the pay of the coppersmith is now $60.50 per month, it has been difficult to obtain sufficient men in this rating. This is not due to the inadequacy of the pay, but to the fact that the coppersmith’s trade is not so extensive as that of the boilermakers. Efforts are now being made to increase the number of coppersmiths by detailing more men to the coppersmith class at Charleston. The efficiency of coppersmiths could be increased by having first and second class, and requiring men to qualify for first class by satisfactory service in the lower rating.
The pay of electricians, first class, should be increased to $60.50, placing the men of this rating on the same footing as that of machinist’s mates first class. At present nearly all ships are short of the allowed complement of first class electricians. This condition is due to not enough electricians reenlisting to keep the grade full. It can be remedied in two ways: first, by increasing the pay so as to make an inducement for the men in this branch to reenlist; second, by making continuous service one of the requirements of entrance to the electrical school. If this latter were done we would then educate our electricians from the men who reenlist with the intention of remaining in the service. Now we are educating a large number of landsmen for electricians, who, owing to the demands for men in their trade in civil life, do not reenlist on account of the better pay they obtain.
Additional classes have recently been formed in the electrical schools for the instruction of continuous service men. Should it be found that sufficient men of this class qualify to fill the service requirements, it will be practicable to gradually increase the qualifications a recruit must possess in order to enlist as landsman for electrician. Eventually enlistments in this rating could be discontinued. We would then educate as electricians only those who may reasonably be expected to remain in the service.
Instead of having only one rating of blacksmiths there should be two ratings—first class and second class. This change is recommended for the same reasons making it desirable to have two ratings for boilermakers, coppersmiths, and shipfitters.
The rating of plumber and fitter should be dispensed with. The shipfitters should be required to qualify as plumbers.
The pay of the carpenter’s mates should be increased so as to place these men on an equal footing with the other artificers. When we consider that a shipfitter first class now gets $16.50 per month more than does a carpenter’s mate first class, there is no difficulty in tracing the cause for the lack of men who desire to become carpenter’s mate. They naturally prefer to become ship- fitters, and endeavor to qualify in that rating solely on account of the increased pay. The pay of carpenter’s mates, first class, and carpenter’s mates, second class, should be the same as is allowed for shipfitter’s first class, and second class, respectively. The pay of carpenter’s mate, third class, should remain as at present, and the rating of shipwright be done away with as it is unnecessary.
As the duties of the printers and painters are dissimilar to those performed by the other artificers they were not included in the previous table.
The printers are discriminated against in the question of pay. There is only one class of printer and the pay per month is $38.50. There should be two classes of printers, and their pay be on an equality with that of the artificers, t. e., $60.50 per month for printers, first class, and $44 per month for printers, second class.
Two classes of painters are sufficient for the service requirements. The present third class could well be dispensed with. The pay of the painters should be the same as that of the other artificers.
As there are no more sails and no more sailmakers, the rating of sailmaker’s mate should be dispensed with. As certain unusual qualifications are required for men who take charge of the hammocks, bags, and other canvas on board ship, there should be a provision authorizing extra pay for the men assigned to this duty. They would be on the same status, as far as pay is concerned, as is now the case of men assigned to duty as captain of the hold and as jack-of-the-dust.
Chief machinist’s mates with acting appointments receive the same pay as those holding permanent appointments. This rating, and that of chief commissary steward, are the only chief petty officer’s ratings in which this is so. It would be better if there was a difference in pay for the acting appointment and the permanent appointment, as is the case with other chief petty officers. The difference should be made by a reduction of the pay of those who may hereafter be given acting appointments, rather than in an increase for those holding permanent appointments. At present a chief machinist’s mate may serve under acting appointment indefinitely and never be subject to the examination required for permanent appointments. As he gets the same rate of pay under the acting appointment there is no incentive for him to obtain the permanent appointment, other than the immunity from being disrated by his commanding officer. The result is there are proportionately more chief machinist’s mates serving under acting appointment than is the case with any other chief petty officers, except commissary stewards. The necessity of taking the examination for permanent appointment in order that an increase of pay could be obtained would result in increased efficiency.
It has been found desirable to rate a number of men blacksmith (moulder). They must be called blacksmiths in order to draw pay. If it is necessary to have men for this particular duty, they should have a distinctive title to identify them. For this reason we should provide for the ratings of moulder, first class, and moulder, second class, with the same grades of pay as that for blacksmith, first and second class, respectively.
The only other change recommended for the artificer’s branch is to change the rating of coalpasser to that of fireman, third class. Not only is the title of coalpasser one that carries with it little dignity, but the use of oil is becoming more prevalent. There is no use for a coalpasser on an oil burning ship.
The pay of yeoman, first class, should be the same as for the first class ratings of the artificer branch. The same status exists in regard to first class yeomen as we find with the first class electricians. We are continually educating a large number of landsmen for yeomen, many of whom do not reenlist, either on account of the pay of the yeoman, first class, not being sufficient, or because they are able to obtain employment in civil life which brings them better compensation. The remedy, as in the case of electricians, is to educate more continuous service men and fewer first enlistment men, and to increase the pay of the first class rating. Classes for continuous service men have recently been established in the yeomen schools with a view of remedying the present shortage in yeomen, first class.
The men of the hospital corps should receive a nomenclature and compensation which would place them on the same footing as other enlisted men, Instead of having hospital stewards, hospital apprentices, first class, and hospital apprentices, we should have “chief pharmacist’s mates, pharmacist’s mates, first class, and pharmacist’s mates, second class.” We could enlist men as landsmen for pharmacist’s mate in the same manner in which we enlist landsmen for other ratings. They would not be rated pharmacist’s mate, second class, until they qualified in the service school which has recently been established for hospital apprentices.
The same thing applies to chief commissary stewards as to chief machinist’s mates in regard to the pay for acting and permanent appointments. Chief commissary stewards with acting appointments should not receive the same pay as those holding permanent appointment.
The rating of ship’s cook, fourth class, could well be dispensed with. Three classes of ship’s cooks are sufficient for all practicable purposes.
There are too many ratings in the messman branch. Instead of having the five different ratings for cooks and stewards there should be but two: cabin stewards and cabin cooks; officer’s stewards and officer’s cooks, would be sufficient. The cabin stewards and cooks could be assigned to flag officers, commanding officers, and wardroom officers. The officer’s stewards and cooks could be assigned to junior officers and warrant officers.
The changes of pay recommended are such that are believed would better the general efficiency by equalizing where such adjustment is desirable or necessary. Decreases are recommended for boilermakers, and for men holding acting appointments as chief machinist’s mates, and chief commissary stewards; such decreases not to be effective in cases of men who already hold the ratings, but only to apply to those who may hereafter be appointed.
Increases of pay are recommended for quartermasters, first class, electricians, first class, carpenter’s mates, first class, blacksmiths, printers, and painters, first class.
Chief Petty Officers, Petty Officers, and Non-Rated Men
As there is a limit to the total number of men allowed, and as there should be a proper balance between the various ratings, it has been found necessary for the Bureau of Navigation to issue instructions tending towards the retention of this balance.
The Navy Regulations provide for the filling of vacancies by authorizing the commanding officers to issue acting appointments where such vacancies exist. In some cases it is necessary to curtail the issuing of such appointments. In other cases it is found desirable to authorize their issuance in excess of complement. In order to determine which ratings require curtailing, and which ones require augmenting, it is necessary to make a summary, from time to time, of the number of men in excess of, or short of each rating as provided for in the complements of all the vessels in commission. These summaries are made from the last reports of vacancies of all vessels and shore stations on hand in the Bureau of Navigation. They show that the conditions continually change and that some ratings, which are in excess at one time, are short of requirements at other times. On the other hand it is found that some ratings are always more or less in excess and other ratings are always more or less short. The reason for the excess in such cases is either because the requirements for acquiring the rating are not sufficiently stringent, or because the pay of the rating is high in comparison with that of some other ratings, the duties of which are as difficult, or even more difficult, to perform. The shortage of men in certain ratings is due to the pay being not sufficiently high to induce men to try for advancement to those ratings, or because the duties required are more arduous and difficult than required of some other ratings. The excess may also be caused by the reenlistment of an unduly large number of men in certain ratings, while the shortage is caused by the failure of a proper proportion of men in certain ratings to reenlist. It can readily be seen, therefore, that if there were no regulation in this matter, the balance would be so affected as seriously to interfere with the efficiency of the service as a whole. If we actually have more men in certain ratings than are required for the proper manning of our ships, we must, under the present conditions (where the number of ships in commission is kept to the full limit that the authorized strength of the enlisted personnel permits), actually be short of men in certain ratings which are also essential to properly man these same ships. It is for this reason that hundreds of recommendations made by commanding officers to rate men in excess of complement must be disapproved.
Four years ago it was ascertained that chief masters-at-arms, chief boatswain’s mates, and chief watertenders were much in excess of service requirements. It then became necessary to issue instructions prohibiting the advancement of men to these ratings, except on approval of the Bureau of Navigation. These instructions were in force for two years when it was deemed expedient to lift the embargo, and authorize the advancement where vacancies existed. These ratings have again become more numerous than required.
In recent years there has gradually become an excess in most of the chief petty officer ratings. Consequently it has become necessary to prohibit all advancement to any of these ratings except on approval of the Bureau of Navigation. This will enable the excess men to be gradually assigned to other ships and stations as vacancies occur. When the excess is reduced sufficiently the rating of men will be authorized by the bureau, the men being selected from an available list after careful consideration of their records. This should gradually increase the general efficiency of the chief petty officer ratings. There is no question but that at present some men are rated not solely on account of their proficiency, but simply because there is a vacancy and they happen to be available. About 80 per cent of the chief petty officers are really efficient in their ratings. About 20 per cent are only mediocre or indifferent. These latter should not hold their ratings, especially as they prevent worthy men from being advanced.
The statement that 20 per cent of the chief petty officers are not efficient is not made haphazard, but is made from a knowledge of the many complaints that are made to the Bureau of Navigation in regard to these men. Reports are made concerning this chief petty officer being too old to properly perform his duties; or that chief petty officer being generally inefficient; or here is a chief petty officer who is unfit for duty every time he returns from liberty; and there is a chief petty officer who is incompetent. Commanding officers appear reluctant to disrate such chief petty officers, even when they hold acting appointments. They prefer to transfer them to some other vessel where another commanding officer may suffer the inconvenience of having them on board. A majority of incompetent chief petty officers are not found among those holding acting appointments, but among those holding permanent appointments. This is because when a chief petty officer receives a permanent appointment, he is assured of his position so long as he does not commit himself sufficiently to warrant a court martial. He may be as negative or indifferent as he pleases. That so few of the chief petty officers show this indifference speaks well for the general high character of these men. The large majority of them continue to give the government their best efforts in spite of there being no further reward than that of a clear conscience which goes hand in hand with duty well done. How, in justice to these honest men, and in justice to the service at large, are we to rid ourselves of the comparatively small percentage of chief petty officers who are content to perform their duty indifferently while they remain secure behind their permanent appointments? If we come down to cold hard facts, the proper method of dealing with these men would be to discharge them as undesirable. But commanding officers are naturally reluctant to make such recommendations in cases of men with long service.
There is only one remedy—that is to require every chief petty officer who holds a permanent appointment to take an examination every third or fourth year. This examination should be similar to that which he had when he received his permanent appointment. His record during the preceding years should be carefully scrutinized. A chief petty officer who fails to pass this examination should be reduced to the next lower rating. If this policy were adopted it is believed there would be necessity for comparatively few reductions. But there would be an incentive for those who are now indifferent to keep a good proficiency record with the corresponding benefit to themselves and to the service.
The causes for lack of sufficient men in certain ratings such as quartermasters, electricians, carpenter’s mates, and coppersmiths; and for the tendency to acquire excesses in certain other ratings, such as boilermakers and shipfitters have been previously discussed, and may be laid to the pay table or to the conditions in civil life.
At present the greatest shortage is in the rating of coalpasser. This is due to the necessity of nearly all our coalpassers being rated from the apprentice seamen who complete the course of training at the various stations. To become coalpassers they must have certain physical qualifications that are not required for ordinary seamen. The ratio of the men having these physical requirements is not in proportion to the ratio between the coalpassers and ordinary seamen in the service. Also a large number of apprentices who have the physical requirements do not elect to become coalpassers, either because they prefer the seaman branch or because they do not like the title of coalpasser. Consequently the ordinary seamen greatly exceed the coalpassers, with the result that where many vacancies exist on board ship, as at present, the greatest shortage is in coalpassers. In order to remedy this condition the Bureau of Navigation has authorized commanding officers to change the ratings of seamen and ordinary seamen to coalpassers .if they are physically and otherwise qualified.
As the number of oil burning ships increases the necessity for coalpassers decreases, so the shortage which we now feel will gradually adjust itself. It is even probable that before many years, when practically all vessels in commission burn oil instead of coal, the additional physical requirements now required of firemen will no longer be necessary, and we will have a preponderance in the lower ratings of the fireroom force instead of in the seaman branch.
The last annual report of the Chief of Bureau of Navigation shows that there were 18,557 petty officers and 34,110 men in other ratings in the service on June 30, 1914. It also shows that there were in the service on the same date 18,640 men serving in second or subsequent enlistment, and 34,027 men serving in first enlistment. The similarity between these figures is noticable. The percentage of petty officers is the same as the percentage of men serving in second or subsequent enlistment. The percentage of men serving in their second or subsequent enlistment is gradually increasing. If the percentage of petty officers increases likewise where will the limit be, and should there be such a limit? There must be a limit somewhere or else we will become overburdened with petty officers and we will be short of the non- rated men. In fact that condition is already beginning to assert itself. There are more vacancies now among ordinary seamen and coalpassers than in the higher ratings. Of course we can limit the number of petty officers by increasing the requirements for advancement, or by curtailing advancement. This does not seem to be a good solution as it will not be conducive to efficiency to close the avenues of promotion to those that are worthy. The only other solutions are in a gradual increase in the personnel and in the adoption of the proposed bill which provides for a naval reserve composed of ex-service men. At least there will be a solution if the men with twelve to twenty years service will accept transfer to the reserve instead of reenlisting in the regular service. Most men with this amount of service are now reenlisting if they are physically sound. If they will take advantage of the opportunities offered by the reserve bill in case it becomes a law, it will do a great deal towards relieving the congestion in many of the petty officer’s ratings.
What is a petty officer? According to Webster a petty officer is “an enlisted man, appointed by the commanding officer, who exercises authority over such enlisted men as are at a given time and for a given purpose placed under his command.” If this definition is accepted as correct, it must be inferred that a number of ratings in the navy which are now classed as petty officer ratings, are not really such, and that the men who hold these ratings should not be petty officers. There are fifty-seven petty officer ratings at present. There should be not more than half as many. But where should the line be drawn as to who are and who are not petty officers? If we draw the line so that the definition given by Webster is followed we will not be far from wrong.
Below is given a list in two columns of all our petty officers. In column 1 are those which are really petty officers in accordance with the duties they perform. In column 2 are those which are termed petty officers’ ratings, but which should not be so.
Master-at-arms, first class.
Master-at-arms, second class.
Chief boatswain’s mate.
Boatswain mate’s, first class.
Boatswain mate’s, second class.
Chief gunner’s mate.
Gunner’s mate, first class.
Chief turret captain.
Turret captain, first class.
Quartermaster, first class.
Quartermaster, second class.
Quartermaster, third class.
Electrician, first class.
Chief carpenter’s mate.
Chief machinist’s mate.
Machinist’s mate, first class.
Chief commissary steward.
Ship’s cook, first class.
Gunner’s mate, second class.
Gunner’s mate, third class.
Electrician, second class.
Electrician, third class.
Carpenter’s mate, first class.
Carpenter’s mate, second class.
Carpenter’s mate, third class.
Shipfitter, first class.
Plumber and fitter.
Painter, first class.
Painter, second class.
Painter, third class.
Machinist’s mate, second class.
Yeomen, first class.
Yeomen, second class.
Yeomen, third class.
Hospital apprentice, first class.
Ship’s cook, second class.
Baker, first class.
The men who hold ratings enumerated in column 2 do not exercise authority over other men any more than does a seaman exercise authority over an ordinary seaman if they happen to be working together. For this reason they should not be classed as petty officers. It is not necessary' to change the titles of their ratings. They should be retained as at present.
Eliminating the masters-at-arms, and reducing the number of petty officers by one half, would undoubtedly have the effect of making the remaining petty officers much more efficient in maintaining discipline. They will soon learn that, in addition to the distinctive duties required by their respective ratings, they all have the common duty of assisting the commissioned officers in maintaining discipline. The efficiency of the navy as a whole must be benefited when we cease to enlist recruits as petty officers, which is now done in such cases as boilermakers, coppersmiths, plumbers and fitters, and several other ratings. To take a man who has never had any military training, and who knows nothing of military discipline, and make him a first class petty officer on the very day that he enlists is an anomaly that is hard to conceive has been permitted to exist for so long a time. In fact the title of petty officer means nothing to such men, as they cannot possibly realize its significance. Nor do the other men realize it. In order to have them realize it we must have the title of petty officer signify something more than only a name.
Many complaints are made by officers to the effect that the petty officers do not efficiently perform their duties as such—that they cannot be relied upon to maintain discipline. Where this is the case it is not the fault of the petty officers, but the blame should be placed on the system as above referred to, or to the lack of proper training at the hands of the commissioned officers under whom they are serving. The efficiency of all branches and grades of the enlisted personnel depends entirely on the training received at the hands of the commissioned personnel. If the petty officers are not efficient it is for the commissioned officers to provide ways and means for making them so. They will undoubtedly respond to any effective ways and means that are provided.
Suggestions have been made to the effect that a substitute should be found for the term “petty officer.” The reasons given are that the word “petty” has many meanings which can be applied in a derogatory sense. If the term is abolished we would probably have to substitute the word “non-commissioned,” unless someone can suggest something better.
Desertions and Discharges
The number of desertions has steadily decreased from 9 per cent in 1908 to 2.9 per cent in 1914. This decrease in desertions is due to the gradually improved conditions that make service in the navy desirable, and to the improved quality of the enlisted personnel in general. It probably will be impracticable to ever reduce the desertions below 2 per cent. The reasons for this are—first: in spite of the liberal policy pertaining to discharges by purchase, and in spite of the increased number of undesirable discharges that are authorized, there are bound to be a certain number of men, in so large a body, who either do not realize the meaning of the oath, or who temporarily forget its significance when some temptation to remain away from their station presents itself. After remaining away for a certain length of time they fail to return on account of the fear of the consequences. Second: there will always be some men who desert because of the fear of the consequences due for infractions of discipline; third: there will always be a certain number who, on account of their moral turpitude, will be forced to desert by their shipmates.
The liberal policy adopted in recent years in authorizing commanding officers to discharge men as undesirable has undoubtedly reduced the number of desertions by ridding the service of a certain element that composes the class who desert.
Whether or not the recent liberal policy of authorizing discharges by purchase will reduce the number of desertions remains to be seen. It is probable that the class of men who will take advantage of the privilege to purchase discharge is not the class from which desertions are apt to occur. Consequently there will not be a material reduction in desertions on this account.
The change in regulations relating to discharges by purchase will undoubtedly have a beneficial effect on the service, provided certain restrictions are made. It will be necessary to make a number of restrictions as soon as the new regulation has been long enough in force to show where such restrictions are desirable. The Bureau of Navigation has already issued instructions that men who complete a course in any of the trade schools are not eligible to purchase their discharges during their current enlistment. This rule was made in order that the government may get adequate return for the time and money spent in conducting these schools. The same rule should apply to men who are especially trained in other duties for which they receive extra compensation. Such, for example, as in the case of gunpointers. These men require much personal attention on the part of the commissioned officers to insure their proper training. If they make good they are given additional compensation. The government is entitled to their services on account of the care and time spent in their training. Therefore, they should not be eligible to purchase their discharges. Hereafter no man should be trained as a gunpointer except with the explicit understanding that he is not eligible to purchase his discharge during his current enlistment.
A number of men have requested discharge by purchase even when they have not the available funds, or any prospect of obtaining such funds in the near future. A number of men have also requested discharge by purchase even when they really have no idea of immediately taking advantage of the privilege. They simply want the authority to sever their connection with the service at any time, and at their own convenience. There should be some restrictions that will prevent these promiscuous requests. It is suggested that no man be authorized to submit a request for discharge by purchase unless he first deposits the purchase price with the paymaster. It is further suggested that every man whose request is approved be required to accept discharge within five days of receipt of the approval on board ship. If such discharge is not accepted within that time, the approval should be cancelled. It is manifestly not conducive to discipline to have a number of men with approved requests for discharge remaining on board ship for their own convenience.
Careful consideration should be given requests for discharge by purchase in cases where it is evident that the reason for submission is to avoid duty. Every enlisted man should have his share of the disagreeable and arduous duty that must be performed. Discharges in cases where the only reasons are to avoid such duty, should not be authorized.
Retirements and Pensions
The only retirement law, at present, provides that if a man, after 30 years service, makes application to be placed on the retired list, his request shall be approved, and he shall receive, when so retired, 75 per cent of the pay of his rating. In computing service for retirement, the Spanish war service shall be counted as double time.
There are no provisions of law or regulations which definitely fix the status of an enlisted man when once placed on the retired list. He keeps the Bureau of Navigation informed of his address so that his monthly pay check may be forwarded to him. Otherwise he has no connection with the service, and is able to enjoy his well-deserved rest without molestation. Whether or not a retired man may be required to perform duty in case of emergency is a question that should be definitely settled. There is no record of any retired man ever having been so employed.
There has been a sentiment throughout the service for some time, that the retirement law for enlisted men is not broad enough in its scope. The requiring of 30 years service before a man can be retired, is not only a hardship on the man, in many cases, but it is a hardship on the entire service. Owing to the active duty now required on board ship, most men become incapacitated for duty long before they reach the retiring age. It would be unfair to discharge them after 25 years service. They would fail to reap the reward that should go with that length of service. On the other hand it is unfair to the service to have to retain a large number of men who are incapable of efficiently performing their duties, simply on account of their age. This is especially true now when the active services of every authorized man are required, and the retention of each superannuated man excludes the enlistment of a younger man. The length of service required in order that a man may retire on three-quarters pay should be fixed at 25 years.
We have heard much, and read much, about graded retirement. There should not be any retirement for less than 20 years service, and only such men with 20 years service should be retired who on account of their age or their physical condition are not suitable for duty with the naval reserve for which the department has recently recommended enactment of law.
This naval reserve bill, as recommended to Congress for passage, provides that enlisted men with 12, 16 or 20 or more years service, who are transferred to the reserve shall be paid at the rate of one-fourth, one-third and one-half, respectively, of the base pay, plus permanent additions thereto, which they were receiving at the close of their last service in the navy. This provision takes the place of graded retirement, and practically gives the enlisted personnel the advantage of such retirement, while at the same time it gives the government a guarantee on their services should conditions make it desirable.
As this reserve is being formed in order to provide suitable trained men for active service in case of war, it is essential that all men in the reserve should be qualified to perform this duty. We must be careful to insure the reserve being composed only of such men. Otherwise its real value as a reserve loses effectiveness.
It is for this reason that a retirement law for men with 20 years service is advocated. There will probably be a number of men with this length of service who are too old or decrepit to warrant their transfer to the reserve. Such men should be able to retire on half pay, rather than fill the ranks of the reserves with men who cannot reasonably be called upon to perform active duty.
Every man with 20 years or more service who is discharged by reason of physical disability incurred in the line of duty, receives a pension equal to one-half of his pay. Men with less than 20 years service who are discharged for physical disability incurred in the line of duty receive a pension as provided for in the pension laws. The amount of this pension depends on the degree of the disability.
Although these pensions laws are for the purpose of adequately providing for the men who are disabled in the government service, there has been a tendency in the navy to retain men disabled in the line of duty, rather than to discharge them. There are a number of such men now in the service, and they are retained owing to the supposed hardship that will be imposed in case they are discharged. The retention of these men for sentimental reasons is not justifiable, especially as every man in the service should be available for active duty. There should not be a man in the navy in time of peace who could not be effectively employed on board ship in time of war. If the laws do not provide adequate pensions for those disabled in line of duty, they should be amended so as to make sufficient provision. The cost of providing for such men should not be borne by the navy which requires every available cent now authorized to maintain it in an efficient condition. The money appropriated for the navy should not be used in any way that does not lead to increased efficiency. By using some of it to pay disabled men we are not spending the money to the best advantage.
Pay and Allowances
The pay of the enlisted men on first enlistment varies from $17.60 per month for apprentice seamen and landsman, to $77 per month for chief petty officers holding permanent appointments. In addition to the regular pay of his rating each man receives either a ration in kind, or the commutation therefor at the rate of 30 cents per day. The average cost to the government of the ration in kind, as issued at present, is 37 cents per day, per man.
As the extra pay and allowances allowed for reenlistment and for special details are well known, that feature will not be discussed. However, it may be of interest to know that a number of chief petty officers receive pay and allowances that aggregate more than $100 per month. In some cases it even reaches $125. For example, the case of a chief gunner’s mate serving on board a submarine will be given:
Pay of permanent appointment as C. P. O............ $77.00
Additional pay for two reenlistments ....................... 8.80
Additional pay for seaman gunner certificate .......... 2.20
Additional pay for serving on a submarine............... 5.50
Additional pay for submerging............................... 16.50
Value of ration in kind at $.45 per diem................. 13.50
Additional pay for three good conduct medals ........ 2.46
Total monthly pay and allowances ............... $125.96
To show that this is not an exception, the case of a chief boatswain’s mate serving at the recruiting station, New York City will be given:
Pay of permanent appointment as C. P. O........... $77.00
Additional pay for two reenlistments ....................... 8.80
Additional pay for seaman gunner certificate .......... 2.20
Additional pay for four good conduct medals........... 3.28
Subsistence at $1.50 per diem.............................. 45.00
Total monthly pay and allowances................ $136.28
These high rates of pay are not common, of course, but the examples are given to show the possibilities for the men, even if they do not eventually become warrant or commissioned officers.
During the past year the average monthly pay of all the enlisted men in the navy was a few cents over $41. To this should be added the average monthly cost of the ration, which is $11.25 per man, making the total average of pay and allowances $52.25. On first enlisting each man receives clothing to the value of $60. When we consider that men are provided with lodgings, and that their clothing costs comparatively little, we must conclude that the enlisted men are adequately compensated. They have free medical attendance in case of illness, and the provisions of the pension laws to rely on in case of disability incurred in the line of duty. If they remain long enough in the service they may retire on three-quarters pay. We must conclude from this, that they are better off than are men in civil life who engage in that class of work which may be considered similar or parallel to that performed by the enlisted men.
Although the compensation is adequate for most ratings, it is believed that there should be slight increases in certain ratings as suggested under a previous heading. If such increases are to be authorized, it could best be done by revising the entire pay table to take the place of the present law which has as its basis a conglomerate mass of statutes and executive orders.
The Enlisted Men’s Division of the Bureau of Navigation
The enlisted men’s division of the Bureau of Navigation is in charge of a commissioned officer, and has assigned to it one officer as assistant. In order to handle properly the large amount of correspondence and other matters that concern the enlisted men, the division is divided into seven sub-divisions as follows:
Complements, Details, and Transfers.
Retirements and Pensions.
Statistics and Filing.
The officer in charge signs the mail which is prepared in the various sub-divisions. This mail varies from 300 to 500 pieces daily. The wide variation is due to the movements of vessels. When the larger part of the fleet is away from the United States there is a noticeable falling off in the amount of mail received.
The various sub-divisions prepare all routine mail for the officer in charge’s signature prior to his acting on it. However, there is a large amount of mail, other than routine, that the officer in charge must act on personally before replies can be prepared. There are also many letters from various sources which recommend or request that exceptions be made to the regulations or to the bureau's instructions. All such letters must be handled personally by the officer in charge.
It is the duty of the officer in charge to carry out the policies of the Chief of Bureau and to keep him informed in regard to all matters relating to the enlisted personnel.
The assistant to the officer in charge personally handles all matters pertaining to complements of ships and stations, details of men to ships and stations, and transfers of men between ships and stations. Details to ships and stations, and transfers between ships and stations, were discussed under the sub-head of “ Distribution.” The scheme for making out complements for vessels is based on certain rules which experience has shown are most satisfactory. It is recognized that these complements do not provide all the men that would be required in case of war. Many officers continually make recommendations for changes in complement on the vessels on which they are serving. These changes are generally for an increase; seldom for a decrease. Officers serving on vessels of the same class make recommendations that conflict. It is generally necessary to disapprove recommendations of this sort, as even if complements were increased, there are not, at present, sufficient men to fill them. To authorize an increase that cannot be provided would cause more discontent on board ship than to have a complement which can be kept filled.
When complements are originally made in the Bureau of Navigation, every phase in connection with them is considered. The number of men required to man the guns and torpedoes; the number required for fire control, signalling, and for first aid duty; the number of engines, firerooms, auxiliaries, boilers, and the amount of grate surface; the number of special details and cooks required; and the necessary proportion of petty officers to enlisted men in the various branches, are all considered in making up each complement.
All sub-divisions, other than the one under the assistant to the officer in charge, are in charge of clerks.
The recruiting, transportation, retirement and pension, and identification sub-divisions, handle all correspondence relating to their respective offices.
The statistical and filing sub-division is one of much interest. In these offices are kept the statistics in regard to enlistments, discharges, desertions, etc. The various interesting tables in regard to the enlisted personnel which are found in the annual reports of the chief of Bureau of Navigation, are compiled in this office. The compiling of this data involves a systematized scheme, the result of over 50 years experience on the part of the clerk in charge.
The record of each enlisted man is kept in a heavy paper envelope called a “jacket.” On the front face of each jacket is a blank form with a space for the name, and four columns for entering each change of duty or rating, date of change, rate of the man, and the vessel or station to which transfer is made, or on which serving.
Each recruiting officer is furnished with a supply of these jackets. When a recruit enlists the man’s name is entered in the place provided on the front face of the jacket. In the first line of the first column is entered the letter “ E,” which signifies “ enlisted in the second column is entered the date of enlistment: in the third column the rate in which he enlisted; and in the fourth column the vessel or station to which transferred. The original shipping articles are then placed inside the jacket which is mailed to the Bureau of Navigation. The finger prints of the recruit are classified in the identification office, and the classification entered on the shipping articles, which are retained in the jacket which is then filed alphabetically in the cases provided for this purpose. Thereafter all correspondence which concerns this man is filed inside his jacket, and when transfer or change of rating is involved, proper entry is made in the columns provided on the face.
The filing cases for these jackets occupy the entire walls of two large rooms, and reach from the floor to the ceiling. There are a total of over 2900 filing boxes, each capable of holding approximately 60 jackets, making it practicable to keep close at hand the records of about 175,000 men. The records of the men who are actually in the service are kept in what are known as the “live” files, the boxes of which are those that can be easily reached. The records of men who have been discharged, or who have deserted or died, are kept in the “dead” files, the boxes of which are close to the floor and near the ceiling. As soon as the report of a discharge, desertion, or death is received, the man’s jacket is moved from the live to the dead files. If the man reenlists or surrenders the jacket is replaced in its proper place in the live files.
As both files are arranged alphabetically it is a question of only half a minute to obtain the record of any man. This alphabetical filing also eliminates the necessity of giving file numbers to the large amount of correspondence relating to individuals.
To the correspondence sub-division belongs all extraneous matters not belonging to the other sub-divisions. This is the largest sub-division and handles approximately as much mail as all the other offices combined. This correspondence relates to the ratings and the preparation of permanent appointments; the preparation of continuous service certificates; providing for and issuing good conduct medals; the preparation of rewards for deserters, and the correspondence in connection with the disposition of the deserters when apprehended; the correspondence between the Bureau of Navigation and the Judge Advocate General in regard to courts-martial; letters of inquiry from outside sources as to whereabouts of men; letters of inquiry from outside sources as to details and transfers; letters of complaint in regard to nonpayment of debts, and non-support of families; and all matter not otherwise provided for.
The history of the United States Navy, from its beginning to the present time, shows that the enlisted men have always risen to the occasion when emergency demanded, and that they have always performed their duties under trying circumstances in a most exemplary manner. This is true, not only in war times, but also in times of peace when numerous occasions have arisen which demanded the enlisted men to show their mettle. As examples may be cited the several disastrous explosions which occurred in the turrets of various vessels during target practice. The manner in which the men conducted themselves on these occasions have been announced to the service in general orders, and a number of them received medals of honor in recognition of their heroic performance of duty.
It should be borne in mind that the men, who, on these occasions, conducted themselves so heroically, were not picked men in any sense of the word; they were what we might call the “run of the mine.” For this reason, we must conclude that the “run of the mine” is of a high standard.
The efficiency of the enlisted personnel is what the officers under whom the men are serving make it. It being conceded that the material with which we start is of excellent caliber, it remains for us to see that this material is developed and trained so that each ship of the navy reaches the highest possible degree of battle efficiency.
There are certain laws and regulations which must be observed in developing this efficiency, and it is our duty as officers, in cases where we consider such laws and regulations a handicap to the proper development of the personnel, to make recommendations to that effect, so that there may be no hindrances in the way of producing battle efficiency.
We frequently find two ships of the same class, which have been furnished with crews from the same source, maintaining a different efficiency standard. On one ship the crew is contented and efficient; the vessel shoots well, steams well, and performs all other duties required of it in a most exemplary manner. On the other ship we find a discontented and an inefficient lot of men. The ship is near the bottom of the list in the target practice competition and the steaming trials, and there are many desertions. The officers on the inefficient ship blame it on the crew. They complain that they received an undesirable lot of men. The complaint is unjustifiable. They received the same class of men as those sent to the efficient ship; but they have failed to properly develop and train the men received, and, as a result, the crew is inefficient. The other vessel has taken the same class of men, and by properly training and developing them, has produced an efficient ship.
With the material we have, all of our, vessels should be efficient. If they are not so the blame cannot be justly laid on the enlisted personnel, as these men will respond, to proper training and discipline.
To retain the high standard of efficiency which the enlisted personnel has reached we must be careful not to forget that the navy is a military organization. Strict discipline must be maintained. The bulkhead between the officers and the enlisted men must not be demolished, if we are to maintain this discipline. A military organization without discipline becomes a mob. This fact is well known to the good enlisted men who recognize the necessity for maintaining discipline. The type of enlisted man who does not like military discipline, and who chafes under the restraint, is not suited for the navy. We do not want them, and should get rid of them.
If we wish to keep the enlisted personnel contented—and contentment and efficiency go hand in hand—we must avoid making to them promises which it is impracticable to fulfill. They must not be led to believe that they are to have opportunities which cannot, in practice, be given them. They should be taught to understand that service in the navy requires some sacrifices and the endurance of some hardships. There is no source of discontent more virulent than that which makes a man believe he is entitled to something more than he is actually receiving.