By Commander John E. Pond, U. S. Navy
Having read in one of the service papers that the Secretary of the Navy has sent out a special invitation for suggestions from, the naval personnel as to the adoption of economical methods, I feel safe in assuming that since the desire for economy is manifestly sincere these somewhat radical views on the subject of naval training will be well received by the Department and by the service in general. Their adoption would surely result in economy.
The Department's order as published reads:
For the purpose of co-operating to the fullest extent with the administration in its expressed policy of reducing expenditures of the government to the lowest basis consistent with efficiency, the department desires that suggestions and constructive criticism be submitted by anyone connected with the naval establishment, which tend to point out more economical methods of administration than those now in force in the Navy Department and in connection with the operations of the U.S. naval vessels and stations.
The criticism and suggestions herein referred to need not be confined to matters within the scope of the particular duty of the person making them, but it is directed they be addressed to "The Secretary of the Navy (Budget Officer)," submitted via the usual channels to insure the department having the benefit of the endorsement and comment of the senior officials.
Before proceeding with my suggestions I must refer the reader to an article written by me and published in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 47, No. 7, Whole No. 221, July, 1921, and particularly to page 1004 wherein I proposed defining the status of "ships in active reserve" as follows:
Vessels in this condition are fully officered, but with reduced crew sufficient only to maintain the vessel in material readiness for service and to perform such operations as may be necessary to insure efficient performance of the material. Such vessels are attached to the active fleets and are available to replace vessels of the active fleets on short notice. They are also available as practice ships for the Naval Reserve Force, the Naval Academy, and other training purposes.
Also to page 1010:
Ships in active reserve should be detailed for training the first reserve.
At least two such ships should be detailed to this duty at each reserve base. If the number of first reserves applying for training require it, two groups of such ships should be detailed for this purpose.
These ships should be employed alternately throughout the year in cruises of about one month's duration.
The itinerary and schedule of operations for each of these cruises should be published well in advance by the commander-in-chief of the fleet to which attached.
In line with these two quotations and the Department's invitation, I respectfully submit the following suggestions:
- Abolish training stations and substitute receiving stations and training ships (augmented, of course, in time of war, with temporary training camps).
- Abolish receiving ships afloat, and substitute receiving barracks.
- Remove trades schools from industrial navy yards, and concentrate the trades schools' activities ashore at the reserve bases or the receiving stations.
- Revise curriculum of trades schools to provide: Theoretical Instruction ashore, illustrated with models and supplemented by visits to industrial plants; and Practical Instruction at sea in training ships, repair ships, tenders, hospital ships or store ships.
- Limit the activities of the Ninth Naval District to administration and training of naval reserve force, recruiting, inspection, supply and transportation.
- Operate Recruit Training Ships from the two main naval bases only, namely: Hampton Roads and San Francisco.
- Re-organize the naval reserve force in two classes only, namely: First reserve and second reserve.
- Organize the first reserve in ship units and definitely assign them to the billets they are to fill in the reserve ships if called to active duty in case of national emergency.
- Pay retainer pay to the first reserve only.
- Operate "Ships in active reserve" for naval reserve force training from all reserve bases. (This includes the recruit training ships mentioned in suggestion No. 6.)
My first and paramount suggestion is that training stations as such be abolished, and that the land, buildings and plant equipment thus released be converted to other naval purposes or otherwise disposed of as may be considered most consistent with the requirements of the national budget.
The service now rendered by training stations would better be accomplished by two separate activities in time of peace, namely, receiving stations and training ships; augmented in time of war by temporary training camps located preferably at lakes or harbors near various centers of population throughout the country.
The money spent in operation and maintenance of existing training stations and now appropriated for the construction of a new training station at San Diego, California, would give greater return in efficiency if invested in receiving stations at the principal bases or centers of naval activities and in the operation of a few more ships in commission.
The personnel released would be more effectively employed afloat, and the recruits would be better trained while being used to operate training ships. The truth of this last statement will be apparent to the reader when he has read all I have to say.
The contention that it is cheaper to construct and operate quarters and messing facilities on shore than to convert obsolete ships and operate them as receiving ships admits of no argument.
I suggest that the existing receiving ship activities be concentrated in one receiving barracks at each of the naval bases or centers of naval activities. By this I mean concentrated at a suitably selected site in a port that is used for the operation and maintenance of a fleet or unit thereof, the principal factors governing the selection of such site being proximity to transportation terminals and to the usual anchorage ground of naval vessels.
The reasons for maintaining receiving ships at navy yards, regardless of whether such navy yards are located at such natural centers of naval activities as I have just described above appear to me to be purely reasons of expediency. They are:
- To provide quarters, pay and subsistence for enlisted personnel necessary for the operation of yard craft and other navy yard activities under the captain of the yard and for operation of radio stations at navy yards.
- To provide a commanding officer for such enlisted personnel who, by virtue of his status as commander of a naval vessel, is empowered to order summary courts martial and deck courts, thereby relieving the commandant of the details of administering justice by personal investigation of and punishment for minor offenses.
Such simple difficulties of administration and discipline as these can easily be overcome by:
- Empowering the captain of the yard to convene summary courts martial and deck courts under the authority of the Act of August 29, 1916.
- Carrying the enlisted personnel pay accounts on the rolls of the yard disbursing officer.
- Commuting the ration allowance and permitting the men to subsist themselves at the yard cafeteria.
- Quartering them on yard craft or in houses on shore under the supervision of the captain of the yard.
I suggest removing trades schools from industrial navy yards concentrating all trades school activities of a district at a reserve ship base, or at or near the site selected for receiving station or barracks; limiting the courses at these trades schools ashore to theoretical and academic instruction; and completing the courses by practical instruction afloat. I consider that the atmosphere and environment of the industrial navy yards are most unsuitable and undesirable, and, through their influences, are especially detrimental to the discipline, application and well-being of enlisted men under training or in trades schools.
Thus far my suggestions may look like a policy of destruction. I now come to the constructive part of my first and paramount suggestion, namely: to abolish training stations and substitute receiving stations and training ships.
Receiving stations should be maintained at the main naval bases for the purposes of receiving, detention, outfitting, housing, subsisting, paying, administering of justice and discipline in connection with, and discharging or releasing of all transient personnel, both officer and enlisted, passing through the base.
Briefly, the facilities of a model receiving station would include the following:
- Administration building.
- Quarters for commanding officer and heads of departments.
- Quarters for transient officers.
- Quarters for station crew.
- Receiving barracks for recruits with parade ground and tent platforms for emergency expansion.
- Receiving barracks for incoming enlisted transients or casuals.
- Mess hall.
- Draft house for outgoing drafts.
- Sick bay and dispensary.
- Swimming tank.
- Target gallery.
- Boat harbor with boat house and marine railway for small boats.
- Wharf with suitable depth alongside for accommodating tugs and other small craft used in transporting drafts.
- Power house and small shops.
Referring again to my article on "The Relation of Personnel to Materiel" and particularly to the pages 1004 and 1010 as quoted in the early part of this paper, I suggest the following system of recruit training:
At the reserve base of a main naval base, or at or near the receiving station of such main naval base, i.e., at Hampton Roads and at San Francisco, maintain two capital ships "in active reserve," or two groups of such ships if recruiting activities warrant it, for training purposes.
Send these ships on training cruises alternately throughout the year, the length of cruise to be that which is determined to be necessary to produce the degree of training required, probably about one month.
These cruises to be open to members of the naval reserve (see page 1010, "The Relation of Personnel to Materiel") as well as to recruits under training for the regular navy and to students to complete the practical courses of trades schools.
Recruits arriving at the main base receiving stations would be outfitted, passed through detention, and taught the manual of arms, elementary naval terms, salutes and customs, semaphore, swimming, infantry drill and target gallery practice. They would remain at the recruit barracks not less than three weeks (period of detention) and not more than one month (unless held as a punishment) before embarking on one of the training ships.
After arrival on board the training ship they would remain in port not less than one week and not more than one month (if the cruises were of one month's duration) before putting to sea for their training cruise.
During this one month trick in port the men assembling for the cruise would be organized, assigned billets, and instructed in ship duties.
From the training ships they would go directly to ships of the fleet or back to the receiving station, as transients if they desired to avail themselves of the 10 days leave allowed recruits upon completion of training, and as students if they enlisted for one of the recruit trades schools.
Naval Reserve Force
Suggestions numbers 7, 8, 9 and 10, although coming under the general subject of "Naval Training," are a little beyond the scope of this paper. They are covered more fully in my paper on "The Relation of Personnel to Materiel," and will be made the subject of a future paper, but are reiterated here because I believe they are in line with the Department's expressed desire for suggestions that may lead to economy and because I believe that the naval reserve force should be maintained and trained for the specific duties its members are to perform in time of war or national emergency.
These suggestions are intended as the basis of a policy and not as arbitrary or set rules to be followed explicitly in all cases. For example, it may be more economical and expedient to continue receiving ships afloat at certain stations. Also it is not intended to propose moving the seamen gunner's schools (torpedo and deep sea diving classes at Newport and ordnance class at Washington).
I give hereunder my views as to the merits of and results to be expected from the proposed system in comparison with the present system of recruit training. These views are based especially on my experience as commander of a reserve torpedo flotilla voluntarily engaged in training the naval militia of California, 1912-1914; as senior engineer of the U.S.S. Pittsburg engaged in training petty officers and reservists for the fleet while cruising the South Atlantic, 1917-1918; as executive officer of the U.S.S. Ohio engaged in training recruits while operating in the Chesapeake Bay and "behind the net at Base Two," 1918; and more recently as executive officer of the U.S. Naval Training Station, San Francisco, California, during the various drives and demobilizations of the past year.
As Regards Morale
Under the present system recruits are kept too long on training stations ashore. Many men at mast give excuses for misconduct, overstaying leave, jumping ship, etc., that they wanted to get away and go to sea and had become restless, disappointed and disgusted.
Although the period of training is supposed to be 12 weeks for firemen and 16 weeks for seamen, some men are inadvertently or through necessity held for much longer periods to the detriment of their morale.
The consensus of opinion of the officers of the drill department at this training station (San Francisco) is that the average recruit is at his best as regards morale and aptitude for absorbing recruit knowledge at the end of about one month's training, and from that point he goes down hill in this respect until transferred to a ship.
The effect of the proposed system would be to keep up interest throughout the entire period of training. At the end of three to four weeks period of detention and training at recruit barracks the men would be on tip toe with anticipation and curiosity. Once a week, say every first, second and third Monday, a batch of recruits would leave the recruit barracks to join their training ship. Those finishing detention after the third Monday would have to wait over for the next ship until the first Monday of the next month, but during this wait could be given special liberty privileges. Do you think there would be any over-timers or laggards on Monday morning? Would any more severe punishment be needed for minor offenses at recruit barracks than "one week extra detention"?
During the next one week to one month period of training on board ship while organizing and preparing for sea the men would be constantly on the qui vive and in a receptive and inquisitive mood, ready to absorb every bit of information and instruction given them about their ship, nomenclature and purposes of its parts, ship's data, etc. Even the late comers would derive benefit from the instruction given the more fortunate earlier arrivals, through their greater inquisitiveness and desire to catch up with their better informed shipmates. During this period some infantry and artillery drills and perhaps some small arms target practice could be held ashore, and during the last week some boat drill under oars.
Then comes the cruise, the very thing those youngsters enlisted for! The promises of the recruiting posters are being fulfilled! Liberty occasionally in a strange port! Boats under oars and sails! Fishing and swimming parties! Some elementary form of target practice with the great guns!—perhaps just a few rounds to show them what it is like.
Think of the mutual benefit to be derived from their association with the members of the naval reserve force who are also taking the cruise as their shipmates under identically the same instruction and training. Also from their association with the selected class of men who are taking these cruises for the practical end of their course of instruction at the recruit trades schools such as: yeomen's school, hospital corps training school, signal school, bugler's school, musician's school, preliminary radio school, mess attendant's school and commissary schools.
The artificers, machinists, electrical, optical and other technical trades schools (except seaman gunner's and radio) of course would complete their practical courses on repair ships and tenders; the storekeepers school (?) on store ships; and the aviation mechanics on airplane carriers or seaplane tenders.
Think of the "class spirit'' and resulting association and lasting comradeship that would be engendered and fostered among those who had taken part together in one of these cruises. Men would reckon the beginning of their naval careers from the dates of these first cruises, as—"I joined with the Pacific class of August, 1921."
Most young recruits join the navy with the idea of becoming real man-o'-warsmen. The height of their ambition is to go to sea in a modern battleship. How many would sign up for a first enlistment if they realized that they might have to go from the training station to an auxiliary cargo ship, a collier, a "beef boat," or a district tug, and might even have to spend their entire enlistment on that kind of a "packet"? Some men may prefer that kind of duty later on, but recruits do not enlist with that in view.
Upon returning from one of these training cruises, the recruits would have seen just enough of the real navy to clinch their determination to remain man-o'-warsmen. By giving them the privilege of 10 days recruit leave with travel time to their homes, every one of them who availed himself of the privilege would become an enthusiastic recruiter.
AS REGARDS EFFICIENCY
Before going further I want to make one more suggestion or recommendation that has also some bearing on morale. Did you ever watch a draft of men (the bluejackets call them "Asiatics") arriving at San Francisco from the Asiatic station? Or did you ever stand at the comer of 96th Street and Broadway and watch a bunch of bluejackets just ashore for their first liberty in New York after a cruise in the South Atlantic or the Mediterranean? How clean cut, neat, happy and self-reliant they look! They are efficient man-o'-warsmen, and a big percentage of them are going to come back and reenlist before their four months are up—not because they like foreign duty, but because they like the navy and want to try a trick in the home fleet for a change.
I urgently recommend a policy of sending recruits direct to a foreign station when they finish their period of training. Limit a tour of foreign duty to two years and thereby, so far as practicable, give all first enlistment men a chance at it.
The younger officers and men of the fleet do not seem to appreciate and some probably do not approve of the training that is given recruits after the first month at a training station. Two recent incidents will serve to illustrate this: A parade was forming for a local celebration and two battalions were drawn up on opposite sides of the street and both facing west. The battalion in front was from the fleet. The rear battalion consisted of recruits from the training station. The fleet battalion was presumably at "rest," as the next command given was "attention" and not "fall in." The training station battalion was "at ease." In either case the men should keep one foot in place and maintain their position in formation. The men from the fleet were engaged in guying the recruits, laughing and talking and passing such remarks as "Rookie," "Boots," etc. The officers of the fleet battalion, who were nearly all senior to the officer commanding the recruit battalion, seemed to be getting a good deal of enjoyment out of the performance. The recruits maintained their military bearing. Finally the recruit battalion commander lost patience and approached one of the fleet company commanders, and the following conversation ensued:
Fleet company commander (Lieutenant) (starting the conversation): "A recruit's a recruit, isn't he, and always gets some razzing?"
Recruit battalion commander (Junior Lieutenant) (replying): "Yes, I suppose so. The sad and unfortunate part is that they don't stay a recruit. If you will take a careful look at my battalion you will notice that they are all in neat, clean, proper uniforms and conduct themselves as a well-disciplined organization. I shall probably see these same men ashore in a parade in six months from now, and instead of a clean, neat, snappy organization as they are now, they will be a slouchy, non-regulation, poorly disciplined outfit like that there!"
The company indicated was immediately brought to "attention."
I can vouch for the truth of the above incident, but not the following, which was brought to me as hear-say and is merely given for what it is worth as indicating the attitude of the fleet, and the resulting influence on the recruit who cannot comprehend the necessity for strict military discipline and strict enforcement of uniform regulations at the training station.
A captain had arrived to command a battleship. Just before his first inspection of the crew a large draft had arrived on board from the naval training station. They were absolutely correct as regards regulation uniform (Paymaster's issue) and had complete and immaculately clean bag outfits (I can vouch for this part) when they left the training station. The executive officer of this ship had been trying for some time to get his crew into regulation uniforms, and was rather chagrined at this inspection to see so many of his older men still wearing non-regulation tailor-made clothes. He was about to apologize for them to the new skipper, when much to his surprise the latter pointed out the recruits and commented unfavorably upon the appearance of their uniforms. Needless to say, the executive passed the word that thereafter it would be the policy of that ship to encourage the wearing of "good looking" (?) tailor-made clothes.
Next time the fleet is in port see if you can find any seamen second-class or firemen second-class on liberty. You probably won't be able to see their stripes at all on account of their long tight-fitting non-regulation sleeves, which hang down so far as to completely hide their cuffs. Ask them to pull up their sleeves and you will find them all wearing three stripes—all seamen or firemen first-class!
The above illustrations are not intended as a criticism of the discipline of the fleet, but are given to illustrate my point that the recruit training (after the first month) could be better accomplished on board training ships, which, as a part of the fleet, would be under the same regulations and would therefore serve as models as regards military bearing and uniform.
Strict military discipline and enforcement of uniform regulations are necessary at training stations, yet a very difficult problem is presented to the officers and instructors of the training station because the recruits all know the attitude of the officers and the men of the fleet, and naturally they adopt the same attitude themselves, not only towards the uniform regulations of the training station, but unfortunately towards most of the other instruction given them there. They say to themselves: "What's the use, we won't have to do this when we get on board ship?"
Would it not be better to give them most of their training on board training ships, where, instead of being a laughing stock, they would be a model for the rest of the fleet?
To my mind the strictly regulation government issue uniform or a tailored replica of it as regards pattern, cut and color, is far neater and better looking than the outlandish creations produced by the waterfront shysters and affected by most of the "seagoing" (?) bluejackets.
AS REGARDS ECONOMY
I have already briefly pointed out some of the larger economies that would result from (a) abolishing training stations, (b) abolishing receiving ships afloat, (c) concentrating receiving, training, and trade school activities, and (d) removing military activities from industrial navy yards that are not located near the natural centers of naval activities. I might go into further details and stress such small economies as saving in transportation, communication, etc., that would result from (c) and (d).
But there is one big economy that should weigh above all others, because it bears also on the efficiency of the whole navy. Several thousand men and over two hundred officers would he released from shore duty for service in the fleet, and the capital ships thus manned for training purposes would add at least four (two on each coast) effective units to the strength of the active navy.
When we tackle something new, let us do it right and wholeheartedly. Cut out the expediency, especially the political kind. If we happen to be from the vicinity of Great Lakes, San Diego, Newport, Vallejo, New Orleans or Bremerton, and it comes to a choice between our loyalty to our home locality and the best interests of the navy, let us always remember that we are naval officers first and that the best interests of the navy are the best interests of our country.
"Efficiency with Economy''—Efficiency for the navy and Economy for the National Budget! It is up to the navy, and that means you and me. If you believe with me, or have some better suggestions of your own—get busy! It is now up to you. The Department invites your suggestions.