The Navy Department through the Naval Reserve Headquarters in each naval district has established an excellent system for the further training of Reserve officer personnel. Those who are members of the Fleet Reserve are perhaps able to profit most from this by virtue of a close connection of their respective divisions working in conjunction with each other once a week. Unfortunately it is not possible at this time to enlarge this Fleet Reserve because of lack of funds. As a result a large body of Volunteer Reserves must continue in a more or less inactive status, who might otherwise desire to transfer to the Fleet Reserve. Correspondence courses conducted by the Bureau of Navigation together with a few such courses offered by the Naval War College at Newport, R. I., are open to both classes. Besides this, there is an opportunity for a 2-week extended cruise with pay for members of the Fleet Reserve, and funds usually provide for a limited number of Volunteers to take advantage of it also; but this latter event cannot always be counted upon as a certainty.
Of all this diversified training and education made available to the Reserve officer none should be more helpful than the opportunity to go on active sea duty for an extended period of time. In the opinion of the writer this opportunity should be brought particularly to the attention of the Volunteer class as this class appears to be further removed than the other groups from peace-time military activities, by virtue of circumstances surrounding its position.
The practical results to be expected from such active training duty at sea are manifold and can hardly be overestimated in their value to the Volunteer officer. In the first place, there is a close relationship with the Navy through daily life on shipboard which is impossible to obtain in a like manner on shore. The many drills and practices carried on throughout a 24-hour routine usually will be actively participated in by the Reserve. Secondly, in due course of time he is bound to become imbued with Navy spirit and atmosphere which will make him familiar with officer life in general, so that when he is detached he returns home carrying with him a feeling of pride, knowing that he is a part of the service and that many of its former mysteries are now matters of second nature to him. Thirdly, it will soon be realized that one's former technical knowledge quickly becomes outdated today, if sufficient opportunity to study new material is denied. The study of new material on sea duty means actual handling of new equipment, thereby increasing the value of one's knowledge through practical application. This last revealed itself particularly to the writer who found that much of his knowledge of gunnery and engineering was obsolete when reporting aboard one of the recently commissioned 1,850-ton destroyer leaders with all its modern fire control equipment and superheated steam arrangement. However, it is to be remembered that this is true not so much because of revolutionized theories as because of progress in methods of simplification and schemes for further utilizing of potential energy. Lastly, there may be expected, as a normal result of any extended sea duty by a volunteer officer, the indoctrination of all the moral force the service gives to the regular line officer. The great opportunity to develop personal and military character, perhaps unrealized before by the Reserve, cannot be dismissed lightly. This will be brought about by heretofore entirely unrealized concepts of duty, responsibility, and subordination; In part, it will be the result of intimate contact and life with other regular officers, whose everyday work must become familiar to him and in which he may be expected actively to share. The success he gains in all this must be ultimately measured by his own sincere endeavors to complete well his assigned tasks.
It is to be expected that active sea duty extending beyond the usual 2-week summer cruise is desirable for the obvious reason that greater benefits from such training can be realized. That a 2-week training period regularly adhered to each year is better than Jong intervals of no active training, generally would be admitted. Yet in the writer's opinion there is hardly anything comparable to unbroken training duty for a longer period. It is only then that the Volunteer officer is able to immerse himself so completely in the Navy that he may expect to come out with lasting benefits and impressions that will not easily fade from his mind as time passes on. The factors to be considered in advocating such a course are important. Again the question of funds is raised; as was mentioned before, the Navy Department does not guarantee that there will be sufficient allotment to provide for Volunteer Reserve cruises; if there are funds, it is only after the Fleet Reserve personnel are taken care of, and no unforeseen emergency occurring to divert a surplus elsewhere. So it is seen that of necessity active training duty with pay is not always to be counted upon each year as a certainty; this means that a Reservist who desires to make a prolonged cruise must expect to defray his own expenses in the ordinary course of events. This cost problem is not so weighty as might first be imagined. The principal outlay is that of the mess bill, which of course varies on different ships, but usually averages between $20 and $30 a month. Other expenses of a personal nature including laundry, pressing, spending money, and the like are dependent upon each individual's wants. Transportation expenses to and from ships and home are of course to be borne by the one making the cruise, but this latter can be so regulated as to be cut to a minimum by formulating an itinerary.
Time is a factor which is important in most cases. The Reservist who is in business has usually only an annual 2-week vacation. However, there are many young volunteer officers who continue with graduate work after leaving college and have the entire summer to devote to an extended training cruise. Besides, there are those in the teaching and legal professions who may regulate their own vacations to suit such a plan. The question may properly be asked as to the method of making requests for such duty. This can best be answered by reference to Naval District Headquarters to which each officer is officially attached. There, a glance at the last prospective ship movement list of the battle and scouting force will reveal the story. Commanding officers of naval ships are usually more than generous in their desire to afford opportunity for active training of Reserves, provided there is room for accommodations on their ships.
A simple request may be drawn up and dispatched to a designated ship and a reply can be expected within a reasonable time. It might be mentioned in passing that long-range planning of an itinerary is inadvisable owing to uncertainty of operating schedules, and the best that can be done is either to remain on one ship indefinitely or plan to be transferred upon reaching a destination to another ship for which a new request must be formally made out at that time. This involves further physical examinations and some delay, yet the element of suspense created by not knowing just what port will be made next may compensate in the eyes of many.
Rear Admiral Andrews, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, in addressing the Naval Conference convened last July in Washington, said in part,
What we desire is an efficient, contented, regular Navy, supported by an efficient and contented Naval Reserve. Each is dependent on the other for success. The closer the relationship between the regular Navy and the Reserve, the more efficient will be the whole service.
It is this relationship question which should be uppermost in the thoughts of the Reservist when on active training. On shipboard the Volunteer officer is often faced for the first time with daily military life. Ease of adjustment to his new surroundings will depend a great deal on his own personal character. However, there are a few general principles of conduct and attitude which should be remembered by him always. Many regular line officers are unfamiliar with the Reserves because of having no previous contact with them. This fact should cause a Reserve to put his "best foot forward" from the first in an effort to become better acquainted with his superior officers and in this way to promote mutual understanding. One common tendency of most Reserves is to be oversensitive of their lack of training and technical knowledge and often this will result in undue dejection at a word of reproach or lack of commendation. Each Reserve should keep in mind that his best efforts will not go by unnoticed and he should not expect to be treated in a different manner from any regular officer.
Some Reserves feel their strong support to be that of a bold front and forward manner; this is bound ultimately to create an unfavorable impression and should not be encouraged. It requires but a few weeks to absorb enough wardroom atmosphere to feel at home on a man-of-war. One soon finds that acey-ducey and cribbage are favorites, and in a short while a Reservist may become conversant with topics close to the interests of regular officers. The privileges accorded Reserves are many and varied, and they should at all times respect the same, governing their conduct accordingly. On the other hand the regular personnel recognizes the position of the Reserves, taking into account their more or less limited knowledge of naval affairs, realizing at the same time that one-quarter of their entire college work has been devoted to the study of naval subjects and therefore they naturally desire to assume as much responsibility and be given as much opportunity to exercise initiative as is commensurate with their background.
It is the educational task involved in active sea training which must never be lost sight of by the Volunteer officer. Obviously he ought to possess certain definite characteristics which will make this task an easy one. Most important is that of teachability. He must be able to learn fast whatever he is shown, for little time can be given to repetition in his case. Thus, he must be equipped with acute powers of observation. A neatly kept notebook recording factual matter is a help, of course, but nothing is better than a process of routine mental tracing of all that comes to his attention. Periodical trips to the engine-room after perusing plans and reading material, retracing carefully just what he has gone over before on paper, are to be recommended. He may expect to be assigned duties which usually will be general in scope such as Junior Officer of the Deck Watches, or Junior Officer Observer in the engine-room, so that any assignment involving specific knowledge of great technicality is highly unlikely.
In conclusion it is only to be expected that many of those graduating from the universities where Naval Reserve Units have been established and receiving commissions in the Volunteer, General Service Class, should not be fully cognizant of the potentialities of these commissions and of the wide possibilities for further training duty and experience. This is due no doubt in a large measure to the casual acceptance of the regular academic work in the college. In part perhaps also to a general conception that all intellectual pursuits will close, like the dropping of a curtain at the end of a 4-act play, when college is over, their naval training and educational experience being no exception. This indeed is lamentable, considering the future possibilities resulting from this training.
The interest in the service, engendered at the beginning through a desire to be connected with the naval forces of the United States, stimulated perhaps by a love of the sea, rather vague in itself but an interest none the less, slowly becomes cultivated by arduous study of the various subjects as offered by the Department of Naval Science and Tactics, and finally develops into a general knowledge of naval affairs and the problems underlying them, and in the final analysis becomes a very real and valuable interest not only to the volunteer officer but to the naval service at large. To suffer this interest to become dormant through protracted inactivity is an evil which ought to be recognized by every Reserve officer recently graduated from our colleges with a commission.
CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK
Initialing the list is often considered one of the petty nuisances of the present Navy. It, however, accomplishes a purpose, and hence is something which we will probably always have with us to a greater or lesser degree. To many, at times, it seems that the stage has been reached that it would be impossible to operate successfully without initials in black and white as positive and incontrovertible proof that one has done this, is aware of that, seen the other, received another, and so on. One signs that he has inspected the compartments, the messes, the nettings, the fire equipment, the safety appliances, the boats, the battery, ad infinitum, until the ship and all its appurtenances have been inspected. And, if one is very wise, a subordinate will be utilized to double check to insure that the list has been duly checked; for it is certain that a check will be made to see that all the initials are on the dotted line at the proper time.
Some years ago, when I was fittingly initiated to check and double check, I was most impressed with the efficiency of what I believed to be this innovation of some mathematical seaman of the modern Navy; so, to me, it was a genuine surprise to read:
"On board of an American ship of the line, ... a slate was marked with columns, in which were specified the time that each of the internal duties of the ship should take Place, and when they were to finish, and if not done at the time, how long after. Against each of these circumstances, the officers to whom they were related were obliged to put their initials, ... and when the first lieutenant wished to know what was done, or what Was still left undone, he had only to call for the slate .... " This is from Professional Recollections on Points of Seamanship, Discipline, etc., by Captain Francis Liardet, R.N., published in 1849.-LIEUTENANT COMMANDER PHILIPP. WELCH, U.S. NAVY.