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be kept on hand, subject to deterioration, or becoming antiquated, can be brought to its minimum.
The labor of equipping vessels, especially as regards rigging and sails, is performed at a great disadvantage, owing to the insufficient accommodation and conveniencies of the rigging and sail-lofts at most of the navy yards. The sail-loft at Boston, and the rigging and sail-lofts at Norfolk, are the only proper establishments of the kind. The rigging. loft at Boston, particularly, is of insufficient capacity to stretch the rig. ging of vessels of large size. An estimate is submitted by the Bureau of Yards and Docks for the construction of the necessary buildings, which it is hoped may be granted.
The results of experience in the use of wire rope continue to justify its adoption. Opinion has turned almost universally in favor of it, for the greater part of the standing rigging of vessels. With regard to its adaptation for the lighter rigging, as to which opinion remains somewhat divided, as well as to the best method of manufacture, preparation, and application, experiments continue to be made in practice, and much valuable information is obtained and applied.
OPERATIONS OF THE ROPE-WALK AT BOSTON.
· The cordage of the navy, of hemp of various kinds, has been almost entirely supplied from the government rope-walk at Boston. But the operations of this establishment would be greatly facilitated by the completion of the tarring house, the estimate for which was stricken from the appropriation under the Bureau of Yards and Docks, at the last ses. sion of Congress. The amount for this purpose is again asked for.
There have been purchased during the past year of Russian hemp 336,000 pounds, at a cost of $67,500; of Manila, none; of American, none; as none has been offered. The supply of the last is now exhausted. Steps have been taken to insure a supply of the Manila hemp of better quality, and at a lower price than heretofore, and to render it inde. pendent of the speculations and fluctuations of the American market.
Of hides for rope there have been purchased about 18,000 pounds, at a cost of $4,234 57.
Of rope from American and Russian hemp there have been manufactured 225,900 pounds, at a total cost, when finished, of $67,754; of rope from Manila hemp 303,351 pounds, at a total cost of $55,067; and of hide rope 11,630 pounds, at a total cost of $11,630.
ANCHORS, GALLEYS, ETC.
In respect to anchors, chains, galleys, &c., experiments are also conducted, as opportunity offers, and improvements made, as information, so obtained, indicates them. The operations of the government establishment for their manufacture, at Washington, have been continued, to the extent required to supply deficiencies of such articles.
Decided improvements are needed in this establishment, a full statement of which, by an experienced engineer, is appended to this report, and is urged upon your attention.
An important matter, in this connection, is that of securing the ser, vices of a man of the very best ability to conduct the operations of beavy forging. The difficulties to be surmounted in this kind of work
are very great, and are a subject of complaint in every shop of the kind in the country. Proprietors are ever on the look-out for men of ability and experience in overcoming these difficulties, and pay them, without hesitation, liberal salaries. It is certain that the services of a proper person can be obtained only for a much higher salary than is at present allowed. The bureau estimates for the pay which, it is believed, may be an inducement to some competent person to undertake the duties.
PURCHARES AND EXPENDITURES.
The purchases and expenditures of the bureau have been o by a strict regard to economy, and to the use of all stock on hand before rocuring additional supplies. In the purchase of canvas and coal, the reau is frequently embarrassed by the bids of persons who are not producers of, or dealers in, these articles especially. Navy canvas is only made to order, and is subjected to a very rigid test and inspection. It is, therefore, more difficult to supply than the canvas used in the mer. cantile marine. Licensed general dealers, either ignorant or regardless of this fact, make offers and obtain contracts, for the supply of the article, at prices at which they find they cannot furnish it, of proper quality. As a consequence, great delays often occur in filling the requisitions made upon them, and work is brought to a stand-still while waiting for deliveries. In the inspection of coal the standing of the producer and dealer is a matter of importance, as furnishing a guarantee of its quality, and that cargoes are of the same character throughout. Fictitious bids for this article, also, have been a source of delay and annoyance. To avoid these difficulties, it is recommended that the law in relation to contracts be so amended as to prohibit the entertainment of bids made by persons who are not producers of, or special dealers in, these articles respectively.
A contract has been made for the supply, during the present fiscal year, of fifteen thousand tons of coal at Philadelphia, at five dollars and forty-seven cents per ton.
Proper coal sheds are much needed at several of the navy yards, and should be provided as soon as possible. As a consequence of the steps taken by the department to give all vessels full sailing power, and the orders given for its use, except in cases of necessity, some reduction in the consumption of this expensive article has already been achieved, and a much greater one is anticipated. In view of this fact, the following coal depots have been discontinued, or are to be after the expenditure of the stock on hand at each, viz: Halifax, Nova Scotia, and St. John's, Newfoundland; Cape Haytien; Curaçao; Point à Pitre (Guadeloupe;) Lisbon; St. Paul de Loando and Fernando Po, (West coast of Africa;) Honolulu, Sandwich Islands.
The saving to the government in this article will be very great; and this alone will compensate, in a short time, for any expenditure in alter. ing spars and sails, to achieve the desired end. But the revival of professional exercises for the crews, and the acquisition of professional experience by those younger officers of the navy who, in consequence of the general reliance upon steam of late years, have not had the opportunity of obtaining it, will be, to the navy, an advantage, whose value, as well as that of others resulting from the release from dependenre upon steam alone as a motive power, can hardly be estimated in money.
NUMBER OF MEN EMPLOYED.
The number of men employed in the navy has been kept within the limit prescribed by law; but only by the exercise of great care, and an amount of clerical labor which is especially onerous, under the recent reduction. When vessels are to be relieved and sent home from foreign stations, if others were to be equipped and manned to take their places, prior to their departure for home, the number of men allowed would be exceeded, for a period of time covering the passage of one vessel to, and the other from, a foreign station—amounting, not unfrequently, to eight or ten months. This excess would be increased by the gradual charac. ter of enlistments, whereby portions of crews are often under pay, as part of the allowed force of the navy, long before the remainder are recruited and become a part of its effective force. The same is true with regard to men sent out to foreign stations to re-enforce reduced crews. No such excesses are provided for in the law, as it now stands; and, in order to avoid them, when vessels are to be relieved, they must be sent home and put out of commission before enlistments for the relieving vessel begin. The result is that the naval force which can be kept afloat is much smaller than would appear, by calculating the number of vessels which could be manned from eight thousand five hundred men. And even this force is made still smaller by the subtraction of the crews of receiving-ships, Naval Academy, and practice ships. It happens sometimes that the terms of service of portions of crews do not expire when the vessel to which they belong is put out of commission. Being frequently unable to dispense with the services of these portions, it becomes necessary, in order to avoid delay in filling the complements of other vessels, to send them on another cruise, without even a short leave of absence, and often, thereafter, to detain them beyond the expiration of their terms of enlistment—a growing evil, and one which causes great dissatisfaction among the men, and operates unfavorably on recruiting. Besides, the men so retained, (as is the case now with a considerable number,) receive, by law, an increase of twenty-five per cent. of their previous pay, which, of course, still further subtracts from the number that might be maintained from the sum appropriated.
Voluminous records, returns, &c., showing, at all times, the exact number of men in service, the current enlistments, and the future expi. ration of terms of service, are required, in order to avoid either exceeding the prescribed limit, or falling sofar below it as to delay vessels whose services are needed. The records must be kept, in any event, for the purpose of verifying claims for pay, pension, &c., &c.; and, although they might not be very materially reduced, yet some of the returns, under circumstances of a less rigid restraint to a particular number of men, might not be required so frequently as at present, when the bureau, in order to keep within the law, must have the information for use almost daily. In other respects, also, the law operates disadvantageously and expensively. It is therefore recommended that it be so modified as to allow the temporary excesses which may be necessary to cover the cases referred to.
To the difficulties met with in recruiting men for the navy, the bureau would again refer. The vicious system of sailor boarding-houses, and its connection with and influence upon recruiting for the navy, as well as for the merchant service, have been referred to in my former reports, and are too well known to call for a new description here.
• Efforts have long been made by ship-owners, merchants, philanthropists, municipal and State authorities to correct this abuse, and on the part of the government to resist its operation and effects, but without material success; and the navy remains nearly as dependent on it as ever. Even if a man enlists without the intervention of the landlords of these houses, and has no debts for money loaned or board and clothing furnished by them to liquidate, he is still required to have an outfit, which he must draw from the paymaster of the receiving ship, and which being charged to him, constitutes an indebtedness to the govern. ment, as the advance allowed does in the former case.
A discouragement to enlistment is thus presented at the outset, and this is aggravated by the man's knowledge that until this indebtedness is canceled he cannot have an hour's liberty on shore, and will have no pocket-money to purchase little comforts which he does not find on ship. board, but will be strictly watched and guarded to prevent desertion. After enlistment the same conditions are a cause of discontent, make his ship a prison instead of a home, and operate as a premium to desertion. If he serves out his term of enlistment, he takes his discharge with a resolve never to re-enlist; and unless he falls into the hands of the landlords, he generally executes his resolve; so that, sooner or later, the landlords are sure to intervene between the sailor and the govern. ment, and they will not enlist men without the customary advance, &c.
If, instead of this state of things, men could be furnished, gratis, with an outfit on enlistment, so as not to be deprived, in consequence of their indebtedness, of liberty, and made to feel themselves prisoners; if they could be enlisted for a longer period, so that on their return from a cruise they could be provided with a home on the receiving ship nearest to their place of abode, and thus rendered content with short leaves and a portion of their pay; if they could be made to look upon service in the navy as a constant employment, and upon the government as their guardian and protector; and if they could be made sure of the benefits of continued service, it is believed that a great deal would be achieved in the right direction.
It is therefore recommended that each recruit receive, in lieu of all advances, a bounty in the shape of an outfit of clothing, or when this is not needed, an equivalent in money, to be credited to his account ; and that he be also furnished with his mess utensils. He will then at once have something to lose, instead of everything to gain, by desertion, and will be made contented by an evidence of regard for his comfort.
It is further recommended that the term for which a man may enlist be extended to twenty years. These provisions, with the new features introduced into the system of advancement in the service, and that of the continuous service certificates recently adopted, (which will then be rendered in fact what they are now only in name,) it is hoped will render possible a more cheerful report in the future. But without some action to associate in the mind of the sailor service in the navy with greater pecuniary advantage, personal comfort, hope of advancement, and cer. tainty of care and protection from his greatest enemies, the landlords, no improvement can be expected.
It remains to consider the matter of desertion, which is still a great and embarrassing evil. The measures recommended will, if adopted, undoubtedly do much to diminish it; but it is necessary, in addition, to provide more thoroughly for the punishment of this crime. If furnished
with the necessary comforts on board ship, and encouraged to good behavior, the sailor should not be dissatisfied if the penalties consequent upon misconduct are more rigorously enforced. Under present laws, the time during which a man may absent himself counts, in reckoning his time of service, the same as if he had not deserted; and, in some cases, a man might not render more than two days' service under a three years' enlistment.
It is recommended that the law be so amended that a deserter may be apprehended at any time, no matter how long subsequent to his desertion, and obliged to remain in the service until he has actually served out the full term for which he enlisted. This is the law governing enlistments in the army, and it is found to operate advantageously. It is further recommended that the law in relation to minors be more exactly defined, so as specifically to authorize the enlistment of persons over eighteen years of age, and make the oath of the recruit conclusive as to his age.
DUTIES OF, AND LABOR IN, THE BUREAU.
One, and the primary, duty of this bureau is the development of intel. ligent and progressive systems for the equipment of vessels in the navy, and for the enlistment and organization of the personnel necessary to man them; so that, whatever the naval establishment might be in amount, it should be as perfect in its appointments and as little expensive as possible.
The first essential to the attainment of this object is the proper prosecution, in each of its branches, of the correspondence with, and duties relating to, the numerous navy yards, stations, squadrons, and rendezvous, and the collection, from all sources, of useful information. The second is, the preservation and compilation of the records thus made, so that the information and experience acquired may be made available and useful.
The assistance of a sufficient professional and clerical force is therefore indispensable, and the most cursory examination of the variety and importance of the objects and duties which engage its attention and require its intelligent action, will suffice to show that this force should, if necessity, be comparatively large. It may, and ought to be, in its professional character, supplied from officers of the navy, who alone can be thoroughly conversant with such of the duties as are connected with their own daily experience. In its clerical character, it should be, to a great extent, supplied from persons in civil life who are trained to business habits, which have not, heretofore, necessarily constituted a part of the education of naval officers.
The first-mentioned portion of this force has never been, until very recently, and then only partially, supplied, and the entire professional work of the bureau devolved on its chief. This is a greater labor than any one person can properly perform, even if the direction of the other labors did not require his attention; but, with the other demands upon his time, anything approaching to a proper satisfaction of these is im. possible; to say nothing of the necessity of having an officer conversant with the duties of the bureau, to supply his place in case of illness or necessary absence. Having no professional assistant, no opportunity is afforded him for that personal inspection of the operation of the de. partments under the charge of the bureau at the various navy yards, so necessary to a proper direction of them, except by neglecting, for a time, his office duties.