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THE NEW YORK MOBILIZATION
There were three principal events of the fleet mobilization in the Hudson River; they were the shore parade; the inspection of the fleet by President Taft and Secretary Meyer, on October 14, and the final review of the fleet by President Taft, as the vessels steamed out to sea on October 15.
Those in charge of the shore parade are to be commended for the efficient manner in which the parade was managed. The transferring of six thousand officers and men from the ships to the shore within an hour and a half was a remarkable performance. The parade, under command of Rear Admiral F. F. Fletcher, consisted of one regiment of marines detailed from the marine guards of the battleships and four regiments of bluejackets. The right of line was held by the marines, followed by the first regiment of bluejackets, composed of men from the Connecticut, Florida, Utah, Delaware, North Dakota, and Michigan. The second regiment, in charge of Captain Roger Wells, of the Louisiana, was made up of men from the Louisiana, South Carolina, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The third regiment was composed of bluejackets from the Virginia, Georgia, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, and was commanded by Captain H. P. Jones, of the Rhode Island. The fourth regiment, under command of Captain W. L. Howard, of the Idaho, was formed of seamen from the Minnesota, Idaho, Ohio, Wyoming, and Arkansas.
The parade was reviewed by Mayor Gaynor, from the grand stand between Forty-first and Forty-second streets. On the stand with Mayor Gaynor were Rear Admiral
Hugo Osterhaus, Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, and other officers of the fleet, as well as army and naval militia officers.
The inspection of the fleet by Secretary Meyer, on the morning of October 14, and by President Taft, in the afternoon, was carried out according to the official program. Salutes were fired by each of the war vessels, on whose decks the crews were drawn up at attention along the rails.
The mobilization came to an end on October 15, when President Taft, on board the Mayflower, which was anchored off Ellis Island, reviewed the entire fleet as it passed out to sea. The battleships passed in single column, the destroyers in double formation. Owing to trouble with her engines, the Alabama was forced to drop from her place in the column. The torpedo boat Craven was rammed by the lighter Pioneer, but little damage was done.
After inspecting the fleet, Secretary Meyer issued the following statement:
A comparison with the force assembled last year is of the first importance in sustaining the belief that the navy is now in a decidedly more efficient condition and more ready for any emergency than ever before. There are assembled here to-day 123 vessels of all classes, of a total displacement of 720,486 tons, as compared to 98 vessels in 1911, of 576,634 tons, and of this marked increase in total displacement only about 76,340 tons is due to the completion of new construction in the intervening time, so it is obvious that a far greater percentage of vessels are actually ready for service now.
The fine appearance and the excellent condition of the Reserve Fleet, created within the past year, has been brought prominently to my notice.
The mobilizing of such an impressive force as is here gathered furnishes excellent training for the business organizations of the Navy Department, the navy yards, and the fleet, and efficient coordination between all these units is highly developed by such an undertaking.
I am most favorably impressed with the smart appearance of the vessels here present; but the point of prime importance is that they are at all times kept up to the highest state of efficiency and that they are now ready for any service the country may demand of them. The immediate cause for this most satisfactory condition is the excellent state of discipline of officers and enlisted men, combined with a high order of intelligence and patriotism, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet, Rear Admiral Osterhaus, is to be congratulated on the splendid showing made. The Wyoming and Arkansas, the two latest battleships, are magnificent craft, and, with their displacement of 26,000 tons each, present a striking contrast to the Indiana and Massachusetts of a little over 10,000 tons each, which are the oldest battleships in the navy. Nevertheless, the keels of the Indiana and Massachusetts were laid only about 19 years before those of the Wyoming and Arkansas, so that this comparison will prove very forcibly the opinion, in which the naval experts of all countries agree, that in the course of twenty years, due to the progress in design and construction as well as to certain deterioration
from use, a battleship becomes obsolete and so inferior as no longer to be worthy of being classed as an effective fighting unit.
From an analysis of the ages of the 33 completed battleships in the navy of to-day (of which 31 are here present), it is seen that four will be in the obsolete class in 1913; and, as it requires approximately three years from date of authorization to time of commissioning of a capital ship, it is simple to calculate that our naval strength ten years from now, provided Congress authorizes two battleships each year, would show but 15 battleships in the first line, 17 in the second line, and all other battleships past their 20 years of usefulness.
Thus it is seen that in ten years the navy would, under these conditions, still be far short of that minimum strength of 40 battleships in the two lines of defense that is held to be necessary to place our country on a safe basis in its relations with other world powers; and I consider it of the highest importance that a uniform, consistent and continuing program of new construction should be adopted that will bring our fleet to the necessary strength at an early date.
The various classes of ships assembled here comprise the great majority of those necessary in a modern fleet; but there are several notable exceptions, and other cases where the proper proportions are far from obtaining. Other nations are building a very
valuable type of capital ship known as the "battle cruiser," none of which has, as yet, been provided for our navy, and this omission should be speedily corrected if we are to maintain our position as a naval power. In destroyer strength our service is also lacking, and the same applies to some of the auxiliaries. It will be noted that there is no transport at the mobilization; this was caused by the necessity of sending the Prairie, the only vessel of such type in the Atlantic, to Santo Domingo recently with an expeditionary force of marines. Such service, together with the operations in Nicaragua, where bluejackets and marines were required on shore, emphasize the need of another transport, which, it is hoped, may soon be filled.
But, after all, the battleship is the most important unit, and though auxiliary vessels are needed and should be provided, yet the strength of a navy must be gauged by its number of effective battleships.
A new feature of the mobilization this year is the participation by the Naval Militia; six vessels loaned to these organizations are present, and, in addition, some eleven hundred officers and men of the Naval Militia are on duty on board various ves
sels of the fleet, the majority having been enlisted in the regular service for a short term enlistment and absorbed into the crews of the different ships, in exactly the same manner as if the mobilization were for actual war purposes. In this way, twelve States are represented, and I am very much gratified at the cooperation of this important branch of the national defense.
Referring to the mobilization, Secretary Meyer, at a dinner given to naval officers, closed his speech by saying:
Now that the annual mobilization has become an established custom, it is evident that it should be continued in order that the public may know that the navy is being kept up to its present efficiency with a yearly increase in numerical strength.
Should this mobilization be discontinued you may be well assured that there is a reason for so doing, either on account of a falling off in the number of ships kept in service or an unwillingness to have its lack of efficiency demonstrated to the public at large.