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XXIX.-School of Engineering and Pilotage; paymaster applicants' class
GENERAL STEPS IN THE CAREER OF LINE OFFICERS.
The regular grades of executive or line officers in the Royal Navy are as follows:
Admiral of the fleet.
Naval cadet. The career of an officer in the Navy begins with his nomination as a naral cadet. These nominations appear to be made at the will of the Admiralty, as far as the selected persons are concerned, and they number about 40 for each class or half-year. After passing the physical and mental examinations at Greenwich, the candidates receive appointments as naral cadets, and they join the Britannia, the training ship, at Dartmouth, in January or July following their examinations, as the case may be. After two years of study on board the Britannia they go to sea, not in any particular ship, but in any of the cruising ships to which they may be appointed. After one year's sea-service they are rated as midshipmen, though the degree of proficiency shown in the Britannia may reduce this time; in fact, in certain cases, extinguish it altogether : in which last case they are rated midshipmen as soon as they graduate. These cases, however, are rare. In all cases except the last, cadets are required to pass an examination for the rating of midshipman.
After five years' service in the Navy, including the time allowed on leaving the Britannia, and after having attained the age of nineteen, a midshipman comes up for promotion. Before promotion, he must, how ever, pass three examinations. The first is in seamanship, and is coh. ducted on the spot, at sea, wherever the midshipman may be; and, on passing, he receives from the senior officer present an order as acting sub-lieutenant. As soon as he returns to England, he goes to the Royal Naval College at Greenwich for six months, at the end of which he is examined in navigation and in general subjects. After a brief interval, he goes to the Excellent for a course of 65 days,* followed by an exam. * Course of instruction in guunery ships, 1875, p. 14.
ination in gunnery. This is the last compulsory examination in his career as a naval officer.*
Having passed these three examinations, he becomes a sub-lieutenant, that is, one of a body of naval officers who are qualified and ready for promotion to be lieutenants, but are simply awaiting vacancies. In this promotion (from sub-lieutenant to lieutenant) seniority seems to govern largely, though there are a few cases where upper men remain in a lower grade, while their juniors are promoted; and a few junior sublieutenants are promoted, while their seniors remain sub-lieutenants; but the mass of promotions consists of men at the head of the list.
The promotions from lieutenant to commander and from commander to captain are by selection, some of them in accordance with special rules fixed by the Admiralty, as in the case of some gunnery lieutenants; but in the case of both promotions, they involve most extensive changes in the seniority of the officers concerned. For example, of the commanders promoted to the rank of captain since January 1, 1874, the one who now (January, 1879) stands seventh on that list was in 1873 No. 103 on the list of commanders; and of the 102 commanders who were then his seniors, only 6 are still above him ; 40 are captains junior to him in rank, and 33 have not yet been promoted, the remaining 23 having disappeared from the active list. The changes in the seniority of officers in the promotions from lieutenant to commander are equally marked.
From the grade of captain upward, promotions are strictly by seniority, though, as the Admiralty instructions say, "reserving Her Majesty's undoubted right of selection.” Since January, 1874, however, there has been no case in which the seniority of officers in these grades has been permanently altered, except that of the Duke of Edinburgh.
* In Fleet Circular No. 41, C, dated May 27, 1879, the Admiralty has announced its intention of instituting a course and examination for all officers in pilotage, subsequent to the gunnery examination. The course will last two months, and will be given on board the Duke of Wellington, flag-ship, at Portsmouth. The examination will be held at the Hydrographic Office, Whitehall. As this provision only takes effect on officers entering the service subsequent to the year 1875, the course will not go into operation before 1883.