An Adequate Navy

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An Adequate Navy  (1916) 
Navy League of the United States
From Libnet collection

An Adequate Navy Well Equipped, Properly Organized and Efficiently Administered PUBLISHED BY THE NAVY LEAGUE OF THE UNITED STATES WASHINGTON. D. C. 195-A ¦4AT ADEQUATE NAV\ The recent appropriations by Congress assure an adequate Navy, so far as mate- rial and personnel are concerned. When the present program is completed America will have a Navy sufficiently large to for- ever protect our shores from attack and our country from invasion. In the future if the Navy receives even one-half of the amounts it is now receiving our force will be sufficient and our commerce will develop unhampered by fear of foreign interference. The American public will not quickly forget how the prices of our farm products fell during the first months of the war, when Germany was disputing the control of the seas. The effect upon most of the securities listed by the Stock Exchange will also be remembered. The public real- izes how prices have gone up since the mastery of the ocean is no longer in dis- pute. The fall in prices and the subsequent rise were merely due to the question of the possibilities of uninterrupted carriage of goods to foreign markets. The people are, therefore, fully awakened to our need for an adequate Navy. The preliminary work of the Navy League is done. In the future, however, the League must continue to keep alive interest in the Navy and inform each generation as to our naval requirements. Few people realize what a vast number , of merchant vessels are required to attend on the fleet to supply it with coal, oil, provisions, clothing, ammunition, new guns, repairs, etc., and to bring away from the fleet wounded and ill men, and the guns and machinery which need repairs. It is a fact that today more than half of the available merchant tonnage of the world is employed in supplying the fighting fleets. To support the armies which we ought to send to the front will require at'least six! million more tons of shipping than we have available. In peace times this shipping is employed in commerce, but in time of war it is abso- lutely essential to the fighting efficiency of the Navy. A navy needs not only guns and ammu- nition to be well equipped, but it must have an immense fleet of auxiliary ships. One of the chief tasks of the Navy League for the future must be to work for a merchant marine, organized and con- ducted on American principles, without undue help from the Government, and without undue hindrance from unwise laws. After the present war an American mer- chant marine is essential to the prosperity of the country. A large part of our prod- ucts, including both manufactured articles and raw materials, must be exported. Sub- stantially the age of Government owner- ship has come in foreign countries. When the war is over, other nations will exercise official control over their shipping and di- rect that it fetch and carry for the nation's own people and commerce. America must look out for her own peo- ple and her own trade. Congress (busy with governing a mighty country and perplexed by manifold and conflicting duties) has not seriously grappled with the problem of organizing the Navy as so great an enterprise should be organized. "Authority equipped with responsibility" is essential to good organization. In every properly managed and successful business in the world some person, or per* sons, have the authority to act, and on them rests squarely the responsibility for success or failure. No such principle pre- vails in our Navy now. In a country such as ours, policies must be fixed by those who come into office from civil life, elected by the people. Such vital questions must not be left to the decision of naval or military men; but when policies are once decided, when the die is cast, when war is declared, the de- tails of the execution of the plans of the administration should be left to naval offi- cers. They have been chosen from the people, trained and educated at the expense of the people, and are the experts of the nation for this kind of work. No success- ful business man in the country would give an accountant the job of building a steel bridge, nor would he give an expert bridge- builder the job of managing his office. At present our laws do not give the naval officer either the necessary authority or the accompanying responsibility for the success of even the ordinary tactful maneuvers. It is unfortunately the fact that the law does not even fix the responsi bility on the civilian officials, but it leave > the whole matter uncertain and unsatisfac tory. The English have recently gone through, this phase in Gallipolli. The civilian head of the Admiralty ordered the attack at the Dardanelles. The naval officers feared fail- ure, but they had no right to intervene. They naturally presumed that their chief had political or international reasons fo the course he adopted. Their duty was tt obey, and thousands of innocent lives paie the cost of the blunder. When all was over, the head of the Ad- miralty said that he supposed the officers approved or else they would have objected. They replied that they had not been con- sulted, and though they had feared for the worst, they had felt it their duty to sacrifice and be silent. Today, in the face of this war, where thv fate of mankind is the prize, our laws do not place on any man or set of men the specific responsibility for the conduct oi naval affairs. The authority and the re- sponsibility are divided, and we are in such a predicament that should"disaster come tr our fleet a dozen different men will poin their fingers at each other and each wil say "the fault is yours," while the countrj will have to pay the price in lives and treasure and will not be able to tell on whom rests the fault. The Navy League believes that under these conditions no man can be fully effi- cient. It advocates that the laws be amended so as to give to whoever our statesmen may name full authority, and to place upon their shoulders at the same time full responsibility. To be efficiently administered the Navy must be economically run. At the present time it is most extravagantly conducted. This statement is not made as an accusa- tion of any officer or official. Under pres- ent laws and present organization, every official is doing his utmost to be fair and economical with public funds, but the diffi- culty is substantially that already dis- cussed. There is no man and no board endowed with authority and charged with responsibility for results. By reference to the Government's own publication, "The Navy Year Book," one will find that from 1900 to 1915 we ex- pended on our Navy $1,656,000,000, in round figures, while the Germans expended $1,- 350,000,000. Allowing for the difference of prices for material and labor in the two countries, we should have had a Navy sub- stantially equal to theirs, but the facts are these: (a) She had a tonnage, built and build- ing, 1,304,000 tons, against our 894,000 tons. (b) She had 320 great naval guns on her ships, against our 224. (c) Instead of being the second naval power, the President himself fixed our po- sition as fourth. Naval officers are not trained business men. It is doubtful whether they could remedy all these defects of administration even if given a free hand. It is certain, however, that they are ready to work toward the end of economy and efficiency, and if the business men of the country will take a real interest we will have a business-like administration of the Navy which will mean the saving of millions of dollars to taxpayers. The Navy League is an organization formed to acquire and spread before the people of the United States information concerning the needs of our Navy, so that the people, being thus informed, will bring the necessary co-ordinated pressure to bear upon Congress to secure the passage of laws which will make possible the econom- ical attainment of a fighting machine of the uttermost efficiency. It offers you the channel through which you may inform yourself and shows you how you may spread this information to accomplish the best results. From time to time articles on the Navy and its work are sent to members of the League, and each member receives the offi- cial monthly publication, "Sea Power," which is devoted to this educational work.