1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Admiralty Administration
ADMIRALTY ADMINISTRATION. I. The Administrative System.— That the navy (q.v.) is the only real defence of the British islands has been recognized by English people ever since the days of King Offa, who died in 796, leaving to his successors the admirable lesson that “he who would be secure on land must be supreme at sea.” The truth of the lesson thus learnt is sanctioned by all the experience of English history, and parliament has repeatedly enforced the fact. The navy is the only force that British Empire. can safeguard the British islands from hostile descents; it is the only force that can protect their vast sea-borne commerce and food supplies; by giving safety to the home country it sets British troops free for operations abroad, and makes their passage secure; and thus, as also by giving command of the sea, the fleet is the means by which the empire is guarded and has become a true imperial bond. It is natural for British admiralty administration to be taken here as the type of an efficient system.
British naval administration is conducted by the Board of Admiralty, and the function of that board is the maintenance and expansion of the fleet in accordance with the policy of the government, and the supplying of it with trained The Board of Admiralty. officers and men; its distribution throughout the world; and its preservation in readiness and efficiency in all material and personal respects. The character of the Admiralty Board is peculiar to the British constitution, and it possesses certain features which distinguish it from other departments of the state. The business it conducts is very great and complex, and the machinery by which its work is done has grown with the expansion of that business. The whole system of naval administration has been developed historically, and is not the product of the organizing skill of one or a few individuals, but an organic growth possessing marked and special characteristics. The Admiralty Board derives its character from the fact that it represents the lord high admiral, and that its powers and operation depend much more upon usage than upon those instruments which actually give it authority, and which, it may be remarked, are not in harmony among themselves. The executive operations are conducted by a series of civil departments which have undergone many changes before reaching their present constitution and relation to the Board. The salient characteristic of the admiralty is a certain flexibility and elasticity with which it works. Its members are not, in a rigid sense, heads of departments. Subject to the necessary and constitutional supremacy of tho cabinet minister at their head, they are jointly and co-equally “commissioners for executing the office of high admiral of the United Kingdom, and of the territories thereunto belonging, and of high admiral of the colonies and other dominions.” The members of the Board are in direct and constant communication with the first lord and with one another, as also with the civil departments which work under their control. It was enjoined by James I. that the principal officers and commissioners of the navy should be in constant communication among themselves, consulting and advising “by common council and argument of most voices,” and should live as near together as could conveniently be, and should meet at the navy office at least twice a week. This system of intercommunication still exists in a manner which no system of minutes could give; and it may be remarked, as illustrative of the flexibility of the system, that a Board may be formed on any emergency by two lords and a secretary, and a decision arrived at then and there. Such an emergency board was actually constituted some years ago on board the admiralty yacht in order to deal on the instant with an event which had just occurred in the fleet. At the same time it must be remarked that, in practice, the first lord being personally responsible under the orders in council, the operations of the Board are dependent upon his direction.
The present system of administering the navy dates from the time of Henry VIII. The naval business of the country had so greatly expanded in his reign that we find the Admiralty and Navy Board reorganized or established; and it is worthy of remark that there existed at the time an History.ordnance branch, the navy not yet being dependent in that matter upon the War Department. The Navy Board administered the civil departments under the admiralty, the directive and executive duties of the lord high admiral remaining with the admiralty office. A little later the civil administration being conducted under the navy and victualling boards apart from, but yet subject to, the admiralty itself. This was a system which continued during the time of all the great wars, and was not abolished until 1832, when Sir James Graham, by his reforms, put an end to what appeared a divided control. Whatever may have been the demerits of that system, it sufficed to maintain the navy in the time of its greatest achievements, and through all the wars which were waged with the Spaniards, the Dutch and the French. The original authority for the present constitution of the Admiralty Board is found in a declaratory act (Admiralty Act 1690), in which it is enacted that “all and singular authorities, jurisdictions and powers which, by act of parliament or otherwise, had been lawfully vested” in the lord high admiral of England had always appertained, and did and should appertain, to the commissioners for executing the office for the time being “to all intents and purposes as if the said commissioners were lord high admiral of England.” The admiralty commission was dissolved in 1701, and reconstituted on the death of Prince George of Denmark, lord high admiral in 1709. From that time forward, save for a short period in 1827–1828, when the duke of Clarence was lord high admiral, the office has remained in commission.
A number of changes have been made since the amalgamation of the admiralty and the Navy Board by Sir James Graham in 1832 (see Navy, History), but the general principle remains the same, and the constitution of the Admiralty Board and civil departments is described below. The Board consists of the first lord and four naval lords with a civil lord, who in theory are jointly responsible, and are accustomed to meet sometimes daily, but at all times frequently; and the system developed provides for the subdivision of labour, and yet for the co-ordinated exertion of effort. The system has worked well in practice, and has certainly won the approval and the admiration of many statesmen. Lord George Hamilton said, before the Royal Commission on Civil Establishments, 1887, that “It has this advantage, that you have all departments represented round a table, and that if it is necessary to take quick action, you can do in a few minutes that which it would take hours under another system to do”; and the report of the Royal Commission of 1889 remarked that “The constitution of the Board of Admiralty appears to us well designed, and to be placed under present regulations on a satisfactory footing.”
The special characteristics of the Admiralty Board which have been described are accompanied by a very peculiar and noteworthy feature, which is not without relation to the untrammelled and undefined operations Powers.of the admiralty. This feature arises from the discrepancy between the admiralty patent and the orders in council, for the admiralty is not administered according to the terms of the patent which invests it with authority, and its operations raise a singular point in constitutional law.
The legal origin of the powers exercised by the first lord and the Board itself is indeed curiously obscure. Under the patent the full power and authority are conferred upon “any two or more” of the commissioners, though, in the patent of Queen Anne, the grant was to “any three or more of you.” It was under the Admiralty Act 1832 that two lords received the necessary authority to legalize any action of the Board; but already, under an act of 1822, two lords had been empowered to sign so long as the Board consisted of six members. We therefore find that the legal authority of the Board under the patent is vested in the Board; but in the order in council of the 14th of January 1869 the sole responsibility of the first lord was officially laid down, and in the order in council of the 19th of March 1872 the first lord was made “responsible to your Majesty and to parliament for all the business of the admiralty.” As a matter of fact, the authority of the first lord, independent of his colleagues, had existed in an undefined manner from ancient times. Before a select committee of the House of Commons in 1861 the duke of Somerset stated that he considered the first lord responsible, that he had always “acted under that impression,” and that he believed “all former first lords were of this opinion”; while Sir James Graham said that “the Board of Admiralty could never work, whatever the patent might be, unless the first lord were supreme, and did exercise constantly supreme and controlling authority.” It is not, therefore, surprising to find that there has been undoubtedly direct government without a Board. Thus, in the operations conducted against the French channel ports in 1803–1804, Lord Melville, then first lord, took steps of great importance without the knowledge of his colleagues, though he afterwards bowed to their views, which did not coincide with his own. Again, when Lord Gambier was sent to Copenhagen in 1807, he was instructed to obey all orders from the king, through the principal secretary of state for war, and in this way received orders to attack Copenhagen, which were unknown to all but the first lord. In a similar way the secretary of the admiralty was despatched to Paris in 1815 with instructions to issue orders as if from the Board of Admiralty when directed to do so by the foreign secretary who accompanied him, and these orders resulted in Napoleon’s capture. These instances were cited, except the first of them, by Sir James Graham before the select committee of the House of Commons in 1861, in order to illustrate the elastic powers under the patent which enabled the first lord to take immediate action in matters that concerned the public safety. It is not surprising that this peculiar feature of admiralty administration should have attracted adverse criticism, and have led some minds to regard the Board as “a fiction not worth keeping up.”
Between 1860 and 1870 the sittings of the Board ceased to have the effective character they had once possessed. During the administration of Mr Childers, first lord from 1868 to 1871 in Mr Gladstone’s cabinet, a new system was introduced by which the free intercommunication of the members of the Board was hampered, and its sittings were quite discontinued. The case of the “Captain” led, however, to a return to the older practice. The “Captain” was a low freeboard masted turret ship, designed by Captain Cowper Phipps Coles, R.N. Competent critics believed that she would be unsafe, and said so before she was built; but the admiralty of Lord Derby’s cabinet of 1866 gave their consent to her construction. She was commissioned early in 1870, and capsized in the Bay of Biscay on the 7th of September of that year. Mr Childers, who was nominally responsible for allowing her to be commissioned, distributed blame right and left, largely upon men who had not approved of the ship at all, and had been exonerated from all share of responsibility for allowing her to be built. The disaster was justly held to show that a civilian first lord cannot dispense with the advantage of constant communication with his professional advisers. When Mr Childers retired from the admiralty in March 1871, his successor, Mr Goschen (Viscount Goschen), reverted to the original system. It cannot be said, however, that the question of ultimate responsibility is well defined. The duke of Somerset, Sir James Graham and Sir Charles Wood, afterwards Lord Halifax, held the view that the first lord was singly and personally responsible for the sufficiency of the fleet. Sir Arthur Hood expressed before the House of Commons committee in 1888 the view that the Board collectively were responsible; whilst Sir Anthony Hoskins assigned the responsibility to the first lord alone with certain qualifications, which is a just and reasonable view.
2. Admiralty Organization.—Under the organization which now exists, the Board of Admiralty consists of the first lord, the first and second naval lords, the additional naval lord and controller, the junior naval lord and the civil lord, who are commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral, and with them are the parliamentary and financial secretary and the permanent secretary. As has been explained, the first lord is responsible under the orders in council to the crown and to parliament for all admiralty business. In the hands of the other lords and secretaries rest duties very carefully defined, and they direct the civil departments which are the machinery of naval administration. The first naval lord, the second naval lord and the junior naval lord are responsible to the first lord in relation to so much of the business concerning the personnel of the navy and the movements and condition of the fleet as is confided to them, and the additional naval lord or controller is responsible in the same way for the material of the navy; while the parliamentary secretary has charge of finance and some other business, and the civil lord of all shore works—i.e. docks, buildings, &c.—and the permanent secretary of special duties. The first lord of the admiralty is the cabinet minister through whom the navy receives its political direction in accordance with imperial policy. He is the representative of the navy in parliament, which looks to him for everything concerned with naval affairs. The members of the Board are his advisers; but if their advice is not accepted, they have no remedy except protest or resignation. It cannot be denied that the responsibility of the members of the Board, if their advice should be disregarded, must cease, and it is sufficiently obvious that the remedy of resignation will not always commend itself to those whose position and advancement depend upon the favour of the government. Something will be said a little later concerning the working of the system and the relation of the first lord to the Board in regard to the navy estimates. In addition to general direction and supervision, the first lord has special charge of promotions and removals from the service, and of matters relating to honours and rewards, as well as the appointments of flag officers, captains and other officers of the higher ranks. With him rests also the nomination for the major part to naval cadetships and assistant clerkships.
Apart from the first lord, the first naval lord is the most important officer of the Board of Admiralty. It seems to be unquestionable that Sir James Graham was right in describing the senior naval lord as his “first naval adviser.” Theoretically, the first naval lord is responsible for the personnel of the fleet; but in practice he is necessarily concerned with the material also as soon as it is put into commission, and with the actual commissioning of it. It is correct to say that he is chiefly concerned with the employment of the fleet, though his advice has weight in regard to its character and sufficiency, and is always sought in relation to the shipbuilding programme. Broadly speaking, the first naval lord’s duties and authority cover the fighting efficiency and employment of the fleet, and upon him and upon the controller the naval business of the country largely falls. He directs the operations of the admiral superintendent of naval reserves in regard to ships, the hydrographer, the director of naval ordnance, so far as the gunnery and torpedo training establishments are concerned, and the naval intelligence department, and he has charge of all matters relating to discipline. The mobilization of the fleet, both in regard to personnel and material, also falls to him, and among a mass of other business in his department are necessary preparations for the protection of trade and the fisheries. It will thus be seen that the first naval lord is the chief officer of the Board of Admiralty, and that the operations of the other members of the Board all have relation to his work, which is no other than preparation for war. It may here be remarked that it appears most necessary to change the naval lords frequently, so that there may always be in the Board some one who possesses recent touch with the service afloat.
The second naval lord may be regarded as the coadjutor of the first naval lord, with whose operations his duties are very closely related, though, like every other member of the Board, he is subordinate only to the first lord. The duties of the second naval lord are wholly concerned with the personnel of the fleet, the manning of the navy and mobilization. In his hands rests the direction of naval education, training and the affairs of the royal marine forces. The training establishments and colleges are in his hands. He appoints navigating officers and lieutenants to ships (unless they be to command), sub-lieutenants, midshipmen and cadets, engineer officers, gunners and boatswains, and supervises the management of the reserve. In his province is the mobilization of the personnel, including the coastguard and the royal naval reserve. Necessarily, the first and second naval lords work together, and upon occasion can replace each other.
Most important are the duties that fall to the additional naval lord and controller. He has charge of everything that concerns the material of the fleet, and his operations are the complement of the work of the first naval lord. A great number of civil departments are directed by the controller, and his survey and supervision extend to the dockyards and building establishments of the fleet. He submits plans to the Board for new ships, and is responsible for carrying into effect its decisions in regard to all matters of construction and equipment. The building operations both in the dockyards and in private yards are therefore under his supervision. In regard to all these matters the director of naval construction and the engineer-in-chief are the heads of the civil departments that carry on the work. Again, the controller is responsible in regard to armament—both gunnery and torpedo—and it is the work of his department to see to all gunnery and torpedo fittings, and to magazines, shell-rooms and electric apparatus. The officer in immediate charge of this branch of the controller’s work, under his direction, is the director of naval ordnance. In regard to work at the dockyards (q.v.) the controller is aided by the director of dockyards. He supervises this officer in preparing the programme of work done in the dockyards, the provision of the material required and its appropriation to particular work in accordance with the programme. Other officers who conduct great operations under the authority and responsibility of the controller are the director of stores, who maintains all necessary supplies of coal and stores at home and abroad, and examines the store accounts of ships, and the inspector of dockyard expense accounts, who has charge of the accounts of dockyard expenditure and seeing that outlay is charged as directed. In regard to the navy estimates, the controller, through his subordinates, is responsible for the preparation and administration of the votes for shipbuilding and naval armaments, except in regard to some sub-headings of the former, and thus in recent years for the expenditure of something like £15,000,000 or over.
The junior naval lord has in his hands the very important duties that are concerned with the transport, medical and victualling services, as well as the regulation of hospitals, the charge of coaling arrangements for the fleet and other duties that conduce to the practical efficiency of the navy. He also appoints chaplains, naval instructors, medical officers (except in special cases) and officers of the accountant branch. A vast business in regard to the internal economy of ships greatly occupies the junior lord. He has charge, for example, of uniforms, prize-money, bounties, naval savings banks, and pensions to seamen and marines and the widows of naval and marine officers. The work of the junior naval lord places under his direction the director of transports, the director-general of the medical department, the director of victualling, and, in regard to particular matters, the director of stores, the accountant-general, the chaplain of the fleet, and the Intelligence Department, so far as the junior lord’s department is concerned.
The civil lord supervises, through the director of works, the Department of Works, dealing with admiralty buildings and works, construction and labour, contracts and purchases of building stores and land. He is also responsible for the civil staff of the naval establishments, except in regard to certain officials, and for duties connected with Greenwich Hospital, compassionate allowances, charitable funds, and business of like character. The accountant-general, in regard to these matters, is directed by him, and the director of Greenwich Hospital is under his authority.
The parliamentary and financial secretary is responsible for the finance of the department, the navy estimates and matters of expenditure generally, and is consulted in regard to all matters involving reference to the treasury. His position in regard to estimates and expenditure is very important, and the accountant-general is his officer, while he has financial control over the director of contracts. The financial secretary also examines proposals for new expenditure.
A most important official of the Board is the permanent secretary, whose office has been described as the “nerve-centre” of the admiralty, since it is the channel through which papers for the lords of the admiralty pass for the intercommunication of departments and for the correspondence of the Board. The tradition of admiralty procedure largely rests with the permanent secretary, and it is most important that he should be chosen from one of the branches, and should have served in as many of them at possible, in order that he may possess a thorough knowledge of the theory and practice of the admiralty system. In addition to the secretarial duties of the permanent secretary’s department, the permanent secretary has charge of the military, naval and legal branches, each under a principal clerk, the civil branch and the record office. The various branches deal with matters concerning the commissioning of ships and the distribution of the fleet, and the manning and discipline of the navy, with other associated matters, being the channels for the operations of the naval lords. It is a highly important function of the department of the permanent secretary to preserve the inter-related working of the various departments, and to keep unbroken the thread of administration when a new Board is constituted.
3. Business and Responsibility.—The manner in which the Admiralty Board conducts the great operations under its charge has been indicated. It would be impossible here to describe it in detail, though something concerning the civil departments, which are the machinery of naval administration, will be found below. It will, however, indicate the character of admiralty administration if we explain to some extent the conditions which surround the preparation of the estimates and the shipbuilding programme, the more so because this matter has been the battle-ground of critics and supporters of the admiralty. It has already been pointed out that the naval lords, if they dissent from the estimates that are presented, have no remedy but that of protest or resignation. Into the controversies that have arisen as to the responsibility of the several lords it is unnecessary to enter here. The Admiralty Board possesses, in fact, the character of a council, and its members can only be held responsible for their advice. It has even been contended that, in the circumstances, it should not be incumbent upon them to sign the navy estimates, and there have been instances in which the estimates have been presented to parliament without the signature of certain naval lords. It is in any case obvious, as has been explained above, that the ultimate responsibility must always rest with the first lord and the cabinet, by whom the policy of the country is shaped and directed. In the report of the Hartington Commission in 1890 (the chairman of which became 8th duke of Devonshire) to inquire into the civil and professional administration of the Naval and Military Departments, and the relation of these departments to each other and to the treasury, the following recommendation occurs: “On the first lord alone should rest the responsibility of deciding on the provision to be made for the naval requirements of the empire, and the existence of a council should be held in no degree to diminish that responsibility.”
Two conditions primarily rule the determination as to the strength of the navy. They are, the foreign policy of the cabinet, and, on the ground of practical expediency, the amount of money available. “The estimates and strength of the navy,” said Rear-Admiral Hotham before the select committee on the navy estimates, 1888, “are matters for the cabinet to determine.” “Expense,” said Sir Anthony Hoskins, “governs everything.” The needs of the empire and financial considerations, as it is scarcely necessary to remark, may prove to be antithetical conditions governing the same problem, and in practice it follows that the Admiralty Board directs its operations in accordance with the views of the government, but limited by the public funds which are known to be available. Such considerations suggest a practical limitation of responsibility, so far as the several lords of the admiralty are concerned, but it may be presumed to be their duty individually or collectively to place their views before the first lord; and Lord George Hamilton told the select committee of 1888 that, if his colleagues should represent to him that a certain expenditure was indispensable for the efficiency of the service, he would recognize that all financial considerations should be put on one side. The commissioners reported that this was the only common-sense view of the matter, and that it was difficult to see on what other footing the control of navy expenditure, consistently with responsibility to parliament, could be placed.
Two practical considerations are bound up with the shipbuilding programme—the carrying forward of the work in hand and the new construction to be begun, since it is absolutely necessary that proper provision should be made for the employment and distribution of labour in the dockyards, and for the purchase of necessary materials. Through the director of naval construction and the director of dockyards, the controller is kept informed as to the progress of work and the amount of labour required, as also in regard to the building facilities of the yards. These matters, in a general way, must form a subject of discussion between the first naval lord and the controller, who will report on the subject to the first lord. The accountant-general, as the financial officer of the Board, will be called upon to place the proposed estimates upon a financial basis, and when the views of the cabinet are known as to the amount of money available, the several departments charged with the duty of preparing the various votes will proceed with that work. The financial basis alluded to is, of course, found in the estimates of the previous year, modified by the new conditions that arise. There has been in past times a haphazard character in our shipbuilding programmes, but with the introduction of the Naval Defence Act of 1889, which looked ahead and was not content with hand-to-mouth provision, a better state of things has grown up, and with a larger sense of responsibility, a policy characterized by something of continuity has been developed. Certainly the largest factor in the better state of things has been the growth of a strong body of public opinion as to the supreme value of the navy for national and imperial welfare.
Another important and related matter that comes before the Board of Admiralty is the character and design of ships. The naval members of the Board indicate the classes and qualities desired, and it is the practice that the sketch-design, presented in accordance with the instructions, is fully discussed by the first naval lord and the controller, and afterwards by the Board. The design then takes further shape, and when it has received the final sanction of the Board it cannot be altered without the sanction of the same authority. A similar procedure is found in the other business of the Admiralty Board, such as shore-works, docks and the preparation of offensive and defensive plans of warfare—the last being a very important matter that falls into the operations of the Naval Intelligence Department, which has been described, though not with perfect accuracy, and certainly in no large sense, as “the brain of the navy.” That department is under the direction of the first naval lord.
The shipbuilding programme may be described as the cornerstone of the executive business of the admiralty, because upon it depends very largely the preparation of all the other votes relating to numbers, stores, victualling, clothing, &c. But if the Admiralty Board is responsible through the first lord for the preparation of the estimates, it is also charged with the business of supervising expenditure. In this matter the financial secretary plays a large part, and is directed to assist the spending department of the admiralty in their duty of watching the progress of their liabilities and disbursements. Some notes on admiralty finance will be found below (section 4). The shipbuilding votes set the larger machinery of the admiralty in motion. The executive departments, except in regard to the hulls and machinery of ships and the special requirements of the director of works, do not make purchases of stores, that work resting with the director of navy contracts. Most of the important executive and spending branches are in the department of the controller, and it will be well, while we are dealing with the material side of the navy, to describe briefly their character and duties. The civil branches of the navy tributary to the controller are those of the director of naval construction, the engineer-in-chief, the directors of naval ordnance, of dockyards and of stores, and the inspector of dockyard expense accounts. The first duty of the controller is, as has been explained, in relation to the design and construction of ships and their machinery, and the executive officials who have charge of that work are the director of naval construction and the engineer-in-chief, whose operations are closely interrelated. A vast administrative stride has been made in this particular branch of the admiralty. The work of design and construction now go forward together, and the admiralty designers are in close touch with the work in hand at the dockyards. This has been largely brought about by the institution, in 1883, of the royal corps of naval constructors, whose members interchange their duties between the designing of ships at the admiralty and practical work at the dockyards. It is through the director of naval construction that many of the spending departments are set in motion, since he is responsible both for the design of ships and for their construction. It deserves to be noticed, however, that a certain obscurity exists in regard to the relative duties of the director of naval construction and the director of dockyards touching constructive works in the yards. The former officer has also charge of all the work given out to contract, though it is the business of the dockyard officials to certify that the conditions of the contract have been fulfilled. In all this work the director of naval construction collaborates with the engineer-in-chief, who is an independent officer and not a subordinate, and whose procedure in regard to machinery closely resembles that adopted in the matter of contract-built ships.
The director of naval ordnance is another officer of the Controller’s Department whose operations are very closely related to the duties of the director of naval construction, and the relation is both intimate and sustained, for in the Ordnance Department everything that relates to guns, gun-mountings, magazines, torpedo apparatus, electrical fittings for guns, and other electrical fittings is centred. A singular feature of this branch of administration is that the navy long since lost direct control of ordnance matters, through the duties connected with naval gunnery, formerly in the hands of the master-general of the ordnance, and those of the Board of Ordnance—a department common to the sea and land services—being vested in 1855 in the secretary of state for war. A more satisfactory state of things has grown up through the appointment of the director of naval ordnance, taking the place of the naval officer who formerly advised the director of artillery at the War Office. Expenditure on ordnance has also been transferred from the army to the navy estimates, and a Naval Ordnance Store Department has been created. It cannot be said that the condition is yet satisfactory, nor can it be until the navy has control of and responsibility for its own ordnance. The assistant-director of torpedoes is an officer instituted at the admiralty within recent years, and his duty is to assist the director of naval ordnance in all torpedo matters.
The director of dockyards replaced the surveyor of dockyards in 1885, at about which time the inspector of dockyard expense accounts was instituted. It is upon the director of dockyards (q.v.) that the responsibility of the controller devolves in regard to the management of dockyards and naval establishments at home and abroad, and to the performance of work in these establishments, ship and boat building, maintenance, repairs and refits. In this department the programme for work in the dockyards is prepared, as well as certain sections of the navy estimates.
We now come to the Stores Department, with the director of stores as its chief. This officer, about the year 1869, took over the storekeeping duties previously vested in the storekeeper-general. The Naval Store Department is charged with the custody and issue of naval, as distinguished from victualling and ordnance stores, to be used in naval dockyards and establishments for the building, fitting and repairing of warships. It has, however, no concern with stores that belong to the Department of Works. The business of the director of stores is also to receive and issue the stores for ships of all classes in commission and reserve, and he deals with a vast array of objects and materials necessary for the fleet, and with coals and coaling. He frames the estimates for his department, but his purchases are made through the director of navy contracts. In practice the main business of the Stores Department is to see to the provision of stores for the navy, and to the proper supply of these at all the establishments, and for this purpose its officials direct the movements of storeships, and arrange for the despatch of colliers, the director being charged to be “careful to provide for His Majesty’s ships on foreign stations, and for the necessary supplies to foreign yards.” Another important business of the director of stores is the examination of the store accounts of ships as well as some other accounts. Although the director of stores is really in the department of the controller, he is supervised in regard to the coaling of the fleet by the junior naval lord. The inspector of dockyard expense accounts has been alluded to. He is the officer charged with keeping a record of expenditure at the dockyards and of supervising expense accounts.
It may be useful to add a note concerning the spending of the money. Within the controller’s department, as has been explained, are centred the more important spending branches of the admiralty. While the work of designing ships and preparing plans is in progress, the director Expenditure.of stores, the director of dockyards and other officials of that department concerned are making preparation for the work. The necessary stores, comprising almost every imaginable class of materials, are brought together, and the director of stores is specially charged to obtain accurate information in regard to requirements. He is not, however, a purchasing officer, that work being undertaken by the director of navy contracts, who is concerned with the whole business of supply, except in regard to hulls and machinery of ships built by contract, and the special requirements of the director of works. At the same time, the civil departments of the admiralty being held responsible for the administration of the votes they compile, it is their duty to watch the outlay of money, and to see that it is well expended, the accountant-general being directed to assist them in this work. The system is closely jointed and well administered, but it possesses a very centralized character, which interferes to some extent with flexible working, and with the progress of necessary repairs, especially in foreign yards. In so far as ships given out to contract are concerned (and the same is the case in regard to propelling machinery built by contract), the director of navy contracts plays no part, the professional business being conducted through the controller of the navy, who is advised thereon by the director of naval construction and the engineer-in-chief. The work conducted in private establishments is closely watched by the admiralty officials, and is thoroughly tested, but, mutatis mutandis, the system in regard to contract-built ships is practically the same as that which prevails in the dockyards.
4. Naval Finance: The Accountant-General’s Department.—The subject of naval finance is one of great complexity and of vast importance. The large sums of money with which the admiralty deals in the way of both estimates and expenditure, amounting recently to about £30,000,000 annually, implies the existence of the great organization which is found in the department of the accountant-general of the navy. Under the authority of the first lord, the parliamentary and financial secretary is responsible for the finance of the admiralty in general, and for the estimates and the expenditure, the accounts and the purchases, and for all matters which concern the relations of the admiralty to the treasury and to other departments of the government; and in all the practical and advisory work the accountant-general is his officer, acting as his assistant, with the director of naval contracts who, under the several lords, is concerned with the business of purchase.
The organization of the accountant-general’s department has undergone many changes, and the resulting condition is the outcome of various modifications which have had for their purpose to give to this officer a measure of financial control. There have been various views as to what the duties of the accountant-general should be. After the reorganization of the admiralty by Sir James Graham in 1832, the accountant-general was regarded as a recording and accounting officer, wholly concerned with receipt and expenditure. His duties were limited to the auditing of accounts, payments and expenditure generally. Owing to changes effected in 1869, which made the parliamentary secretary, assisted by the civil lord, responsible for finance at the admiralty, bringing the naval and victualling store departments into his charge, the accountant-general was invested with the power of criticizing these accounts financially, though he did not as yet possess any financial control, and the position was little changed by fresh rules made in 1876. It was not until 1880 that the powers of the accountant-general were enlarged in this direction. It was then ordered that he should be consulted before any expenditure which the estimates had not provided for was incurred, and before any money voted was applied to other purposes than those for which it was provided. The effect of this order was not happy, for the accountant-general could not undertake these duties without setting up friction with the departments whose accounts he criticized. It was contemplated by the admiralty in 1885 to make the accountant-general the assistant of the financial secretary, and to raise him to the position of a permanent officer of finance instead of being an officer of account invested with imperfect authority in the direction of control. A select committee of the House of Commons reported that the accountant-general possessed no financial control over the departments, and that there was an urgent need for establishing such a control. At the time the position of that officer did not enable him to exercise any sufficient general supervision over expenditure, and there was no permanent high official expressly charged with finance. Accordingly, after being submitted to a departmental committee, a fresh arrangement was made in November 1885, whereby the accountant-general, under the authority of the financial secretary, was given a direct share in the preparation of the estimates. His written concurrence was required before the final approval of the votes, and each vote was referred to him for his approval or observations, and he was to exercise a financial review of expenditure and to see that it was properly accounted for. He became, in fact, “the officer to be consulted on all matters involving an expenditure of naval funds.” It was believed that economical administration would result; but much opposition was raised to the principle that was involved of submitting the proposals of responsible departments to the inexpert criticism of a financial authority. Mr Main, assistant accountant-general, stated before the Royal Commission on Civil Establishments, 1887, that the effect had been to develop a tendency to withhold information or to afford only partial information, as well as to cause friction when questions were raised affecting expenditure, accompanied by protests, even in those cases in which these questions were manifestly of a legitimate character. The result was discouraging, and in the opinion of Mr Main had done much to weaken financial control and to defeat the purpose of the order. It is unnecessary to detail the various changes that have been made by the institution of dockyard expense accounts in the department of the controller, and by various other alterations introduced. The treasury instituted an independent audit of store accounts which greatly affected the position of the accountant-general, and the Royal Commission on Civil Establishments reported that the Board of Admiralty were of opinion that they could dispense with the accountant-general’s review altogether. The commission was, however, of opinion that the accountant-general should be the permanent assistant and adviser, on all matters involving the outlay of public money, of the financial secretary.
The operations of the accountant-general are now conducted in accordance with the order in council of the 18th of November 1885, and of an office memorandum issued shortly afterwards. He thus acts as deputy and assistant of the parliamentary and financial secretary, and works with a finance committee within the admiralty, of which the financial secretary is president and the accountant-general himself vice-president. The duties of the department are precisely defined as consisting in the criticism of the annual estimates as to their sufficiency before they are passed, and in advising the financial and parliamentary secretary as to their satisfying the ordinary conditions of economy. The accountant-general also reviews the progress of liabilities and expenditure, and in relation to dockyard expenditure he considers the proposed programme of construction as it affects labour, material and machinery. He further reviews current expenditure, or the employment of labour and material, as distinguished from cash payments of the yard, as well as proposals for the spending of money on new work or repairs of any kind for which estimates are currently proposed. The accountant-general’s department has three principal divisions: the estimates division, the navy pay division, and the invoices and claims division. In the first of these is the ledger branch, occupied with the work of accounts under the several votes and sub-heads of votes, and with preparing the navy appropriation account, as well as the estimates and liabilities branch, in which the navy estimates are largely prepared after having been proposed and worked out in the executive departments of the admiralty. There are also ships' establishments and salaries branches. The navy pay division includes the full and half-pay branch and a registry section. There is also the seamen’s pay branch, which audits ships' ledgers and wages, and has charge of all matters concerning the wages of seamen. The victualling audit is also in this branch, and is concerned with payments for savings in lieu of victualling and some other matters. Further, the navy pay division examines ships' ledgers, and is concerned with the service, characters, ages, &c., of men as well as with allotments and pensions. The third division of the accountant-general’s department, known as that of invoices and claims, conducts a vast amount of clerical work through many branches, and is concerned with the management of naval savings banks and matters touching prize-money and bounties.
The importance of this great department of the admiralty cannot be overrated. It is, in the first place, of supreme importance that the navy estimates should be placed upon a sound financial basis; and in practice the Board requires the concurrence of the accountant-general to the votes before they are approved, and thus in greater or less degree this officer is concerned in the preparation of every one of the votes. He does not concern himself with matters of larger policy outside the domain of finance, and it must be confessed that there appears to be something anomalous in his “review” of naval expenditure. It is, however, a mark of the flexibility or elasticity of the admiralty system that in practice the operations of the accountant-general’s department work easily, and that admiralty finance is recognized as having been placed upon a sound and efficient basis. There are important financial officers outside the accountant-general’s department concerned with assisting the controller. The inspector of dockyard expense accounts, who is entirely in the controller’s department, enables him to exercise careful supervision over expenditure and the distribution of funds to special purposes. This work, however, though highly important, is merely one part of the system of financial control. Within recent years the bonds have been considerably tightened, and the work is untainted by corruption. It is true that in exercising rigid supervision over expenditure the work has become more centralized than is desirable, and it is a mark of change within recent years that local officers have been in larger measure deprived of independent powers. This, indeed, is a necessary condition of financial control, or at least a condition which it is not easy to change where rigid control is necessary.
5. Mobilization of the Fleet.—By the mobilization of the fleet is meant the placing of naval resources upon a war footing, in readiness in all material and personal respects for hostile operations. A complete mobilization for purposes of practice in peace time would dislocate seafaring life in a manner which would be justifiable only by actual war. Thus no country in peace manœuvres calls out all its naval reserves, or makes use of the auxiliary cruisers—merchant ships for which a subvention is paid, and which are constructed with a view to use in warfare. Experience has shown that when vessels are commissioned they are liable to numerous small breakdowns of their machinery if they are manned by crews who have no familiarity with them. Many accidents of this kind had occurred in the British navy at manœuvres, though it could not be shown that the vessel was defective, or that the crew was either untrained or negligent. These experiments led the admiralty to adopt a new system in 1904, designed to obviate the risk that vessels would be crippled at a critical moment by want of acquaintance on the part of the crew with their machinery. Under this system all vessels which are considered to be available for war are divided into two classes:—first, those in full commission which constitute the different squadrons maintained at all times; and secondly, those which form the reserve and are kept in partial commission—or rather partially manned though in commission. These are kept at the home ports—Chatham, Portsmouth, Plymouth—in reserve squadrons under a flag-officer who will command them in war. Each vessel has a captain, a second in command, and a proportion of other officers including engineer, navigating and torpedo officers. Two-fifths of her full complement of crew are always on board, and they include the most skilled men needed for the proper management of the machinery of all kinds—more especially that of the torpedoes and guns. These vessels go to sea for periodical practice. When therefore line fleet must be mobilized for war it will only be necessary to fill up the number of trained men by the less skilled hands from the naval barracks occupied by the sailors not belonging to any particular ship, or from the naval reserve. All ranks of the navy are placed on a roster by which they successively serve in ships in full commission, are quartered in the naval barracks and drafted from them to the ships of the reserve, from which they return to the sea-going ships. It is calculated that there are always men enough in the barracks to complete the crews of a small squadron for emergency service without disturbing the regular routine of the peace establishment. The British admiralty may claim that though the machinery at its command in the past was not perfect it has commonly been able to send a squadron to sea more rapidly than any other power in Europe. Much depends on the arrangement of the stores as well as the disposition of the men. The introduction at the end of the 18th century of the businesslike practice of keeping the fittings of each ship together by themselves, did much to facilitate the rapid mobilization of a portion of the British fleet in 1790 which impressed all Europe. The prompt manning of a special service squadron in 1895 in consequence of the troubles then arising in connexion with the former South African Republic, showed that even before its plans for mobilization were completed the admiralty had its resources well in hand. (R. V. H.)
As regards the navies of countries other than Great Britain, their government is in the hands of ministers or departments variously constituted. The Russian admiralty is a highly organized bureau, divided into departments, and under the supreme control of a high admiral, usually a Other countries.grand duke of the Imperial House. The German admiralty was, till 1872, a branch of the War Office, though governed by a vice-admiral under a naval prince of the reigning family. In 1872 it was severed from the War Office, though remaining an appanage thereof, and a general of the army was placed at its head. The French minister of marine, assisted by a permanent staff, controls the navy of France on a highly centralized system of administration; but the departments are well organized, and work well. The Italian fleet is governed on principles analogous to the French, but with a large admixture of the English representative element. The American system is worth describing in more detail.
The president of the United States is commander-in-chief of the navy—a constitutional prerogative which he seldom asserts. The Navy Department is administered by a civilian secretary of the navy—a cabinet officer appointed by the president—who exercises general supervision. United States
Navy Department.Next in authority is the assistant-secretary, also a civilian nominee, who acts as an assistant, and has, besides, certain specific duties, including general supervision of the marine corps, naval militia and naval stations beyond the continental limits of the United States. The details of administration are supervised by the chiefs of bureaus, of which there are eight. They are appointed by the president from the navy list for a period of four years, and have the rank of rear-admiral while serving in this capacity. They have direct control of the business and correspondence pertaining to their respective bureaus; and orders emanating from them have the same force as though issued by the secretary.
The bureau of navigation is the executive, or military, bureau, and as such promulgates and enforces the orders and regulations prescribed by the secretary; it has general direction of the procurement, education, assignment and discipline of the personnel. It also controls the movements of ships, including the authorization of manœuvres and drills, such as target practice. The bureau of equipment has charge of all electrical appliances, compasses, charts and fuel, and generally all that relates to the equipment of vessels, exclusive of those articles that come naturally under the cognizance of other bureaus. It has charge of the naval observatory, where the Ephemeris is prepared annually, and of the hydrographic office, where charts, sailing directions, notices to mariners, &c., are issued. The bureau of ordnance has charge of the gun factory, proving ground, and torpedo station, and all naval magazines; all the details that pertain to the manufacture, tests, installation or storage of all offensive and defensive apparatus, including armour, ammunition hoists, ammunition rooms, &c., though much of the actual installation is performed by the bureau of construction after consultation with the bureau of ordnance. The bureau of construction and repair has charge of the designing, building and repairing of hulls of ships, including turrets, spars and many other accessories. It builds all boats, has charge of the docking of vessels and the care of ships in reserve. The chief of this bureau is usually a naval constructor. The bureau of steam engineering has charge of all that relates to the designing, building and repairing of steam machinery, and of all the steam connexions on board ship. The bureau of supplies and accounts procures and distributes provisions, clothing and supplies of the pay department afloat, and acts as the purchasing agent for all materials used at naval stations, except for the medical department and marine corps. It also has charge of the disbursement of money and keeping of accounts. The chief of this bureau is a pay officer. The bureau of medicine and surgery has charge of all naval hospitals, dispensaries and laboratories, and of all that pertains to the care of sick afloat and ashore. The chief of this bureau is a medical officer. The bureau of yards and docks has charge of construction and maintenance of wet and dry docks, buildings, railways, cranes, and generally all permanent constructions at naval stations. The chief of this bureau is often a civil engineer.
Under the cognizance of the secretary’s office is the office of the judge-advocate-general, an officer selected by the president from the navy list for a term of four years, with the rank of captain while so serving. He is legal adviser to the department, and reviews the records of all courts and statutory boards. Under the cognizance of the assistant-secretary’s office is the office of naval intelligence, which collates information on naval matters obtainable at home and abroad. The staff is composed of naval officers on shore duty, the senior in charge being usually a captain, and known as chief intelligence officer. Several boards are employed under the various bureaus, or directly as advisers to the secretary. Some are permanent in character, while others are composed of officers employed on other duty, and are convoked periodically or when required. The naval policy board is composed of officers of high rank, and meets once a month; its duties conform to those of the general staff in armies. The board of construction consists of the chiefs of bureaus of ordnance, equipment, construction and repair, steam engineering, and the chief intelligence officer. Its duty is to advise the secretary in all matters relating to the construction policy in detail. The general construction policy is suggested by the naval policy board. The board of inspection and survey is composed of representatives of all bureaus, who inspect vessels soon after commission and on return from a cruise, and report on the condition of the ship and efficiency of its personnel; it also conducts the official trials of new vessels. The boards for the examination of officers for promotion are composed of officers of the corps to which the candidate belongs and of medical officers. Every officer is examined professionally, morally and physically at each promotion. The Navy Department is located at Washington, D.C., and occupies a building together with the State and War Departments (the latter being charged solely with army affairs).
The personnel (see also under Navy) is limited in number by law. The engineer corps was abolished in 1899, the then engineer-officers becoming line officers in their respective relative grades. Line officers are the military and executive branch, and are required besides to perform engineer duties. They are graduates of the Naval Academy. Vacancies occurring in the construction corps are filled from the graduates of the Naval Academy having the highest standing in scholarship, who are given a two years’ graduate course, generally abroad, on being graduated from the Academy, and are then appointed assistant naval constructors. All other staff officers are appointed directly from civil life by the president, from candidates passing prescribed examinations. Each representative and delegate in Congress has authority to nominate a candidate for naval cadet whenever his congressional district has no representative in the Naval Academy. The candidate must be a resident of the district which the congressman represents, between fifteen and twenty years old, and must pass prescribed mental and physical examinations. The president is allowed ten representatives at the Academy at all times, appointed “at large,” and one appointed from the District of Columbia.
The course of instruction at the Academy is four years, each comprising eight months’ study, three months’ practice cruise, and one month’s furlough. At the expiration of four years, cadets are sent to cruising ships for two years’ further instruction, and are then commissioned ensigns. After three years’ further sea service, ensigns are promoted to lieutenants (junior grade). After this, promotion is dependent upon seniority alone, the senior officer in any grade being promoted to the lowest number in the next higher grade when a vacancy occurs in the higher grade, and not before. All officers are retired on three-fourths sea pay at the age of sixty-two, or whenever a board of medical officers certifies that an officer is not physically qualified to perform all duties of his grade. A few officers are allowed to retire voluntarily in certain circumstances, to stimulate promotion. Any officer on the retired list may be ordered by the secretary to such duty as he may be able to perform: this is a legal provision to provide for emergencies. Promotion in the staff corps is dependent upon seniority, though relative rank in the lower grades in some corps somewhat depends upon promotion of line officers of the same length of service, and accounts for the existence of staff officers in the same grade having different ranks. All sea-going officers, after commission, are required to spend three years at sea, and are then usually employed on shore-duty for a time, according to the needs of the service—short terms of shore-duty thereafter alternating with three-year cruises. This rule is adhered to as strictly as circumstances will permit. Shore-duty includes executive or distinctly professional duties in the Navy Department, under its bureaus, and at navy yards and stations; inspection of ordnance, machinery, dynamos, &c., under construction by private firms; duty on numerous temporary or permanent boards; instructors at the Naval Academy; recruiting duty; charge of branch hydrographic offices; inspection duty in the lighthouse establishment; at state nautical schools; as attaches with United States legations; and many others. Naval constructors (usually), civil engineers and professors of mathematics are continuously employed on shore-duty connected with their professions, the Naval Observatory, Nautical Almanac and the Naval Academy employing most of the last.
Warrant officers (boatswains, gunners, carpenters, sailmakers, warrant machinists and pharmacists) are appointed by the secretary, preference being given to enlisted men in the navy who have shown marked ability for the positions. They must be between twenty-one and thirty-five years of age, and pass an examination. After serving satisfactorily for one year under an acting appointment, they receive warrants that secure the permanency of their office. Ten years after appointment, boatswains, gunners, carpenters and sailmakers are eligible for examination for a commission as chief-boatswain, &c., and as such they rank with, but next after, ensigns. Mates are rated by the secretary from seamen or ordinary seamen. They have no relative rank, but take precedence of all petty officers. Their duties approximate to those of boatswains, though they seldom serve on large cruising vessels. Clerks to pay officers are appointed by the secretary on the nominations of the pay officers. They have no rank and are not promoted or retired. Their appointments are revoked when their services are no longer needed.
Boys between fifteen and seventeen years old of good character, who can read and write and pass the physical examination, may enlist for the term of their minority. They enlist as third-class apprentices, and are given six months’ instruction at a training station, and thence go to sea in apprentice training vessels. When proficient they are transferred to regular cruising vessels as second class, and when further qualified are rated first class. All other enlistments are for four years. Recruits must speak English. Landsmen are usually sent to sea on special training-ships until proficient, and are then sent into general service. Raw recruits may enlist as landsmen, or coal-passers or mess attendants. Ordinary seamen must have served two years, and seamen four years before the mast, prior to first enlistment as such; and before enlistment in any other rating allowed on first enlistment, applicants must prove their ability to hold such rating. Landsmen, coal-passers, &c., as soon as they become proficient, are advanced to higher grades, and, if American citizens, may eventually become petty officers (ranking with army non-commissioned officers), with acting appointments. In twelve months, or as soon thereafter as proficiency is established, the acting appointment is made permanent, and an acting appointment for the next higher grade is issued, &c. Permanent appointments are not revokable except by sentence of court-martial, and a man re-enlists in that rating for which he held a permanent appointment in his previous enlistment. All persons re-enlisting within four months after expiration of previous enlistment are entitled to a bounty equal to four months’ pay, and in addition receive a “continuous service certificate,” which entitles them to higher pay and to other special considerations. The same is true for each re-enlistment. When an enlisted man completes thirty years’ service and is over fifty years of age he may retire on three-fourths pay.
The Marine corps (see Marines) is a wholly separate military body, but it is under the control of the Navy Department.
United States naval vessels are, as a rule, built at private yards under contracts awarded after competition. The government is not committed to any fixed policy or building programme. Each year the secretary recommends certain new construction. The final action rests with Congress, which must appropriate money for the new ships before the construction can be commenced. Repairing and reconstruction are usually done at government navy yards.Ships in commission are distributed among five stations: (1) the North Atlantic, i.e. the Atlantic coast of the United States, Central America, and South America as far as the Amazon, also the West Indies; (2) the South Atlantic, i.e. the remainder of the Atlantic coast of South America and both coasts of South Africa; (3) the European, comprising the coast of Europe, including the inland seas, and the North Atlantic coast of Africa; (4) the Asiatic station, comprising the coast of Asia, including the islands north of the equator, also the east coast of North Africa; (5) the Pacific station, comprising the Pacific coast of North and South America, and Australia and the adjacent islands lying south of the equator. Each station is commanded by a flag officer, and the number of ships under the command varies according to circumstances. Ships in commission on special service, such as training, gunnery, surveying ships, &c., are not attached to stations. The shore stations of the navy are enumerated in the article on Dockyards. (W. T. S.)
- The Board of Ordnance was originally instituted for the navy, but eventually fell into military hands, to the detriment of the navy—the only navy of any nation that has not full authority over its own ordnance. In 1653, according to Oppenheim, it was, owing to its inefficiency, placed under the admiralty. In 1632 it appears to have been independent, but “still retained that evil pre-eminence in sloth and incapacity it had already earned and has never since lost.”
- Admiral Sir Cooper Key, when director of naval ordnance during Mr Childers’ administration, observed to the writer that no first lord of the admiralty knew so little of the working of the admiralty as Mr Childers, because, owing to the discontinuance of board meetings, he lost the great advantage of hearing the discussion. (R. V. H.)
- The drawback is, that a naval lord can only go on leave by throwing all his work on a colleague already overweighted with work.