December 1885, is responsible to the controller for the building of ships, boats, &c., in dockyards, and for the maintenance and repair of ships and boats, and of all steam machinery in ships, boats, dockyards and factories. The director of naval construction, who is also deputy-controller, is responsible, not only for the design of ships, but for their construction, in the sense that he approves great numbers of working drawings of structural parts prepared at the dockyards. But the director of dockyards is the admiralty official under whose instructions the work goes on, involving the employment and supervision of an army of artisans and labourers. Instructions, therefore, emanate from the admiralty, but the details lie with the dockyard officials, and in practice there is a considerable decentralization of duties.
The chief function of a dockyard is the building and maintaining of ships in efficiency. The constructive work is carried out under the care of the chief constructor of the yard, in accordance with plans sent down from the admiralty. The calculations for displacement, involving the draught of water forward and aft, have already been made, and, in order to ensure accuracy in the carrying out of the design, an admirable system has been devised for weighing everything that is built into the new ships or that goes on board; and it is astonishing how very closely the actual displacement approximates to that which was intended, particularly when the tendency of weights to increase, in perfecting a ship for commission, is considered.
The ship having been built to her launching weight, the duty of putting her into the water devolves upon the chief constructor of the yard, and failures in this matter are so extremely rare that it may almost be said they do not occur. As soon as the ship is water-borne the responsibility falls upon the king’s harbour master, who has charge of her afloat and of moving her into the fitting basins. When the ship has been brought alongside the wharf, the responsibility of the chief constructor of the yard is resumed, and the ship is carried forward to completion by the affixing of armour plating (if that has not been done before launching), the mounting of guns, the instalment of engines, boilers, and electrical and hydraulic gear, and the fitting of cabins for officers, mess places for men, and storerooms, and a vast volume of other work unnecessary to be specified. In regard to the complicated details of guns and torpedoes, the captains of the gunnery and torpedo schools have a function of supervision. The captain of the fleet reserve also closely watches the work, because, when the heads of all departments have reported the ship to be ready, she has to be inspected by the commander-in-chief at the port, and then passed into the fleet reserve as ready for sea, and there the captain of the fleet reserve is responsible for her efficiency. Other important officers of a dockyard are the chief engineer; the superintendent civil engineer, who has charge of the work involved in keeping all buildings, docks, basins, caissons, roads, &c., in repair; the naval store officer, who has charge of most of the stores in the dockyard; and the cashier of the yard, whose name sufficiently expresses his duties.
The system of conducting business at the dockyards is analogous to that which prevails at the admiralty. There is personal communication between the officers responsible for the work, and facilities are afforded for coming to rapid decisions upon matters that are in hand, and the operations are conducted with an ease which contributes much to efficiency. In 1844 the custom was introduced of all the principal officers of the dockyard meeting at the superintendent’s office at 9.30 A.M. every day, to hear the orders from the admiralty and discuss the work of the day. But this system of “readings” was abolished at the beginning of 1906, the naval establishments inquiry committee considering that the assembling of the officials was unnecessary since the communications after reception are copied and sent to the departments concerned.
The police force necessary in a dockyard is in some cases supplied from the London metropolitan police, and is under the orders of the superintendent of the yard for duties connected with it, and under the commissioner of police for the discipline and disposition of the force. The charges are, of course, paid by the admiralty, and the system answers well.
United States.—The shore stations under control of the Navy Department (see also Admiralty Administration), and collectively known as naval stations, are under different names according to their nature. Of those called Navy Yards, and intended for the general purpose of sources of supply and for repairs of ships, there are within the United States eight in number. Two of them are on the Pacific coast, situated on Puget Sound, at Bremerton, Washington; and at Mare Island, near San Francisco. The other six are on the Atlantic coast, and are situated at Portsmouth, N.H.; Boston, Mass.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Washington, D.C.; and Norfolk, Va. There are also naval stations at Port Royal and Charleston, S.C.; Key West and Pensacola, Fla.; New Orleans, La.; Guantanamo, Cuba; Culebra and San Juan, Porto Rico; Honolulu, H.I.; Cavite, P.I.; Tutuila, Samoa; and Island of Guam, in the Ladrones Islands. The floating dock Dewey, having a lifting capacity of 18,500 gross tons with a free-board of 2 ft., was stationed in the Philippine Islands in 1906.
Besides these, there are important naval stations established for special purposes, which in some cases are also available for ports of supply and for repairs. These are: the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., for the instruction of naval cadets; the training stations at Newport, R.I., and Yerba Buena Island, Cal., for the instruction of apprentices; the proving ground at Indian Head, Md., on the Potomac river, where all government-built ordnance is tested; the War College at Newport, R.I., for the instruction of officers; the torpedo station at Newport, for the instruction of officers and men in torpedoes, electricity and submarine diving; the naval observatory at Washington; and the marine post at Sitka, Alaska. Coaling depôts have been established at Honolulu, Pago Pago, Samoan Islands, and at Manila, P.I. Naval hospitals are located at the Portsmouth, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Norfolk and Mare Island yards; at Las Animas, Colo.; at Newport, R.I.; Cañacao, P.I.; Sitka, Alaska; and Yokohama, Japan.
The commandant of a navy yard and station, who is usually a rear-admiral, is its commander-in-chief. His official assistants are called heads of departments. The captain of the yard, who is next in succession to command, has general charge of the water front and the ships moored there, and of the police of the navy yard; it is his duty to keep the commandant informed as to the nature and efficiency of all work in progress. The equipment officer has charge of anchors, chains, rigging, sails and the electric generating plant. The other heads of departments are the ordnance officer, the naval constructor, the engineering officer, the general storekeeper, the paymaster of the yard, the surgeon and the civil engineer. The clerks and draughtsmen employed by these officers are appointed under civil service rules, and their employment is continuous so long as funds are available. The foremen are selected by competitive examination, and their number is fixed. In the employment of mechanics and labourers, veterans are given preference, after which follow persons previously employed who have displayed especial efficiency and good conduct. The rates of wages are determined semi-annually by a board of officers, who ascertain the wages paid by private establishments in the vicinity of the navy yard. Eight hours constitute the legal work day. When emergencies necessitate longer hours the workmen are paid at the ordinary rate plus 50%.
The nature and extent of work to be performed upon naval vessels is determined by the secretary of the navy; the commandant then issues the necessary orders. The material required is obtained by a system of requisitions, which provide for the purchase from the lowest bidder after open competition. Heads of departments initiate the purchase of materials which are peculiar to their own work; ordinary commercial articles, however, are usually carried in a special stock called the “Naval Supply Fund,” which may be drawn upon by any head of department. All materials are inspected, both as to quantity and quality, by a board of inspectors consisting of three officers.
France.—The French coast is divided into five naval arrondissements, which have their headquarters at the five naval ports of