The New Student's Reference Work/Naval Reserve

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Naval Reserve. In all the more important countries, in addition to the regular naval forces serving continuously with the fleet, there are others who are drilled and instructed in order to be able to supplement the regular naval forces in time of war. In times of peace these men are largely employed in the merchant marine, yachts, auxiliary government service, or are pensioners. The reserves of the French, German and Italian navies are derived chiefly from honorably discharged men who have served the required term of enlistment, but others, as fishermen, merchant sailors and those pursuing such other callings as afford experience useful in the war fleet, are employed. The naval reserve force of France numbered in 1906 about 114,000, more than 25,000 of whom were serving with the fleet; and the German naval reserve force numbered 110,000. The Russian naval reserve force is somewhat similarly derived, but contains a greater proportion of untrained men unfamiliar with nautical life. The British naval reserve force is made up of the Royal naval reserve, the Royal fleet reserve and pensioners. The United States has no national naval reserve force, but has what is called a Naval Militia, which in a way answers the same purpose. There have been frequent efforts to secure the necessary legislation for the establishment of a regular naval reserve, and the Naval Militia is the chief result of these efforts. In 1887 a bill was introduced in Congress "to create a naval reserve of auxiliary cruisers, officers and men from the merchant marines of the United States," but it was not passed. In the same year the Navy Department prepared a plan of organization for a naval militia. In May of 1888 the legislature of Massachusetts provided by enactment for the establishment of a naval battalion to be attached to the state volunteer militia. In the same year Pennsylvania and Rhode Island and in June of 1889 New York followed with similar legislation. The Massachusetts naval battalion was drilled on board the receiving ship Wabash and the New York battalion on the receiving ship Minnesota. Nothing more was done until March 2, 1891, when Congress appropriated $25,000 for arms and equipment of naval militia. A few weeks later California created by legislative enactment a naval battalion, and North Carolina with executive sanction and Texas by order of the governor did likewise. Ten other states and the District of Columbia have since made similar provisions. Now naval militia are organized in 16 states and the District of Columbia with 474 commissioned officers and 5,275 enlisted men, involving an annual expenditure by the national government of about $75,000. All matters relating to the naval militia come under the cognizance of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, who transacts all business relative thereto through the governors and adjutant-generals of the states.