« AnteriorContinuar »
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.
The career of an officer in the Navy begins with his nomination as a naval 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 naval 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 conducted 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 gunnery 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.
EXECUTIVE OFFICERS ASSIGNED TO SPECIAL DUTIES.
Besides the ordinary duties incident to the career of an executive officer in the Navy, officers who are specially qualified, or who have special tastes for one branch of their profession, are given an opportunity and are even encouraged to devote themselves specially to it. At present there are four of these branches, and the number seems likely to increase. They are as follows:
1. Navigating officer.
2. Gunnery lieutenant. 3. Torpedo lieutenant.
Officers choosing one of these branches have to go through a special course, or at least to pass a special examination. They are not exempted from their ordinary duties as executive officers, but they remain in the line of promotion, and they are given certain emoluments and privileges, mainly in the shape of extra pay and special service; in some cases, also, of more rapid promotion. A distinguishing mark is affixed to their names in the Navy List, and, in general, their extra effort receives full and substantial recognition.
The question of encouraging specialties in naval education and administration is one which has been much discussed, and about which opinions differ; but the full trial which the system has received in England, and its marked success, make it worthy of the most careful consideration. In a profession as varied and as many-sided as that of a naval officer, there is room for the indulgence of every taste, and use for every form of talent. Of course, the first object is to produce officers who can manage ships and fight ships. Seamanship, navigation, gunnery, and steam-engineering, in their broadest sense, form, if not the foundation, at least the essential superstructure, of naval education. Every officer must receive a certain training in these branches to fit him for his ordinary duties and enable him to meet extraordinary emergencies. But there are other duties incident to the naval profession, and useful alike in peace and in war, which call for a high order of special talent and a high degree of special acquisition. For some one or other of these duties or branches, all officers have sufficient time, while tastes and aptitudes vary; and it is to employ this spare time, and to utilize these particular aptitudes, that an opportunity is given in the English service to cultivate specialties. It has not been found that this system * The term "executive officer," as used in the English Navy, and as generally used in this report, refers to officers of the executive branch, or "line officers," as they are called in our own Navy.
The table given in the Appendix, Note A, shows the rate of extra pay in each case.
injures the general efficiency of individuals who take advantage of it, while it adds incalculably to the strength and usefulness of the service as a whole. It gives the Admiralty men of high scientific training for every kind of work which needs such training; while the presence in the service of officers so trained tends to leaven the whole body and to raise the standard of professional knowledge.
It is upon this principle that the general system of education in the English Navy is largely based. The course of study and practice is uniform for all officers up to the final examination of sub-lieutenants. After that, every facility is given for the development of individual inclinations. Not only the four special branches mentioned above, in following which officers to some extent separate themselves from the line, but the great variety of voluntary elective courses for higher officers, at the College and on board of the Excellent, afford abundant opportunities. And the government, knowing well that special opportunities without special rewards form an imperfect incentive to most men's ambition, has held out many forms of direct, material compensation, in the shape of extra pay, prizes, medals, more rapid advancement, attractive lines of duty, and, by no means least, distinguishing marks on the Navy List.
Until recently the duties of navigation and pilotage were performed by a separate corps of officers, called navigating officers. Of these there still remain a large number in the several grades of staff-captain, staffcommander, navigating lieutenant, and navigating sub-lieutenant. Two of the old grades, navigating midshipman and navigating cadet, have ceased to exist, and the others will gradually pass away.
Formerly the duties of this corps were performed by officers called masters, of whom there were several grades. In 1863, and again in 1867, the corps of masters was reorganized, and its older members became the newly-established staff-captains and staff-commanders. Higher relative rank was given to the navigating officers, and their position was in every way improved; the cadets of the corps being educated with naval cadets in the Britannia, and passing subsequently through a special course of training.*
In 1872 the Admiralty decided to abolish gradually the separate corps of navigating officers, after its short-lived career, and to intrust their duties to liue officers, as in the American service; except that certain officers are selected, who are to devote themselves during a certain period to this branch of the profession. Accordingly, the appointment of navigating cadets ceased, the last having been made in January, 1872. The new regulations which, somewhat modified, are now in force, provide that lieutenants under four years' standing, and sub-lieutenants, Navy List, January, 1871, p. 375. Circ. No. 3, C, January 6, 1870, § 30.
may, on their own application, be appointed to navigating and pilotage duties. They pass the regular sub-lieutenants' examination at Greenwich, and a special examination at the Hydrographic Office on pilotage in general, and the navigation of the English Channel in particular. Before entering on their duties, they must have had one year's seaservice as watch officers. Within five years from their appointment to navigating duties they must pass through a short course in gunnery in the Excellent. They are called on to perform navigating duties while in the grades of lieutenant and commander. But, contrary to the practice in the case of the old navigating corps, they may also be required to act as watch and divisional officers, and they are eligible for promotion to the highest rank in the service, their seniority not being affected by their choice of navigating duties. An arrangement is also made by which the present navigating sub-lieutenants can be transferred, if they prefer, to the executive branch; and the Admiralty is also authorized to transfer to the executive branch a small number of navigating officers of the grades of staff-commander and navigating lieutenant, who have distinguished themselves by some special service.†
It has very recently (May 27, 1879) been decided to establish a course of instruction for navigating officers on board the flag-ship at Portsmouth. This course lasts two months, and is preliminary to the pilotage examination at Whitehall.
2.-GUNNERY AND TORPEDO OFFICERS.
Lieutenants who desire to devote themselves to these branches of the service receive permission to qualify, on their own application, when recommended by the captain under whom they are serving. Candidates who have not previously served one year at sea as lieutenants are appointed to a sea-going ship, to complete that period as watch officers. The special school for gunnery officers is the Excellent, and for torpedo officers, the Vernon, both stationed at Portsmouth.†
The total period of instruction for gunnery lieutenants, including a vacation of a month in July and September, is about twenty months, distributed as follows:
Theoretical course at Greenwich, 9 months; vacation, 1 month; torpedo instruction at Portsmouth, 2 months; practical gunnery course in Excellent, 6 months; attendance at Royal gun factories, carriage department, and laboratory, at Woolwich, 3 weeks; review and examination, 3 weeks; leave, 1 week; total, 19 months, 3 weeks.
If it is found during any part of the course that a lieutenant is not likely to prove efficient as a gunnery officer, his name is submitted to the Admiralty, with a view to his removal from the books of the Excellent.
*Regulations of 1879, § 239.
+ Course of instruction in gunnery ships, p. 17.