A Statement of Admiralty Policy

From The Dreadnought Project
Jump to: navigation, search



THE Board of Admiralty desire to present to Parliament (and through Parliament to the Public) an account of the progress that has been made in carrying out and developing the series of reforms that have been undertaken during the past three years.

While falling under several main heads, and at first sight perhaps not very closely connected, these reforms are all related and interdependent, and have their foundation in the reorganisation of the personnel and in the redistribution of the Fleet described in the two Statements issued by my predecessor in the December of 1902 and 1904. The reconstitution of Naval Education brings about far- reaching effects on the period of service and the allocation of officers, and reacts again on the entry and organisation of the Seamen, Stokers, and Marines. The release of crews from ships which would not be of value in war has made it possible to man Reserve ships with permanent crews, thereby largely increasing their efficiency, and consequently their instant readiness for war. The formation of a Reserve Fleet ready for immediate service allows of a more adsran- tageous distribution of the Sea-keeping Fleet and of a better system of training for the Royal Naval Reserve. The elimination of the older vessels, which require the most frequent overhaul and repair, greatly reduces the work of the dockyards, and therefore allows of a reorganisation of the labour conditions.


When the new "system was introduced in 1902 the Board felt that, owing to lack of experience and of sufficient data, they were not justified in holding out to all candidates who should enter for the three branches—Executive, Engineering, and Marine—the hope that they might eventually become Captains of Ships and Admirals of Fleets. It was premature then to declare that it would be possible to do away completely with the distinction between the three branches when the officers reached the rank of Lieutenant.

That the general efficiency of the Navy would be much assisted by the removal of this distinction was to them beyond doubt, but there was no necessity to come to an immediate decision upon this point, and accordingly, without in any way tying their hands, or those of their successors in the future, the Board considered it best to assume that the division into the various branches would be definite and final.

In order, therefore, to allow the Admiralty a completely free hand, no candidate has been accepted who has not volunteered for any one of the three branches.

It will be remembered that, in order to provide for the new Cadets during the first two years of their training at the age of from twelve to fourteen, a new College was built at Osborne, and a new system of education and training has there been inaugurated with great success.

The progress of the Cadets during their first two years has been most carefully watched, and at the close of this period the Board felt that the experience gained warranted them in instituting a detailed inquiry into the probable future development of the new officer.

A Committee was appointed under the presidency of the Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth, Admiral Sir Archibald Douglas, G.C.V.O., K.C.B., to consider whether the time has arrived to formulate regulations for the allocation of the duties of future officers in the various branches of the Service, and to report:—

(a) Whether any necessity exists for the distinct classification of such officers under existing branches of the Navy, with a view ta their remaining specialised for the whole of their future service.

(b) Whether specialisation for a period of their career only is necessary; and, if so, to indicate the procedure that should be followed to carry out the necessary duties of the Service afloat.

(c) How best to provide for filling efficiently the higher scientific appointments of the Admiralty and Dockyards.

The report, which is discussed in detail in a separate note, has convinced the Board that there will be no need for a final division into the three branches, and that specialisation for a period only is necessary, as opposed to permanent classification into separate lines.

There can be no question of the great advantage to the efficiency of the Service that this removal of differences will entail.

The Royal Marines will not in future possess a staff of officers entirely distinct, as at present, from the officers of the Royal Navy, but the Board see no reason why the historic traditions of this famous corps should not be carried on with a solidarity enhanced rather than diminished by the closer association of its officers of every rank with the sea service, of which it, as the Sea Regiment, lias been for more than two centuries the honoured and invaluable ally.


Sir Archibald Douglas's Committee was also asked to report on the methods for providing Warrant Officers capable of taking charge of the Stokehold and Engine-room Watches, so as to relieve the more highly trained officers of the ship from the routine duty of Engine-room Watch-keeping.

It has long been felt that the Stoker Class should have better opportunities of advancement, and in the Memorandum of December, 1902, the creation of the new Chief Petty Officer rating of Mechanician, to be filled from the Stoker Class, was announced.

Further consideration of the various duties in the Stokehold and Engine-room led the Committee to recommend that in future the highly trained Engine-room Artificer Class should not, as heretofore, be called upon to undertake ordinary watch-keeping duties, but should be enabled to devote all their time to their real calling of Artificers, and that watch-keeping duties should be undertaken by men selected from the Stoker Ratings after a suitable course of instruction.

The Board have adopted this policy, and the Stoker Ratings will in future be eligible for promotion to Warrant Officer rank for duty as Engine-room Watch-keepers.


The arrangements for the drill and training of men of the Royal Naval Reserve have been recently reviewed in order to improve the efficiency of this branch of the Reserves, and also to reduce its cost.

Hitherto Royal Naval Reserve men have been drilled on board the harbour drill ships and batteries established round the coasts of the United Kingdom, and a certain number have undergone a period of naval training on board the sea-going drill ships, or in ships of the Channel Fleet. This system is, however, no longer well adapted to the requirements of the Service, inasmuch as the greater part of the drill has been devoted to gunnery, a class of duty which is very unlikely to devolve upon Royal Naval Reserve men in war, and as (excepting perhaps the limited number of men who embark for nine months of naval training) they do not acquire and maintaiu sufficient knowledge of the genera] routine of a man-of-war.

The establishment of the divisions of ships in commission in Reserve has now given an opportunity for affording the Royal Naval Reserves the training in which they have hitherto been wanting. These ships have only a portion of their crews on board, and can therefore accommodate a considerable number of Reserve men, with advantage both to themselves and to their crews. Although the ships only go to sea for cruises once a quarter, the general routine is much the same as when they are fully commissioned for sea service, and since they will change frequently, the Reserve men will have more facilities for becoming familiar with the internal economy of a modern man-of-war.

It has accordingly been decided that from the 1st April next, all drill at batteries and in harbour drill ships shall cease, and the establishments will be closed, except in few cases, where the present system will be continued a little longer. These exceptions are the drill ships in London, Aberdeen, Bristol, and Liverpool, and the Royal Naval Reserve batteries at Penzance, Yarmouth, Wick, Stornoway, Lerwick, Greenock, Upper Cove, and Eosslare.

Under this new system of training, the men will be expected to embark in the first year for three months, and thereafter for one month every alternate year.


The development of the Non-continuous Service system of entry of seamen, as a supplement to, and partial substitute for, the Continuous Service system, which has been almost universal for 50 years, is described in a separate note. The Continuous Service plan is very costly, but is still required for the production of the higher gunnery and other skilled ratings of the Fleet.

There are, however, a great number of men who do not need this expensive training, and can profitably be passed, after a shorter period of service, into the Royal Fleet Reserve.


Two advantages are to be given to the Seamen and Marines afloat, beginning in October, 1906:—

(a) A provision allowance of 8½d. a day will be paid to Warrant Officers, Seamen, and Marines on ship's books who are away on leave beyond 48 hours. This privilege or its equivalent is already enjoyed by soldiers and Marines on shore strength, and will take effect after 30th September next.

(b) Under the arrangement hitherto prevailing men may make monthly allotments of money from their wages to their relatives at home, subject, in the case of foreign stations, to a portion of their wages being retained in hand as a security against loss by death, desertion, &c. The sum allotted is sent to their relatives through the Admiralty from the ship at the end of the month. This system of withholding earnings occasions much dissatisfaction among the men, and distress to their families, who have to wait a considerable time nfter a ship sails for a foreign station before receiving means of support by means of regular allotment. Now that deaths are reported by telegraph, and even postal intelligence. of a man's desertion is very rapid, there is no serious risk of the loss of public money in foregoing the retention of deposits, and in all ships commissioned after the 30th September next this system will be changed.

In 1903, it was decided to recognize the value of the services of Chief Petty Officers by the award of improved pensions, the estimated ultimate additional expense being £73,000 per annum. This concession took effect on 1st April, 1903, and has been the cause of a feeling of great satisfaction amongst the Petty Officers and seamen of the Fleet.


The plan for the substitution of Eeserve Squadrons, manned by nucleus crews and stationed at each of the three Home Ports, for the old " Fleet Eeserve " system, as described by Lord Selborne last December, has proved completely successful, and all the ships now in the fighting line are always ready for sea.

At the same time the list of the Navy has been reduced by the removal of nearly 150 ships of all descriptions which had but a small fighting value.

The elimination of older ships permits the whole of the Wai- Fleet to be manned with active service ratings, with the exception of stokers, all of whom can be provided from the Eoyal Fleet Eeserve with the exception of 600 men. It is expected that in the course of the year a large proportion of the active service stokers needed will be obtained.

Our best fighting machines must be kept at the highest state of efficiency, and other ships and vessels hitherto retained, in some cases because " they might come in usefully for subsidiary purposes in future war," must be placed in an altogether secondary position, and not relied on as the first fighting line of the Navy.


The distribution of the ships of H.M. Navy in peace time must largely depend on the international relations of the Powers.

A distribution of Fleets adapted to the requirements of the old wars led to the growth of subsidiary dockyards and depots abroad. Considerations of convenience and labour conditions in both home and foreign dockyards have in the past led to a certain customary peace distribution of ships which has at times been persisted in even when war seemed imminent. Plainly, however, peace considerations cannot be allowed to regulate the strategic distribution of our ships at the outbreak of hostilities.

The periods of European rest as well as the stable grouping of international interests during the latter part of the last century had assigned certain degrees of relative importance to our various squadrons and the scale of their strength has been reflected in the rank and capabilities of the Admirals selected to command them. So much has this been the case that to-day people are apt to look on a definite number of ships on any given station as a fixed quantity rather than a strategic exigency.

This idea must be entirely dispelled. Squadrons of varying strength are strategically required in certain waters; but the kaleidoscopic nature of international relations, as well as variations or new developments in sea-power, not only forbids any permanent allocation of numbers, but in fact points the necessity for periodic redistribution of ships between our Fleets to meet the political requirements of the moment.

Since the redistribution of the Fleet described by the late First Lord in his Memoranda of 6th December, 1904, and 15th March of this year, the following are the chief changes that have taken place:—

The strength of the Channel Fleet has been increased to seventeen battleships.

The strength of the First and Second Cruiser Squadrons has been coinpleted_to six armoured cruisers of the latest type in each case.

A Squadron of three cruisers has been employed in connection with the settlement of fishery questions in Newfoundland, and is now leaving for an extended cruise down the coasts of North and South America aud back by the West Coast of Africa, and the cruisers Cambrian and Flora are about to proceed on a prolonged cruise on the Pacific Coast and the adjacent islands.

The Board attach much importance to the provision of repair ships to attend the squadrons at sea. The damage done to the Assistance by her recent stranding in Tetuan Bay will take a considerable time to make good, and so a similar vessel has been bought to replace her temporarily. When the Assistance is ready for sea «gain, there will be repair vessels with the four principal Elects.


The Grand Manœuvres have been arranged to take place in June next, when in association with the putting to sea of every fighting vessel, large and small, intended to be used in war, there will be an extended test made as to the scheme recently elaborated for the protection of trade, when the co-operation of the shipping interest is hoped for in elucidating this difficult problem.


Before deciding on the building policy of the present year, an accurate review of our naval position as regards other Powers had to be made.

It must be remembered that however formidable foreign shipbuilding programmes may appear on paper, we can always overtake them in consequence of our resources and our power of rapid construction.

Rapid shipbuilding is of great importance, because:—

(a) The fighting vessel is sooner tested, so that improvements suggested by experience may be effected, and defects may be brought to notice in time to be avoided in succeeding vessels. Thus it is most desirable to complete the first ship of a new class with all possible despatch.

(b) It is obviously more conducive to the immediate fighting power of the Fleet to push forward a limited number of vessels to completion than to spend the same money on a larger number building at a slower rate.

(c) There is the financial benefit of sooner getting interest on capital by having vessels at sea ready to fight instead of partly completed and not ready to fiyht, even if the number of the latter is much greater.

(d) It is economical to run all the shipbuilding machinery at its full ordinary rate of output. There is a constant gain in building more rapidly up to the point when men begin to be too closely packed to work without hindering each other, or at which excessive overtime and high rates of pay are involved.

(e) An immediate result of building at, say, twice the usual rate would be that only one-half as many ships would be under construction at any one time. There will be needed, therefore, for building purposes, proportionally less slip, dock, and basin accommodation.

At the present time strategic requirements necessitate an output of four large armoured ships annually, and unless unforeseen contingencies arise, this number will not be exceeded. The period of building is to be two years, and therefore four ships will be laid down each year, and there will be eight ships in course of construction in any one year either in the dockyards or by contract.

The Board have come to the conclusion that the right policy is to make out their programme of shipbuilding for the next year only, and while they anticipate at present that the output of four large armoured ships a year should suffice to meet our requirements, there would be no difficulty whatever in increasing this output to whatever extent may be necessary in consequence of any increase of Naval Power abroad.


As foreshadowed in the First Lord's Statement that accompanied the Navy Estimates for this year, the subject of the administration of the several Naval Establishments has been enquired into, and important organic changes have been decided upon, especially in regard to the dockyards, &c., as explained later in Note D. relating to dockyard re-organisation.


The Navy Estimates as now presented yearly to Parliament must not be looked on only as the cost of our first line of defence. They also include the cost of many subsidiary services, some of which only indirectly affect the Navy, such as, for instance, fishery duties, scientific services, and the work of the Coastguard. These absorl> about £1,000,000 of the money included in the Navy Estimates.

The whole cost of the observatories at Greenwich and the Cape of Good Hope falls on the Navy Estimates, although they are mainly of scientific interest and only indirectly of practical service to the Navy.

Policing the fisheries costs £260,000 a year, which is necessarily spent on a type of ship which would not be built for war alone.

It is desirable to remember how this million is spent, when considering the amount of Naval Expenditure.


The whole of the recent reforms have an effect on the Navy Estimates. The elimination of older ships reduces the number of men required; it permits us to keep the Navy up to the most modern requirements, while limiting the charges incident to increase of numbers. The reduction of the smaller establishments abroad has made possible considerable saving in stores and maintenance charges. With the condemnation of old ships, obsolete guns and armaments disappear; consequently magazine accommodation on various stations for innumerable classes of ammunition is no longer necessary, the maintenance of plant for repairing and altering types of guns and munitions is no longer required, and the space vacated can be devoted to more useful purposes, thus saving new expenditure on works.

The new education scheme will give Naval Officers of the future an adaptability for the duties of all the branches of their calling, which will make possible a certain reduction of the number of officers as compared with present requirements.

The development of the non-continuous service system for seamen, and the restriction of re-engagement for pension to the higher ratings, will effect considerable savings on the non-effective votes for pensions. The entry of non-continuous service men will effect a saving in the cost of early training.

I have recently received the report (given in a separate note) of a Committee I appointed to consider the Estimates for 1906-7, and 1 am able to say that these various economies will allow the Board to diminish the sum for which Parliament will be asked by a further 1£ millions beyond the 3£ millions reduction made last spring.

I am bound, however, to add a word of caution, for the public cannot rely on this reduction being continued in future years if foreign countries make developments in their shipbuilding programmes which we cannot now foresee, but the programme of shipbuilding we have in view for future years, and have provided for, will in the opinion of the Board of Admiralty meet all the developments of which the resources of foreign countries seem at present capable.

I append some notes which have been prepared in the department with respect to certain of the principal changes.


November 30, 1905.


The notes referred to by Lord Cawdor relate to the principal reforms undertaken by the Admiralty in the period 1903-5, and are arranged under the heads:—A.—Personnel; B.—Fleet Reorganisation; C.— Obsolescence of Warships; D.—Dockyard Reorganisation; and E.—Estimates Committee. Under the first of these heads the votes are classified as follows: Education of Officers; The Duties of Engine- room Watchkeeper, and the Training of Boy Artificers; Education and Training of Men; Employment of Non-continuous Service Men, and Amendment of Service in Fleet Reserve; Gunnery Schools; Signal Schools; Physical Training; Gunnery Practice; Bands; Removal of " Undesirables."

The following is the principal portion of the important Vote D. on the subject of Dockyard reorganisation :—

Intimately connected with the reorganisation of the distribution of building and repair is the reorganisation of control in the dockyards and the kindred Supply establishments. The Board of Admiralty, therefore, most carefully inquired into the organisation and general labour conditions, with a view to a co-ordination of system among all supply departments, and they have decided on the following improvements in administration.

The Victualling, Armament, Coaling, and Store Departments, as well as the Dockyard, will be under the supervision and administration of the Admiral Superintendent. Obviously with this increase of supervision it is impossible for this Officer to be held as fully responsible for details in the departments of the Chief Constructor and Chief Engineer as he is under existing regulations.

It is essential that naval officers of high rank should be in charge of the Dockyards as superintendents, since the Service afloat is so much concerned. Their authority as representatives of the Admiralty must be supreme, but their functions should be mainly general direction and supervision, leaving the management to Heads of Departments, and holding the latter personally responsible to them for the conduct of the business of the Departments throughout.

The Chief Constructors and Chief Engineers of the Dockyards at present are held responsible for the proper and economical performance of the work without tangible means of fulfilling their responsibility. It is of first importance that they shall be brought into line with similar positions in private trade, and be constituted managers of their Departments, with full authority therein, including the power to enter, discharge, promote, or punish ineu (short of discharging men on the establishment), procure their own yard machinery, and get so far as practicable their own stores direct from the contractors under standing contracts without any intermediaries, and control the stock and storage appertaining to their Departments. The extended powers thus conferred on these officers will bo rigidly controlled by the financial limitations consequent on the allocation of Dockyard moneys.

The Admiral Superintendent will be to these officers in the position of owner {acting on behalf of the Admiralty) to whom the managers will be immediately responsible, and he will be constantly referred to in every matter of importance, and will issue all orders for work to be undertaken. There will be no lessening whatever of the position and responsibility of the Admiral Superintendent by constituting these two officers managers of their Departments; it will merely give them powers for the exercise of which they will be responsible to the Superintendent, and which are absolutely essential to good administration. At the same time a consolidation and simplification in the methods of keeping accounts will be introduced.

The office of the Director of Dockyards as at present constituted has been abolished. A Director of Dockyards and Dockyard Work has been appointed, and he will be continually inspecting the Dockyards and the Dockyard work, instead of, as hitherto, being too constantly employed on clerical work at the Admiralty.

Primarily, it is intended that his whole time should be occupied in close, personal, technical supervision of the Dockyards and of all Dockyard work, except when it may be necessary to attend at the Admiralty to confer with the Controller of the Navy and other Officers, lie will give close personal attention, not only to the general organisation and equipment of the Dockyards, and to the co-ordination of the work of the various departments, but to the classification and distribution of, and check over, labour, as well as the supply, storage, stock, and transportation of materials for Dockyard use. He will also carefully scrutinise the incidental and establishment expenditure of all descriptions.

Since, by his appointment, provision has been made for authoritative technical advice in matters connected with Dockyard administration, and since he will frequently visit all the Dockyards and confer with the superintendents and officers, it is considered unnecessary to continue the office of Civil Technical Assistant to the. Superintendents at the three larger Dockyards, and that office will be abolished at an early date.

It will form an important branch of the duties o£ the Director of Dockyards and Dockyard Work, to examine and report to the Controller upon the defects of ships requiring large repair, and Dockyard proposals in regard thereto, as well as upon estimates of cost, and for this purpose, and matters generally connected with the Engineering Department, an Engineer Assistant will be appointed.

The responsibilities of the Superintendents and Officers in these matters will be in no wise modified by the now duties of the Director of Dockyards, who will render them every assistance.

He, together with his Engineer Assistant, will visit private Shipbuilding and Engineering Establishments as frequently as may be necessary to keep touch with developments and improvements in shipbuilding arrangements, etc., and in the uso of labour-saving appliances.

With a view to relieving him of clerical and other miscellaneous duties at the Admiralty, it has been decided to appoint a separate officer for this purpose, viz., the "Superintendent of the Dockyard Branch" at the Admiralty. He will bo directly under the Controller, but will receive instructions from the Director of Dockyards and Dockyard Work in matters appertaining to his duties at the Dockyards, and render him such assistance as he may require ; he will further supervise the Admiralty staff of the Dockyard Branch of the Controller's Department.

It will be gathered from the above arrangement that the Board intend that all executive officers in, or associated with, the Dockyards, especially those who arj charged with the supervision of work and labour, shall be hampered as little as possible with clerical office work, so that they may bo able to devote their valuable time to the personal management of their Departments and general oversight of work in progress.

The Director of Naval Construction will be brought closely in touch with tho actual construction of the ships. He will be the principal technical officer under the Controller of the Navy, and in charge of all matters relating to design and naval construction.

Another alteration previously mentioned that has been decided on is tho co-ordination of the several Naval Establishments (except Naval Hospitals) under one Naval control, viz., that of the Admiral Superintendent. At present some establishments are under the Admiral Superintendent, and others under the Commander- in-Chief. Tho Commander-in-Chief is supreme, but his important Fleet duties render it impossible that he can exorcise the required supervision over Naval establishments such as the Victualling and Naval Ordnance Departments as well. The proposed system is already in operation at Malta with admirable results.

It has been found that under this system of dual control, it has not been practicable to adapt the storage space and auxiliary services of the several establishments to the requirements of tho system treated as a whole, in consequence of their having always been looked on as entirely distinct services, with storehouse?, workshops, steam vessels, barges, etc., staff and work-people special to each. The Naval Establishments Committee have the consideration of the details in hand, with the object of concentrating the administration of those several services, so that the general requirements of the Ports can bo ministered to from a common standpoint; but before action in this direction can be taken, it is necessary to establish this general control, and as the Admiral Superintendent is at the head of by far the most important of the Naval Establishments in the Port, the general administration of such of the business as is more or less common to all should naturally devolve upon him.

To facilitate the development of this important work, it has been decided to give the Admiral Superintendent the assistance of a Post Captain, with the title of Deputy Superintendent, instead of the present title of Captain of the Dockyard. He will assume the present duties of the Captain of the Dockyard, with Commanders under him to assist him in his work. This arrangement will not occasion any additional expense, nor will it interfere with the control of the Heads of Departments at the Admiralty, responsible for the Administration of tho Victualling and Ordnance services. Under these new conditions, the administration of the Coaling Department will again revert to the Admiral Superintendent.

An important consequence to the consolidation of all Supply Departments under one Head will be tho possibility of the re-arrangement of storehouses, whereby space surplus in the case of one Department will be available for others, thus saving expenditure of money, which was at times inevitable under tho more insular system.

Stores for shipbuilding purposes will be kept separate from those for Naval purposes, and the management will be responsible for the provision of such stores as are required by them, under effective financial control, thus saving a duality of control and responsibility which has resulted in unnecessary office work and tho accumulation of largo stocks in the past.

A most careful survey of all stock is being held, the standards are being revised, and means adopted to prevent the accumulation of items which are liable to become out-of-date in a short time.