Navigating Officer (Royal Navy)

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Under the direction of the Captain (ultimately responsible) the Navigating Officer had charge of the navigation of the ship. However, any remedies required were to be made by the Captain or by the Officer of the Watch upon the advice of the Navigating Officer. In areas of relative danger he was to make sure that look-outs were kept and that soundings were taken continually and accurately. Where necessary, he was also expected to be able to amend charts if the existing information was inaccurate. His was the daily duty of winding up the chronometers on board ship.

The Navigating Officer was responsible for keeping of the Ship's Log, which was examined every day at noon by the Captain of the ship in which it was borne, and turn the completed log book over to the Captain upon receiving a receipt for it. He looked after the charts and ensured that the ships had the charts necessary for the voyage. and kept a Remark Book and a Work Book. He was also responsible along with the Boatswain for the maintenance of the chain cables. In case of mooring incidents, the Navigating Officer was to be informed as well as the Captain. As one of the senior officers, the Navigating Officer was entitled to have a separate cabin aboard ship.

Aside from his active executive duties the Navigating Officer was also responsible for the instruction of Midshipmen. For other officers being trained a Navigating Officer received 5l per annum for each officer instructed.

Summary of Regulations Governing Navigating Officers

Navigating Officers were selected from those who volunteered for navigating duties and who had passed the examination in signals laid down in Appendix X., Part III of the King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions. Preference will be given to officers who had obtained a 1st Class in pilotage in the examination for the rank of Lieutenant, and good classes in the other subjects.

2. Selected candidates went through a course of instruction in the navigation school at Portsmouth. The course of instruction lasted (in 1914) for 90 working days, part of the time being spent at sea and the remainder on shore.

3. Training Afloat. Qualified candidates, after leaving the school, were appointed to serve for a short period in the large ships of the Home and Mediterranean Fleets, in order that they might gain experience under the Navigating Officers in the work of a fleet in regard to navigating duties.

4. At the end of the first three months of that period, and subsequently every succeeding three months, the Captain was to forward to the Admiralty with his covering remarks a report from the Navigating Officer on the qualifications of the candidate and his general suitability for navigating duties. Upon these reports, and the result of the examination in the navigation school, the permanent appointment of officers for navigating duties depended.

5. The letter (N) was prefixed (in the seniority columns of the Navy List) to the names of all officers who qualified for navigating duties. This letter was retained against their names only while they are actually employed, or were available for employment on those duties.

6. Lieutenants (N) were placed on exactly the same footing as regards executive command and ship's duty generally as Gunnery and Torpedo Lieutenants, and were not excused from any ship's duties, except those which interfered with the special duties pertaining to them. They were appointed and succeeded to the position of First Lieutenant, if a vacancy occured, in all ships except flag-ships where a Commander was borne, exactly in the same manner as any other specialist officer; but in ships where no Commander is borne they were not appointed for First Lieutenant's duties, except in special circumstances.

7. Officers who performed navigating duties as Lieutenant will not be required to continue those duties after promotion to the rank of Commander, unless they wish to do so. A Commander when borne for navigating duties was not appointed as the executive officer of the ship.

8. Short Courses of Gunnery and Torpedo. Navigating Officers, while borne in ships in commission with nucleus crews, were "given every opportunity" of going through short courses of gunnery and torpedo, in order to keep themselves efficient in those duties.

9. Lieutenants (N) were permitted to attend a course of five weeks' instruction at the navigation school prior to examination in pilotage for first class ships. The pilotage examination, (the syllabus of which was given in Appendix X., Part III. of the K.R. & A.I.) is partly viva voce and partly paper work. First and second class certificates of proficiency only will be awarded.

10. Examination. The examination was compulsory for all Navigating Officers, who were obliged to present themselves for examination within a reasonable time after completing three years' sea service as Lieutenant (N). An officer who failed to pass at the second trial would have his name erased from the list of Navigating Officers.

11. Navigating Officers were also granted facilities for attending the school for a month's course of study at periodical intervals during their subsequent career.

12. The letter (N†) was prefixed (in the seniority columns of the Navy List) to the names of Commanders and Lieutenants who have passed the examination in pilotage for first class ships. This letter was retained against their names only while they are actually employed, or are available for employment, on navigating duties.

13. Provisional Examination. Should it be probable that the exigencies of the Service will cause an officer to be absent from England at the date he will complete the three years' service required to render him eligible to pass for first class ships, he may be examined before leaving England, provided that he has completed two and a half years of such service; but he will not be eligible for appointment to navigating charge, of a first class ship, nor be entitled to the corresponding increase in navigating allowance until he has completed the full period of three years' qualifying service.

14. Provisional examinations may also be held in the following circumstances:

(a) A Lieutenant (whilst serving as a Navigating Officer on a foreign station), if he happen to be at sea or in a ship on detached service on the date he completes the service required to qualify him to present himself for examination for first class ships, may apply to his Captain for a provisional certificate in pilotage for first class ships, and such certificate is to be given "at the discretion of the Captain, based on his knowledge of the capabilities of the applicant as a Navigating Officer, and will hold good until the ship meets the Commander-in-Chief or Senior Officer. The officer must then apply for a passing day to be fixed, and a board of examining officers is to be appointed, consisting of three officers qualified for first class ships (or two if only that number be present) and presided over by a Captain. Should the officer pass the examination, the examiners will award him a provisional certificate of qualification for first class ships, and such certificate will entitle him to increase of allowance from the date of the certificate granted by his Captain, but dependent on his passing the regular examination on returning to England. If, after his arrival in England, an officer neglects to take an opportunity of passing the regular examination, and, before passing, receives another appointment for navigating duties, he will not be allowed to receive the increased allowance. Should the officer eventually fail to pass he will be called upon to refund the amount of the increased allowance which he has received since passing the provisional examination.

(b) A Lieutenant who completes the service required to qualify him to present himself for examination for first class ships whilst serving as a Navigating Officer on a home station, may apply to his Captain for, and may be granted, a provisional certificate as provided for in sub-clause (a) of this clause. The intermediate examination by a board of officers will not be required in such, cases, but the officer must present himself at the next general examination on board the navigation school ship, when, if he pass, he will become entitled to the authorised increase of allowance from the date of his provisional certificate. Should, however, an officer be prevented, by duty or sickness, from presenting himself on the first examination day, he must produce a certificate from his Captain to that effect when he does present himself, as otherwise he will not be entitled to the increase of allowance until the date of passing. On an officer passing provisionally, a notation is to be made against his name on the ship's books, stating the date of such passing. No payment at the increased rate is to be made until he has passed the final examination on board the navigation school ship.

15. All provisional certificates are to be granted in duplicate, and are to be attached to the final passing certificates, upon which the dates of the Captain's certificate and of the provisional passing are to be noted.