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SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.
Washington, December 1, 1911. Sir: I have the honor to submit herewith the annual report of this department for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1911,
The advisory duties of the aids in coordinating the work of the bureaus have been an important factor in the present plan of organization. Recommendations by the bureaus are considered and decided by the resultant increase in military efficiency; the interests of the bureaus are considered in conjunction with the efficiency of the fleet; recommendations of the bureaus not in accord are adjusted and their conflicting interests are reconciled; interference of bureau work is avoided and a medium is provided through which they can effectively direct their energies to the common end-an efficient fleet.
Under the present organization the work accomplished has been expedited with economy and increased efficiency.
Economy is shown by the fact that the effective material strength of the Navy has been increased within the annual appropriations.
Efficiency is shown by the facility with which business has been transacted.
The chiefs of the bureaus have earnestly entered into the spirit of economy which has been the aim of the present administration and the results outlined are due to their efficient cooperation.
The benefits of the organization are seen by the following:
INCREASE IN NUMBER OF SHIPS READY FOR SERVICE.
At the close of 1910 the following vessels were at navy yards undergoing extensive repairs and overhaul; practically all of them were in such a condition as to be unavailable for immediate military service:
Portsmouth : Maine, Wisconsin, Sterling.
(Vessels not available for military service.)
Portsmouth : Wisconsin, Tennessee, Montana.
NOTE.—The above tables do not include the vessels of the active fleet that are scheduled from time to time for routine overhauling: such work is covered in the routine docking and overhaul schedule for the Atlantic Fleet, and vessels so overhauling remain a part of the fleet. Thus there are three battleships scheduled to overhaul from September 15 to December 15, 1911, and three from January 1 to March 15, 1912.
By March 15, 1912, practically every vessel in these two tables will have completed her repairs and be ready for active service.
The active battleship fleet will have been increased from 16 to 21 effective ships: Connecticut (flag), Florida, Utah, Delaware, North Dakota, Michigan, Louisiana, South Carolina, Kansas, Vermont, New Ilampshire, Georgia, Nebraska, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, Minnesota, Mississippi, Idaho, Ohio, Missouri.
The reserve battleship fleet will have been increased from 3 to 10 ships, ready for service at sea : Maine, Wisconsin, Illinois, Alabama, Oregon, Massachusetts, Indiana, Iowa, Kearsarge, Kentucky.
A reserve fleet consisting of the Oregon and other vessels in serviceable condition, but not assigned to the active fleet in the Pacific, has been created at Puget Sound.
The following table further illustrates these statements:
Vessels of the Navy ready for service and those undergoing extensive repairs
at the end of certain calendar years.
It is estimated that by March 15 next the five battleships undergoing repairs at the end of 1911 will be made ready for service. Thus in a little over two years under the present organization the percentage of our battleship fleet ready for active service will be increased from 63 to 100 per cent.
These results have been brought about without exceeding the annual appropriations made by Congress.
SCRUTINY OF EXPENDITURES.
Requests for repairs to ships and for changes, alterations, and improvements therein are voluminous and entail great expenditures. The predominant factor is the military value of the work, and regulations have been formulated by which all changes or alterations in ships are carefully weighed before meeting the approval of the Secretary.
Extensive expenditures in any one technical department alone, for the purpose of correcting deficiencies, are not undertaken unless the value of the ship as a whole justifies such procedure. As an example under this policy may be cited the decision upon the question of magazine refrigeration in old ships, where the expenditure of approximately a million dollars was involved. This was disapproved, on the recommendation of the Aid for Material.
REGULAR OVERHAUL PERIOD.
The plan of the Division of Operations of the Fleet of assigning regular periods for docking and repairing ships materially conduces to economy. It tends to avoid fluctuations in the employment of labor and enables the Government to more nearly maintain a fixed force of skilled mechanics at each navy yard at a minimum expenditure. There has also been assigned an annual period for overhaul, when each ship in turn receives repairs or improvements that may be found advisable. A system has been inaugurated to determine before this period is due the work required and to make estimates of cost and time to complete it, and, as far as practicable, to assemble the material before the ship arrives at her home yard. This is to avoid vexatious delays where the ship lies idly at a wharf awaiting approval of plans and assembling of material before commencing work.
OVERHAUL PERIODS AFLOAT.
In connection with the above it has been directed that the crews of ships be given more time during the cruising period to examine and care for the machinery and to effect minor repairs on board. This will materially reduce the amount of repairs when the ship becomes due at a navy yard; it will also give the crew experience valuable in time of war when it may be impossible to go to a navy yard.
SAVING ON REPAIRS BY SHIP'S CREW.
Experience has shown that a great deal of repair work and overhauling ordinarily done by navy-yard employees can be done by the ship’s force. This is particularly true of the engineer's department, in such work as taking apart and putting together the machinery and breaking and making steam joints. Moreover, the work is done by those who actually operate the machinery and feel responsible for results. The more rigid application of this policy has resulted in considerable saving.
FIXING A TIME LIMIT FOR REPAIRS.
Experience has demonstrated that ships deteriorate rapidly when laid up for repairs at navy yards, and this has been the cause of unnecessary expenditures. It is found much cheaper to finish repairs with the least delay and then turn the ship over to the regular enlisted force to be kept ready for service in reserve or in commission.
RETAINING CREWS ON BOARD DURING REPAIRS.
For reasons shown above ships are not placed out of commission and laid up at navy yards except where unavoidable, due to shortage of personnel. It is much more economical, as far as repairs are concerned, to retain full crews on board during the repair periods, or at least place ships in reserve during this time with reduced crews. The enlisted force not only gives great assistance in the work, but prevents deterioration through neglect.