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The Florida is now being decommissioned for disposal, the Utah has been placed in ordinary with a view to fitting her as a radio-controlled target vessel, and the Wyoming has been placed in reduced commission with a view to her conversion to a training ship. It is expected that the Arkansas will be placed in reduced commission in the late spring of 1931.
In addition to the 90 destroyers, including 4 employed as light mine layers, which it is planned to have in commission during 1932, there will be 70 destroyers in a decommissioned status at Philadelphia and San Diego kept ready for immediate commissioning. The total tonnage in and out of commission will be approximately 171,300, or somewhat more than the ultimate tonnage fixed in the London treaty.
The submarines scheduled to be retained in commission have a total tonnage of approximately 52,000, or practically the full amount allowed by the London treaty.
With respect to the reduced number of vessels, the Chief of Naval Operations indicated to the committee that “during the year (fiscal year 1931) the fleet has been reorganized and some of the destroyers and certain older craft have been taken out of active commission and laid up. This reorganization was brought about partly to carry out the terms of the London treaty and partly because it was deemed essential to effect such reorganization in the interests of efficiency."
The contracted and modified operating force program has made possible a readjustment of enlisted personnel with the result that for the fiscal year 1932 the estimates are based upon 79,700 men, exclusive of Hospital Corps men looking after patients of the Veterans Administration, as against 84,500 men appropriated for the present fiscal year. The latter number is now in process of reduction to the new requirement. The distribution of the proposed force by pay grades is shown in the table on page 307 of the hearings. Of the total number approximately 11,740 will be assigned to aviation and vessels and shore stations exclusively incidental to aviation activities.
The estimates contemplate no reduction in the officer personnel despite the reduction in the enlisted strength. They provide for an average of 5,400 line officers, 99 less than the legal maximum, exclusive of additional numbers,' 1,940 staff officers, and 1,446 warrant and commissioned warrant officers, the latter two sets of figures being exclusive of officer personnel (124) looking after patients of the Veterans' Administration.
As indicated in the foregoing summary, the bill makes available a total of $344,342,952. This sum is $36,310,691.26 less than the total of the appropriations for the current fiscal year and $3,451,296 under the sum recommended in the Budget. The first difference is composed of the amount previously mentioned ($32,859,395.26) by which the Budget falls short of the current appropriations, plus the second difference, or the net reduction which the committee recommends in the Budget figures. The reduction proposed by the committee is made up of a net reduction of $21,840 on account of the Navy Department proper, later explained herein under that head, and of $3,429,456 on account of the Naval Establishment, comprised of the amounts set after the following appropriations:
11, 200 997, 784 351, 829 448, 500
13, 643 350,000 33, 980 7, 950
Net decrease for Naval Establishment...
3, 429, 456
1 On account of program to bring underaverage salaries up to average of grade. No money included in the naval estimates specifically for such program has been allowed therefor. The total amount involved is but $5,943.
The increase shown under "Naval Reserve" is associated with policy touching line officer personnel, which will be explained here out of turn because of the widespread interest in the subject and the committee's desire that the matter may have especial attention. The other changes above enumerated will be explained later in this report in the order the items affected appear in the accompanying bill.
The commissioned line officer strength of the Navy is limited by law to 5,499, exclusive of officers carried pursuant to law as additional numbers in grade, of whom there were 59 the middle of last month. The bill makes provision for the payment of such total authorized number. The department estimates that the number of commissioned line officers in June, next, will be 5,358, at which time it is expected that about 435 midshipmen will graduate, for whom there will be but 199 vacancies in the line of the Navy. Places for some 25 or 30 others may be found in the staff corp and the Marine Corps. By the following June the number will have dwindled again by reason of retirement, resignation, death, etc., to 5,222, using the department's estimated attrition figure of 277 for the fiscal year 1932, when again there will be more graduates than vacancies, and this condition will continue from year to year so long as the line strength remains at 5,499 and appointments to the Naval Academy are continued on the 4-appointment basis.
The Navy Department takes the position that 5,499 line officers are inadequate and that the number should be increased to a point that would more than accommodate all graduates on the basis of 4 appointments, exclusive of those given appointments in the Marine Corps and staff corp and those who may be physically disqualified upon graduation, and is advocating appointments to the Naval Academy upon a 5-appointment basis. Upon such a basis the full officer quota would not be attained for more than a decade, at least.
The principal reason the Navy finds itself pinched for line officers to-day is because of the policy it has persisted in pursuing of drawing its aviators from the Naval Academy. On September 30, last there were 634 commissioned line officer aviators, 8 commissioned line officer observers, and 111 student aviators of the line. Why should this course be continued when we are reliably informed that college graduates in abundant numbers, educated at their own expense, are ready and willing to qualify and serve on extended details as commissioned reserve aviators? Why should the number of such men be restricted to 70 or less per year, as is the case, particularly in the face of the splendid performance records they have made? If the Navy Department would look to this source for the bulk of its aviators, drawing only enough from Naval Academy graduates for training for command positions, it would find itself within a reasonable space of time well provided for within the present authorized number of commissioned line officers.
Complaint is made that there are not enough junior line officers in the Naval Establishment generally and yet we find that the number is enormously distorted by the number of junior officers assigned to aviation. The allocation of officers to the several grades under the law and as allocated to the Bureau of Aeronautics is as follows:
It must be apparent that aviation is making unusual demands upon the officer strength of the Navy in the junior grades and that a way must be found to correct the situation. The committee proposes a way that this may be done by providing that reserve officers trained in aviation be given longer details than have been provided in the past. In the accompanying bill provision is made for employing 140 naval reserve aviators throughout the fiscal year 1932, not less than about 58 of whom will have had one year's experience with the fleet. It would seem that aviation reservists would offer an abundant source of pilot strength and their employment would lessen the need for regular junior naval officers for aviation assignments. Such reserve aviators, after a tour of duty of several years, would flow back into private life, most likely in aviation pursuits. By using them to the extent that may be consistent and practicable, instead of regular junior officers, a remedy is at hand for the disjointed grade distribution now obtaining as to officers of the regular Navy assigned to aviation. Furthermore, such a course would obviate the necessity of expanding the officer strength of the Navy.
The committee has inserted a limitation on page 39 of the bill, which is designed to prevent expansion in the number of commissioned officers above the grade of lieutenant commander performing aviation duties.
Immediately following the conference that effectually has stopped competitive naval building among the three greatest naval powers, and, in view of the fact that a further conference looking to a curtailment of naval armament is but a few years in the offing, it would seem both unwise and untimely to increase our naval officer strength. There can be no justification for it at all if we would look elsewhere than to Annapolis for our airplane pilots.
That the department immediately may begin to draw more heavily upon the reserve for its aviation pilots, the committee has added to the appropriation “Naval Reserve" $226,470, in order that 70 additional aviators (140 all told) may be employed on aviation duty with the fleet throughout the next fiscal year. The thought is to increase this number gradually, not only to release for other naval duties regular commissioned officer pilots, but to reduce the number of regular officers annually assigned to aviation training to the number, taking attrition into account, that ultimately will be needed for command posts.
Since 5,499 commissioned line officers is the number fixed by law (U. S. C., title 34, sec. 2) and since the hearings disclose that that number can be realized on the 3-appointment basis, certainly so if the Navy Department would discontinue trying to fill up the Staff Corps, other than the Construction Corps, with Naval Academy graduates, whom, upon graduation, in order to fit them for Staff Corps duties, it is necessary for the Government further to educate, the committee is proposing, on page 26 of the bill, that the number of appointments to Annapolis, after the class entering the coming June, be reduced from 4 to 3. It is not right to the taxpayers to be educating a large surplus of boys for whom no commissions are available. The Navy Department can and should look to the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps graduates for their Staff Corps (except Construction Corps) appointees. Reserve Officers' Training Corps units are maintained at Yale University, Harvard University, University of Cali
fornia, Northwestern University, University of Washington, and Georgia School of Technology. The law provides (U. S. C., title 34, sec. '1057):
That if there be a surplus of graduates, those who do not receive such appointments shall be given a certificate of graduation, an honorable discharge, and one year's sea pay.
The committee has included provision in the appropriation for pay of the Navy for paying one year's sea pay to surplus graduates from Annapolis of the coming June graduating class.
The commissioned line officer strength of the Navy, under the law as construed since 1916, is 4 per cent of the authorized enlisted strength of 131,485 plus 6,000 apprentice seamen. The Navy Department recently has been seeking to have the Attorney General determine the meaning of the several statutes which together fix the authorized enlisted strength of the Navy, particularly to decide whether or not the authorized number of commissioned line officers should be increased on account of the 14;000 enlisted men temporarily authorized by the act of July 1, 1918, for instruction in trade schools. Such a construction would increase the commissioned line officer strength by 560. The Attorney General has declined to pass upon the question and has taken the sound position, in the judgment of the committee, that the department should look to Congress and not to him for raising the strength which has been generally understood to be 5,499 since 1916.
NAVAL ESTABLISHMENT The following explanation is offered of the effect of the action proposed with respect to the principal items, taking them seriatim, and with respect practically to all items where a modification has been made by the committee in the Budget estimates.
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
Pay, miscellaneous.-The estimate exceeds the current appropriation by $35,000. Of this amount $10,070 results from the so-called Brookhart Act and $20,000 is included that there may be specific provision for expenses incident to promoting accident prevention and safety for civilian employees in shore establishments of the Navy. The remaining Budget increase is composed of a number of more or less minor adjustments. The accident prevention item has a strong appeal. Most of the expense will be for educating employees in various phases of accident prevention. Records of the Federal Employees' Compensation Commission show that the average yearly compensation costs for the naval shore establishment are in excess of $400,000. They also show that these costs have not been materially reduced for several years, except at the Norfolk navy yard, which had an educational system in effect, and this yard showed a reduction of 33.5 per cent in the severity rate and a decrease of $20,532 in compensation costs over a 6-month period. For the fiscal year 1931 the committee is advised that death cases alone in the Navy will amount to over $500,000. The reduction of $4,500 proposed by the committee is on account of $1,500 for rent in the Virgin Islands, which will not be a naval expense during the next fiscal year, and $3,000 on account of proposed larger expenditures