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HEARING ON H. R. 5483, TO ESTABLISH ADDITIONAL COMMISSIONED WARRANT-OFFICER GRADES IN THE NAVY AND MARINE CORPS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Wednesday, October 15, 1941. The committee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Patrick H. Drewry, presiding.
Mr. DREWRY. The committee will be in order. We have under consideration H. R. 5483, a bill to establish additional commissioned warrant-officer grades in the Navy and Marine Corps, and for other purposes.
(H. R. 5483 is as follows:)
(H. R. 5483, 77th Cong., 1st Sess.) A BILL To establish additional commissioned warrant-officer grades in the Navy and Marine Corps,
and for other purposes Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President may, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and in accordance with the provisions of this Act, appoint commissioned warrant officers of the Regular Navy and the Regular Marine Corps to the commissioned grades herein provided.
Sec. 2. There are hereby established in the Regular Navy the following additional commissioned warrant officer grades: Commissioned warrant ensign, commissioned warrant lieutenant (junior grade), and commissioned warrant lieutenant. Officers of these grades shall have the rank, pay, and allowances of ensign, lieutenant (junior grade), and lieutenant, respectively. The titles of officers of these grades shall be the same as for commissioned officers of the staff corps of like rank except that the title formerly held as a warrant officer shall be substituted for the name of the staff corps. The uniforms and equipment of such officers shall be the same as prescribed for other commissioned officers of like rank except that the distinguishing insignia shall be the insignia now or hereafter prescribed by the Secretary of the Navy for warrant officers.
Sec. 3. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the number of officers commissioned in the grades established by section 2 hereof plus the number of warrant and commissioned warrant officers shall not exceed a total number bearing the same relationship to the enlisted strength of the Navy, as now or hereafter authorized, as the total number of warrant and commissioned warrant officers on the date of approval of this Act bears to the authorized enlisted strength of the Navy on that date: Provided, That the total number of warrant and commissioned warrant officers of all grades shall be distributed in the proportions of one in the grade of commissioned warrant lieutenant to two in the grade of commissioned warrant lieutenant (junior grade) to three in the grade of commissioned warrant ensign to four in the grades of commissioned warrant officer and warrant officer: Provided further, That in the computation of numbers under this section reference shall be had only to officers serving on the active list of the Navy: And provided further, That officers of commissioned warrant grades shall not be counted in the determination of totals or percentages provided for the administration of laws relative to other commissioned officers of the Navy.
Sec. 4. Commissioned warrant officers after three years of service as such shall be eligible for promotion to the grade of commissioned warrant ensign, commissioned warrant ensigns after three years of service as such shall be eligible for promotion to the grade of commissioned warrant lieutenant (junior grade), 66266–42—No. 192---1
and commissioned warrant lieutenants (junior grade) after seven years of service as such shall be eligible for promotion to the grade of commissioned warrant lieutenant: Provided, That officers shall not be considered eligible for promotion under this section until they shall have been selected for promotion in the manner now prescribed by law for the selection for promotion of lieutenants (junior grade) of the line or staff corps, as appropriate: Provided further, That the recommendation of the selection board in respect to such officers shall be based upon their comparative fitness for the duties prescribed for them by section 8 of this Act: Provided further, That officers so selected for promotion shall be subject to examinations, in like manner and with like consequences, as now prescribed by law for the promotion of commissioned officers of the Navy of comparable rank: And provided further, That no officer shall be promoted except to fill an existing vacancy in the higher grade.
Sec. 5. Commissioned warrant officers, notwithstanding the provisions of section 4 hereof and until six months after the date of the approval of this Act, shall be eligible for appointment to the commissioned warrant grades, established by section 2 hereof, as follows: With more than three but less than six years of service as such to the grade of commissioned warrant ensign, with more than six but less than thirteen years of service as such to the grade of commissioned warrant lieutenant (junior grade), and with more than thirteen years of service as such to the grade of commissioned warrant lieutenant: Provided, That no officer shall be so appointed until after selection and examination as prescribed in section 4 hereof.
SEC. 6. Officers of commissioned warrant grades who twice fail of selection for promotion in successive years shall be placed upon the retired list on June 30 of the fiscal year in which they fail of selection the second time, with pay computed at the rate of 24 per centum of the pay received at the time of retirement multiplied by the number of years of total active service in the Regular Navy: Provided, That failure of selection pursuant to section 5 shall not be considered as a failure of selection for the purposes of this section: Provided further, That for the purpose of computing retired pay, a fractional part of a year of service shall, if less than six months, be disregarded and, if six months or more, shall be regarded as a full year.
Sec. 7. Officers of commissioned warrant grades shall be retired upon the completion of thirty years of commissioned service or upon attaining an age of sixtyfour years, whichever shall occur the earlier, with 75 per centum of the pay received at the time of retirement.
SEC. 8. Officers commissioned in the grades established by this Act shall be restricted to the performance of duties customarily performed by commissioned warrant officers of their specialties, such as chief boatswains, chief gunners, chief carpenters, and the like, except that they may be assigned to other duties when the exigencies of the service, es determined by the commanding officer, so require.
SES. 9. The provisions of this Act, except as may be necessary to adapt the same thereto, shall apply to the Marine Corps in like manner and to the same extent and with the same relative conditions in all respects as are provided for the Regular Navy.
Sec. 10. All Acts or parts of Acts inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed: Provided, That no officer shall suffer diminution of his pay or allowances by reason of appointment or promotion pursuant to this Act.
Mr. DREWRY. We have with us Admiral Nimitz whom we shall be glad to hear on this bill.
STATEMENTS OF REAR ADMIRAL CHESTER W. NIMITZ, CHIEF,
BUREAU OF NAVIGATION; COMMANDERS H. G. HOPWOOD, UNITED STATES NAVY, AND B. B. BIGGS
Mr. DREWRY. Before Admiral Nimitz makes his statement, I want to say that I approach this subject with an open frame of mind. I can see the difficulties in this proposed legislation. The chairman, who is more familiar with it than I am, is away, and he left this bill for me to take care of. I hope we will all proceed to give this subject as careful study as possible. It is a subject which, from my study of it last night, it seems to me, will be open to a great deal of consideration
before we can fully decide what we are going to do. That is a statement merely on my part, that the committee may know how I feel about it.
Mr. MAGNUSON. Before we hear the admiral, Mr. Chairman, for the benefit of the members who were not here yesterday, I think the chairman's letter should probably be read.
Mr. DREWRY. I shall be very glad to do that. This letter was read to the committee yesterday. It is addressed to me by the chairman, but I do not think it is necessary to make it a part of the record.
(Thereupon, Mr. Drewry read the letter referred to.)
I take it from what the chairman said in the letter that he desires to be recorded as voting in favor of the bill when a vote is taken. The bill, of course, bears his name. The original bill I think was introduced by Mr. Boland and after some hearings, the chairman took the matter in his own hands and introduced another bill, which is the bill before us today.
Admiral Nimitz, do you desire to make a statement?
Admiral Nimitz. Mr. Chairman, this bill, as indicated by its title, is to provide for the establishment of additional commissioned warrantofficer grades in the Navy and Marine Corps.
The bill provides:
(a) That, in addition to the grades of warrant and commissioned warrant officer now authorized under present law, the grades of commissioned warrant ensign, commissioned warrant lieutenant (junior grade), and commissioned warrant lieutenant, are established. Officers in these additional grades would be entitled to the same pay and allowances as officers of corresponding ranks and grades of the line and staff corps of the Navy.
(b) That the number of officers in the warrant and commissioned warrant grades will bear the same relationship to the authorized enlisted strength as the total number of warrant and commiss oned warrant officers on the date of approval of this Act bears to the authorized enlisted strength on that date.
(c) That the distribution of warrant and commissioned warrant in grades will be as follows: 10 percent commissioned warrant lieutenants, 20 percent commissioned warrant lieutenants (junior grade), 30 percent commissioned warrant ensigns, and 40 percent commissioned warrant and warrant officers.
(d) That officers commissioned in grades established by this Act shall be restricted to the performance of duty in their specialty except when their respective commanding officers may determine that the exigencies of the service require their assignment to other duties.
(e) Promotion on recommendation of a selection board after establishing their professional and physical fitness.
(f) To be eligible for selection for promotion: commissioned warrant officers must serve 3 years in grade, commissioned warrant ensigns 3 years in grade, and commissioned warrant lieutenants (junior grade) 7 years in grade.
(g) Officers now in the grade of commissioned warrant officer are immediately eligible for selection for promotion to higher grades according to their length of service as commissioned warrant officer as
follows: between 3 and 6 years service, eligible for commissioned warrant ensign; between 6 and 13 years service, eligible for commissioned warrant lieutenant (junior grade); more than 13 years' service, eligible for commissioned warrant lieutenant.
(h) For the retirement, after failure of selection, with pay computed at the rate of 2% per centum of the pay received at time of retirement multiplied by the number of years of total active service in the Regular Navy.
(i) For retirement after 30 years commissioned service or upon attaining the age of 64 years with 75 per centum of the pay received at the time of retirement.
(j) That the act shall be made applicable to the Marine Corps as adapted to that Corps.
(k) That all laws inconsistent w'th this act are repealed.
Les islation of the nature of H. R. 5483 has been proposed intermittently over a per od of years and has consistently received the d'sapproval of the Navy Department. The views of the Navy Department on the bill in question were submitted to the chairman of the committee by the Secretary of the Navy on September 15, 1941, In this communication the Department recommended against the enactment of th's legislation. The Navy Department was advised that the Bureau of the Budget had no objection to this action.
In my statement concerning the bill H. R. 2227, which was printed on page 1275 of the House hearings on H. R. 4473, authorizing the temporary appointment or advancement of certain personnel of the Navy and Marine Corps, I outlined the history of the warrant and commissioned warrant officer grades. The grade of warrant officer has been in existence since the beginning of the Navy. Until 1899 there was no promotion in rank or grade for warrant officers. By subsequent enactments, all warrant officers, after 6 years service in that grade, become eligible for promotion to commissioned warrant grade.
Existing statutory law contains no restriction on the number of commissioned warrant and warrant officers except for chief pay clerks, pay clerks, and acting pay clerks. Except for the grades of chief pay clerks, pay clerks, and acting pay clerks, the numbers allowed are determined by the Secretary of the Navy to meet the needs of the service. The maximum number of chief pay clerks, pay clerks, and acting pay clerks allowed by law may not exceed i for each 250 enlisted men. Accordingly, the average numbers of commissioned warrant and warrant officers have varied from 1,282 in 1921, to 1,617 for the fiscal year 1940. As of September 1, 1941, there is a total of 2,034 warrant and commissioned warrant officers on the active list of the Navy.
Appointments to warrant officers are made from among chief and first-class petty officers after competitive professional examinations before boards consisting of commissioned officers. Warrant officers, except pharmacists and acting pay clerks, must not, by regulation, be more than 35 years of age when appointed. Pharmacists and acting pay clerks must be of such an age that their previous accumulated service in the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, together with their future possible service before reaching the retirement age of 64 years, will total 30 or more years. Existing law permits appointments to warrant grade, except for pharmacists, to be made from civil life.
By administrative action, however, appointments to warrant grade have, for a number of years, been made exclusively from among deserving enlisted personnel as an avenue of promotion.
In recent years a large percentage of candidates for warrant rank have come from the petty officer, first-class, group. The service of warrant officers at the time of appointment now averages between 9 and 10 years, while that of chief petty officers at the time of appointment averages about 14 years.
After 6 years from date of warrant, warrant officers, qualified by examination, are promoted to commissioned warrant grade. Should warrant officers fail to qualify professionally for promotion, such officers are dropped from the naval service with a maximum of 1 year's pay.
Existing law provides that upon certification by the Naval Examining Board that the record of a commissioned warrant officer has been creditable after 10 years', and after 20 years', commissioned service, such officer is advanced in pay to appropriate higher pay grades. No legal provision is made, however, for the elimination of à commissioned warrant officer whose record is not creditable, provided his conduct is such that it does not warrant disciplinary action. Such officer may, under existing law, continue in the service as long as he may desire, until retirement age is reached.
There is no difference in form between a warrant and a commission except that the commission recites that the appointment is made by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and the warrant does not. The commissioned warrant officer is a commissioned officer; the warrant officer is not.
While in the grade of warrant officer, length of service for pay purposes includes all time as an enlisted man and as warrant officer. Commissioned warrant officers, commissioned prior to July 1, 1922, also count all service for pay purposes. Those commissioned warrant officers commissioned subsequent to July 1, 1922, as is also the case with other line and staff officers, count only commissioned service in the computation of longevity pay.
As regards retirement, in addition to retirement upon reaching the age of 64 years, a commissioned warrant officer may, after 30 years of service, upon his own application, in the discretion of the President, be retired from active service with three-fourths of the highest pay of his grade.
Commissioned warrant officers are the only group of commissioned officers whose security as regards retirement is, from the date of commission, guaranteed, provided, of course, that such officers maintain a record of conduct which does not warrant disciplinary action. Aside from disciplinary causes, other classes of commissioned officers below the rank of commander are subject to involuntary separation from the Navy without retired pay for various reasons. For instance, the line officer may have his commission revoked at any time during his first 7 vears of service. Even the lieutenant commander, an officer intrusted with the command of a destroyer, is subject to complete separation from the naval service because of failure of selection for promotion. None of these features are applicable to the commissioned warrant officer.
Neither in the Navy Regulations nor in the customs of the service is there any distinction made between the type and scope of the duties