Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

tories at once so tempting, so weak, and in such a condition of economic and industrial infancy, without being in a position to give effect to its wishes. If the scramble for South America once begins, neither the latent resources nor the moral influence of the United States will avail to protect its clients without the display of effective material strength. The Republic will be compelled to provide itself with some of those burdensome appendages to political predominance, under which the peoples of this continent have suffered. Amateur diplomatists may contrive to conduct the external affairs of a nation which is seldom called upon to concern itself with what happens beyond its own borders; they will require to be replaced by an elaborately (and expensively) trained staff of experts. Both the army and the navy must be brought a good deal closer to the European standard. A levy of militiamen and civilian volunteers can no more be relied upon to furnish a completely equipped army corps for service in South America than a fleet of cruisers can be safely left to face a squadron of battleships. President Cleveland has at last provided the United States with a definite and positive foreign policy. It will remain for President Cleveland's successors to supply the country with the means of adequately discharging the responsibilities which this policy necessarily involves. The old Monroe Doctrine was one of self-centred isolation. A country, which aimed as far as possible at having no political relations with foreign States, could almost dispense with the luxury of fleets and armies. But the New Monroe Doctrine (which in some respects is rather the antithesis than the legitimate development of its predecessor) cannot assuredly be maintained unless the citizens of the Republic are prepared to endure burdens and incur obligations from which hitherto they have been enviably free.

SIDNEY Low.

1896

MANNING THE NAVY IN

TIME OF WAR

in war.

THE reply given by Mr. Goschen’ to the question asked by Mr. Webster in the House of Commons on the 23rd of July, seems to indicate that the Government intend to provide for the deficiencies, admitted on all hands to exist in the personnel of the navy, by a further increase in the permanent force. The moment seems specially opportune for the consideration of the grave question of the manning of the navy

Shall the permanent force be raised to the strength required in war, or shall we look to an adequate and welltrained reserve for meeting the war requirements of the navy? That the country and the Government should come to a right decision on this question is of supreme national importance.

First let us inquire what number of men are required to man the navy in time of war. In the Naval Annual for 1895 and 1896 detailed estimates are given of the numbers required for every ship built or building. The figures are as follows :

Men
Ships built or building 1895

97,700
Ships laid down 1895

6,200 Ships laid down 1896

10,450 Total

. 114,350

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

This total requirement of 114,000 men could not under ordinary circumstances be reached until the year 1900; but before the vessels of the 1895 and 1896 programmes are completed our requirements will probably be diminished by over 7,000 men, owing to the elimination of obsolete ships now on the navy list. It must also be borne in mind that every ship on the list would not be ready for sea at the outbreak of war. There will always be ships in the dockyard reserve requiring extensive and therefore lengthy repairs to make them ready

Mr. Goschen said: "With regard to reserves of sailors and marines nothing has lappened since I submitted the Navy Estimates to induce me to depart in either direction from that steady continuous proportionate increase in the number of men which is rendered necessary by the extension of the fleet. I asked the House for an increase of about 5,000 men when I submitted my last estimate. I must decline to anticipate a statement which I shall have to make next year as to the further increase which will be required.'

for commission. Upon a full consideration of all our possible requirements in relation to manning, it is safe to say that in 1900 we shall need about 105,000 men. This figure is in close accord with the estimate given by Lord Charles Beresford at the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. What are the numbers at present available ? We have 85,800 men available for sea-service in the navy, and 25,000 men not adequately trained in the naval reserve. Some deduction being made for sickness, and for the absence of naval reserve men on distant voyages, it is clear that we shall have barely sufficient men to man all our available ships. There is certainly no margin to make good 'the wastage of war,' whether due to losses in action or any other cause. In dealing with the manning of the navy, we are bound to keep in view the large demands which would be made in order to enable the country to employ to the fullest extent, should necessity arise, its unparalleled resources for the supply of ships and war material. Our private shipbuilding yards are capable of constructing simultaneously at least twenty battleships and forty cruisers. In a struggle with a first-class naval power these splendid resources ought to be employed to their utmost capacity; but they must remain absolutely valueless to the nation without men to utilise the ships which could be constructed in a few months.

Past experience shows that the number of men required in time of peace is no criterion of the number required in war. In the three great wars in which we were engaged in the latter half of the last century, we required from four to eight times the number of men serving in the navy in the intervening years of peace. In the Crimean War we doubled the force that we had maintained in the previous period of peace; and this although we were fighting against an enemy that was not very powerful at sea. The press-gang and the bounty system were the two principal methods employed in old days to bring the personnel of the navy up to war strength. Public opinion would not allow the navy to be recruited again by the brutal method of impressment. The bounty system is costly and unsatisfactory. Obviously it must prove ineffective if the seamen were not in existence. The Report of the Committee on the Manning of the Mercantile Marine contains the latest evidence that British seamen are diminishing in numbers and probably also in quality.

Our deficiencies being admitted, what steps are we to take to remedy them? In recent years the additions to strength have been mainly in the permanent force. In nine years there has been an increase of over 31,000 in the numbers voted for the navy. During the last five years nearly 19,000 men have been added to the numbers available for sea-service. Recent experience has shown that the pay, the conditions of employment, and the prospects of promotion, are sufficient to attract as many recruits for the navy as we require. No one would dispute the contention of naval officers, that it is better to man our ships with men who have been trained from youth in the ranks of the navy, than with reserve men who have had little if any training in a sea-going man-of-war. To depend almost entirely on a permanent force would place the country under an intolerable burden of expenditure. For the year 1896 no less than 8,000,0001. have been voted for wages, victualling, clothing, half-pay and pensions. In the Naval Works Bill are included 1,145,0001. for Naval Barracks at Chatham, Portsmouth, and Keyham, and 341,000l. for a Naval Hospital at Chatham. It must also be borne in mind that the navy estimates have not yet begun to show the increase in non-effective charges owing to the recent additions to the numbers borne. A large non-effective vote is unsatisfactory in any branch of the public service. The recent additions to the personnel must ultimately raise the noneffective vote in the Navy Estimates to 50 per cent. above its present amount; and even if a change should take place in our policy now, it would be many years before the charge could be again reduced. An addition to the shipbuilding vote is an increase for one or two years only; an addition to the number of men creates a charge on the Exchequer which will be felt for more than half a century.

In the present state of public feeling the Admiralty would have little difficulty in obtaining the sanction of Parliament for a large expenditure. The recent increase in the Navy Estimates has coincided with a revival of commercial prosperity and a budget surplus. The burden has been little felt by the general body of tax-payers. It would not be wisdom on the part of those responsible for the naval defence of the country to take full advantage of the present state of public feeling, and to rely on the maintenance of the prosperous condition of the revenue which we have lately enjoyed. In a period of falling revenue, and when the political atmosphere is less clouded, demands are certain to be made for a reduction in the expenditure of our great spending departments. Any reduction in the Navy Estimates will be made in the future, as in the past, in the shipbuilding vote. Far-seeing statesmen will do well to put some check on the disposition to be lavish in the hour of prosperity. It may be followed by a reaction, and in the end do more to endanger than to establish our naval supremacy. We believe, as we have stated over and over again, that we shall waste our national resources if we attempt to maintain in peace the full numbers required to man the fleet in time of war.

The alternative is to take steps to create a reserve strong both in numbers and efficiency. The existing naval reserve, though undoubtedly valuable, leaves much to be desired. Neither in numbers, nor in completeness of training, is the force as satisfactory as we could wish. It has been proposed that a reserve should be created by passing men rapidly through the fleet, the navy being utilised to some extent as a training ground for the merchant service. Lord Charles Beresford, in the address already referred to, has given a detailed scheme for carrying this policy into effect. Under this scheme, which may be briefly summarised, 5,000 men are to be enrolled annually for five years' service. On completion of their engagement in the navy, they would be entered in a first-class reserve, and would receive a retaining fee of 121. a year subject to their putting in 28 days' drill. In addition, 5,000 men would be enrolled annually in a second-class reserve, who would get two months' training in the year, one of which must be on board a sea-going man-of-war. These men would receive a retaining fee of 8l. a year, instead of the 21. 10s. now paid. Entries of second-class reserve men to cease at the end of seven years. At the end of eleven years the reserve would thus be raised to 35,000 men in the first class, and 35,000 in the second class. The total cost of a reserve of 90,000 men is estimated at 840,0001. a year, plus 600,0001. per annum for training, or a total cost of 1,440,000l. This would be roughly 201. a man, excluding officers, the cost of the existing reserve being 101. a man, including officers.

[graphic]

The objections to the institution of a short-service system in the navy are too serious to be disregarded. The following are the most important:

(1) If two classes of the permanent force engaged for different periods were serving indiscriminately in the same ships, it would lead almost inevitably to a reconsideration and shortening of the longer period of service. This objection was urged with much force by Lord Spencer in the debate which took place some two years ago in the House of Lords.

(2) Men who have served their earlier years at sea in the navy would not take kindly to the merchant service, where the conditions of employment are not so good, and the work is harder. An absolute proof that the navy is the more attractive service is afforded by the fact that there is no difficulty in securing as many boys as we want for the navy, while there is a great and increasing difficulty in keeping up the supply of British-born seamen in the merchant service.

(3) The short-service system is very costly in proportion to the results attained. It has been estimated that every bluejacket entered as a boy costs the country 2001. before he becomes efficient. Under the system recently instituted in the Northampton,' by which boys are entered at a later age, and are only six months under training, the cost may be materially reduced. The Times' report does not tell us at what age or under what system Lord Charles Beresford proposes to enter first-class naval reserve men. case a reserve man under his scheme could not be created in less than five years, and of the five years he would probably be two years under training. It is true that during the remainder of the five

In any

« AnteriorContinua »