Page images

aminations, serve six months at sea, and obtain a certificate from his captain that he is fit to perform efficiently the duties of a lieutenant. What a commentary on the examinations!

knowledge of their art, and that this was obtained almost entirely from practical experience afloat, and not from courses of instruction on shore. The system now in force in the Navy is the very contrary of that which prevailed in the past. All along the line instruction on shore has been substituted for actual practice and experience at sea. The instruction in gunnery, torpedo, signals, and navigation is centred in harbour or shore establishments. It is now a fundamental principle in naval training that no officer or man can be "hall-marked" in any of these matters on board a sea-going ship.

The effect of a system of education based on superficial courses and examinations has been to give an advantage to minds of a superficial type, and to discourage men who aim at deep and solid acquirements. Professor Main of the Portsmouth College foresaw this in 1870, and said: "In my opinion, in the higher branches of the service we have more educated, thoughtful, and intelligent men than we shall have among those who are coming on now. I think their schoolboy education on board ship militates against their naval duties and vice versa." The reader is invited to consider whether the recent somewhat sensational policy, with its superficial explanatory memoranda, is not the natural outcome of a a shallow and superficial educa- is tional system.

It is difficult to understand how men have come to be satisfied with such a state of things. They must have been blinded by the change from sail to steam. Misled by the much misused word "science," they have come to think that exact knowledge is a plant of modern growth, and can only be derived from books,-that practical acquaintance with the thing itself is secondary to a theoretical knowledge of it. They have forgotten that the officers and men of the past had an exact and complete

He must obtain a certificate from a shore establishment. To such a pass have matters come that a gunlayer, or man who lays and fires a gun, cannot be made afloat: he must leave the battleship, where every facility exists for training him, and every one, from the captain downwards,




directly interested that should shoot well and thoroughly competent; must go to a school on shore, where only artificial arrangements exist for teaching him, and no one has any direct interest in his efficiency. Gunnery has been referred to more particularly, but the argument is equally applicable to other branches. The tendency of all such schools is towards formalism. At such establishments, surrounded with "make-believe," a great deal of perfectly useless matter will inevitably be taught. These schools are good servants but bad masters.

They should be made strictly subservient to the sea-service. Instead of that they have become its masters, with the result that they have seriously impaired efficiency by setting up false standards. Their evil influences are twofold. All questions from the fleet are referred to them. Human nature being what it is, and much dependent upon its surroundings, their influence is always directed to keeping the control of the training in their own hands, and to discouraging initiative in sea-going ships. As a result, large numbers of officers and men are locked up in harbour ships and shore establishments at the three Home ports, instead of being placed on board commissioned ships in reserve, where they could not only help to keep the ships in order, but be themselves trained more effectively. Not the least serious result of the system is that large sums of money are expended in making provision for the shore training. Colleges and barracks are unduly multiplied, while the fighting efficiency of the fleet is not increased.

We are now perhaps in a position to affirm that, whether ships of war be propelled by wind or steam, the essential qualifications of those who have to manage them are the same. The lessons from the past seem to indicate that naval officers should be given the best general education possible before being sent to sea; should become early accustomed to a sea life; should

possess a practical working knowledge of their ships and of everything they contain; and the leading men should have not only a complete knowledge of the "conduct of war," but a wide and thorough grasp of the principles underlying any particular spécialité which they adopt.

These requisites involve going to sea at an age not later than fifteen years and six months, and a minimum qualifying sea service for the rank of lieutenant of five years. A practical working knowledge of the ship and her equipment can only be obtained by devoting the whole time at sea to the practical duties of the profession. Its soundness can only be assured by placing all the examinations in the hands, not of gentlemen on land, but of the officers in in the fleet, who, being in touch with realities, are the best judges of what is necessary. The examinations should be only for a "pass," to ascertain whether the candidate is competent to perform the duties of lieutenant, which involves practical ability to work the ship, her armament and machinery. They should not be competitive, because it is not possible to ensure equal opportunity without sacrificing efficiency.

The gunnery, torpedo, and pilotage courses on shore should be abolished, the time now devoted to them being much more usefully employed afloat, where these matters can be taught more practically. Those who pass successfully through such a training should be prac

[ocr errors]

tically familiar with their duties and fitted for the ordinary work of the Navy. Such a practical training is not in itself sufficient. A higher education is necessary to enlarge the mind, train the thinking powers, and inculcate a knowledge of principles. This higher education should be entirely voluntary, and might commence at any time after completing six years' service in a ship of war at sea. It should be open to all who intend serious work irrespective of their ability. The time allotted might be one year, extended to two years for selected men and reduced for those who make unsatisfactory progress. The

curricula should be framed on the broadest lines. The particular course of study to be followed by any individual should be left largely to his personal inclination, but would be regulated to some extent by the particular line he wished to adopt. The incentive to work would be the appointments for navigating, gunnery, torpedo, staff of flag officers, and engineering. The examinations should be competitive in so far that they should involve "passes" to reach different standards of efficiency, carrying with them different rates of extra pay.

is a pernicious innovation, and should be cancelled. It can only foster a superficial knowledge of international law, strategy, and tactics, than which nothing can be more dangerous and useless. Such subjects are to be pondered over and studied during the whole professional career of an officer, and not not hastily taken up for a few weeks to pass an examination. Such studies can be most effectively encouraged by giving officers the most favourable opportunities for prosecuting them, and by employing those who show special aptitude in those lines to work out the numerous questions involved. The promotion of an officer to the rank of commander should depend alone on his professional character and attainments as shown by his daily work-a much more severe test than any examination.

The foregoing proposals are based on the idea of reverting to the well-tried system of the past, improved by additions and modifications to meet modern conditions. Comparing them with the new system of entry and training initiated in December 1902, certain differences will be found. The age for entry is now between twelve years and four months and thirteen years, and the time under instruction at Osborne and Dartmouth is four years. Thus the age on going to sea will vary between sixteen years and four months and seventeen years. This is considered to be too late.

Officers should be encouraged to return later to the College to study war or follow further any particular course of study in which they are interested or proficient. Such officers should not be subject to any compulsory examination.

The examination for the rank of commander, recently ordered,

In the course at Osborne profession, it still continued to College special stress is laid be believed that the manual upon the fact that the cadets work above alluded to was receive instruction and do the first essential. To this manual work in the "shops" must be attributed the reattached to the school. It is peated vacillations in fixing a claimed, and has been gener- course of training for naval ally accepted by the public, engineers. It was seen that that this is giving these boys making parts of an enginetraining in the practical work which alone the necessity of of their profession. It may be subdividing work owing to useful to consider to what ex- variety of parts permitted to tent this manual training is any individual was a very necessary for those who will insufficient training for manhave to manage machinery. aging machinery on a large scale. At the same time, a sound conviction prevailed that the training of the marine engineer must be practical; and the only way of making it "practical" that was thought of was to oblige the intending engineer, at odd times and in the intervals between other courses of instruction, to do the work of a "fitter."

An extended course of manual work no doubt usually forms part of the marine engineer's training. The reason why so much stress has been laid on this is not far to seek. In the early days of marine engineering steam machinery in general was comparatively rare. So rare was it that a regular profession or calling of what we now term "engineer" was unknown. Many people still living can remember when naval engineers, who had had some experience of steam machinery before going to sea, spoke of themselves as "millwrights," that being the only term applied to those who as yet hardly formed a distinct speciality. The millwright made the "mill" or machine which he afterwards drove. It soon came to be regarded as a matter of course that no one could drive an engine unless he had had some share in the manual work of making one. The belief solidiThe belief solidified, and when the management of marine steam machinery had become a thoroughly distinct

The marine engineer's profession has long reached a stage at which the above idea of what is "practical" is quite out of date. It is no doubt necessary that he should have a certain familiarity with the use of tools, but to keep him doing now and again small jobs of manual work is to lag quite behind the age. It is no more necessary for him to become an expert mechanic than it is for the architect to become an expert bricklayer, or for the civil engineer who directs the construction of an embankment or of a bridge to become a navvy or expert rivetter, or than it was for the naval officer of the past to be a skilled rigger or

sailmaker. What the marine engineer requires in the way of "practical" instruction is frequent and long-continued experience in the actual work of driving and running marine engines, and in the care, maintenance, and management of engines and boilers. With the actual manual work of repairing the machinery in his charge he has no more to do than a civil engineer has with the manual work of repairing the bridges which are under his supervision. It will be quite by accident if there is a single engineer in the Navy who would be capable of repairing with his own hands a ship's damaged engines. If there are any engineers who can, it will be because they happen to be specially interested in work of the kind. If the question is looked fairly in the face, it will be found that the training of the engineer is as different from that of the engine-room artificer as was the training of the lieutenant of the sailing era from that of the boatswain.

This point has been argued at length because it is fundamental. It is held that the new scheme of training errs in placing too much stress on the workshop training and too little on sea-going practice. Three years' sea service was not sufficient to produce a reliable lieutenant in the sailing era, neither is it now. At least five years are necessary to teach the average officer his practical work in a modern steam-ship. In no less time can he learn

to handle the machinery, the guns, the torpedoes, the electric lights, as well as his predecessors managed the sails and guns of the past.


Not only does the scheme as sketched in the Admiralty memorandum of December 1902 provide for only three years' sea service as midshipman, but it perpetuates the system of examinations and shore courses. The circumstances under which this pernicious system was developed deserve particular notice. It was introduced just at the time when the motive power was changing. It grew with the disappearance of sails, because the time formerly devoted to learning how to handle them was appropriated to books instead of being given to acquiring a practical knowledge of the steam engine. The decadence of practical knowledge of their ships among junior officers was not noticed. It is true that a generation since a sagacious minority tried to stem the tide. These saw that a practical knowledge of the motive power, whether it be sails or steam, was essential to the naval officer. They set the example, and learnt practically to manage machinery as they had before learnt to handle sails. But all was of no avail. They were beaten by the "Collegians," who were in complete control of the education of the Navy, and were as much against the rising generation acquiring a practical knowledge of the steam engine as they were

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »