Regulations for the government of the United States Navy (1865)

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General Duties of Line Officers

Section 1.

The Commander-in-Chief of a Fleet or Squadron.

277 When an officer shall be appointed Commander-in-Chief of a fleet or squadron, he shall, as early as possible, inform himself of the state and condition of the vessels, and the qualifications and characters of the Commanding and other officers placed under his command, so that he may be able to select for any special service the officer best qualified to perform it.

278 If the fleet or squadron is to be equipped under his own direction, he will use every exertion to forward the work, and will make weekly reports to the Department of its progress, or the cause of any delay, should it occur. If the work of equipment should be carried on at a navy yard not under his command, he will, nevertheless, keep himself informed of its progress, and make such suggestions to the Commanding Officer as may occur to him, so that when the vessels are put in commission no delay may ensue by reason of alterations or additions. As soon as the vessels are transferred to him, he will use all diligence in preparing them for sea, and will report to the Department the time when they will be ready to sail.

279 Should any deficiencies or defects be discovered which would render any vessel or vessels unfit for the service for which they are destined, or would impair their efficiency, he will represent the same immediately to the proper bureau.

280 Immediately before sailing for foreign service, he will cause reports to be made to the proper bureaus of the length of time for which the fleet is provided with provisions and stores; and he must, thereafter, give them such information as will enable them to forward supplies in time to prevent the necessity of disadvantageous purchases abroad.

281 He will at all times keep the fleet or squadron in the most perfect condition for service that may be practicable.

282 He will strictly enjoin upon all Commanding Officers of vessels to take the greatest care of stores, and to practice the utmost economy in their expenditure.

283 He shall direct frequent examinations of the hospitals and hospital ships, and will require from the examining officers written reports of their state and condition, and cause every attention to be paid to the comfort of the sick.

284 All requisitions must receive his approval before the articles will be furnished, unless the vessels should be separated so as to render it impracticable, and in such cases the requisitions must be approved by the senior officer present, and copies transmitted to the Commander-in-Chief by the earliest opportunity. He will require every officer who may approve a bill for supplies to furnish him immediately with a copy of it, together with the reasons for the purchases.

285 He shall forward quarterly a copy of every bill for purchases made abroad to the proper bureau, with a statement of the reasons which rendered the purchases necessary.

286 In ports where there is no regular agent of the United States, he will direct the Paymaster of the fleet to make all necessary purchases on the most advantageous terms; the articles shall be selected by an officer belonging to the department for which they are required. If vessels should be separated from the Commander-in-Chief, the senior officer present will direct the Paymaster of the vessel for which articles may be required to make the purchases.

287 He will exercise the vessels of the fleet or squadron, whenever circumstances will admit, in performing the various evolutions that are essential to order and safety, and particularly those which it may be necessary or useful to adopt in presence of an enemy.

288 He will cause the boats of the squadron—manned and armed—to be frequently assembled, inspected, and exercised in fleet maneuvering, and in the evolutions for landing or embarking from the shore, and for boarding the vessels of an enemy.

289 He is required to make a semi-annual inspection of each vessel under his command, according to the form given in the Ordnance Instructions. He will also inspect them at other times, as frequently as he may deem necessary, and will hold their Commanding Officers to a strict accountability for proper attention to the order, discipline, efficiency, and cleanliness of their vessels, to the laws and regulations, and to the instructions of the Department, and he shall be careful that the ship bearing his flag or broad pendant be a proper example to others.

290 He will be attentive, when in battle, to observe the conduct of all under his command ; he will correct any errors that he may discover, and will make a report to the Department of every occurrence, and of the conduct of his subordinates.

291 He will require the Commanding Officers of the vessels of his fleet or squadron to forward reports from themselves their Executive Officers, and, if a steam vessel, from the senior Engineer in charge, of every event which may occur in action, and of the services performed by their respective vessels, giving to every person concerned the praise or censure justly due to him.

292 He will also require reports from the Commanding Officers, addressed to the Department, of every important service performed by the ships under their command, accompanied by diagrams, in all cases in which they are applicable, showing every particular which may tend to give clear information concerning the event.

293 He shall forward to the Department, by the first opportunity, the reports and diagrams mentioned above, and retain copies of them for future use or reference.

294 Should he find cause to transfer or suspend any officer under his command, he shall, in such case, transmit to the Secretary of the Navy, by the earliest conveyance, his reasons for the same.

295 He shall issue general orders regulating the extent of leave of absence which may be granted to officers and men to visit the shore by the Commanding Officers of vessels; but no officer shall be allowed to be absent on leave from the vessel to which he belongs, when in squadron, more than twenty-four hours without the written permission or authority of the Commander-in-Chief.

296 He shall make to the Secretary of the Navy quarterly reports of the professional skill and attainments of all Commanding Officers of squadrons, divisions, and vessels under his command, and also of the order and efficiency in which they keep their squadrons, divisions, and vessels; and if an unfavorable report is made, the officer shall be furnished with a copy of it. (See form No. 25, Appendix.)

297 He will forward the quarterly reports of the number and rates of the crews of the vessels under his command, and the expiration of their service, as furnished by the Commanding Officers.

298 He shall correspond regularly with the Secretary of the Navy, keeping him informed of his proceedings and of the state, condition, and probable wants of the vessels under his command, and of all other important information within his knowledge relative to the service on which he may be employed, or to any foreign naval force employed upon the station or in its vicinity.

299 He shall forward to the Secretary of the Navy monthly returns of the condition, distribution, and employment of the vessels of the squadron.

300 At the termination of his command, he will transmit to the Secretary of the Navy a list of all the numbers of his correspondence with the Department, aDd shall furnish duplicates of all such as the Secretary shall inform him have not been received.

301 He will forward to the Navy Department any suggestions or plans for the improvement of public works in navy yards, or in the construction, equipment, or arrangement of vessels of war, or upon any Subject connected with the Navy, which he may deem important to the interests of the United States, accompanying the same with plans and estimates of their cost, when practicable.

302 When a vessel of a squadron is to return to the United States, he shall withdraw all provisions and stores not necessary for her passage home, and transfer to her invalids and all persons whose terms of service have expired, or are about to expire, unless the public interest should require their detention.

303 He shall not resign his command without the previous con- sent of the Secretary of the Navy, unless a medical survey shall certify that the state of his health renders it absolutely necessary.

304 When he shall, for any cause, resign or transfer his command, he shall deliver to his successor accurate copies of all unexecuted instructions and orders, taking receipts for the same, together with all information relating to the squadron or the service, which may be useful to him.

305 Should he die, or leave his station permanently from any cause, before being relieved by a successor appointed by the Navy Department, the officer of the fleet or squadron then succeeding in order to the command shall exercise the powers and authority of Commander-in-Chief, until otherwise directed by the Secretary of the Navy. Any officer who shall have succeeded to the command-in-chief as just mentioned shall discontinue to exercise the powers and authority thereof immediately on receiving official information of the arrival, within the limits of the station, of the officer duly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the fleet or squadron, without waiting either to meet with or to receive an order directly from such officer.

306 He will examine and carefully compare all orders for general police which may be prepared by the Commanders of vessels, and modify them when necessary, to secure uniformity in executing the duties of the fleet or squadron.

307 He will direct the course to be steered by all vessels present under his command.

308 If, from any circumstance, he shall deem proper to take the immediate command of the ship in which he sails, he will cause the fact to be entered on the log.

309 He will see that the commanding officers of steam vessels strictly observe the orders in regard to the expenditure of coal, and the use of sails.

310 On arriving within the limits of his station on foreign service, he is to place himself in communication with the diplomatic agents of the government of the United States thereabouts, and he is to afford them, on his own responsibility, such aid and co-operation in all matters for the benefit of the government as they may require, and as he may judge to be expedient and proper.

311 He shall cause a quarterly inspection to be made by the fleet engineer, or, in his absence, by some other competent engineer, of the steam machinery and boilers of the steam vessels under his command, and shall require from him a report in duplicate, one of which reports shall be forwarded to the Bureau of Steam Engineering, and the other shall be retained by himself for future reference. No proposed alterations or additions to the machinery are to be included in the list of defects; on those points special reports must be made, stating their probable cost and the time necessary for their execution. Should it occur that the inspection of any vessel cannot be made as often as once in a quarter, he must report the fact and the circumstances rendering it impossible.

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