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

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Section 5.

Officers Commanding Vessels.

327 When an officer shall be appointed to the command of a vessel he shall join her forthwith, unless a particular day be designated for him to do so by the appointing authority; and, on joining her, he is to examine and ascertain her state and condition, and inform himself of the character and qualifications of the officers placed under his command.

328 If the vessel be still under the charge of the Commanding Officer of the navy yard, he will be attentive to her repair and equipment, and report to such Commanding Officer any defects or deficiencies which, in his opinion, require further attention. He will be particular in his examinations and reports at the time when it may be proposed to transfer the vessel entirely to his charge, so as to prevent any subsequent complaints in relation to neglects or deficiencies in the repairs or equipments.

329 He will exercise no authority or control over the repairs or equipments of the vessel before she is delivered into his charge, nor over the officers and mechanics of the navy yard, unless with the assent or direction of the Commanding Officer of the yard.

330 When appointed to the command of a vessel, he shall be furnished with a statement of her condition and her presumed or ascertained qualities, by the Commandant of the navy yard, or by the previous Commander, if the vessel be already in commission, and with drawings and plans showing the dimensions of the ship, arrangements and stowage of the holds, store-rooms, magazines, shell-rooms, shot- lockers, &c

331 When a vessel shall be transferred by the Commanding Officer of a navy yard to him for service, he shall use every exertion to complete the arrangements that may be necessary for her efficient employment at sea, and shall report weekly to the Secretary of the Navy her condition, progress of repairs, and any deficiency of officers or men, for the information of the Department.

332 After assuming the command he will be held responsible for the whole conduct and good government of the officers and others belonging to the vessel, according to the laws and regulations for the government of the Navy, and must himself set an example of respect and obedience to his superiors, and of unremitting attention to his duties.

333 When a ship shall have been put in commission, a general muster of the officers and crew shall be had for the purpose of verifying the descriptive lists, of ascertaining that the name of every man is correctly registered, and that every one has the exact uniform dress prescribed by regulations; the full dress is not to be worn during war. The Executive Officer, Surgeon, and Paymaster shall be present at such muster, and any discrepancy in the descriptive lists, or error in the transfer roll, shall be then corrected, and a certificate of such correction, approved by the Commanding Officer, shall be transmitted by him to the Department, to the rendezvous where the man was shipped, and the receiving ship from which he was transferred. On the receipt of such certificate the necessary corrections will be made.

334 He will see that a note is made upon all accounts, transfer and descriptive lists, and on all shipping articles, and enlistment returns, against the name of every person who may come under the seventh section of the act approved February 24, 1864, for enrolling and calling out the national forces.

335 He shall not exceed the number of men allowed in any rating except to make up for a deficiency in some superior rating, or by the express authority of the Secretary of the Navy, or the Commander-in- Chief of a squadron on foreign service.

336 Should he deem it necessary to issue other orders for the general police of the vessel than those contained in the Laws and Regulations for the Navy, he will prepare such and submit them to the Department, or to the Commander-in-Chief if serving in a squadron, for approval or modification.

337 He shall have the officers and crew stationed for the performance of their different duties, and shall exercise them as frequently as other duties will permit before going to sea ; and shall cause the quarter, watch, fire, and other station bills, to be fairly made out and hung in some conspicuous place, where all persons on board may have access to them.

338 In all matters connected with the preparation of his vessel for battle, and the exercise of his crew at quarters, he shall follow carefully such instructions as have been or may be issued by the Bureau of Ordnance and approved by the Secretary of the Navy.

339 He shall require each of the Lieutenants, Masters, and Ensigns, belonging to the vessel, to procure a good sextant or octant, and some approved work containing the usual tables for ascertaining the ship's place from observations for latitude and longitude, that, in case it should be necessary to place any of them in charge of a prize or other vessel, they may have the necessary means of navigating her.

340 He will impress upon the men under his command the importance of providing, by allotment tickets, for their families during their absence from them, and will see that the tickets of those who avail themselves of the privilege are duly forwarded as provided for in the article on allotments.

341 When approaching any vessel of war at sea, he shall take care that the vessel under his command is so far cleared for action as to guard against any possible danger from surprise.

342 He will, when acting singly, hold a semi-annual inspection of his ship according to the form given in the Ordnance Instructions, and forward his report to the Bureau of Ordnance by the first opportunity.

343 He may, at his discretion, require the Line Officers under his command to make frequent observations and calculations for deter- mining the latitude and longitude, and the variation of the compass, and report the results to him, and he will encourage the officers under his command to improve themselves in every branch of nautical science.

344 Whenever a Commander is removed from one vessel to another, he may take with him his clerk, Cockswain, one officer's steward, one officers' cook, and one person of inferior rating.

345 He shall deliver to the officer appointed to succeed him in command all signal books, and the originals or attested copies of all unexecuted orders which he may have received, for which he must take receipts in duplicate, sending one copy through the proper channel to the Navy Department. He will leave with his successor in command a complete muster book, and expense book, duly audited and signed by him to the time of his resigning his command. He shall leave with his successor a report of the qualities of the vessel according to such forms as may be prescribed, together with every other information which he may deem serviceable to her Commander, and he will forward a similar report to the Navy Department whenever he is removed from or resigns the command of a vessel. Whenever he is removed from or resigns the command of a vessel, he will furnish the officer succeeding him in the command with a list of the names of such of the crew who enlisted for three years as may be deemed worthy of an honorable discharge.

346 Should he find it necessary to go into a port not designated or permitted by his instructions, he will make no unnecessary stay, and will report the cause of the necessity and of any delay that may occur.

347 Should a vessel be separated from a fleet or squadron to which it belongs, the Commander must show, in the most satisfactory manner, that such separation was not caused by any neglect of his, and that he hid complied strictly with all instructions which may have been given for his government in case of such separation.

348 He will facilitate any examination which it may be the duty of any custom-house officer of the United States to make on board the vessel he commands.

349 The Captain or Commanding Officer of a vessel, in which the Commander-in Chief, or the Commander of a squadron or division, (not commanding-in chief,) shall be embarked, will be particularly careful to conform strictly to all orders he may receive from such superior officer respecting the management of the vessel, the sail to be carried, and all matters which may regulate or influence the movements of the vessels of the squadron; and such superior officer will communicate all his orders which may relate to the vessel in which he is embarked immediately to the Commanding Officer of such vessel, unless the urgency of the case should require an order to be given directly to the officer of the deck, in which case the Commanding Officer of the vessel is to be immediately notified.

350 He shall cause some competent person among the Petty Officers, or persons of inferior rating, to instruct the boys of the ship in reading, writing, and arithmetic

351 He will not permit any boy who shall have been shipped to serve until he is twenty-one years of age, to act as a waiter upon any person.

352 He shall cause vacancies among Petty Officers and seamen to be filled from the ship's company, if persons qualified be found on board, in preference to those from other ships.

353 He shall cause the ordinary seamen, landsmen, and boys to be instructed in steering, heaving the lead, knotting and splicing, in rowing, in the use of the palm and needle, and generally in other duties, such as bending and reefing sails, &c , that they may become qualified for the rating of seamen and Petty Officers.

354 He shall have a liberty book kept, in which shall be recorded the names of such of the crew as may have been granted liberty on shore, specifying the length of leave, the time of the return, and the condition and conduct of each man on his return to the ship.

355 He will cause a conduct book to be kept by the Executive Officer, in which the names of all Petty Officers and persons of inferior rating shall be entered, with remarks from time to time on the conduct of each, and a record made of any fact or circumstance that may aid him in preparing proper discharges at the end of the cruise.

356 He is to keep a remark hook, in which he is to cote all useful information regarding the places he may visit, stating, in every case, their latitude and longitude at least, and, as occasions may allow him to ascertain them, the variation of the compass, the prevailing winds and currents, the dangers in approaching the various anchorages, and the means of avoiding such dangers; the supplies, particularly of water, provisions, and spars, which the said places can afford, and, generally, every other information regarding them which may be deserving of notice, and shall, when practicable, cause surveys to be made by the officers under his command, and shall make reports to the naval bureaus on the subjects appropriate to each, and at the conclusion of his cruise the remark book shall be sent to the Navy Department.

357 In case of shipwreck, or any other disaster whereby the ship may be lost, the Commander, with the officers and men, shall stay by her as long as possible, and save all they can. He shall particularly endeavor to save the muster, pay, and receipt books, and other valuable papers.

358 If shipwrecked within the United States, he shall, after doing all in his power to save the public property, repair, as soon as practicable, to the nearest navy yard or station, and, in all cases, make the earliest possible report to the Navy Department.

359 He shall, in cases of shipwreck without the United States, lose no time in returning to the fleet or squadron to which he may belong, or, if acting alone, to the United States, with his officers and crew, to effect which he may dispose of the property saved, or draw bills, as he may deem most advantageous to the public interests.

360 Should the Commanding Officer of a vessel be compelled to strike his flag, he is to take especial care to destroy all signals and papers the possession of which by an enemy might be injurious to the United States, and he will keep them so prepared, with weights attached to them, that they will sink immediately on being thrown overboard.

361 In every case of the loss or capture of a vessel of the Navy, it is hereby made the duty of her Commander to cause immediately the officers of divisions to ascertain carefully the loss of clothing and bedding sustained by their men, and to report to him, in writing, the result of their investigation. These reports, drawn up in a uniform way, and signed by himself and those officers respectively, he is to submit, without delay, to the Navy Department.

362 In the event of loss of accounts occurring from the loss or capture of a vessel of the Navy, he will order the Paymaster to open fresh ones with the survivors, commencing them from the date of the disaster, and giving to each person the rate he held at the time the accounts were lost; and these accounts, so made out, are to accompany the survivors on their being transferred to a vessel or station, the Paymaster of which is to govern himself by them in making payments or issues, until he receives further instructions concerning them from the Navy Department, or the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury.

363 When, from the loss of a vessel, or from any cause, the descriptive lists of the crew are lost, it shall be the duty of the Commanding Officer to make application for such descriptive lists to the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting, forwarding, with his letter of application, a list containing the names and rating of the crew at the time of their enlistment.

364 He will, in forwarding his report of the qualities of the vessel, and at other times, if he deems it important, suggest any alterations which, in his opinion, would render the vessel more efficient, or improve her qualities in any particular, and the probable expense attending such change.

365 He will preserve discipline, and prevent any irregularities which might give just cause of offense to the inhabitants of the country where his vessel may be, and any violations of the laws or port regulations.

366 He shall make a report to the Commander-in-Chief of the squadron, or to the Secretary of the Navy, if cruising alone, of all passengers carried in the vessel under his command, assigning his reasons for having them on board.

367 All orders received by a Commanding Officer applicable to others under his command or authority are to be promptly communicated. No delay will be tolerated, except In cases of palpable necessity.

368 The Commanding Officers of vessels falling in with each other are, whenever practicable, to compare signal books, general orders, and circulars, in order to possess themselves of any changes or alterations that may have been made, and of information to the latest date. They will suggest to the Department any necessary signal or word not to be found in the books.

369 Immediately on arriving in port, the Commander of a vessel is to submit to the Commander-in-Chief, or to the senior officer present, requisitions in triplicate for deficiencies on board the vessel under his command; but he is to be particularly careful that every article embraced is really needed, and that the quantity mentioned is not excessive.

370 On arriving in port or at a naval station, to be refitted or repaired, the Commander of such vessel is not to permit the stores belonging to any department of her to be landed without previous authority from the senior officer present. In the United States this authority is not to be granted without the sanction of the Navy Department.

371 Every Commander of a vessel of the Navy shall report to the Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, immediately on its occurrence, every instance of the vessel under his command touching on a shoal or rock, or sustaining any injury to the lower masts, hull, or bowsprit, with all the circumstances attending the accident, and his opinion as to the probable injury sustained, and at the termination of his cruise he will send duplicates of all such reports made during the cruise to that bureau.

372 In all cases of collision resulting seriously, Commanding Officers are to report the facts to the Commander-in-Chief of the squadron to which they are attached, or, if acting singly, to the Secretary of the Navy.

373 In the event of a collision between a vessel of the Navy and a merchant vessel, so serious or under such circumstances as not to admit of immediate repair with the resources at hand, and, therefore, likely to involve damages, the Commander of the naval vessel is, if possible, at once to order a board of three officers, (one of whom, when practicable, to be a carpenter,) to ascertain all the attending circumstances, injuries received, probable amount of damages, and report to him, in triplicate, accordingly; and he is then, without delay, to forward to the Navy Department one of these triplicates, and to furnish the master of the merchant vessel with one of them. The remaining one he is to retain for any future reference that may be necessary. When repairs have been effected on the spot, a suitable certificate of the fact is to be taken from the master of the merchant vessel, and forwarded to the Navy Department.

374 Commanders of public vessels-of war are not to suffer their vessels to be searched by any foreign power under any pretext, nor any officers nor men to be taken out so long as they have power of resistance. If force be used, resistance must be continued as long as possible. If overcome, they are to yield their vessel, but not their men without the vessel.

375 When not acting under the orders of a superior officer, they will be governed by the regulations for Commanders-in-Chief, so far as they may be applicable to their situation.

376 Commanders of vessels on foreign stations may receive on board distressed sailors of the United States without reference to the established complement. If, on the usual examination, they be found fit for the service, they may be enlisted for such period as may be judged expedient, not exceeding three years ; but if not so found, or if unwilling to enlist, they may be entered as supernumeraries, for passage and rations, provided they bind themselves to be amenable, in all respects, to the Laws and Regulations for the Government of the Navy. Such persons, however, are not to be so received, enlisted, or entered, without the authority of the senior officer present, and Commanders concerned are to keep the Commander-in-Chief of the fleet or squadron fully informed of all transactions with regard to them.

377 They shall take care that no merchant seamen be received on board on a foreign station, as prisoners, under charges preferred against them, unless the witnesses necessary to substantiate such charges accompany them, or some equally certain means are adopted to insure their appearance on the arrival of the prisoners at the place where they will be handed over to the civil authorities.

378 Commanders of vessels violating or departing from their orders or instructions at the request of a consul, or any other person, must do so on their own responsibility, and will be held to a strict account by their superiors.

379 They shall make to the Honorable Secretary of the Navy, through the Commander-in-Chief, a full report of any action, chase, or important movement in which the vessels they command may be engaged, and will also furnish diagrams illustrating the positions and movements of the vessels, the direction of the wind, the bearing, distance, and outline of land should any be in sight, and all information which may tend to throw light on the occurrence. They will also be careful to mention all such as may distinguish themselves as defined by the act of December 21, 1861, and recommend them for medals; and will, after an action, require from the Executive Officer and officers commanding divisions, reports of the general conduct of those under their observation. {See paragraphs 291, 318.)

380 In case of the death, desertion, or capture by an enemy of any person belonging to the Navy, it shall be the duty of the Commander of the vessel, upon the books of which the name of such person may be borne, to cause his effects to be collected and delivered to the Paymaster for safe-keeping, together with an inventory of the same, to be signed by two mess mates, if they belonged to an officer, or if they belonged to any other person, by the officer of his division. He shall, also, in addition to the usual official report of the death of any person, on board the vessel under his command, cause information of the same to be forwarded to the nearest relative, or friend of the deceased, if the address of such relative or friend can be obtained.

381 Whenever an officer may be relieved from command, he shall, before the transfer be effected, make a thorough inspection of the ship in company with his successor, and cause the crew to be exercised in his presence. He shall point out any defects, and account for them, and explain fully any peculiarities of construction or arrangements. A statement, in triplicate, of the inspection shall be drawn up, and if satisfactory, shall be signed by the officer succeeding to the command. If not satisfactory, the latter shall state in what particular it is not so, and the officer relieved shall make such explanations as he may deem necessary, each over his own signature. One copy of this statement shall be forwarded to the Secretary of the Navy, and one shall be retained by each of the Commanding Officers.

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