AFO 2157/1920.-Naval Engineering - Method of Selection for Higher Posts - Position of Officers Specialising as Lieutenants.

(On the Road to Clearing up the Mess that Fisher made of the Engineering Branch - IMHO)

AFO 2157/1920

(C.W. 13055 /20.-17.7.1920.)

In the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty explanatory of the Naval Estimates 1920-21, it was pointed out that final separation between the Officers of the Deck and Engineering sides of the Naval Service was necessary. These words were used

There is a definite distinction both as regards knowledge and capabilities, between those who are to be trained in the science of Naval War, and strategical and tactical methods of fighting, and those who are to deal with the upkeep and maintenance of Engineering and mechanical appliances which are necessitated by the complex machinery and weapons of modern war. Each side requires a special study, and for this reason final separation of the branches is essential:'

At the same time in the statement the importance of close co-operation between the Deck and Engineering Branches was emphasised.

2. Separation being accepted, the prospects of each branch should he such as to maintain high efficiency in the personnel composing the branch. So far as the Deck side is concerned, this is allowed for by the prospects of high command opened up to all who enter that side of the profession, but on the Engineering side it cannot be said that this is fully the case and with the exception of the office of the Engineer-in-Chief, and certain technical appointments, there are comparatively few higher posts. There is a danger, therefore, that under existing conditions the Engineering side may fail to attract its due proportion of Officers of ability, and the Service will suffer in efficiency accordingly. Since the statement of the First Lord this matter has received consideration, and the steps outlined below have been taken.

3. The Engineer-in-Chief at the head of the Naval Engineering profession has up to the present been under the Third Sea Lord and Controller. His primary responsibility was design and supply, his Department being organised to meet the requirements of design and supply.

Whilst retaining his responsibility to the Controller as above, it has been decided that in future the Engineer-in-Chief shall be responsible to the Chief of the Naval Staff for advice on all matters in connection with Naval Engineering policy. He will work in close touch with the Naval Staff, being thus conversant with the trend of Naval policy and being in a position to frame his Engineering plans to meet the requirements of policy.

It has further been decided that the Engineer-in-Chief shall be the Board's principal adviser upon all questions relating to the instruction and training of Engineering personnel, he being for this work directly responsible to the Board through the Second Sea Lord.

Thus the Office of the Engineer-in-Chief as head of the Engineering side of the Naval profession will have extended scope, and the Department of the Engineer-in-Chief will offer posts of the highest administrative importance and responsibility for Senior Engineer Officers.

4. After the Engineer-in-Chief, the most important positions in the Naval Service of a technical and administrative order, are the posts of Admirals Superintendent, responsible for the administration of H.M. Dockyards.

Hitherto, only Officers from the Deck Branch have been eligible for this service, but it is intended that in the future, when Officers of the common entry or special entry systems who have joined the Engineering Branch have attained high rank, that these Officers also should be considered with Deck Officers for these positions.

Should the Admiral Superintendent be such an Officer, the principle would be adhered to that he would not be eligible to command the port, since command of the port in time of war deals with operations, the province of the Deck Officer.

5. In connection with the policy of separation referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2, the Board have also had under consideration the rule under which Lieutenants who have had one year experience as Watchkeepers before specialising in Engineering are allowed to retain the right of military command till between 7-9 years seniority as Lieutenants, when they must decide to remain at Engineering or revert to deck duties. The duties of Lieutenant (E) are becoming more and more exacting and it is considered that in the future it will be impracticable to give effect to reversion to deck duties after a number of years spent on Engineering duties. It has consequently been decided that the option of reversion to deck duties should now be withdrawn altogether from Officers who volunteer for Engineering duties in the future. Officers who have already volunteered will remain under the existing rules.

6. To investigate the possibilities of carrying further the separation of the work of strategy and tactics from that of upkeep and maintenance, a Committee is now sitting on the question of transferring the responsibility for upkeep and maintenance of electrical machinery in H.M. Ships from the Torpedo Department on the Deck side to the Engineering Department, and thus, apart from other considerations, opening up further positions both in the Junior and Higher ranks to Officers who have chosen Engineering duties as their career in the Navy. A decision will be promulgated as soon as possible after the report of the Committee has been received and considered.

Crown Copyright

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