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The Coast Guard being a part of the military forces of the Government, the military system of the former Revenue-Cutter Service has been utilized as a basis for the organization of the Coast Guard. This has necessitated many changes in matters affecting the status and discipline of that portion of the Coast Guard which was formerly the Life-Saving Service, and it is very gratifying to observe how readily the transferred personnel of that service have adapted themselves to the new conditions.
A committee representing the Navy and the Coast Guard has been at work to recommend such interdepartmental regulations and agreements as may be necessary in order to make the Coast Guard most effective as an adjunct to the Navy for the national defense, as contemplated by existing law.
The transfer of the personnel of the former Life-Saving Service to the Coast Guard was accomplished by issuing appointments as commissioned officers, warrant officers, and petty officers to the district superintendents, keepers, and No. 1 surfmen, respectively, and regularly enlisting the surfmen.
Under the several provisions of the Coast Guard act, a total of 124 persons have been retired from active service, as follows: Having reached the age of 64 years:
Commissioned officersdistrict superintendents.
Other enlisted men—2 seamen; 31 surfmen; 2 firemen; 2 stewards; 1 cook.
Warrant officers-1 boatswain; 5 keepers; 1 carpenter.
Other enlisted men-21 surfmen.
Commissioned officers—1 captain.
In filling vacancies, the system in vogue in the former Life-Saving Service has been changed somewhat in the organization of the Coast Guard. Promotion to the grade of No. 1 surfman (petty oflicer) is made by selection from the grade of surfman, and promotion to keeper (warrant officer) is made by selection from the grade of No. 1 surfman. Warrant officers and petty officers are required to serve a satisfactory probationary period of six and three months, respectively, before permanent appointments are issued. In addition, warrant officers must pass a satisfactory, mental examination. Keepers alone are eligible for promotion to the grade of district superintendent, and the selection to fill a vacancy in this latter grade is made by examination which is strictly competitive, the candidate attaining the highest average being awarded the promotion.
The administrative office of the Coast Guard (Headquarters) has been organized in five divisions, as follows:
1. Division of Operations.--Having cognizance of matters relating to the personnel and operations of the service.
2. Division of Matériel.-Having cognizance of matters relating to supplies, outfits, equipment, accounts, and the files.
3. Division of Construction and Repair.-Having cognizance of matters relating to the construction of and repairs to the hulls of vessels and boats, stations, wharves, and all other property.
4. Division of Engineering.-Having cognizance of matters relating to the construction of and repairs to the motive power of vessels and boats and the machinery of all other property.
5. Division of Inspection.—Having cognizance of matters relating to the inspection of vessels, stations, boats, and all other property:
The clerical force employed in the former Bureau of Life-Saving Service and former Division of Revenue-Cutter Service has been transferred to the Coast Guard Headquarters and assigned to appropriate duties among the several divisions.
During the year 86 general courts and 148 minor courts were convened for the trial of 1 officer and 233 men of the Coast Guard, resulting in 12 acquittals and 218 convictions; 1 case was nol-prossed and 3 not completed. The department has continued the policy of suspending sentence and placing on probation men who have been convicted of desertion and other offenses against military discipline not essentially of a criminal nature when the sentence imposed involves imprisonment or other serious punishment and there is a recommendation for clemency or there appear to be circumstances in extenuation. Reports on the conduct of the probationer are made at regular intervals, and at the expiration of his period of enlistment the sentence is mitigated or remitted entirely, according to the nature of the several conduct reports. If, on the other hand, the conduct reports indicate that the probationer is incorrigible or is making no effort to redeem himself, action on the sentence is taken accordingly. As one result of this plan, during the past year it was necessary to put in effect sentences involving imprisonment in two cases only, and it is gratifying to note that in most cases the men placed on probation have shown an earnest desire to avail themselves of the opportunity thus afforded to regain their status.
Coast Guard Academy.
During the year a total of 16 cadets and cadet engineers have been under instruction at the academy at New London, Conn. Fourcadet engineers successfully completed the prescribed course and were commissioned third lieutenants of engineers in August, 1914, and the same month six cadets and four cadet engineers were appointed. One cadet resigned October 1, 1914. The annual cruise of the cutter Itasca with the cadets covered the period between June 6 and September 14, 1914. The winter term at the academy is devoted to theoretical studies, while the cruise of the Itasca affords the opportunity for practical instruction of cadets during the varying conditions of weather at sea in seamanship, navigation, engineering, gunnery, etc. The junior cadets are given actual experience on deck, in the boats, and in the fireroom, while the senior cadets are required to perform under the immediate supervision of the officers the actual duties of navigating the vessel and of handling her, both in the engine room and on the bridge. The number of cadets being limited, considerable individual instruction is possible, and there is opportunity to give each cadet extensive practice in performing important duties, all of
which tends to develop confidence and self-reliance and better prepares them for the responsibilities of commissioned officers.
Competitive examinations were held in June, 1915, to select the new class which will enter the academy in August. It is desired to appoint seven cadets and four cadet engineers, and in order to obtain a wide field for competition the examinations were held at the following cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Norfolk, Savannah, San Francisco, and Chicago.
Cadet engineers are appointed at the minimum age of 20 years and serve a probationary period of 1 year at the academy. Cadets of the line are appointed at the minimum age of 18 years and serve & probationary period of 3 years. The scope of the examination for appointment as cadet engineer is, consequently, more advanced than for cadets of the line, and a candidate to compete successfully for appointment as cadet engineer must have had a certain amount of preliminary training in mechanics, steam engineering, and electricity. Despite every effort that has been made to advertise the existing vacancies, only three candidates finally qualified for the annual competitive examination in June, 1915, and it is quite evident from the experience of the past three years that with the present requirements it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit the engineer corps with efficient
young men. Two remedies for this condition suggest themselves, namely, to reduce the age limit and the scope of the examination for cadet engineers and increase the probationary term to three years, or to discontinue the appointment of cadet engineers and train cadets for both line and engineering duty. These matters are now receiving earnest consideration, and it is expected to be able to make definito recommendations in the next annual report. Meanwhile, the policy of detailing junior line officers for engineering duty, which was inaugurated during the previous year to relieve the condition incident to the large number of vacancies in the engineer corps, has been continued in the past fiscal year.
Medical officers on cutters. The act of June 24, 1914, authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to detail for duty on Coast Guard cutters such surgeons of the Public Health Service as he may deem necessary, and plans have been perfected with the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service to assign medical officers to the several cutters to the extent permitted by the limited personnel at his disposal. Medical officers are now regularly assigned to seven cutters and temporary details are made to three other cutters when proceeding on extensive cruises. Aside from the necessity for the services of a medical officer on each cutter 10 conserve the health of a crew totaling an average of 70 persons, who are frequently engaged in work involving hazard and exposure, all cruising cutters are often called upon for medical or surgical aid by the crews of merchant vessels at sea or in remote places. When a surgeon is available much unnecessary suffering is alleviated among seafaring men along our coasts, and undoubtedly at times seamen's lives are saved through this prompt medical attention.
It is hoped that during the current year it may be possible to provide for the regular detail of surgeons to a part, if not all, of the remaining cruising cutters.
New vessels, stations, and equipment. The new cutters Ossipee and Tallapoosa, authorized by the act of June 24, 1914, have been completed and will be taken to the service depot at South Baltimore to receive their outfits and equipment. It is expected these vessels will be ready for service by the middle of August, when they will be assigned to duty on the New England and Gulf coasts, respectively, to replace the Woodbury and Winona, which latter cutters, being old and unserviceable, will be withdrawn from active service and sold.
The old radio sets of the Seminole, Onondaga, and Androscoggin have been replaced with modern high-powered 'installations. The necessary material to similarly equip the Bear has been purchased, but not yet installed.
A contract has been entered into for the construction of the new station at Mackinac Island, authorized by the act of August 24, 1912. The work has begun and is progressing satisfactorily.
It has not been possible to proceed with the construction of the new station authorized by the act of August 24, 1912, to be established at Sea Gate, N. Y., because of difficulties in securing title to the necessary site.
Steps have been taken to obtain suitable sites for the new stations at Duxbury Reef, Cal., and Siuslaw River, Oreg., authorized by the acts of March 3 and March 4, 1915, respectively.
Contracts were executed for the construction of eight 36-foot selfbailing, self-righting motor lifeboats and twenty 26-foot self-bailing surfboats, and of these 4 lifeboats and 11 surfboats have been completed and put in service.
Repairs and improvement to cutters and stations. In addition to the current repairs necessary for the upkeep of the fleet, extensive repairs have been made to the following vessels:
Séminole.—The installation of the new boilers has been completed, and with the renewal of certain portions of the hull this vessel is now in a very efficient condition for a craft of her age.
Mindom.-In January, 1915, this vessel was sent to the service depot at Baltimore for the first extensive repair since she was built in 1896. Her low freeboard and small coal capacity greatly restricted the field of her activities and made her unavailable for extensive cruising in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where she was stationed. Her hull has been raised forward by the addition of a forecastle deck, her freeboard increased by fitting solid bulwarks throughout her entire length, and new boilers are being installed. In addition, provision will be made for oil fuel, which will practically double her steaming radius.
The following stations have been rebuilt or extensively repaired:
Atlantic and Gulf coast.-At Chatham, Mass., the station has been rebuilt on a new site; masonry sea walls have been constructed at Watch Hill, R. I., and bulkheads and revetments at Corsons Inlet and Hereford Inlet, N. J., to protect the stations at those points from the encroachment of the sea.
Pacific coast.-At Humboldt Bay, Cal., extensive damage to the launchway has been repaired. Ať Point Adams, Oreg., the boat
house has been moved to a new location and the launchway rebuilt. At Nome, Alaska, a new boathouse and a launchway have been constructed to replace those destroyed by storm.
Great Lakes.-On Lake Huron a new boathouse with extensive breakwater protection has been constructed at Pointe aux Barques, the breakwater rebuilt and boathouse repaired at Harbor Beach, and the boathouse and launchway rebuilt at Lake View Beach-all in Michigan. On Lake Erie, at Cleveland, Ohio, extensive repairs have been made to the station foundations and bulkhead, and a rock mound breakwater constructed.
Contracts have been awarded and work begun in connection with the following projects: Rebuilding stations at Point of Woods, L. I.; Cape Fear, N. C.; Coos Bay, Oreg.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Oswego, N. Y. Moving buildings to new site at Sandy Hook, N. J.; rebuilding of boathouse and crew's quarters at Fort Point, Cal.; and construction of a rock breakwater at Marblehead, Ohio.
At Velasco, Tex., action on changing the location of the buildings has been deferred pending negotiations for a suitable site.
Repair depot at Arundel Cove, Md.-The value of this depot to the Coast Guard is constantly increasing. In addition to manufacturing most of the small boats, awnings, covers, and other items of outfit for the cutters, the extensive repairs to the Seminole and Windom were made at this plant, and the following cutters were overhauled and received minor repairs: Androscoggin, Apache, Guthrie, Itasca, and Onondaga. The new cutters Ossipee and Tallapoosa will be prepared for service at the depot, where the necessary outfits already have been assembled.
The facilities of this depot have been extended to the floating equipment of the Public Health Service when requested.
New vessels. For four years it has been regularly urged that new vessels be authorized, one for the Pacific coast and one for New York Harbor. The vessel for the Pacific coast is intended to replace the Perry, which was wrecked in the vicinity of the Pribilof Islands in 1910. During the past year the service sustained a further loss in the Tahoma, which struck an uncharted reef south of the Aleutian Chain in September, 1914, while engaged in patrolling those waters in the enforcement of the international convention for the protection of the seal herds. The loss of these two vessels has seriously curtailed the activities of the Coast Guard on the Pacific coast, and the service is now obliged to undertake the enforcement of the sealing convention with but one cutter. It is therefore imperatively necessary that two new vessels be provided for this very important work, involving as it does the fulfillment of international obligations. Seven hundred thousand dollars should be provided for the construction of these two vessels.
The old cutter Manhattan now limps along with worn-out hull and machinery, performing in a very inefficient manner the important duty of regulating the anchorage of vessels in the greatest American seaport. Since first recommending the replacement of this antiquated craft, now over 42 years old, the cost of ships has so far advanced that it will be necessary to provide an appropriation of