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and it is hoped that the service will be completely supplied within another six months. The printing, as a matter of economy, is being done at the larger post offices having printing plants, and the process is necessarily slow.
The sales of post-route maps made during the year, through the office of the Third Assistant, amounted to $1,551.20, and those for ounty and local center rural delivery maps to $956.05, a total of $2,507.25. Orders filled for parcel-post maps and guides totaled $5,543.30.
In conclusion, I take great pleasure in expressing here my sincere appreciation of the hearty cooperation of all the employees under the supervision of this bureau. Respectfully,
Jas. I. BLAKSLEE,
Fourth Assistant Postmaster General. Hon. A. S. BURLESON,
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.
December 1, 1915. To the PRESIDENT:
I have the honor to submit herewith the annual report of this department for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1915, including operations and recommendations and estimates to date. FIVE-YEAR BUILDING PROGRAM:
In presenting this report I feel it my duty to urge above everything else the necessity of the adoption by Congress of a continuing program of construction. After much reflection, conference with able experts in the Navy and patriotic men in the civil walks of life, such a program has been evolved and is submitted herewith. For the first time in the report of a Secretary of the Navy a plan is submitted which covers not only the necessities of the immediate future, but has been extended to cover a period of five years. Planning today what we will begin to-morrow in order to have it completed in the future is the essence of all true preparedness. It is believed that the adoption of steady and constructive building plans that look ahead and permit each year's construction to fit into the general plan for our Navy as the piece of mosaic fits into the whole design, and which include all we have learned from the struggle in Europe, as well as the knowledge of our own needs acquired in war games and maneuvers, is the surest way to raise the standard of naval efficiency. Nothing is to be gained by the expenditure of millions of dollars in the haste of threatened war or in the panic of actual war. Less is to be gained for the proper strengthening of the Navy by sudden fluctuations and unexpected changes in policy. If a vote had been taken a few months ago as to the types of ships to be constructed, a large majority of the people would doubtless have voted to go into the building of submarines on a scale so large as to leave little money for other fighting craft. Recently in navy circles the pendulum may be said to have swung away from an overlarge undersea program with emphasis again placed upon the dreadnaught. In addition, the need for battle cruisers seems imperative. The wise policy, approved by the ablest
experts and enforced by the lessons of the war across the ocean, is toward a well-proportioned Navy, the units being composed of the types which our fleet would have to meet and overcome in case of war. A continuing program, looking ahead as well as profiting from experience, ought to give us a better proportioned Navy than under the present and past single-year method. The single-year method denied the country the obvious advantage which a well-digested continuous program would insure. It is more costly to build without reference to future years than if a plan is mapped out and adopted for a period long enough to secure the benefit that should come from larger contracts. Experience has taught us that in any year three ships of any type can be built at less cost per ship than if the contract is made for only one in a given year. Wise expenditure of public funds, therefore, as well as increased efficiency, will be promoted by the adoption of a continuing program.
My first thought was to present a plan for a 10-year period, but the argument against determining upon a program for a longer term than five years seemed conclusive, for in this day of invention and development it would hardly be safe to fix upon certain types of ships for a long term of years. We know what other countries have built and are building, and we know the needs which constant practice and maneuvers of the past 12 months by our own fleet have taught us. Therefore the best expert judgment approves the number and types of ships which are recommended. If there are those who believe even within these five years changes in types of ships or in equipment or armament will be so marked as to make the carrying out of the recommendations deny the benefit of new discoveries, the complete answer is this: Congress is asked to make appropriations only for a year at a time, in accordance with custom. Any succeeding Congress will make such alterations as experience may prove desirable, without a reduction of the strength of the fleet to be constructed upon the plan proposed. When a continuous policy was embraced in a bill presented to the national assembly of one of the leading powers nearly 20 years ago it was objected that by accepting it the legislative branch would be depriving itself of a considerable portion of that power of the purse which constitutes the only effective bulwark of its rights. The assembly did not abate one jot or tittle of its rights, and that body two years later, upon the recommendation of the naval administration, again increased its fleet, adding submarines and other units which naval experts had found necessary to a wellproportioned Navy. The strength of the continuing program proposed for our country would depend upon its development in such a way as to prove its value.
If it be argued that one session of Congress or one Congress should not attempt to bind its successor, it is only necessary to point out that
every Congress fixes a program to last more than a single Congress. When the Sixty-third Congress, which voted more money to naval increase than any of its predecessors, authorized the construction of 5 dreadnaughts, 12 destroyers, and 26 submarines, 3 to be larger than any nation had constructed, it made appropriations only for about one-third of the amount it will cost to build the craft authorized. The Sixty-fourth Congress will make appropriations to continue their construction. Such binding of one Congress by another (if it can be called binding) is necessary in the building of modern warships, for they are so large and costly that it requires 34 months to build a fifteen-million-dollar dreadnaught, and two years to build destroyers and submarines. This seems too long a time, and is too long; but formerly it took forty-one months to build a five-milliondollar battleship. Every effort is being made to reduce the time necessary to complete naval craft, and the time has been reduced upon some awards. This policy will be continued wherever feasible, always remembering that hurried construction is never conducive to the best and most thorough workmanship. Bids opened November 17, however, do not give hope for the reduction desired.
In 1903, the General Board of the Navy, in its confidential report to the Secretary of the Navy, recommended a continuous building program, but no Secretary of the Navy urged its adoption. Indeed, up to December, 1913, when I printed the full report of the General Board as an appendix to the Secretary's Report, neither the members of Congress nor the public had access to the recommendations of that board of naval statesmen. Their report was a sealed book. Secretaries had, indeed, in the executive sessions of the Naval Affairs Committee, given some of the figures as to the number and types of ships approved by the General Board, but such information was deemed confidential. It appealed to me as a sound proposition to give the widest publicity to the formal report of this board, so that the country might have the opinion of naval experts, as well as the recommendations of the Secretary and the Administration. To be sure, if the official estimates made to Congress did not harmonize with the recommendations of the General Board, the difference opened the way for a discussion as to which policy was the wiser. But discussion makes for knowledge and wise decision. The General Board is influenced by its professional views, while an Administration takes into consideration the whole national policy and does not overlook the question of national revenues. The two reports of the General Board will be found in Appendix A and Appendix B.
It was in 1903 that the General Board formulated a policy “having in view an estimate and forecast of the future as to what would be the development of foreign countries with which conflict might be probable and what our own development should be to insure
peace.” At that time the General Board recommended “the adoption of a continuous naval policy to be pursued by Congress in making appropriations whereby the strength of the fleet shall be increased regularly." The basis of the fleet then recommended was 48 battleships by 1919 and lesser units and auxiliaries were recommended in the proportions believed to be best to complete a fighting fleet. It contemplated two battleships each year. When their report for a continuing program was submitted 10 battleships were completed and 14 had already been authorized, and a two-battleship program would by 1919 have secured the authorization of 24 more, all of which would have been completed by 1919. As against the five dreadnaughts authorized by the last Congress, the Secretary of the Navy in 1903, the very first year after the General Board's recommendation, asked for only one battleship, and that session authorized only one. Later on, in March, 1913, no doubt having in mind the failure of naval authorities and Congress to adopt a continuous policy, the General Board made this statement:
There is not now and there has never been in any true sense a governmental or departmental naval policy. The fleet as it exists is the growth of an inadequately expressed public opinion; and the growth has followed the law of expediency to meet temporary emergencies, and has had little or no relation to the true meaning of naval power, or to the Nation's need therefor for the preservation of peace and for the support and advancement of our national policies.
The Sixty-third Congress took long strides toward formulating a better naval policy, enacting long-desired legislation of the most serviceable character which will increase the efficiency and strength of the fleet. It opened new doors for promotion of officers and men. It remains for the Sixty-fourth Congress to add to that record the adoption of a continuous five-year program that will make the Navy every year more worthy of this great Republic. The objection may be made to such a continuous program that advantage would not be taken of all progress and experience in the period fixed upon. The General Board, when in 1903 it suggested a program that would give us 48 battleships by 1919, answered that objection in this language:
While necessarily desirable and possible to keep in view the general outline of a building policy that should be systematically pursued, no one can forecast the development in the art of shipbuilding at any one time to lay down the characteristics of vessels to be laid down in a given time to bring the fleet up to its maximum strength. It is necessary to improve in design from year to year. Vessels laid down from year to year may differ in minor respects, but not in respect to power.
In view of the varying programs of the past, imposing upon us to-day the duty of making large expenditures to strengthen the Navy to make good past deficiencies, I submit to you, for transmission to Congress, a definite program of construction which not merely