Justice to the Seamen of the Navy, and the interest of the service, require that efforts should be made to remedy the inconveniences which result from the expiration of their times of enlistment while absent from the United States. It will be the object of the Department, as far as circumstances will permit, so to regulate the manning of the vessels of the Navy, that the expiration of service of a majority of the crews shall occur about the same time, and to recall the vessels before that period arrives, so that the men may be in the United States, when their contracts of enlistment with the government end.
It is believed that many of our seamen are lost to the Naval Service by irregularities in granting discharges, and in order to introduce uniformity in such matters, it is hereby ordered:
1st. No Commander of a Vessel of the Navy, whilst absent from the United States is ever to discharge from the Naval Service any petty officer, seaman, ordinary seaman, landsman, boy or marine except by order of the Secretary of the Navy or the sentence of a Court Martial; and whenever men are so discharged a report of all the circumstances attending the same must be made to the Department and information at once given to the nearest Consul of the United States, that he may regulate his conduct towards the person discharged with a full knowledge of the facts.
2d. Whenever, in the opinion of the Commander of a Vessel of the Navy, any person of her crew is unfit for service, he shall report the same to the Senior Officer in command, whose duty it shall be to order a survey to be held upon such persons by two medical officers and three commission-sea-officers, if so many are present under his command, who shall examine the person and report upon his condition; and if they find him "unfit for service" shall state as far as practicable the nature and origin of his disability: the report of survey to be transmitted, in duplicate, to the Secretary of the Navy, or to the Commander-in-chief of the fleet or squadron for decision.
3d. The vessels of the Navy returning from foreign stations must bring home the sick and disabled of a Squadron who have been, by report of survey, declared "unfit for service."
4th. Persons enlisted for the Naval Service and serving on board vessels within the United States may be discharged from service for either of the following reasons, viz:
Expiration of service - sentence of a Court Martial - unfitness for service from causes ascertained to have existed prior to enlistment - and unfitness for service from causes originating subsequent to enlistment, if requested by the person himself and authorized by the Secretary of the Navy.
5th. No commander of a vessel of the Navy is ever to transfer a person belonging to his vessel, to any other vessel or station, unless by order of the Secretary of the Navy, except transfers from one vessel to another vessel of the same squadron under the command and direction of the same commanding officer, by whose directions such transfers may be made, when the public service may render it necessary.
Will. A. Graham
[Secretary of the Navy]
Sept[ember] 27th, 1851