Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

A Bill to Establish a United States Naval Reserve [1898]

  Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That a United States Naval Reserve is herein and hereby established, to consist of all such of the officers, petty officer, and men who entered the United States Navy or the United States Auxiliary Naval Forces for service during the war with Spain, and who have received, or shall receive, honorable discharges therefrom, as may enroll therein, such officers, petty officers, and men to be given the respective numbers, grades, and ratings which they held at the time of such discharge, and also all officers and enlisted men of the United States Revenue Marine, United States Life-Saving Service, United States Light-House Service, and United States Coast Survey Service in their grades and ratings.

  Sec. 2. That any able-bodied person between the ages of eighteen and forty-five is eligible for enrollment in the United States Naval Reserve: Provided, That he is an ex-officer or formerly enlisted man in the United States Navy, or has served as an officer or enlisted man for at least five years and has been honorably discharged from the Naval militia authorized by the laws of any State or the United States, or is an ex-officer or formerly enlisted man of the United States Revenue Marine, United States Life-Saving Service, United States Light-House Service, and United States Coast Survey Service, or holds a pilot’s license or a certificate as a master or mate or chief engineer or assistant engineer, and is serving on a registered or enrolled vessel, or whose principal occupation is on the high seas or navigable waters of the United States, or in the construction, repair, and rigging of vessels, or the construction and repair of marine engines or electric plants or parts thereof. The grades and ratings of these officers and men shall be determined by examination and shall correspond to the grades and ratings existing in the United States Navy.

  Sec. 3. That the chief of the United States Naval reserve shall be detailed by the Secretary of the Navy from the active or retired list of the line officers of the Navy not below the grade of captain, and he shall have the relative rank and pay of a commodore while holding said office, and shall recommend to the Secretary of the Navy for appointment such officers in said United States Naval reserve as may be necessary for its organization and administration. He shall also command the Naval Coast-Defense System.

  Sec. 4. That enrollment in the United States Naval Reserve shall be for a period not exceeding five years, and that every person enrolled therein, or who has received a full and honorable discharge therefrom, shall be exempt from service in any other military Nava of the United States or of any State. The officers thereof shall be duly commissioned and shall be borne upon the Navy register as United States force Reserves, and the men thereof shall receive from the Secretary enrollment papers and certificates stating their physical and professional ability and length of their previous service. They shall not be called into active service in time of peace, but, if they so elect, shall perform such annual drills, exercises, or courses of study as the Secretary of the Navy may determine, in which case, they shall be subject to the same articles, rules, and regulations, and receive the same pay allowances, and privileges as the officers and men of the Navy, but no such pay and  allowances shall be in excess of those for the period of duty actually performed by such officers and men. In time of war, or when war is imminent, the President may call into active service all or any part of the United States Naval reserves, and they shall obey such call under the pain and penalty of desertion.

  Sec. 5. That the United States Naval reserve hereby established shall furnish the personnel for a Naval coast-defense system to consist of, first, and inshore-patrol fleet, to which, in time of war or when war is imminent, the United States revenue cutters and light-house tenders shall be attached; second, a Coast Signal Service, which, in time of war or when war is imminent, shall include the establishment of the United States Light-House Service, the United States Life-Saving Service, and Weather Bureau; third, a port guard and torpedo fleet, and, fourth, a navigating reserve, the men of the United States Naval reserve being distributed among these four branches, according to their qualifications, by the Secretary of the Navy, who shall make regulations for the enrollment, organization, and administration of said Reserve.

  Sec. 6. That any vessel commanded by a commissioned officer of the United States Naval Reserve, and which shall have in her complement at least five other officers and men of said United States Naval Reserve, shall be known as a United States Naval reserve ship, and shall have the right to fly a distinctive flag. Provided,  That the color, shape, and size of such flag and the manner of flying the same shall be prescribed by the Secretary of the Navy.

  Sec. 7. That the sum of one hundred thousand dollars, or so much thereof as may be required, is hereby appropriated for the purpose of paying the expenses incidental to the enrollment and training of the United States Naval reserve and the publication of the regulations governing it, and for otherwise carrying into operation the foregoing provisions of this act, and the same shall constitute a continuous annual appropriation, payable out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the purpose of continuing and maintaining the enrollment and training of the United States Naval reserve, the same to be expended under the direction of the Secretary of the Navy. The Officers and men shall be paid, when in active service, from the “Pay of the Navy.”

  Sec. 8. That all laws and sections of law conflicting with the provisions of this act hereby repealed.1

Source Note: Annual Report of the Navy Department, 1898, pp. 135-36.

Footnote 1: The Naval Reserve Bill was finally discussed in 1900, but failed to pass. Harold Thomas Wieand, “The History of the Development of the United States Naval Reserve, 1889-1941” (PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1952), 68.

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