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Documentary Histories

House of Representatives Bill 3330


     The President1 on May 22 signed the bill, H.R. 3330, to temporarily increase the enlisted personnel of the Navy and Marine Corps, to 150,000 and 30,000 respectively, and to provide temporary appointments of officers, in grades not above lieutenant, for the same. We give below the text of the measure as amended in conference and finally adopted:

     H.R. 3330.–To temporarily increase commissioned and warrant and enlisted strength of Navy and Marine Corps.

     Be it enacted, etc., That authorized enlisted strength of active list of Navy is hereby temporarily increased from 87,000 to 150,000, including 4,000 additional apprentice seamen.2

     Sec. 2. That authorized enlisted strength of active list of Marine Corps is hereby temporarily increased from 17,400 to 30,000, this authorized strength being distributed in the various grades of enlisted force in same proportion as those authorized at date of approval of this act.

     Sec. 3. That enlistments in the Navy and Marine Corps, during such time as the United States may be at war, shall be for four years, or for such shorter period or periods as the President may prescribe, or for the period of the present war.3


     Sec. 4. Additional commissioned officers in Navy and Marine Corps, based upon temporary increases herein authorized in number of enlisted men, shall be temporarily appointed by President, in his discretion, with the advice and consent of Senate, not above grades and ranks of lieutenant in line and staff of Navy and major in Marine Corps, distribution in said grades and ranks to be made in accordance with provisions of Act of Aug. 29, 1916: Provided, That all temporary original appointments shall be made in lowest commissioned grades of line and staff of Navy and Marine Corps, exclusive of commissioned warrant officers, and that there shall be no permanent or temporary appointments in or permanent or temporary promotions to any grade or rank above that of lieutenant in Navy or major in Marine Corps by reason of temporary appointment of officers authorized by this act in excess of total number of officers authorized by existing law or on account of increase of enlisted men herein authorized. . . .


     Sec. 18. That the President is further authorized to designate six officers of Navy for command of fleets or subdivisions thereof and, after being so designated, from date of assuming such command until relinquishment thereof, not more than three of such officers shall each have rank and pay of an admiral, others shall have rank and pay of a vice admiral;4 and grades of admiral and vice admiral are hereby authorized and continued for the purpose of this act: Provided, That in time of war the selection under provisions of this section shall be made from grades of rear admiral or captain on active list of Navy: Provided further, That the pay of an admiral shall be $10,000 and the pay of a vice admiral $9,000 per annum: Provided further, That in time of peace officers for command of fleets and subdivisions thereof, as herein authorized, shall be designated from among the rear admirals on active list of Navy: Provided further, That nothing herein contained shall create any vacancy in any grade in Navy or increase total number of officers authorized by law: Provided further, That when an officer with rank of admiral or vice admiral is detached from command of a fleet or subdivision thereof, as herein authorized, he shall return to his regular rank in list of officers of Navy and shall thereafter receive only pay and allowances of such rank: And provided further, That nothing in this act shall be held or construed as amending or repealing the provisions of Ses. 1434, 1463, and 1464, Rev. Stat., U.S. . . .

Source Note: H.R. 3330, “Temporary Increase of the Navy,” Army and Navy Journal, 54: 1270-1271.

Footnote 1: President Woodrow Wilson.

Footnote 2: On August 29, 1916, Congress increased the navy’s enlistment to 68,700, but authorized the president to increase it to 87,000 in the event of a national emergency. Annual Report of the Navy Dept., 1917: 11.

Footnote 3: This provision was in response to complaints from officers across the country that the Navy was losing most of the best recruits by not allowing them to sign up for the duration of the war. Many of the “class of men [that] is the very best material” regretfully informed recruiters that their employers were only holding their jobs for them until the war ended, and that in signing up for a full four-year term they would be forfeiting good employment. See, "Recruting for the Duration of the War," Army and Navy Journal, vol. 54: 1149.

Footnote 4: This legislation that led to William S. Sims’ promotion to Vice Admiral and Commander, United States Navl Forces Operating in European Waters, a move he initially opposed as being “premature.” Still, Crisis at Sea: 27.