The Navy as a Fighting Machine eBook

Bradley Fiske
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 353 pages of information about The Navy as a Fighting Machine.
all the captain is concerned with is the doings of the ship as a whole.  True, in a way; and yet if the various coal-passers, firemen, quartermasters, et al., do not do as the captain wishes, the ship as a whole will not.  The secret of the success achieved seems to lie in the knitting together of all the personnel parts by invisible wires of common understanding, analogous to the visible wires that connect the helmsman with the steering-engine.  In the case of any small body of men, say the force in one fire-room, the connecting wire joining each man to the petty officer in charge of that fire-room is almost visible, because the petty officer is familiar, by experience, with the work of each man; for he has done that work himself, knows just how it should be done, and knows how to instruct each man.  But the more complicated the organization is, the more invisible are the communicating wires that tie the men together, and yet the more important it is that those wires shall tie them; it is even more important, for instance, that the wires connecting the chief engineer with all his force shall operate than that the wires in any one fire-room shall operate.  And yet not only are there more wires, but the wires themselves that connect the chief engineer to all the men below him, are longer and more subject to derangement, than the wires that connect the petty officer of one fire-room to the individuals under him.

The chief engineer, of course, is not tied directly to his coal-passers, but to men close to himself; close not only in actual distance, but in experience, knowledge, and sympathy; men who speak the same languages as he does, who understand what he means when he speaks, and who speak to him in ways he understands.  These men immediately under him are similarly tied to their immediate subordinates by wires of knowledge, experience, and sympathy—­these to their immediate subordinates, and so on.

The same statement applies to the captain in his relations with the chief engineer.  The captain may not be an experienced engineer himself; but he is familiar enough with engineering, with its difficulties, its possibilities, and its aims, to converse with the chief engineer in language which both clearly understand.

The same principles seem to apply throughout the whole range of the personnel:  so that, no matter how large the organization of any navy may be, there is—­there must be, if good work is to be done—­a network of invisible wires, uniting all together, by a strong yet flexible bond of sympathy.

And has the material of the navy no connection with this bond?  Who knows!  Brass and steel are said to be lifeless matter.  But does any naval man believe this wholly?  Does any man feel that those battleships, and cruisers, and destroyers, and submarines are lifeless which he himself—­with his own eyes—­has seen darting swiftly, precisely, powerfully on perfect lines and curves, changing their relative positions through complicated

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The Navy as a Fighting Machine from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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