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[240] charge of the efficient and capable officer whose reputation in connection with ordnance is national. If his rank did not, according to usage, entitle him to the position, his merit did. To obviate difficulty, and place that branch of the service in proper working condition, I would recommend that there be appointed an officer, to be known as the Director of Ordnance, who shall, under the Department, have the immediate supervision of the manufacture, description, and supply of ordnance for the Navy, in all its details.

the Observatory.

The Observatory, for many years under the superintendence of an officer who had gained distinguished reputation in connection with the institution, was abandoned by him in a very abrupt manner on the 20th of April. On receiving intelligence that he had, without previous intimation of his intention, deserted the post that had been confided to him, a gentleman eminently adapted to the place, who had, moreover, been early identified with the Observatory, was at once placed in the position. It gives me pleasure to say that in many respects the change has been an improvement, while I trust that neither the country nor the cause of science will experience any detriment therefrom.

A change or modification of the law regulating the Navy ration seems necessary to meet the existing condition of things. Nearly the whole of the present naval strength of the country is employed on a particular service, which extends along the coast, an effective force being stationed at each of the principal harbors. It is important that the vessels should remain on duty at their stations as long as possible, to guard the coast and prevent illegal commerce. That they may do this satisfactorily, it is essential that the crews have frequent supplies of fresh provisions and other necessaries conducive to health. The Department has already so far innovated as to send forward a cargo of fresh supplies, and it proposes to continue thus to supply the crews of the squadron until the insurrection is suppressed. Provisions and stores will in this manner be despatched with supplies of all kinds that may be required for the subsistence and health of the crews. Communication with each of the principal stations will be established by these despatch boats, which will carry to and receive from the squadrons letters, convey recruits, bring home invalids, and while performing these services will also discharge coast guard duty.

increase of surgeons.

An increase of the number of Surgeons and Assistant-Surgeons is also recommended, in conformity with the suggestions of the Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. A copy of his report is herewith transmitted. The deficiencies that at present exist will doubtless soon be filled, but the full complement allowed by the existing law is inadequate to the present requirements of the service.

Acting Paymasters.

The additional number of vessels employed called for additional paymasters beyond the number limited by law, and the Department, under the existing necessity, appointed Acting Paymasters. Where this appointment has been necessary it has usually been connected with that of Captain's Clerk, who has been required to give bonds for the money intrusted to his hands, and his confidential relations with his commander have been such that it has been deemed a further security. I would recommend that there be an increase of the corps of Paymasters, or perhaps it may be well to have a class of Assistant Paymasters at a less compensation and with less responsibility. The minor appointment may be made a preliminary step to the more important office of Paymaster.

increase of the Marine corps.

It became necessary to enlarge the Marine Corps, in order that it should correspond in some degree with the general increase of other branches of the service. Under the authority of the Act of Congress of 1849, two additions have been made to this corps, which now consists of 2,500 privates, but the officers, except in the force composing the staff, remain the same in point of numbers as when the corps consisted of but 1,000 men. This number is altogether insufficient, and it is therefore recommended that there be an additional number created, and if the session is sufficiently prolonged an entire reorganization of the corns may be expedient.

masters and masters' Mates.

There has been, from necessity, a large number of acting masters and masters' mates appointed from the commercial marine to meet the wants of the service. These officers, generally of great experience and intelligence, and occupying the highest position in the merchant service, have voluntarily come forward and offered themselves for useful duty on board our public vessels, where they are contributing to the efficiency of the Navy.

iron-Clad steamers, or floating batteries.

Much attention has been given, within the last few years, to the subject of floating batteries, or iron-clad steamers. Other governments, and particularly France and England, have made it a special object, in connection with naval improvements; and the ingenuity and inventive faculties of our own countrymen have also been stimulated, by recent occurrences, towards the construction of this class of vessels. The period is, perhaps, not one best adapted to heavy expenditures by the way of experiment, and the time and attention of some of those who are most competent to investigate and form correct conclusions on this subject, are otherwise employed. I would, however, recommend the appointment of a proper and competent board to inquire into and report in regard to a

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