THE ACTIVE officers of the United States Navy are graded as follows:

Admiral, Vice-Admiral, rear-admirals, commodores, captains, commanders, lieutenant-commanders, lieutenants, masters, ensigns, and midshipmen.

When the present Admiral and Vice-Admiral die, resign, or are removed, the grade will cease to exist, as no vacancy in it can be filled by promotion from the next lower rank.

The relative rank between officers of the navy and officers of the army is as follows:

The Vice-Admiral ranks with the lieutenant-general, Rear-admirals with major-generals, Commodores with brigadier-generals, Captains with colonels, Commanders with lieutenant-colonels, Lieutenant-Commanders with majors, Lieutenants with captains, Masters with first lieutenants, and Ensigns with second lieutenants.

How Many Naval Officers Are Allowed

There are allowed on the active list of naval officers of the line, one Admiral, one Vice-Admiral, ten rear-admirals, twenty-five commodores, fifty captains, ninety commanders, eighty lieutenant-commanders, 280 lieutenants, 100 masters and 100 ensigns. During war, rear-admirals are selected from those officers on the active list, not below the grade of commanders, who eminently distinguish themselves by their courage, skill and genius in their profession, and not then unless they have, upon the recommendation of the President, received the thanks of Congress for distinguished service. During peace, vacancies in the grade of rear-admiral are filled by regular promotion from the list of commodores.

Requisites In The Medical Service

The active list of the Medical corps of the navy consists of fifteen medical directors, fifteen medical inspectors, fifty surgeons, and 100 assistant surgeons. All appointments in the Medical corps are made by the President. No person can be appointed assistant surgeon until he has been examined and approved by a board of naval surgeons, nor be less than twenty-one years old, nor more than twenty-six. No person can be appointed surgeon until he has served as an assistant surgeon at least two years in the navy, at sea, nor until he has been approved for such appointment by a board of naval surgeons.

The President selects the surgeons, and appoints to every fleet or squadron one who is denominated " surgeon of the fleet," and is surgeon of the flag-ship.

The Pay Department Of The Nary

The active list of the Pay corps of the Navy consists of thirteen pay directors, thirteen pay inspectors, fifty paymasters, thirty passed assistant paymasters and twenty assistant paymasters. All appointments in the pay corps are made by the President.

No person can be appointed assistant paymaster who is less than twenty-one years old or more than twenty-six years, nor until his physical, mental and moral qualifications have been approved by a board of paymasters appointed by the Secretary of the Navy.

The President may designate among the paymasters in the service, and appoint one to every fleet or squadron, who is denominated "paymaster of the fleet."

The Engineer Corps Of The Navy

The active list of the Engineer corps of the Navy consists of seventy chief engineers, divided into three grades, ten having the relative rank of captain, fifteen of commander, and forty-five of lieutenant-commander, or lieutenant. One engineer in-chief is selected by the President to serve in each fleet or squadron of the navy, and is denominated " engineer of the fleet." There are also in the navy 100 first assistant engineers, who have the relative rank of lieutenant or master in the navy, and 100 second assistant engineers, with the relative rank of master, or ensign.

Religious Service In The Navy

The laws provide for the appointment by the President, for service in the public armed vessels of the United States, a number of chaplains (or ministers of the gospel), not exceeding twenty-four. A chaplain must not be less than twenty-one, nor more than thirty-five years old at the time of his appointment. Every chaplain is permitted to conduct public worship according to the manner and forms of the church of which he may be a member, and each chaplain must report annually to the Secretary of the Navy the official services performed by him during the previous year.

Mathematicians In The Naval Service

The number of professors of mathematics employed in the navy cannot exceed twelve, and they are appointed and commissioned by the President. They perform such duties as may be assigned to them by order of the Secretary of the Navy, at the Naval Academy, at the Naval Observatory, and in ships of war, instructing midshipmen of the navy, or otherwise. Three have the relative ranks of captains, four of commanders, and five of lieutenant-commanders, or lieutenants.

Naval Constructors

The President may appoint naval constructors, who have rank and pay as naval officers, and are required to perform duty at any navy-yard or other station. Cadet engineers, who graduate with credit in the scientific and mechanical class of the Naval Academy, may, upon the recommendation of the academic board, be immediately appointed as assistant naval constructors.


The President may appoint a civil engineer and a naval store-keeper at each of the navy-yards where such officers are necessary. The Secretary of the Navy may appoint citizens who are not officers of the navy to be store-keepers at foreign stations, when suitable officers of the navy cannot be ordered on such service, or when, in his opinion, the public interest will be thereby promoted.

Number Who May Enlist, And Their Age

The number of persons who may at one time be enlisted in the navy, including seamen, ordinary seamen, landsmen, mechanics, firemen, coal-heavers, apprentices, and boys, may not exceed 7,500.

Boys between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years may be enlisted to serve in the navy until they arrive at the age of twenty-one years, and other persons may be enlisted to serve for a period not exceeding five years unless sooner discharged by the direction of the President. No minor between sixteen and eighteen years old can be enlisted without the consent of his parents or guardian. No boy less than sixteen years old, no insane or intoxicated person, and no deserter from the navy or army can be enlisted in the naval service. Any person enlisted in the military service may, on application to the Navy Department, approved by the President, be transferred to the navy or marine corps, to serve therein the remainder of his term of enlistment, subject to the laws and regulations of the naval service. But such tranfer does not release the soldier from any indebtedness to the government. Provision is also made in the laws for sending men from distant stations to the places of their enlistment at the expiration of their terms of service. Honorable discharges may be granted to seamen, ordinary seamen, landsmen, firemen, coal-heavers and boys who have enlisted for three years; and it is the duty of every commanding officer, on returning from a cruise, to report to the Secretary of the Navy a list of his crew who enlisted for three years as being entitled to an honorable discharge as a testimonial of obedience and fidelity. And every commanding officer of a vessel is required to discourage his crew from selling any part of their prize-money, bounty-money, or wages.


The President may select any officer not below the grade of a commander on the active list, and assign him to the command of a squadron, with the rank and title of "flag-officer;" and any officer so assigned has the same authority and receives the same obedience from the commanders of ships in his squadron, even though they hold commissions of an older date than his, that he would be entitled to receive if his commission were the oldest.

The laws prescribe with great minuteness the naval system of promotion from a lower rank to a higher one.