The Secretary of the Navy performs such duties as the President of the United States, who is Commander-in-Chief, may assign him, and has the general superintendence of construction, manning, armament, equipment, and employment of vessels of war.

The Chief Clerk has general charge of the records and correspondence of the Secretary’s Office.


The Assistant Secretary of the Navy performs such duties in the navy department as shall be prescribed by the Secretary of the Navy or may be required by law.


The chiefs of the naval bureaus of the navy department are officers of the United States Navy and a part of the naval establishment, viz.:


The duties of the bureau of navigation comprise all that relates to the promulgation, record, and enforcement of the Secretary’s orders to the fleet and to the officers of the navy, except such orders as pertain to the office of the Secretary; the education of officers and men, including the Naval Academy and technical schools for officers (except the War College and Torpedo School), the apprentice establishment, and schools for the technical education of enlisted men; the enlistment and discharge of all enlisted persons, including appointed petty officers for general and special service; controls all rendezvous and receiving ships, and provides transportation for all enlisted persons and appointed petty officers; establishes the complement of the crews of all vessels in commission; keeps the records of service of all squadrons, ships, officers, and men, and prepares the annual Naval Register for publication; has under its direction the hydrographic office; the preparation, revision, and enforcement of all tactics, drill books, signal codes, cipher codes, and the uniform regulations; the collection of foreign surveys, publication of charts, sailing directions, and nautical works, and the dissemination of nautical and hydrographical information to the navy and mercantile marine.


The duties of the bureau of yards and docks comprise all that relates to the planning, construction, and maintenance of all docks (including dry docks), slips, wharves, piers, quay walls, and buildings of all kinds, for whatever purpose needed, within the limits of the navy yards and of the Naval Home, but not of hospitals and magazines outside of those limits, nor of buildings for which it does not estimate; it repairs and furnishes all buildings, stores, and offices in the several navy-yards, and is charged with the purchase, sale, and transfer of all land and buildings connected with the navy-yards; has under its sole control the general administration of the navy-yards; provides and has sole control of all landings, derricks shears, cranes, sewers, dredging, railway tracks, cars, and wheels, trucks, grading, paving, walks, shade trees, inclosure walls and fences, ditching, reservoirs, cisterns, fire engines and apparatus, all watchmen, and all things necessary, including labor, for the cleaning of the yards and the protection of public property.


The duties of the bureau of equipment comprise all that relates to the equipment of all vessels with rigging, sails, anchors, yeomen’s stores, furniture not provided by other bureaus, navigation stores and supplies of all kinds, including nautical and navigating instruments and books, stationery, and blank books for commanding and navigating officers ashore and afloat, binnacles, flags, signal lights, running lights, and standing lights on board vessels, including all electrical apparatus for lighting purposes and search lights, logs, leads, lines, and glasses, log-books, ships’ libraries, illuminating oil for all purposes, except that used in the engineer department of steamers, and fuel for steamers, the ropewalks and the shops for making anchors and cables, rigging, sails, galleys, and cooking utensils, the Naval Observatory, Nautical Almanac, compass offices, and pilotage.


The duties of the bureau of ordnance comprise all that relates to the manufacture or purchase of offensive and defensive arms and apparatus (including torpedoes), all ammunition,war explosives, vessels for submarine torpedo service, magazines on shore, and of all machinery, apparatus, equipment, and things for use with the above; the recommending the nature of the armament to be carried by vessels, and the material, kind, and qualities of ship’s armor and dimensions of gun turrets; charged with the carrying power of vessels, as determined by the bureau of construction and repair, and fixes the location and command of the armament; and distributes the thickness of armor; places the armament on board of vessels, and determines the method of construction of armories and ammunition rooms, the latter in conjunction with the bureau of construction and repair; purchases torpedo boats intended to be carried by ships, and has charge of all their details of whatever nature; and prescribes the armament to be given to all torpedo vessels.


The duties of the bureau of construction and repair comprise all that relates to designing, building, fitting, and repairing the hulls of vessels, spars, boats, capstans, windlasses, steering gear, ventilating apparatus, tanks, ballasts, casks, blocks, furniture for ship’s use of the kind made in the navy-yards, and lumber, plates, and tools for sea stores of the kind used by it in building vessels; also the turrets and armor plating, after the material, quality, and distribution of thickness have been determined by the bureau of ordnance; has control of all vessels building and under repair, and is responsible that vessels in ordinary do not go to decay for want of proper examination on the part of constructors in the yards; and has charge of the docking of vessels.


The duties of the bureau of steam engineering comprise all that relates to the designing, building, fitting out, repairing, and engineering of the steam machinery used for the propulsion of naval vessels, and will also include steam pumps, steam heaters and connections, and the steam machinery necessary for actuating the apparatus by which turrets are turned.


The duties of the bureau of medicine and surgery comprise all that relates to laboratories, naval hospitals, and dispensaries, the furnishing of all supplies, medicines, and instruments required in the medical department of the navy; has sole control of all buildings erected for its purposes, and determines upon and furnishes all the stores, etc., used in the medical and hospital departments, materials, instruments, means, and appliances of every kind used for its purposes, and controls their inspection storing, transportation, and preparation; designs, erects, furnishes, and maintains all the buildings constructed for its purposes outside the limits of the navy-yards, and for which it may have estimated; is charged with the purchase, sale, and transfer of all land and buildings in connection therewith, and with the preservation of the public property under its control; designs the various buildings erected within navy-yards for its purposes so far only as their internal arrangements are concerned, and after their completion has exclusive control of the same, and makes all contracts for and superintends all the work done under it.


The duties of the bureau of supplies and accounts comprise all that relates to supplying the navy with provisions, clothing, small stores, fresh water, and contingent stores in the paymaster’s department; the reception care, and custody of all stores not exempt by order from the general storekeeper’s system, and the keeping of a proper system of accounts regarding the same; the purchase, at shore stations within the United States, of stores and supplies, and their custody, transfer, and issue, upon authorized requsitions, except those of the bureau of medicine and surgery, the marine corps, and those exempt by Regulation Circular No. 51.


It shall be the duty of the Judge-Advocate-General, under the direction of the Secretary of the Navy, to revise, report upon, and have recorded the proceedings of all courts-martial, courts of inquiry, and boards for the examination of officers for retirement and promotion in the naval service; to prepare the charges and specifications and the necessary orders convening general courts-martial in cases where such courts are ordered by the Secretary of the Navy; to prepare general orders promulgating the final action of the reviewing authority in general court-martial cases; to prepare the necessary orders convening courts of inquiry, boards for the examination of officers for promotion and retirement, and for the examination of candidates for appointment in the medical corps, and to conduct all official correspondence relating to courts-martial, courts of inquiry, and such boards; to examine and report upon claims of every description filed in the department; to conduct the departmental correspondence relating to the business connected with the increase of the navy, including the preparation of advertisements inviting proposals for the construction of new vessels, or for furnishing materials for use in their construction; of forms of proposals to be used by bidders in offering to construct such vessels or furnish such materials, and forms of contracts to be entered into and bonds to be furnished by such bidders on the acceptance of their proposals, and including also the departmental correspondence relating to the plans, specifications, and materials of new vessels and to proposed changes in the same; to consider and report upon all matters which may be referred to him involving questions of law, regulations, and discipline and requiring the department’s action; the meaning or construction of the general regulations of the navy, including those relating to rank or precedence, or to appointments, commissions, promotions, and retirement, and to the validity of proceedings in courts-martial cases; to conduct the correspondence with the Attorney-General relative to questions of statutory construction submitted for his opinion thereon; to the institution of suits, at the instance of the navy department, and to the defense of suits brought by private parties against the officers or agents of the department; to answer calls from the department of justice and the court of claims for information and papers relating to cases pending in that court and affecting the navy department; to examine and report upon the official bonds of pay officers, and all questions presented to the department relating to pay and traveling expenses of officers; to attend to all correspondence relating to the care of naval prisons and prisoners, and to consider and act upon applications for the removal of the mark of desertion standing against the names of enlisted men of the navy or marine corps.


The Commandant of the Marine Corps is responsible to the Secretary of the Navy for the general efficiency and discipline of the corps; make such distribution of officers and men for duty at the several shore stations as shall appear to him to be most advantageous for the interests of the service; furnishes guards for vessels of the Navy, according to the authorized scale of allowance; under the direction of the Secretary of the Navy issues orders for the movement of officers and troops, and such other orders and instructions for their guidance as may be necessary; and has charge and exercises general supervision and control of the recruiting service of the corps, and of the necessary expenses thereof, including the establishment of recruiting offices.

Department of the Interior
Department of the Post-Office
© 2002 by Lynn Waterman