WHEN a ship goes into commission the proper and early organization of officers and crew calls for the earnest attention of the executive officer upon whom the duty chiefly devolves.

The duties of officers on board ship are defined by the regulations, and are known to most of them by actual experience at sea, and the special duties of midshipmen will be dwelt upon in detail further on. But the men supplied for the crew are many of them foreigners, or merchant sailors, unaccustomed to the routine of a man-of-war, or others totally ignorant of ship-life. These form a motley crowd which must be sorted out, and the work of the ship so distributed among them that, each one carrying out his part, the daily routine may be efficiently and promptly performed. The organization and routine, together with the drills and exercises which form their principal feature, all have for their ultimate object the preparation of the ship for battle.

That the machinery of a man-of-war, when once put in motion, may work properly, it should be perfected at the outset. A little well-directed industry then will save much subsequent confusion.

The number of men allowed to each vessel of the navy, exclusive of the engineer’s force, is based upon the number and calibre of the guns composing her battery.

Tables for ascertaining the complement of any vessel in the service will be found in the Equipment Book of Allowances.

The following petty officers are commonly known as “appointed” petty officers, viz.:

The Master-at-Arms,
Ship’s Yeoman,
Engineer’s Yeoman,
Pay Yeoman,

but the terms apply strictly only to the last named.The petty officers are divided into two classes: petty officers of the line, and petty officers.


The petty officers of the line, in order of rank, are as follows:

Boatswain’s Mates,
Gunner’s Mates,
Signal Quartermaster,
Coxswain to Commander in Chief,
Captains of Forecastle,
Quarter Gunners,
Captains of Main-top,
Captains of Fore-top,
Captains of Mizzen-top,
Captains of Afterguard.

All other petty officers, except the Master-at-Arms, who is chief petty officer of the ship, take precedence as follows:

Ship’s Yeoman,
Machinists (1st class),
Engineer’s Yeoman,
Paymaster’s Yeoman,
Master of the Band,
Ship’s Writers,

to rank next after the Master-at-Arms. 

Carpenter’s Mates,
Machinists (2d class),
Sailmaker’s Mates,

to rank next after Gunner’s Mates. 

Ship’s Corporals,
Captains of Hold,
Ship’s Cook,

to rank next after Captain of Afterguard.The following are known as the rated men of the ship, Viz.:

Officers’ Cooks and

Strictly speaking, all men above the rating of seamen


are “rated men,” but the above distinction is commonly made in the service.For the uniform of enlisted men and petty officers see U. S. Navy Regulations, page 195.

The Bureau of Equipment supplies to each vessel a printed Watch, Quarter and Station Bill, which is so arranged as to furnish a uniform system for all ships in the service.

With continuous service men the advantage of such a plan is apparent; for men transferred from one ship to another, or re-enlisting, carry with them a knowledge of the stations and duties which are similar in all vessels.

The Watch Bill is the first one made out, and is the basis of all the bills that follow.

The crew as a whole are equally divided into two watches, starboard and port. In ordinary types of cruising vessels the working force on deck is distributed as forecastlemen, fore, main and mizzen topmen, and afterguard.

In the Watch Bill the station numbers for these different “parts of the ship” are divided intohundreds, the corresponding number in each hundred representing a similar rate as far as possible and embracing similar duties.

Odd numbers are assigned to the starboard watch, even numbers to the port watch. Each watch is further divided into halves, called “quarter watches,” the first half containing the first and second sections of the watch, and headed by the petty officer, captain of the part of the ship. The second quarter watch, comprising the third and fourth sections, headed by the second captain.

Thus, the forecastlemen, whose numbers run from 1 to 100, are divided as follows:


(Odd Numbers.)
(Even Numbers.)
First Quarter Watch First Quarter Watch.
1 to 23, First Section 2 to 24, First Section.
25 to 49, Second Section 26 to 50, Second Section.
Second Quarter Watch Second Quarter Watch.
51 to 73, Third Section 52 to 74, Third Section.
75 to 99, Fourth Section 76 to 100, Fourth Section.

The leading numbers in each quarter watch are assigned to the petty officers, then the seamen, ordinary seamen and landsmen in the order named.

Thus, in the starboard watch of forecastlemen, 1 and 51 are first and second captains, 3, 25, 53, 75 are seamen.

To watch men by the Navy Watch Bill their names are written opposite the numbers, filling out first the leading


numbers of the first and third sections, then the leading numbers of the second and fourth sections. Thus a ship having ten (10) seamen on the forecastle, five (5) in each watch, and having filled the numbers 1, 2, 51, 52 with the names of the first and second captains, to watch the rest fill the numbers in the following order: 3, 4, 53, 54, 25, 26, 75, 76, 5, 6. It will be observed that the numbers show how extra men are stationed, by repeating the process. Were two more seamen added to the forecastle they would be given the numbers 55, 56, two additional ones 27, 28, and so on.Each part of the ship is filled up in like manner. After all available men are entered in the watch bill, the remaining number of each part are vacant numbers.

Stations at loosing and furling are given in the watch bill. As these evolutions form the basis for all others, the men are assigned to such numbers and thereby placed in such stations as they seem best adapted to fill.

With the watch bill of the ship there is sent from the Bureau of Equipment the complement list, showing how many men of each rating will be supplied to the vessel. From this complement list is framed the Force bill, which serves as a guide in distributing the men of various ratings to the different parts of the ship.

We next proceed to the selection of the line petty officers. These men are appointed from among those seamen whose characters and capacities have entitled them to advancement to these stations, where they are intrusted with much responsibility and authority, and are expected to set an example to the rest of the crew, in their general deportment and attention to their duties. By ascertaining the length of time each man has been at sea and in the service, the stations they held in the last vessel to which they belonged, being governed also by their general bearing and appearance, a fair selection can be made in distributing these men to their stations. It is a good plan to fill the petty offices temporarily, so that obvious mistakes may be corrected, and to put the men upon their good behavior when their cooperation is most needed.

In this connection particular attention may be drawn to the value of the continuous service certificate in determining the positions which the bearers are best qualified to fill.

The seamen are distributed to fill the most important stations in a similar manner. The balance of the crew fill the remaining numbers allowed. Care must be observed in assigning to each watch an equal share of the strength and intelligence of the crew.

On the forecastle are stationed able seamen-men acquainted with all the duties of a sailor-together with a few ordinary seamen and apprentices.

In the tops are stationed seamen, ordinary seamen-active,


able-bodied men-and a few boys of the first class to handle the light sails.The afterguard contains comparatively few seamen from among the older seamen not otherwise stationed, also a few ordinary seamen, the balance being landsmen.

Apprentice boys should invariably be stationed in the tops or on the forecastle. They should in no case be employed as permanent messengers, &c., as they are sent to sea for the special purpose of learning a seaman’s duties.

Mastmen, who attend the gear at their respective masts, may be elderly seamen who, though incapable of performing heavy work, can fill these stations well, but they must be sufficiently active to insure the prompt leading out and handling of the running rigging under their charge.

Quartermasters are selected from among the best helmsmen. They should be expert with the lead and at signals.

The boatswain’s mates, being the leading men of the watch, should be thorough seamen and the men best qualified for the position of a seaman petty officer.

The foregoing remarks refer exclusively to what may be termed the working force on deck. A vessel of war contains in addition an engineer’s force of first and second class firemen and coal heavers, with machinists as petty officers. This force is usually divided into three watches when steaming.

The marines of a ship are divided between the two. watches, and their work on deck is generally the same as that of the afterguard. They stand regular watch at sea.

The mechanics, musicians and servants are generally watched in the afterguard.

Idlers are such as stand no night watches, having day duties to perform of a peculiar nature, such as master-at-arms, yeomen, cooks, officers’ servants, &c. These men, though not required to keep a regular watch, have stations allotted to them in all the evolutions.

There are a number of officers in all vessels who are termed idlers, viz.: The captain or commander, first lieutenant or executive officer, navigator, paymaster, surgeon, marine officer, chaplain, clerks, and the midshipmen who are stationed on the lower decks. They keep no watch, but are on duty during the day.

The watch bill should show, in addition to the man’s number, &c., as above described, his boat, mess, gun or division, and company.

Boats’ Crews should be taken equally from the different parts of the ship, so as not to weaken one part more than another, remembering that some boats are much more frequently used than others. Life-boat crews are always picked men. Coxswains are assigned to the usual running boats; other boats, launches, &c., are placed in charge of captains of tops or of the forecastle. The dingy is usually


in charge of an apprentice, its crew being composed of boys.Service boats are called away either to perform ordinary duties of transportation, to abandon ship in case of disaster, to carry an armed crew for service afloat, or to land their crews for operations on shore.

In making up boats’ crews, if the boat is manned for ordinary duty exclusively from one or two guns’ crews, the fighting crew and small-arm company will consist substantially of the same men, and by assigning the division officer to that boat the men will be under the same supervision in all operations. In this case, in “abandoning ship,” the boat’s crew remains as before, and the balance of the division, with other men not belonging to boats’ crews, are added to the extent of the boat’s capacity.

Should this system be objected to on the ground that the calling away of any one boat destroys the efficiency of one or more guns’ crews, then there will have to be two “crew lists” made out-one for ordinary running boats, and the other for abandoning ship and for armed service afloat and ashore. The objection does not seem valid, but it holds good in many ships.

In making up the crews of gigs and barges it is well to remember the possible absence of these boats during port evolutions, and to avoid leaving important stations unfilled from this cause.

Berthing requires the earliest attention, and the operation may be facilitated by having a plan of the decks, showing the hammock hooks of every available berth. The watches should be distributed equally on each side of the ship, so that when one watch is piped up the other will not be left entirely on one side. Boatswains’ mates and men liable to a call at any time of the night, should be placed near the hatchways; quartermasters, marines, and others who keep watch and sleep in the morning, placed where they will not be disturbed after all hands are called.

On board a frigate the berthing is generally as follows: Berth deck: servants and stewards, starboard side forward; balance of the starboard side, idlers (except carpenter’s gang, ship’s corporals and quartermasters); port side, forward, engineer’s force; aft, marines. Gun deck: forward, forecastlemen; starboard side, main topmen and after-guards; port side, fore and mizzen topmen; or the numbers of the above parts of the ship may be run continuously athwartships, beginning forward, after having first selected billets for the men required in particular places.

Carpenters’ mates and carpenters should be berthed near the pump, sail-makers’ mates and captains of holds as near the hold or sail-room as possible, cook near the galley, &c.

At least one boat’s crew should be so berthed in port, as to be readily called at a moment’s notice.


The boys of the ship must be berthed together, and separate from the rest of the crew; usually aft on the gun-deck in charge of a corporal.On a tack over the forward hammock hook of each billet is hung the number corresponding to the hammock, neatly painted on a small tin plate. The hammock numbers correspond with the watch numbers. These numbers are stencilled on a piece of canvas, in black for starboard watch, red for port watch, and sewed on the outside of the hammock.

In a single-decked steamer, forecastlemen and fore-topmen are berthed under the topgallant forecastle.

A hammock should contain a mattress and mattress cover, and a pair of blankets.

The men should not be allowed to keep their oilskin jackets or hats in their hammocks. Temporary jack-stays along the gangways or between the launches at sea will afford a proper place for hanging these articles.

Hammocks are lashed up by taking seven marling turns with a manilla or white rope (untarred hemp) lashing. Every hammock should have three good nettle stops on the head, for stopping on the girtlines, and two on the foot. Some officers prefer having the stops put on the girtlines, but this is objectionable, as the line stretches.

As hammock girtlines are usually fitted to trice up alongside the masts, the rule for stopping on hammocks is with the numbers “up and out;” but any change in the manner of tricing up girtlines would change the rule.

A regular station-bill for stopping on hammocks, especially on board large ships, conduces to order and saves time and annoyance.

Bedding should be aired once a week. To air bedding the hammocks are unlashed, slung by the lashing and triced up in the lower rigging.

Hammocks are scrubbed at least once a month; clean hammocks having been issued the evening before, so that they may be “slung” and the old ones prepared for scrubbing in the morning.

A complete set of clean hammocks should always be on hand. After scrubbing, they are turned in by guns’ crews, each one carefully inspected by the officers of the divisions, to ascertain if all have been properly scrubbed, then rolled up, placed in a bag or case having the gun’s number painted on it, and taken to the sail-room, where the sail-maker receives it. A torn or badly stained hammock should be left out and given to the sail-maker’s mate, to be exchanged.

Hammocks stow in their own parts of the ship; a gauge to level them at the right height above the rail, and a hoop through which they are required to pass, being sometimes used.


Each man is required to have two mattress covers.Messing. The crew is divided into messes of twelve or fourteen members each. Each mess has its own cook appointed from among their number, who draws the provisions, takes care of the mess-gear, and cleans the berth deck.

Each part of the ship messes by itself, as far as possible.

Petty officers mess by themselves and employ steady cooks, that is, men of inferior rating, who for certain considerations (generally the value of a ration) take charge of the mess for an indefinite time.

The present complements only allow for each vessel a number of landsmen sufficient for servants, berth-deck cooks and landsmen of engineer’s force. Hence the system of steady cooks throughout the messes may be considered as adopted, excepting only such changes as may be made between fire-room and berth-deck landsmen.

Steady cooks under a good master-at-arms soon become thoroughly drilled in their duties, keep the messes in good order, and the berth-deck dry and clean. In this respect they are desirable. If in addition they are kept up to the mark in personal neatness and in knowledge of their duties at drills, and in working ship, the most serious objections to their employment will be met.

The messes are usually arranged as follows:

Forward, the forecastle messes, followed by those of each part of the ship in succession-starboard watch, starboard side; port watch, port side. Aft on the starboard side, the mechanics’ messes (for rated men), petty officers’ messes and appointed officers’ mess; master-at-arms, orderly sergeant, yeomen, apothecary, and machinists.

The after messes on the port side are those of the firemen and marines.

Mess bills or small store requisitions are made out once a month, by the mess cooks. They contain the list of minor articles, such as tobacco, soap, cap-ribbons, sewing-materials, and mess traps, that the men wish to draw. These are served out to the mess cooks in the presence of an officer, and distributed to the messes.

Each mess has its mess-chest, which contains, in addition to the mess-gear, canisters for coffee, sugar and other groceries.

Mess-chests are kept on the berth-deck.

Salt pork or beef, when issued, is marked with a skewer bearing a tag with the mess-number on it, and placed in the harness cask near the galley. Neither meat nor vegetables are allowed to be kept below.

The issue of provisions usually takes place in the afternoon watch, and should be witnessed by an officer. Any complaint concerning the quality of the ration, is made at the mast, by the mess cook.


The berth-deck is kept clean by the mess cooks, who are excused from work in their own parts of the ship, except at all hands, and from anchor watch in port. They are also excused from duty in boats, when they can pull a fair oar. At sea, especially when short-handed, they are required to stand night watch.That the men’s meal hours should not be interfered with, excepting in cases of actual necessity, is an old established rule of the service, and a good one. There are few more justifiable causes of discontent than frequent calling away of unnecessary boats at meal time, or prolonging “all hands” work until the crew are sent below to a cold dinner. A little attention to minor matters of this kind will go a long way to securing the satisfied condition among the crew which ensures prompt and cheerful obedience to orders.

Clothing. Each man is expected to have the following clothing, viz.:

2 caps, one of which shall be a mustering cap.
2 cap-covers.
1 black silk handkerchief.
2 suits of blue, one of which shall be a mustering suit.
3 suits of working clothes.
2 undershirts.
2 pairs drawers.
2 pairs socks.
2 pairs shoes.
Badges and watch-marks, as per regulations.

1 monkey jacket, or 2 suits white, according to the station or season of the year.Oilskins are desirable, and should form a part of the uniform, provided a suitable place is made for their stowage, such as pigeon-hole racks under the topgallant forecastle (U.S.S. Vandalia), or jackstays between the boom boats.

Each piece of clothing should be marked with the owner’s name, on the article itself; tape labels, sewed on, should not be allowed.

Division officers are responsible for the appearance of their men and the condition of their clothing.

When a division is formed, or men join it, a list of their clothing should be taken by the division officer to serve as a guide in making out clothing requisitions. The clothes list should be kept corrected to the date of the last requisition.

Clothing requisitions are made out once a month, and should be preceded by a bag inspection. The issue of the clothing should be witnessed by the division officer, and all new clothing marked as soon as received.

Habitual slovenliness, if tolerated, constitutes a direct


reflection upon the officers under whose immediate charge the offender is placed; for that reason division officers should spare no pains to keep their divisions up to the mark in matters of personal neatness, as well as in points of drill and instruction.For petty officers’ badges, see Navy Regulations.

Bags (containing the men’s outfit). Each man is allowed two; one of white canvas, and one of painted canvas, the former being kept in the latter. They are marked on the side and bottom with the owner’s “ship’s number.” A small grommet stitched on the bottom of the bag encircles the latter mark and keeps it from being rubbed off.

The ship number is used in marking bags so that when a man is shifted from one part of the ship to another his hammock number alone is changed.

The arrangements for stowing bags should engage the serious attention of the executive officer, for on it depends much of the comfort and health of the crew. They must be easy to get at, at any time, for the purpose of shifting in dry, working, or mustering clothes; stowed so that any one bag can be readily obtained, present a uniform and neat appearance, and be measurably secure from theft.

Bags are stowed in large ships in bag lockers, the key being kept by the mess cook. The bottoms of such lockers should be well clear of the deck on uprights, and the sides formed of slats to admit light and air; or the bags are hung on jackstays or stored in bag rooms, the latter a very poor plan.

When there are no peacoat lockers (in the nettings), there should be peacoat bags for each watch and part of the ship.

The crew dress for the day during the breakfast hour. It has been found very convenient to have a board arranged with slips, on each one of which is painted the name of an article of uniform, as “white frocks,” “blue trousers,” &c., and the slips arranged as the uniform for the day requires. The slips being properly arranged, the board is hung in some conspicuous part of the ship, as at the main-hatch or scuttle-butt, near the bulletin board.

Before “quarters for inspection,” the bags should be neatly stowed, and not touched again until supper, when the crew shift in blue woollen clothes for the night. As a general rule, no one is allowed to have his bag out of the regular time but by permission of the officer of the deck.

The men should be allowed to have their bags at least once a week, for the purpose of overhauling, mending, marking, and airing their clothes. Saturday afternoon is generally devoted to this. When circumstances admit, bags are piped up twice a week, and Wednesday given for


the same purpose. The men should also be allowed their bags as soon after serving out clothing as possible, that each new piece may be marked or altered, before stowing away. If the crew are not allowed frequent access to their clothes, they cannot be expected to keep them in good order.Ditty-Boxes contribute much to the comfort of the men, and are allowed. That they may not become a nuisance, they are made of prescribed dimensions, and a definite place is assigned for their stowage.


Boatswain’s Mates, in working with the watch, pass all orders given by the officer of the deck, and give the signal by pipe for veering, hauling or belaying in accordance with these orders. Working at all hands, they are stationed at a mast or in the gangway, to communicate, by pipe, the orders of the officer in charge at that station.

Forecastle Men rig and unrig the bowsprit, jib-boom, flying jib-boom, fore-mast and fore-yard.

Bend and unbend, loose and furl the head-sails, fore-sail, lower, and topmast studding-sails.

Reeve and unreeve, overhaul and hook cat and fish; pass ring-stopper and shank-painter, lash cables for clearing hawse, and stow anchors.

Lash fore-runners and tackle; hook the top-tackle blocks to top-pendants and reeve fore-jeers.

Turn in fore-rigging, reeve laniards, set it up; spar and rattle it down; and set up futtock rigging.

Attend in lighters to sling stores, &c., and keep the upper deck clean from head to foremast. Take the weather wheel.

Take the starboard lead when working with the watch.

Fore-top Men, reeve and unreeve top-pendant; fit and reeve all standing and running rigging above the top.

Bend, unbend, loose, reef, and furl fore-top sail, topgallant sail, and royal; main top-mast and top-gallant stay-sails, set and take in fore-top-gallant studding-sail, and hook the burton for top-mast studding-sail.

Shift fore top-mast and top-gallant-mast, topsail, and top-gallant yards, and put whips on yards and stays. Set up top-mast and top-gallant and royal backstays.

Bitt, unbitt, or stopper when working the cables. Keep fore-top and fore-channels clean and in order, and clean port gangway. (Main-topmen clean starboard side.)

The duties of fore and main-topmen are much, the same


in their respective tops. Working with the watch a maintopman takes the lead in the port channels.The peak of main-trysail belongs to the main-topmen.

The Mizzen-topmen have nearly the same duties. They loose and furl the peak of the spanker, clean and keep in order the port channels and port side of quarterdeck and poop.

The After-Guard have the care of the starboard side of quarter-deck and poop, and starboard mizzen channels.

Bend, unbend, loose, reef, furl, and shift the main-sail,* main-trysail, and spanker. Look out for the mizzen rigging and cross-jack yard. Hold the reel and haul in log-line.

The Quarter Gunners rig and unrig main mast and main yard; turn in, set up, spar and rattle down main and futtock rigging.

Bend, unbend, loose, reef, and furl main-sail, main-staysail, and main-topmast studding-sail; attend lower studding-sail out-haul and after-guy; the fore-topmast studding-sail tack, and broom-brace, main tack, and sheet.

Reeve main-jeers, hook main-top tackles. Look out for sheet anchors and attend at capstan when heaving in.

Look out for battery, ordnance stores, and life-buoys.

Quarter-Masters, being generally main-yard men, work on main yard and in main rigging. To them belongs everything appertaining to the sounding and steering gear, and signals.

At sea they always con ** the ship, and attend at the heaving of the deep-sea lead and the log.

Carpenter’s Mate and Carpenter’s Gang rig and unrig capstan and pumps, clean pumps and skylights.

Idlers, Firemen, Marines. In working with “all hands,” cooks and stewards and firemen are generally stationed to assist forecastle men in manning gear; servants man gear of fore-top-sail; mechanics, gear of main-sail, and marines divide at the gear of main and mizzen top-sails.

Ready Men were at one time considered necessary aloft, to make preparations for the different evolutions, but their use has been greatly modified, and on many ships given up altogether.

The call for these men invariably sends more hands aloft than are allowed, and they mar the effect of drills by their efforts to “get ahead” of other tops or competing vessels.

The test of efficiency in performing an evolution is the time that the men require aloft to perform it properly, and

* This applies only to those of the after guard who are stationed on the main yard.

** Con-from conduire, to conduct. To direct the helmsman how to steer.


the extra time taken up with “ready men” above the rail is greater than when they are dispensed with.Top-keepers, &c. Each top has a top-keeper; it is his duty to keep the top and top-chest in order, to see the latter closed when not in use, and the cover stopped down, also to lay aloft and send down whips, &c., when required.

Each part of the ship supplies a chain-keeper, who keeps the chains clean and the wash-deck gear properly stowed in the chain-chest.

The Quarter Bill. For duty in action the men are distributed at the guns, or assigned to the Navigator’s division as wreck clearers, &c., or to the powder division to provide ammunition.

To secure the ability of the watch on deck to prepare and work half the guns at night while the watch below are stowing hammocks or doing other necessary work, all odd-numbered broadside guns are manned by men of the starboard watch, even-numbered guns by the port watch; pivot gun crews usually half from each watch.

A gun’s crew is formed of about one-third petty officers and seamen, one-third ordinary seamen, and one-third landsmen or apprentices.

The gun captains are selected from those in whose skill and judgment the greatest reliance can be placed, and with good eyesight; second captains are selected upon the same principle; spongers and loaders rank next in importance, and should be strong, active men.

In distributing the petty officers and men to guns and other stations, those stationed at the same gun or near each other at quarters are drawn from different stations in working ship, so that a great loss at any one gun will not fall too heavily on any watch station.

Exception to this rule may be made where the duties of men require their habitual presence on particular decks. In such cases it will be generally advisable to station them at quarters near the places of their ordinary duties.

For the first division of boarders will be wanted the most effective men; for sail-trimmers, men stationed on the spar deck; at the wheel, the best helmsman in the vessel; at the relieving tackles, an officer or quartermaster, with a few men to steer the vessel in case the wheel or tiller-ropes are shot away. In the magazine is stationed the gunner and his mates, and the cooper. Select for the stations below, for passing powder, shot, &c., those who may be least effective on deck, but with a quota of reliable men sufficient to insure a prompt and full supply of ammunition.

Have in the navigator’s division, to attend the stoppers and to remain in the tops, active topmen.

The first lieutenant, under the direction of the commander, works the batteries, while the navigator, under


the direction of both, and assisted by the boatswain on the forecastle, attends to the manoeuvres. The other lieutenants are stationed, one to command each division. The marines, under command of their officer, are in the waist, or on the poop. and often some are stationed in each top, to, annoy the men at the enemy’s guns. The midshipmen are distributed about in the tops, and at the divisions, to the best advantage.In the Ordnance Manual, to which the student is referred, may be found the most carefully arranged quarter bills, and full instructions for quartering a crew. In this volume will be found (page 257, Arts. 935 and 936) the method of manning boats when the crews are to be disembarked under arms. This plan has for its great advantage the fact that the same men are always associated in the division and company, and under the same officer.

The Station Bills as supplied by the bureau are arranged for working either with the watch or withall hands, and their scope renders them available for any full crew in the service on board ordinary vessels, whatever their size. Should the ship’s crew be materially below the complement allowed, some modifications may be required in the stations.

Stations for work aloft are so arranged as to give each man about the same amount of canvas to handle. Each station is filled by an equal number from each watch, so that with but one watch on deck the vessel may be worked and all stations manned. This divides the force, and there are an equal number of men on each side of the deck at the gear or aloft.

As it is of the greatest importance that the ropes on deck, other than those tended by mastmen, should be tended by intelligent men, the coxswains or second captains of tops are retained on deck except at bending and reefing, to attend the gear at the sides and point out ropes to be manned. This does away with much calling from aloft, which should always be avoided.

Combination station bills show the duties of each man at all evolutions, and copies of the same are posted up in conspicuous parts of the ship.

The Fire Bill should be prepared as soon as the organization of the crew is completed by the assignment of their duties on the watch, quarter, and station bills. It is necessarily a work whose features must be adapted to the particular arrangement of the ship, but it should, as far as possible, conform to the arrangement for extinguishing fire during exercise at quarters. Much confusion will arise from requiring different duties from the same person at ordinary “fire quarters,” and in case of fire when at general quarters.

Directions for stationing the crew as firemen, pumpmen,


smotherers, &c. will be found in the Ordnance Manual, and the ship’s fire bill may be said to be based upon the quarter bill.Blank forms of billets are filled out for each member of the crew, and show his station at all evolutions, also his boat, gun and mess. These billets are printed on strong paper, so that the men can keep them in their caps without wearing out too soon.



Name, JOHN BROWN; Rate, SEA;
Division, 2; Gun, 5; No. at Gun, 3;
Boat, 1st Cutter; Company, 2; Mess, 6.


Loosing sail Loose topsail.
Furling sail Furl topsail.
Bending sail Topsail-yard, overhaul gear, bend topsail.
Up and down topgallant and royal yards Topsail-yard, rig lower topgallant yard-arm.
Up and down topgallant-masts In top, come up and set up rigging.
House and fid topmasts Fid and unfid mast
Shifting topsail yards Topsail-yard, unbend and bend topsail, unrig and rig yard aloft.
Up and down lower yards In top, lash upper jeer-block.
Out and in boats In top, and receive and hook triatic-stay.
Mooring and unmooring Tend stoppers; bitt and unbitt cable.
Making sail and getting underway Loose topsail, then on deck to halliards.
Bracing up and setting courses Man main-topsail and upper braces.
Tacking and wearing Man weather main-topsail and upper braces.
Reefing topsails Topsail buntlines, reef topsail, on deck to halliards.
Shortening sail and coming to anchor Man topsail clewlines, veer and stopper cable.
Clear ship for action In top, send down light spars, snake down back-stays.


Under the present system, the men are kept on board the Receiving Ship until the vessel fitting out is so far


advanced as to be ready to receive them. No pains should be spared to get a good master-at-arms and ship’s cook, and it will be greatly to the interest of the executive officer if he can procure a good painter, cooper, shoemaker and tailor.The executive officer can have his crew mustered on board the Receiving Ship at pleasure; he therefore should lose no time in selecting his petty officers and making out the watch-bill, berthing and messing the crew. Mess cooks should be selected, and the master-at-arms and ship’s cook should go on board to see if all the galley arrangements and mess-chests are complete. It is found convenient to take the men from the Receiving Ship after dinner, as it is easier to have supper the first meal to be prepared on board their own ship. When the watch-bill is complete, it will take a good clerk but a few hours to fill up the billets. If these are given to the men before leaving the Receiving Ship, they can shoulder their bags and hammocks, march on board their own ship, stow their hammocks in their proper netting, their bags in their own mess, and go to “general quarters” the next moment, if need be.

Watches, Look-outs, &c. The twenty-four hours are divided into seven watches, as follows: mid-watch, midnight to 4 A.M.; morning watch, 4 to 8 A.M.; forenoon watch, 8 A.M. to noon; afternoon watch, noon to 4 P.M.; first dog, 4 to 6; second dog, 6 to 8; first watch, 8 P.M. to midnight.

The division of the time from 4 to 8 P.M. into two watches makes the total number of watches an odd number. By this arrangement the men (who stand watch and watch at sea) are given eight hours out on one night and only four on the next night.

In port, the crew are all available for duty throughout the day, and an “anchor watch” of one or two hands from each part of the ship is kept at night.

At sea, between sunrise and sunset, there is a look-out kept at the fore topmast-head, relieved every two hours and taken in turn by a hand from each part of the ship.

Between sunset and sunrise the look-outs are generally as follows:

Starboard cat-head, a forecastleman,
Port cat-head, a fore-topman,
Starboard gangway, a main-topman,
Port gangway, an afterguard,
Starboard quarter, an afterguard, or marine,
Port quarter, a mizzen-topman.

In passing the hail, which is done every half hour, the look-outs call the name of the station in regular succession.

When a quarter-watch is aloft (with stunsails set), one hand in each top keeps a look-out and passes the


hail. Under certain circumstances of weather (low-lying fog, &c.), a forecastleman may be stationed on the fore-yard.Men may also be stationed on the main and main-topsail yards to guard against sparks from the smoke-hack.

The look-outs on the quarters are also responsible for the life-buoys, and should know how to light and detach them.

When under square sail, there is a hand stationed at each of the halliards of the loftiest sail carried; in squally weather one stationed also at the main sheet. These men pass the hail at night with the other look-outs.

Wheel and look-outs are relieved every two hours; in bad weather it is well to reduce this to one hour.

At night the watch below is called fifteen minutes before the hour when they should “lash and carry,” bringing their hammocks on deck and stowing them. When the wheel and look-outs have been relieved, the other watch get their hammocks and are sent below.

In stormy weather, or when otherwise unavoidable, all hammocks are sent below, or the objectionable practice must be tolerated of “turning in and out.”

Conduct Books, &c. In regulating the privileges of the men, a set of books are kept under the direction of the executive officer. In the report book are entered the names of the men, offences committed, the name of the person Making the report, and the punishment inflicted by the commanding officer after the matter has been investigated “at the mast.”

The conduct book contains the division of men into four classes, in accordance with their behavior while on board ship and ashore.

From their standing on this record, the men’s names are placed more or less frequently in the liberty book, which shows the length of liberty allowed, the time of returning and the condition in which the man returned. The remarks are to be filled in by the officer of the deck.

The routine of the ship is based upon the amount of cleaning or other work that is daily required; it sets apart the meal hours, and periods of exercise.

The form of daily, weekly, and monthly routine adopted in the service, will be found in Appendix G.

It necessarily varies in port and at sea, and also to a certain extent for the different seasons of the year.

A form of routine for divisional and other drills will be found in Appendix G.

While it is eminently desirable for each person on board ship to know what he has to do, and when it is to be done, the peculiar nature of a seaman’s duties make any routine objectionable which cannot be modified when necessary. Bad weather or unusual and exhaustive work may require


a suspension of the ordinary daily duties, and no routine is of permanent value unless it admits of such variations.On the other hand, unless the executive is methodical in conducting the duties of his ship, whatever may be the routine adopted, a want of system on his part will neutralize any efforts for the maintenance of proper discipline.

Besides organization proper, there are certain other essentials which belong to every well-ordered ship.

Cleanliness, for example, is absolutely indispensable, and as it bears directly upon health, should receive every attention.

Lord Collingwood says, in one of his letters, “I have been long at sea … Yet, with all this sea-work, never getting fresh beef nor a vegetable, I have not one sick man in my ship.” And his memoirist adds; “Lord Collingwood carried his system of arrangement and care to such a degree of perfection, that perhaps no society in the world, of equal extent, was so healthy as the crew of his flag-ship. She had usually eight hundred men; was, on one occasion, more than a year and a half without going into port, and during the whole of that time never had more than six, and generally only four on her sick list. This result was occasioned by his attention to dryness (for he rarely permitted washing between decks), to the frequent ventilation of the hammocks and clothes, to the creating of as much circulation of air below as possible, to the diet and amusement of the men; but above all, by the contented spirits of the sailors, who loved their commander as their protector and friend, well assured that at his hands they would ever receive justice and kindness, and that of their own comforts he was more jealous than of his own.”

These few sentences contain a fund of good advice, and are commended to the attention of those destined to command our ships.

Silence is one of the evidences of good discipline, and the crew soon acquire the habit, if properly instructed by the precept and example of the officers. Hailing the deck from aloft, giving orders in an unnecessarily loud tone, and useless repetitions of commands, should not be tolerated.

There is no reason why the pipe and signs should not be substituted for the shouting that unfortunately distinguishes some men-of-war.

In this connection it may be observed that at the bugle call for “silence” every soul on board should obey the order thus conveyed, standing fast and keeping silent until the call to “carry on.”

If the imperative nature of the “silence” call is to be impressed on the minds of the men, the officers and petty officers must be the first to obey it.


Alacrity is another essential; the crew should be accustomed from the first to move smartly about the decks when on duty, and when all hands are summoned they should go up the ladders on the run. To insure promptness in the carrying on of duty, it is well to remember that the force of example goes a great way. ** For Notes on Preparing Ship for Sea, see Appendix G. They are to a great extent a repetition of points dwelt upon in previous chapters, but classified in a different form.