How understaffed is the Royal Navy

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The Royal Naval Reserve are part of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom.

Background [edit]

Impression [edit]

When the Royal Navy came to its more modern organization in the 17th century, it adopted the practice of impression to supply most of the crews.

The process of impression was not suitable for officer recruiting, and the procedure used there was for officers to receive a base salary for their rank when they had an appointment, and half of it between appointments (half salary). Officers who command ships or facilities received additional “command money”, which differed according to the status of the ship or facility concerned.

"Price" scheme [edit]

Officers and men received additional payments under the pricing system. While this could be done in a number of ways, by far the most common was the capture of an enemy ship and its subsequent purchase by the Navy (a workable process with wooden ships). For the common seaman the amount was typically a few shillings (although this represented several months' salary), but for the commanding officer it was typically hundreds of pounds. Many captains had land on land that gave them an alternative income.

Junior officers were in much worse shape as it was not really possible to keep a house at half the wages of a lieutenant. This was one of the reasons junior officers' marriage was so frowned upon.

Volunteer Campaigns [edit]

The impression was finally abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century to encourage seafarers to volunteer for full employment in the sea service. This was fine for the number needed in peacetime when many ships were put in reserve, but it did mean some funding had to be allocated to produce the extra men needed as the wartime fleet expanded . A law of Parliament in 1835 had set up the Seafarers Register to identify men for sea service in the event of war, but in 1854 only 400 out of 250,000 in the register volunteered for service.[1] The register of seafarers was supplemented in 1853 with the creation of the Royal Naval Coast Volunteers (RNCV), composed of boaters and fishermen who performed limited (geographic) service in the navy during a conflict.[2] This meant that Admiral Charles Napier's Baltic fleet was seriously understaffed because of the blockade of Russia's Baltic ports during the Crimean War and, as Napier's MP, was campaigning for improvements in the treatment of seafarers.[1] This led to a Royal Commission on Manning the Navy in 1858[1] This led to a new law of parliament in 1859. This approved the creation of a new pool of volunteer seafarers from the merchant service and the fishing fleet to undergo annual gunfight training in the Navy and to be summoned to serve in the fleet by Royal Proclamation in Time of War. By 1862 there were 12,000 volunteers in the new force.[1]

Facility [edit]

The new force was designated the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) and was originally intended for assessments. In 1861, however, it was expanded to include officers who wore a distinctive top rank made of interwoven chain links. Officers and men ranked in seniority, but behind their Royal Navy counterparts. A number of naval hulls have been moored in the major seaports of Britain to facilitate gunnery training for seafarers when they have traveled abroad. The officers spent extended periods of up to a year or two on land holdings and on ships in the navy at home and abroad to get used to naval practice.

Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

At the beginning of the 20th century, at a time of rapid naval expansion, it was recognized that the RNR could not supply the required number of trained men and a system was put in place to allow men in coastal civilian professions (unconnected to the sea ) made it possible to train part-time in special farms and provide valuable real-time experience with the fleet for a few weeks a year as soon as a certain level of competence has been reached.

This was the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), known as the "Wavy Navy" because the rank stripes (rings) on the officers' sleeves were more wavy than straight. The RNVR was organized into “departments” whose names were taken from where the main center was located. London, Edinburgh, and most of the major seaports had such departments. Each division was commanded by a captain.

The Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve [edit]

In 1902 the Admiralty Lords decided to establish a Royal Naval Reserve unit in St. John's, Newfoundland. HMS Calypso, a small older cruiser, was sent across the Atlantic to provide shelter. 600 men, mostly local fishermen and seafarers, were recruited. Many were seconded to the North Atlantic and West Indian squadrons for training. During the First World War, the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve served the regular Navy and in 1916 the Calypso has been renamed to HMS Briton.

Decline [edit]

In the late 1930s, the Admiralty realized that the numbers available would not meet the demands of the rapidly approaching war and created the Royal Naval Volunteer Supplementary Reserve (RNVSR). The main recruits were amateur sailors who had received sufficient training to bring them up to date under very high pressure compared to the "normal" RNVR. The RNVSR uniform was the same as the RNVR uniform. The RNVSR was dropped after World War II.

Those who became officers during World War II were considered members of the RNVR and wore the uniform of that service. Most of the officers in landing craft, coastal forces, and Atlantic convoys were RNVR, and many regular officers were amazed at how well they handled it. A significant number of commanded corvettes and even frigates. Quite a few also went to the submarine division of the service and some reached command there, the first being Commander EPYoung DSO, DSC and Bar, who commanded HMS Storm.

See also [edit]

References [edit]