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This webpage reproduces part of
One Man's Fight
for a Better Navy

Holden A. Evans
[Former Naval Constructor, U. S. N.]

published by
Dodd, Mead & Company
New York

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p379  Appendix C

Orders and Excerpts from Letters Relating to Naval Constructor Evans' Detail to Norfolk Navy Yard, October 17–December 15, 1911.

The original instructions:

The Secretary of the Navy,
Washington, Oct. 17, 1911.

From:— The Secretary of the Navy.

To:— Commandant, Navy Yard, Norfolk, Virginia.

Subject: Naval Constructor H. A. Evans, U. S. N., detailed at Norfolk Yard.

1. Naval Constructor Holden A. Evans, U. S. N., has been detailed at the Yard under your command, to assist you in carrying out the Department's written instructions in connection with preliminary work of introducing modern management. Mr. Evans takes the place of the civilian expert contemplated by the Department.

2. You will please afford Naval Constructor Evans every facility for carrying out this work expeditiously and efficiently, and will direct all subordinate officers at the yard to render the assistance necessary.

3. If any work is suggested by Naval Constructor Evans which meets with your approval but in your opinion will involve a greater expenditure of money than the monthly allotment of funds will permit, you will suspend such work until the Department's instructions in the premises have been received.

4. If any action recommended by Naval Constructor Evans in carrying out the Department's instructions does not meet with your approval you will promptly present the case to the Department, but the work is not to be stopped pending instructions from the Department unless an important issue is involved. In case you consider it necessary to make representations to the Department regarding work or changes recommended by Naval Constructor Evans, you will allow him to see a copy of your letter to the Department.

 p380  5. You will furnish Naval Constructor Evans a copy of these instructions.

G. v. L. Meyer.

Excerpts from Letter of Resignation, October 25, 1911:

"I respectfully request that I be relieved from duty in connection with the preliminary work for the introduction of modern management at the Navy Yard, Norfolk Virginia, and that I be detached from that yard."

Constructor Evans then gave the history of his orders, and the changes, and followed with the paragraphs quoted below.

"I am convinced that I can accomplish but little at the Norfolk Navy Yard, unless the same freedom of action is afforded me that would be given a civilian expert employed on the work. In this connection it will be noted that I am to take the place of the civilian expert originally contemplated by the Department. The Department's original instructions gave me the necessary freedom to carry out the work efficiently. I do not believe that I can accomplish satisfactory results under the recent instructions.

"I further request that I be informed of the amount of leave of absence to which I am entitled. Upon the receipt of this information I shall make formal request that I be granted leave for this period, and shall tender to the President my resignation as an officer in the Navy.

"I have for some time remained in the Navy at great sacrifice, both to myself and my family. I have had numerous opportunities to undertake important work in civil life which offer rewards far greater than I can hope for in the Navy. Believing, however, that I could be of use in improving the efficiency of the navy yards, I have steadfastly refused the offers which have been tendered me. I, however, feel that I can no longer make the personal sacrifices which I have made in the past.

"I wish to assure the Department that, even after I am in civil life, I shall always have the interests of the Navy at heart, and shall endeavor, in every way, to further those interests. I shall consider myself always available for any work that the Navy may require, and if my services are needed for important work, either in peace or war, I shall always be ready to respond, no matter what personal sacrifices such action may entail."

 p381  Text of Body of Second Letter to Secretary Meyer Renewing Request for Detachment:

"Referring to my letter of October 25th, 1911, requesting I be relieved of special duty in connection with introduction of modern management at this navy yard, and requesting my detachment from this yard, I respectfully urge early action on this request, and have to submit the following additional reasons for this request.

"On October 24th I received from Captain R. M. Doyle approval of steps which I outlined to him regarding the formation of the committee to work out the details of shop stores. Captain Doyle was at that time presumably acting with the authority of the Commandant, as he acted on a number of other questions considered at the same time. The work was undertaken as laid out to me by Captain Doyle, and approved by him, and the details for the shop store system were worked up, and a report prepared for submission to the Commandant. On November 9th, two of the officers, Paymaster D. V. Chadwick, and Paymaster C. J. Cleborne, who had been engaged in this work, were sent for by the Commandant and informed that the work which they had been doing was without the knowledge and without the authority of the Commandant and that Naval Constructor Evans had no authority to take up work as it had been taken up. He further informed these two officers that they had laid themselves open to a charge of entering into a combination of officers to weaken the authority of the Commandant. In a subsequent interview which I had with the Commandant regarding this matter, he stated to me, in the presence of Paymaster Chadwick, that he had not given me authority to act in the matter. I insisted to the Commandant that he had given me this authority. A full statement regarding this matter is attached herewith, marked 'A.'

"I now find myself placed in a position before the officers attached to the yard of having acted without authority of the Commandant, and my veracity questioned. It must be apparent that it will be impossible for me to do any effective work under these conditions.

"In my previous letter to the Secretary of the Navy, I have expressed the opinion that success cannot be obtained in introducing modern management at the Norfolk Navy Yard unless there is afforded me the same latitude that would be given a civilian expert employed on the work. During my stay at this yard I have devoted myself principally  p382 to an investigation of existing conditions, in order that I could take up the work intelligently. This investigation has convinced me that success cannot be obtained unless the reorganization work is placed entirely and absolutely under the control (not advice) of an officer who has had years of experience in industrial management and who is qualified to direct the work that must be undertaken. The conditions at the Norfolk Yard are far worse than I had anticipated. There is no evidence of there having been any real industrial management at this yard and there is much evidence that there has been no management. I am prepared to furnish full details to substantiate the statement that I have made, and if the Department questions my judgment, I request that any qualified expert in the country be employed for one month, to visit this yard and make a detailed report to the Department. I am prepared to point out most remarkable conditions of inefficiency in the shops and gross inaccuracies in the method of cost keeping followed at this yard.

"Under these conditions, if the Department expects to attain results, it will be necessary that the management be turned over, temporarily at least, to some strong hand who knows what real industrial management comprises. I am also strongly of the opinion that it will be a serious mistake to attempt to install in the near future any system of modern management until the glaring defects now existing are corrected and until officers, foremen and other subordinates learn what ordinary good management consists of. In other words, before any attempt is made at this yard to go into the details of any modern system of management, the foundation must be prepared.

"Holding the views expressed above, and with no authority whatever to carry out the preliminary work outlined in the Department's instruction, and with my veracity questioned by the Commandant, I feel that in justice to myself I should be immediately relieved from duty at the Norfolk Navy Yard."

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