Men of Second Group of Flotilla at Cape Cod Charge They Are Overworked and Badly Fed.
Attempt to Wreck Machinery Leads to Punishment of All Quarters Given to Women, They Allege.
(All additions and clarifications are in parentheses, otherwise the stories are as written.)
Boston, Sept. 1.(1912)—There is trouble between the sailors and the officers of the second group of the submarine flotilla now at Cape Cod. It began some months ago at Newport. The sailors claim the submarines are all commanded by young officers, who are most inconsiderate toward the men. The officers say the regulations do not compel them to observe regular hours in working their men.
The ill feeling culminated a month ago, when ground glass was placed in the bearings of the machinery of the D-3 and the needle spray of the gasolene (gasoline) engine was destroyed. Prompt discovery saved the machinery from destruction. The author of the outrage has not been found and all the enlisted men of the second group are being punished by standing extra anchor watches.
The crews in the second group have appealed to the Naval committees of both houses of Congress. Several of them have written to a Boston newspaper complaining of their treatment. Denied Sleep for a Party.
Among other things, they say that, while the flotilla was at Newport, the officers gave a bathing party for some of their young women friends. The enlisted men allege they were denied sleep because their Quarters were given to the girls as dressing rooms and both girls and officers appeared on the deck in bathing suits.
Because of the attempt to wreck the machinery of Submarine D-3, all the sailors of the boats E-1, E-2 and D-1, D-2 and D-3 are serving extra anchor watches as punishment for concealing the guilty man.
One of the sailors said to a reporter at Provincetown: 'An electrician named S. L. Saunders was suspected of the job. Nothing was proved against him, and every enlisted man in the second group was compelled to stand extra anchor watches. There are now seven men standing anchor watch each night as punishment, and Lieutenant W. (Warren) G. Childs says this will continue until the guilty man is found. On the first group of submarines across the harbor, one man is standing the watch which we are doing with seven.'
'Saunders's time of enlistment expired the other day and since they had no evidence to convict they let him go, but gave him a dishonorable discharge, writing across his discharge papers: 'Suspected of trying to destroy the machinery of D 3' '
Twenty enlisted men visited a reporter at a hotel and, among the things they told him, were: Say They Are Overworked.
'Look at our eyes and the lines on our faces! They come from overwork, lack of sleep and bad food. We are the victims of unnecessary zeal and intense rivalry between the youthful commanders of these submarines. Some of them have no consideration, for their men, and they treat the regulations as though they did not exist.
'Naval custom is that no man shall do more than eight hours continuous duty, and that all Sundays and holidays shall be observed and only such work as is absolutely necessary shall be done on those days. On the battleships and cruisers these customs are observed.
'On the submarines we arise at 5:30 and go on duty at 6:30. We continue, until 6:30 at night—twelve hours straight. After supper we continue to work three or four nights a week until 2 o'clock in the morning, or oven until reveille.
'The food on the submarines is very bad. The government allowance is 40 cents a day. On the cruisers it is 33 cents. Yet, when we get a chance to eat aboard one of those boats it is like visiting a swell hotel.
'Our menu is horribly monotonous. It consists of fish, hash, stew and flap jacks, coffee,and tea, with out milk or sugar, and never any dessert. It is always badly cooked and the conditions under which we eat on the submarines are dreadful.
'It is a punishment to sleep in the boats, and the idea of tenders, like the Tonopah, is to provide proper sleeping quarters when possible. Those of us who have the anchor watches have to turn in on the submarine. Think of sleeping in a mildewed cellar—that's what they are.
'Men overcome by gasolene fumes, which frequently happens, get a jab of the hypodermic needle. (To what purpose this was for is unclear or what was injected.)The medicine chests on each boat are almost always empty. A man can not be put on the sick list without the consent of the commanding officer.
'It is bad enough to have to work all day and all night, but to have our few hours of sleep interrupted by dances, tea parties and bathing parties by the officers is unbearable.'
The letter to the newspaper says, among other things: 'Your investigator will find almost all the men in the submarines older than twenty-one, on more than their first enlistment and skilled mechanics. They possess a deep sense of right and justice and resent the acts of their superiors in rank, who, when in a sullen mood resulting from an all night debauch, utterly disregard human treatment and behave like the tormentors and runners of the prison ships in days past.'
Junior Lieutenant (Claudius) Hyatt, commander of the E-1was told by the reporter of the charges. He said: 'It is true that, just now the men in the submarine service are working hard and their hours are rather long but it is because there is much to be done and little time to do it.
'It is not true that the men of the group are standing anchor watches for punishment but because it is necessary. The food is the best that can be had upon the allowance of 40 cents a day. The men get their ratings when they deserve them.
'I cannot, of course, discuss the charges which reflect upon the personalities of the officers.'
(Second Article) SAILORS TO GET INQUIRY
Congress Probably Will Heed Charges of Submarine Men. [ From The Tribune Bureau.]
Washington, Sept. 1.(1912)--Charges and counter charges made by the officer's and enlisted men of the second group of the submarine flotilla now cruising off Cape Cod will probably be investigated by a Congressional committee, although the Navy Department has already appointed a special board to inquire into the charges made by the officers.
About a month ago a general round robin among the enlisted men was sent to the House Committee on Naval Affairs, and is now in possession of Representative (Lemuel P.) Padgett, (chairman of the United States House Committee on Naval Affairs.) who, it is understood, favors a thorough inquiry. The men claimed they were deprived of proper liberty, food and necessary medical attendance and were subjected to other indignities.
A condition verging on mutiny existed at that time. Subsequently charges were preferred against nearly one-third of the crew of the E-2 for alleged depredations.
No charges against the officers' have been received by the Navy Department, although the officers filed complaints against the enlisted men, and a special board is how conducting an investigation. It is unofficially reported, however, that complaints against the officers will be made to the Secretary of the Navy.
Officials of the Navy Department discredit the reports to the effect that the officers, most of them junior lieutenants, entertained women at Newport and used the tender Tonopah as a pleasure craft.
We leave you to form your own opinions. We have been unable, at this time, to find more about this. The National Archives were contacted but they say they have no information about the incidents.
The stories have come from the New York Tribune From September 2, 1912
In October 1912, on the Hudson River off New York, there was the Presidential Review and the submarine D-3 and E-2 were both part of the doings and paraded with other submarines of the fleet before President William Taft. Photo above is from that event. The battleship in the background is the USS Kearsarge (BB-5) anchored in mid Hudson River.
The conditions described are a far cry from today’s submarine navy and even the the submarines that served in WW II.
If true, it is our thoughts that this incident may have been a trigger to bring about some of the changes.
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