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AUTHORIZING THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY TO PROCEED WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF CERTAIN PUBLIC WORKS
JANUARY 15, 1945.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the
state of the Union and ordered to be printed.
Mr. Vinson, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, submitted the
(To accompany H. R. 626)
The Committee on Naval Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 626) to authorize the Secretary of the Navy to proceed with the construction of certain public works, and for other purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with amendments and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
The amendments are as follows:
Page 2, lines 3 and 4, strike out the figures “74,500,000" and substitute therefor"59,416,500”.
Page 2, line 14, strike out the figures "1,515,623,000” and substitute therefor "1,500,549,500".
Page 2, add the following new section after section 3: SEC. 4. Notwithstanding any provisions of the Surplus Property Act of 1944, and of the Act approved March 11, 1941 (55 Stat. 31), as amended, title to all ships, boats, barges, and floating drydocks of the Navy Department shall remain in the United States; and possession thereof shall remain in the Navy Department and none of the foregoing shall be disposed of in any manner: Provided, That lease thereof may be made in accordance with such Act of March 11, 1941, as amended for periods not beyond the termination of the present war.
The purpose of the bill is to authorize the appropriation of $1,500,549,500 for the establishment or development of naval shore activities by the construction of such temporary or permanent works as the Secretary of the Navy may consider necessary including buildings, facilities, accessories, and services with which shall be included the authority to acquire the necessary land.
The bill also provides that the approximate cost indicated for each category required, in the discretion of the Secretary of the Navy, be Varied upward or downward but the total cost shall not exceed $1,500,549,500. The committee is of the opinion that this flexibility is necessary in order to permit the authorizations herein contained being effectively carried out, thus allowing for changes as the military situation may develop.
The first committee amendment decreases the sum authorized to be appropriated for aviation facilities by $15,083,500 from $74,500,000 to $59,416,500. This decrease was determined upon after carefully considering an item for increased aviation facilities through the establishment of a new training center which the committee felt it could not agree to until further study could be made of the project.
The third amendment is intended to provide that, except for leases terminating not later than the end of the present wars, neither the Lend-Lease Act nor the Surplus Property Act shall be construed to authorize either interdepartmental transfers, sales, or other transfers from control and possession of the Navy Department of any ship, boat, barge, or floating drydock in its possession. This amendment was considered necessary in view of the enactment of the Surplus Property Act of 1944. The Surplus Property Act covers all “property” of the United States which the Government department or agency having control thereof determines surplus to its needs. This act provides for transfer of such property to other Government agencies and for transfer of both title and possession under specified condition, to States, institutions, and persons, private corporations, etc. The term “property” is defined to include any interest in real or personal property, wherever located excepting (1) the public domain and lands withdrawn from the public domain which the Surplus Property Board "determines are suitable for return to the public domain for disposition under the general land laws,' and (2) "naval vessels of the following categories: Battleships, cruisers, aircraft carriers, destroyers, and submarines."
The bill as submitted by the Navy Department is divided into 12 categories, each category representing the work under the cognizance of the various bureaus and offices of the Navy Department. The break-down of the bill into these categories is as follows:
Summary by activities Ship repair and laying-up facilities --
$230, 222, 000 Fleet training facilities, amphibious and operational.
12, 000, 000 Aviation facilities.
59, 416, 500 Storage facilities..
19, 950, 000 Marine Corps housing and training
14, 190, 000 Ordnance facilities..
65, 500, 000 Personnel training and housing facilities.
40, 022, 000 Hospital facilities..
28, 519, 000 Shore radio facilities.
3, 230, 000 Naval Research Laboratory
225, 000 Miscellaneous structures and facilities..
41, 265, 000 Advance base construction, material and equipment..
986, 000, 000 Total...
1, 500, 549, 500 In view of the confidential nature of a considerable number of projects submitted by the Navy Department it is not considered advisable or desirable to publish in this report a confidential breakdown of the various individual items making up the total of the bill.
The committee was advised by the representatives of the Navy Department that the items submitted had been thoroughly screened by the field and in the Department and that reductions had been made from the original submissions by the field in the amount of some $340,000,000, representing approximately 40 percent of the total of the bill. The committee was further advised that all of the projects submitted had an important bearing on the prosecution of the war and were considered essential in order that the necessary training, storage, aviation, Marine Corps housing, ordnance, personnel, hospital, radio, and research facilities be provided for the support of the fleet.
The Vice Chief of Naval Operations submitted to the committee a very comprehensive statement outlining the necessity for projects requested and also outlined in detail the method employed in the Department in the screening of public-works projects before their submission to the Congress for authorization and again before their submittal to the Secretary for release after having been appropriated for by the Congress. The statement is as follows:
The bill now before the committee, H. R. 626, would authorize the Secretary of the Navy to proceed with the construction of certain public works and advance base procurement amounting in all to $1,515,623,000.
The construction and procurement programs provided for in this bill are based upon the operating programs of the various bureaus and offices of the Navy Department, including the Marine Corps. These programs, in turn, are based upon the Navy's operating force plan for the fiscal year 1946, after its approval by the Secretary of the Navy. This plan and the operating programs, taken together, tell first what ships and planes we will have available in the coming fiscal year and, second, what we plan to do with them. The procurement and the constructionboth in this country and outside the continental limits-set forth in this bill have been designed to provide the necessary support for the operations of the various fleets and aircraft during the fiscal year 1946.
These contemplated operations, as you know, are of great magnitude. The Navy is at this moment protecting and maintaining the 3,000-mile line of supply to Europe for the support of the largest army this country has ever put in the field. There is no evidence to justify the hope that such protection and maintenance will be unnecessary in the near future.
In the Pacific the past year, which began with Kwajalein, included the Mariandas, and ended with the capture of Leyte, has brought us to the threshold of Japan. Our task forces are now operating in the home waters of the enemy while our carrier-based planes are striking at his homelands. But this year of success, gratifying though it is in its promise of ultimate victory, has served only to increase greatly the problem of logistic support for our victorious forces. Hereafter our major campaigns in the Pacific must be fought seven and eight thousand miles from our continental limits.
Without advance bases, the war in the Pacific cannot be successfully prosecuted. They are essential to the support of our ships, planes, and fighting men. The combat area has now moved thousands of miles west of our last permanent base at Pearl Harbor. These advance bases must be established, step by step, as We gain new land masses closer to Japan. They provide the temporary repair facilities for a badly damaged shid, in order that it may return safely to a more permanent base for complete repairs. They provide quick hospitalization for the critically wounded, fuel, ammunition, food, and all the sinews of war without which a campaign would fail. It is obvious that our ships cannot expend the time or the fuel for return to a base thousands of miles in the rear for these services. The closer we draw to the Japanese homeland, the more urgent is the demand for these bases. There is a limit to the time a ship can remain at sea; eventually, it becomes necessary that our ships put into a base for replenishment and rest. The closer at hand these facilities are to the combat area, the more efficiently our ships can be employed against the enemy.
The advance-base program is based on our strategic plans, past experience in this war, and a reasonably strategic reserve. The strategic reserve is necessary to replace combat losses, losses in transit, to minimize a reverse in operations, or to exploit an enemy weakness.
It is a serious mistake to underestimate contingencies in planning for a war; a bad situation cannot be underestimated and if it becomes worse, start feverishly preparing to meet it, because then it is too late; the enormous quantities of supplies needed cannot be produced and transported in a few days. The only safe way to provide logistic support is to have the materials ready and in place even if all of
them are never used. This is not good business practice but it is sound military strategy.
It will be understood that this advanced-base program must be made to conform to our strategic plans. When the fortunes of war change the shape of strategy this program must be readjusted to fit the revised strategic requirements. We must, for example, remain at all times prepared to shift material from one area that has become inactive into another which has become a principal theater of operations. It should be added that as the system of advance bases extends farther into the Pacific the expense of maintaining existing bases naturally tends to exceed the cost of new construction.
I have dealt at such length with the advanced bases program for two reasons. First, it absorbs such a large percentage of the proposed bill that it deserves special attention, and second, because it throws some light on the difficulties we face in preparing any estimates for the Navy's expenses under existing conditions. War is the province of the uncertain, and the uncertainities of war must necessarily be reflected in a bill which seeks to finance a war. I told you at the beginning of how our recommendations for this bill were based upon certain operating plans and programs. These plans and programs must, necessarily, rest in some part upon assumptions of the shape the war will take, assumptions which are really calculations made upon the best evidence and information we can obtain. Within the limits of the uncertainties of war we are reasonably sure that these assumptions are in general correct; that is, we think it is possible to arrive at reasonably accurate estimates of the total cost of the Navy for 1 year, granting that events proceed as we think they will. But it cannot be said that we can be equally sure of the accuracy of these assumptions in detail; that is, it is virtually impossible to guarantee within even fairly wide limits the amount to be spent on certain individual items in the coming year. Some of the projects included in the proposed bill may be proved unnecessary by the course of events, some may require less money than we have anticipated, while others may require more, and still others, now unthought of, may be introduced.
In this public-works authorization bill our method of providing for unforeseen requirements is to request authorization of the entire sum in one fund, the total amount of which will not exceed $1,515,623,000, but granting authority to the Secretary to vary the amounts for each class of work upward or downward as necessity dictates. This is the procedure previously established by the committee which has worked out in such manner that if ar unforeseen project of great urgency and importance arises, it can be undertaken by displacing a project of lesser urgency. This method permits a necessary latitude of action within the limits of the proposed bill.
I have emphasized the uncertainties that must be taken into account in preparing our estimates and the provisions made for rapid adjustment to these uncertainties. · You will want to know, I think, what steps are taken by the Navy to insure that within the limits of these uncertainties only the most necessary expenditures are included in the public-works projects presented to you. Before a public-works project reaches the committees of Congress it has passed through the following nine "screening” procedures:
1. Initiation of the projects in the field or in the bureau after determination of their importance to the war effort, whereupon preparation of the public-works program is drawn up by the cognizant bureau.
2. Submission of the public-works program to the Bureau of Yards and Docks.
3. Review of the public-works program of each bureau by the Bureau of Yards and Docks for submission to the Chief of Naval Operations for review as to military necessity.
4. Submission to the Secretary of the Navy. 5. Forwarding from the Secretary of the Navy to the Judge Advocate General, where the bill is formulated for authorization.
6. Submission to the Federal Bureau of the Budget for a statement that the bill is in conformance with the President's financial program.
7. Resubmission to the Judge Advocate General, who forwards the bill to the Speaker of the House, with carbon copies to the chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee and the chairman of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee.
8. After enactment of the authorization bill as law, the Bureau of Yards and Docks takes steps to initiate the appropriation bill. This is forwarded to the Navy Office of Budget and Reports and the Federal Bureau of the Budget for hearings and detailed justification by representatives of the cognizant bureaus.
9. The Bureau of the Budget prepares a letter of transmittal from the President, to the Appropriation Committees of the House and Senate, where hearings are conducted prior to the enactment of the appropriation bill as law.
Subsequent to the passage of the appropriation bill careful screening of each project is again made before work upon it is undertaken. It may be of interest to the committee to hear how this is done.
In accordance with directives of the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations, all projects requesting the release of public-works funds must be subjected to very careful scrutiny at several points during their processing. Such projects are usually initiated by the local commanding officers of stations and bases, the exception to this rule being when the bureaus themselves have a general over-all plan and initiate projects in accordance therewith. - In either event it is incumbent upon the originators to submit these projects through the appropriate naval district commandant or river command for review and coordination with other activities in the district. Projects must have justification of a very positive and definite nature, including certification that the proposed construction is of the most temporary nature copsistent with the purpose for which it is intended, that there are no availe ble Army or other facilíties which can be utilized or converted, and that the project is an absolute necessity for the successful prosecution of the war effort.
It frequently occurs that the commandant of the district can rearrange activities within the area in such a manner as to avoid the necessity of new construction. After the project is forwarded from the commandant to the cognizant bureau, it is again subjected to very careful examination in order so see that it is in compliance with the existing plans of the bureau and that it is necessary at the requested location. The request is then forwarded to the Bureau of Yards and Docks for preparation of plans and cost estimates. This Bureau is required to design construction which will be the minimum for the wartime purpose to be served, and is required to provide estimates of costs which are based upon their experience of the best prevailing prices for similar projects.
All projects are forwarded to the Chief of Naval Operations for approval as to the military features. The Chief of Naval Operations has as an adviser on these matters the Home Base Development Council, consisting of a rear admiral as senior member and seven other senior officers from various material divisions of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. This council has the responsibility of considering each project separately upon its own merits. At the regular meetings of the council, held three times weekly, representatives of the sponsoring bureau or command are required to appear before the council and give detailed justification and explanation of the projects under consideration. This council has the obligation to determine that projects are in conformity with current logistics plans and that the proposed construction will be accomplished soon enough to fulfill its desired mission. In this fashion it is possible to eliminate a number of proposed projects and to alter or reduce others to a very large extent.
The recommendations of the council are embodied in correspondence forwarding projects to the Secretary of the Navy requesting allocation of funds. Since July 1944 the Secretary has had available the services and advice of the Committee on Public Works Projects. This committee makes a study of all the correspondence and frequently makes on-the-spot investigations of the area where the construction is proposed. The Secretary's committee, which is mainly a civilian committee, is concerned not so much with the military features, but rather in seeing that the projects are in accordance with the best business practice and are not contrary to the general public welfare.
From the foregoing description it can be seen that every care is taken at every stage of the public-works program to insure that only the most necessary and most urgent projects are undertaken. I should, before concluding, like to emphasize that this program, together with the advance base procurement program, is one essential part of the total naval program for the fiscal year 1946. The effectiveness of our proposed operations depends directly upon the shore based support provided for in this authorization bill.
A brief description of each of the categories of the projects is as follows: Ship-repair and laying-up facilities, $230,220,000.
The projects under the heading fall into the following classes:
(a) Expansion of west coast naval repair facilities to handle the work expected to develop out of the war in the Pacific.
(6) Improvement of existing naval facilities to permit their most effective use for the work of ship repair. This includes the conversion of existing shipbuilding facilities.
H. Repts., 79–1, vol1-3