In the January issue, the status of the naval engineer took longer to resolve than he indicates. Until 1899 engineers were in a separate corps from line officers. The crucial boost for the amalgamation of the two corps was provided by then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy “Teddy” Roosevelt, who declared:
“Every officer on a modem war vessel in reality has to be an engineer whether he wants to or not.”
“What is needed is one homogeneous body, all of whose members are trained for the efficient performance of the duties of the modem line officer.”
Congress wrote the change into law in March 1899. Henceforth, all naval cadets were to be trained for both kinds of duty. Engineer Corps officers above the rank of commander were designated for shore duty only, while the others were given the option of taking two years to pass the examination for line status. Many chose to retire instead. The technical functions of ship and machinery design were reserved for line officers selected for advanced education-what is now the Engineering Duty (EDO) Corps. As Lt. Hong’s article and the several comments indicate, the issue has continued to rear its head ever since.
Mr. John D. Alden