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great worth," said Representative Roberts. "Is it not a fair assumption that we have been negligent ?"
The admiral said the United States had been behind the time in the development of air craft and submarine mines though he would not say that as to submarines. He thought it would be wise to have a liberal appropriation this year for submarine mines, aerial craft, "and auxiliary weapons of that character."
Eighteen Battleships There.
Representative Roberts plied the witness with questions regarding the mobilization of the Atlantic fleet after withdrawal from the Mexican waters. Admiral Fletcher said the largest number of battleships in Mexican waters at any time was 18, with 6 or 7 cruisers.
"What was the millitary necessity of keeping all those there, when the port was occupied bij the American authorities and there was no Mexican fleet ?" asked Mr. Roberts.
"Pd rather not answer that question," replied the admiral.
"You have 21 eflective battleships?"
"If you received orders to prepare for war how long would it take you ?" asked Mr. Roberts.
"In emergency," replied the admiral, "some vessels would be made ready today, others tomorrow, and all within a week. We have some in the navy yards undergoing repairs, but they could rendezvous within that time."
Naval Personnel is High.
Discussing the navy personnel, Admiral Fletcher said:
"It has never been any higher than it is today. The ships individually are in a high state of efficiency, as high as they ever have been, and if there is any criticism at all it is because of lack of the usual opportunity to have the ships take their drill exercises together, due to the fleet being busy in Mexico and the West Indies."
"Don't you think if we are to go on struggling for foreign trade, particularly South American trade, we ought to continue the construction of our navy?" asked Representative Talbott.
"Certainly, if your commercial interests are to conflict with other nations you will need your fleet," was the response.
Daniels' Report BroughtUp. Secretary Daniel's report embodying a statement of the general board of the navy that the lack of a definite naval policy already had placed the United States "in a position of inferiority that may lead to war" was brought up. The admiral was asked if he agreed with that view. Explaining that the general board has no "recognized official status," he replied that there was no doubt of the great advantage of a definite naval policy to any country. He explained, however, that he did not mean to infer that the policy of building three battleships one year and two another year would lead the United States to war.
Looks to Di sar mam ent. Representative Butler expressed the hope the President of the United States would take steps after the European war to secure an international agreement for disarmament, and said that with that purpose in mind it was contradictory to continue construction of great vessels of destruction. Admiral Fletcher agreed that it would be a very opportune time after the war in Europe is over to bring up that question — the best opportunity was ever had.