--200--

11th Congress.]

No. 77.

[1st Session.

REPAIRING FRIGATES; EXPENSES OF KEEPING IN SERVICE EACH CLASS OF VESSELS; AND A COMPARATIVE STATEMENT OF THE COST OF BUILDING AND MAINTAINING IN SERVICE A FRIGATE AND GUNBOAT.

COMMUNICATED TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JUNE 12, 1809.

Navy Department, 9th June, 1809.

Sir:

I have received your letter of yesterday's date, and, in reply, have the honor to state: 1st. That the cost of repairing each of the frigates now lying at the Navy Yard, Washington, cannot be estimated with any degree of precision, until each frigate shall have been thoroughly examined in her hull, masts, spars, rigging, sails, water casks, &c. and the precise state of each particular ascertained. I some time since directed such examination to be made, and reported to me, but this has as yet been only partially done; and being apprehensive that some days may elapse before I shall have it in my power to afford satisfactory information upon this subject, I have supposed that, in the mean time, it would be agreeable to the committee to receive information upon the other points of your letter, and therefore proceed to state:

2dly. That the difference between keeping each of the public armed vessels in service, for six months, from this time, and laying them up in ordinary immediately, circumstanced as they now are, their crews being generally in debt for advances of money and clothes made to them, and their supplies of provisions, and, in a great measure, all their other supplies being now actually on board, would be from three to four months' pay of their respective crews; that isó

For a 44

gun frigate,

about

$17,000

36

do.

do.

15,000

32

do.

do.

12,000

16

gun brig,

7,000

14

gun schooner,

5,000

In replying to your third query, requiring "a comparative statement or the building and the annual expense of maintaining a gun on board a frigate and a gunboat," it is necessary to suppose a particular case. I will take the frigate President, mounting fifty-six guns; forty-two pound carronades, and twenty-four pound long cannon.

This frigate cost two hundred and twenty thousand nine hundred and ten dollars and eight cents, say, two hundred and twenty-one thousand dollars. A gunboat, carrying two guns, will cost 12,000 dollars. A gunboat, carrying one gun, will cost about nine thousand dollars. The frigate will require four hundred and twenty men to man her, and can be maintained, in actual service, at an annual expense less than one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, including the pay of officers and seamen, provisions, repairs, medicine, contingencies, and every other expense of every description. A gunboat, mounting one or two guns, will require forty-five men to man her, and cannot be maintained in actual service, at an annual expense less than eleven thousand seven hundred dollars, including every expense. It hence results that the building of nineteen gunboats, each carrying two guns, and carrying thirty-eight guns in the whole, would cost more than the building of a frigate mounting fifty-six guns; that the building of twenty-five gunboats, each mounting one gun, would cost more than the building of a frigate mounting fifty-six guns; that the number of men, required for a frigate mounting fifty-six guns, would not be sufficient to man ten gunboats carrying, in the one case, twenty guns, in the other case, ten guns; that, to fight fifty-six guns, on board of twenty-eight gunboats, would require twelve hundred and sixty men; and to fight them, dispersed in fifty-six gunboats, would require two thousand five hundred and twenty men; and that two thousand five hundred and twenty men employed on board of frigates, mounting each fifty-six guns, and each requiring four hundred and twenty men, can fight three hundred and thirty-six guns, consisting of forty-two pound carronades, and twenty-four pound long cannon.

With respect to the expense per gun, it appears that fifty-six guns, mounted on board of a frigate, can be maintained at an annual expense less than one hundred and twenty thousand dollars; that the annual expense per gun, on board of a gunboat carrying two guns, will be five thousand eight hundred and fifty; and on board of a gunboat carrying one gun, eleven thousand seven hundred per annum; that the difference between the annual expense of fighting fifty-six guns on board of a frigate, and twenty-eight gunboats, carrying fifty-six guns, is two hundred and seven thousand six hundred dollars; and that the difference in the annual expense of fighting fifty-six guns on board of a frigate, and fifty-six gunboats carrying each one gun, is five hundred and thirty-five thousand two hundred dollars.

The annual expense of keeping the gunboats (other than those now in service, and those yet on the stocks) in ordinary, would be about sixty-four thousand dollars.

As to the saving already made by laying up these boats in ordinary, it is impossible at this time precisely to ascertain it, as the Department is not informed of the day on which each boat was laid up. I can only, at this time, form a conjecture as to the amount, which is supposed to be equal to one month's pay of the crews discharged; that is, about eighteen thousand dollars.

I am, with great respect, sir, your obedient servant,

PAUL HAMILTON.

Richard Cutts, Esq. Chairman of a Committee of the House of Representatives.