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jects, it is doubtful whether it is necessary to continue this squadron as a permanent force, anywhere along the African shore; and it is accordingly proposed that notice be given to the British Government of the termination, on our part, of the VIIIth Article of the Treaty above mentioned, as therein provided. It is believed that Brazil and the Spanish West India Islands are the only countries to which slaves have been imported, in any considerable numbers, for many years past; and by strengthening the squadron on the coast of Brazil, and requiring of its vessels periodical visits to the coast of Africa, the traffic can probably be more effectually checked, than by keeping up the squadron on the African coast; while in regard to the Spanish West Indies, the vessels of the home squadron will suffice to prevent the use of our flag for its protection among them.
The climate of the African shores is notoriously insalubrious, and the health and comfort of the officers and crews would be greatly promoted by the change proposed.
The squadron on the coast of Brazil, Commodore McKeever still being in command, consists of the frigate Congress, the flag-ship of the squadron, Captain McIntosh; the sloop-of-war Jamestown, Captain Downing; the brig Bainbridge, Lieutenant Commanding Manning; and the store-ship Relief, Lieutenant Commanding Thatcher. Orders, however, have been despatched, directing the Bainbridge to relieve the brig Perry in the African squadron, which, owing to the approaching termination of the enlistment of her crew, has been ordered to return to The United States.
The general duties assigned to this squadron, in giving protection to our commerce and interests between the mouth of the Amazon river and Cape Horn; in preventing the use of the American flag to cover the African Slave Trade, and in enforcing our neutral rights and relations in the state of hostilities which have long prevailed between the Argentine Republic and the Banda Oriental, and more recently between the former and Brazil, appear to have been zealously and faithfully performed, and the reports of its commander are quite satisfactory.
The Pacific squadron, Commodore McCauley commanding, consists of his flag-ship the frigate Raritan, Commander McKean; the frigate St. Lawrence, Captain Dulaney; the sloops-of-war St. Mary's, Commander Magrudor; Vandalia, Commander Gardner; Falmouth, Commander Pearson; Vincennes, Commander Hudson; Portsmouth, Commander Dornin; Warren, unseaworthy and used as a store-ship; the steamer Massachusetts, Lieutenant Commanding Knox; the store-ship Lexington, Lieutenant Commanding Radford; and the store-ship Southampton, Lieutenant Commanding Turner.
The frigate Savannah, Captain Page, recently returned from this station in consequence of the expiration of the time of service of her
crew, and the Falmouth is supposed to be likewise on her homeward voyage. These will be replaced, respectively, by the frigate St. Lawrence and the sloop-of-war Portsmouth, about to proceed to the Pacific.
The several vessels of this squadron have been constantly and usefully employed in appropriate service. The flag-ship and the Vincennes have visited the principal ports on the American coast from Oregon to Chili. The Vandalia has made several visits to the Sandwich Islands, at periods when the presence of a man-of-war was highly essential to our interests in that kingdom, and the Falmouth and St. Mary's, in addition to touching at ports on the main land and the Sandwich Islands, have extended their cruising to the Society, Marquesas and Fejee Islands.
The necessity of maintaining at all times an effective fleet in that ocean, and of adapting our naval laws and system to the new requirements of the service, in consequence of our settlements in California and Oregon, was urged in my last annual communication, and cannot too early engage the attention of Congress.
The squadron for the East India and China seas, Commodore Aulick commanding, comprehends his flag-ship the steam-frigate Susquehanna; the sloops-of-war Plymouth, Commander Kelly; Saragota, Commander Walker; and Marion, Commander Glendy. The two vessels last named are on their station; the two former are on the voyage out. The Marion will be relieved on their arrival, and return home by way of the Cape of Good Hope, bringing, it is expected, valuable varieties of the seed or root of the sugar-cane, and also of the tea plant, collected under the orders of the department for distribution in the sections of our country adapted to their cultivation. The Dolphin, Lieutenant Commanding T. J. Page, which had been attached to this squadron, returned to The United States by way of Cape Horn in the month of June.
The Susquehanna, which is one of the new war-steamers built under the provisions of the Act of Congress of the 3rd of March, 1847, sailed from Norfolk in June last, by way of Rio de Janeiro, conveying to that place his Excellency M. Macedo, late Minister of the Emperor of Brazil to this country; the Honourable R. C. Schenck, United States Minister Plenipotentiary to Brazil; and the Honourable J. S. Pendleton, Chargé d'Affaires to the Argentine Republic. She arrived at Rio de Janeiro with some derangements in her machinery and equipments, but these were repaired without much delay; and when last heard from she was about to depart, by way of the Cape of Good Hope, for her ultimate destination.
A favourable impression for our interests and commerce is expected to be created in the peculiar countries of the East, by the
addition of this new and well-appointed steam-frigate to our squadron in that region.
The steamer Michigan, Commander Bullus, has continued to cruise on the upper lakes for the protection and assistance of our trading vessels on those waters, and has on several occasions furnished important assistance to the civil officers in arresting and bringing to justice combinations of persons charged with offences against the laws of The United States.
In this review of the sea service of our cruisers, I have the satisfaction to announce, that in all quarters of the globe their reception and treatment have been not only respectful, but cordial; and that not merely the interests of commerce, but international peace and friendship, are likely to be promoted by these visits of our armed vessels, and the display of our flag on foreign shores.
The expedition under Lieutenant Commanding De Haven, to the Arctic Seas, in search of the British Commander Sir John Franklin and his companions, returned to the port of New York in October, having discovered only supposed traces of the objects of which it was in quest, and leaving in entire uncertainty their actual fate. The vessels of the expedition proceeded in the direction where, in the opinion of the best informed officers, the missing navigators are to be sought, and on which the traces in question were found. Though failing in the main object of their search, Lieutenant De Haven and his officers verified, by their explorations, many facts before unknown to science, but indicated in the course of the investigations carried on at the naval observatory, concerning the winds and currents of the ocean, and to which reference was made in the instructions for the expedition.
In this expedition, the officers and men were all volunteers. In its prosecution they encountered the greatest dangers and hardships. To mention a single example, their vessels were caught by the ice and frozen up in the open sea. In this perilous situation they were confined for 9 months, and drifted to and fro in the ice for more than 1000 miles. By the skill of the officers, and the mercy of a superintending Providence, they were released from this cold imprisonment and restored to their country and friends,—not a man having been lost in the expedition. They have received no other pay than would have been their due on a cruise to Naples or the Levant, and I respectfully suggest that they be allowed the same pay and emoluments that were granted to those in like positions in the late exploring expedition to the South Seas.
Mr. Henry Grinnell, the owner of the vessels employed by Lieutenant De Haven, has generously offered them for another cruise in search of Sir John Franklin, should Congress think proper to authorize a second expedition.
The Act of Congress of March 3, 1849, authorized the employment of 3 small vessels of the navy in testing new routes on the ocean, pointed out by the Superintendent of the Observatory on his wind and current charts, and in collecting information to enable him to perfect these charts. After the return of the brig Dolphin, as already mentioned, she was fitted out and detailed on this service, under the command of Lieutenant S. P. Lee, an officer of great experience and intelligence as a surveyor and hydrographer, and interesting and valuable results are expected from the cruise.
At the instance of the executive committee of citizens of The United States, desiring to send forward specimens of the productions of American genius, skill, and labour to the great industrial Exhibition in London, this year, the frigate St. Lawrence was, with the approbation of the President, despatched thither from the port of New York, under the command of Commander Sands, to transport the articles for exhibition, free of charge. It is hoped that the triumphs of our countrymen in the competitions for prizes, in the inventions pertaining to agriculture alone, the most ancient and useful art known to man, will justify the countenance and liberality thus shown to them by the Government. On her return, the St. Lawrence conveyed our Chargé d'Affaires in Portugal from Southampton to Lisbon, and in the ports both of England and Por tugal was received with demonstrations of respect and hospitality.
The number of officers of the navy employed during the present year on the coast survey, was 90. Having communicated to Congress, at its last session, my opinion that, in consideration of the nature of this work and the connexion of the officers of the navy with it, the public interests would be promoted by the transfer of its conduct and supervision to this department, I have but to repeat the conviction then expressed, as strengthened by more mature
In pursuance of the intention expressed in my last annual report, a board of engineers of the army was, at my request, detailed to make a survey and examination of the Memphis navy-yard, with a view to overcome a difficulty which had been encountered in finding solid foundations for the buildings of the yard. The report of this board, of which a copy is appended, affords an interesting discussion of the question involved, and will merit the attention of Congress.
The large stone dock at the Brooklyn navy yard, which has been 10 years in progress, was so far completed, with all its appendages, in August last, as to be surrendered up to the Commandant of the yard. Its entire cost, as shown in the report of the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, has been 2,146,255 dollars.
The floating sectional dock, basin, and railway at Philadelphia, has likewise been reported as ready for delivery; but owing to the
want of a sufficient depth of water immediately adjacent to the basin, the experiment required of raising a vessel for the purpose of testing these works, could not be made. Dredging operations are now going on to remedy this defect, and the test is expected to be made within the month of December.
The floating balance dock, basin, and railway at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is also expected to be finished, and tested within a short time thereafter.
The balance dock, basin, and railway at Pensacola, has not progressed as rapidly as was expected, and may not be in readiness for delivery before the ensuing summer.
Agreeably to the Act of the last session of Congress, a modified contract was entered into with Messrs. Dakin and Moody, and Gilbert and Secor, for the construction of a floating sectional dock on the bay of San Francisco, to be completed and delivered for the sum of 610,000 dollars. This work is understood to be in a course of speedy execution, the contract requiring its completion in 2 years from the month of May last. Its precise location cannot be determined until the selection of a site for a navy yard on the waters of that bay, for which purpose a commission will be sent out early in the ensuing spring. It will be necessary to provide a pier or basin to render this dock capable of use. The location of the dock having not yet been determined, the Department postpones the question of preference between these 2 structures, until the report of the proposed board shall be received and full local information obtained.
It being generally expected and desired by the owners of American merchant vessels, that the use of the dock in question shall be allowed for the repairs of such vessels when not required for ships of war, it is proposed that Congress shall determine the proper regu lations for the purpose, and direct whether the dock and fixtures shall be leased with that view, or whether the Government shall carry on the work through its own agents, and on what terms.
The necessity of a navy yard and station on that coast is so obvious, as well to secure and work the dock, as for general naval purposes in those waters, as to need no illustration. I therefore recommend that Congress shall authorize such an establishment there, and make adequate appropriations therefor.
According to the authority conferred on the Department, and an appropriation of a sum not exceeding 80,000 dollars for that subject, a contract was concluded with Messrs. Wells and Gowan, of Boston, to remove the wreck of the steam-frigate Missouri from the bay of Gibraltar, for the sum of 59,000 dollars. Security was taken for the fulfilment of the contract, and the contractors are engaged in the work with no doubt, on their part, of success.
Of the 4 war-steamers, rated as frigates, directed to be built by