1. Purpose. This
section presents a brief history of the Naval Inspector General. It
illustrates that the concept of a Naval Inspector General is both relatively
new for the Navy, and that its roles and missions have continuously changed
and evolved over time. Prior to the issuance of this manual, the Department
of the Navy did not possess a codified set of systems and concepts to govern
its Inspector General mission. To fully understand why the establishment of
a formal Naval Inspector General Program is desirable, it is important to
have an understanding of the history of the growth and development of the
function of an Inspector General within the Navy.
2. Origins of the
Naval Inspector General. Shortly after the outbreak of the
Revolutionary War, both the Continental Congress and American military
commanders recognized the need to employ the services of an Inspector
General within the continental Army. The first 'effective' military
Inspector General for the United States was 'Baron' Wilhelm Friedrich von
Steuben, who was appointed to the post on April 30, 1778 by General George
Washington, and subsequently confirmed by Congress on May 5, 1778.
The United States Navy
was founded by Congress in the Naval Act of 1794. On April 30, 1798, the
Department of the Navy was separated from the War Department. When the Navy
left the War Department, “the concept of using an Inspector General to
improve [the Department] by securing uniformity of practices was not carried
over from the War Department.” Commanding officers, both afloat and ashore,
were responsible for conducting their own inspections and investigations, as
well as ensuring their own unit's material and combat readiness.
On February 2,
1815, Congress enacted a law that created the Board of Naval Commissioners.
This act was designed to relieve the Secretary of the Navy of many of the
day-to-day functions of the Navy by providing oversight of naval materials
and supplies. The board consisted of three senior 'Post-Captains.' The most
senior Captain served as the Board President, and was given the title of
for his tenure as President. Specifically, the Board oversaw the
equipping, repair, and preservation of naval vessels; and dealt with all
Navy yards and stations. The Board of Naval Commissioners would
continue to serve in this capacity until it was disbanded on August 31,
To replace the Board,
the Navy established the Bureau System. Different Bureaus were
established to deal with different enterprises within the Navy. For
example, the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (today most often referred
to as BUMED) was established to oversee all Navy medical issues. Future
Bureaus would include the Bureau of Personnel (BUPERS), the Bureau of
Ships, and the Bureau of Ordnance. Each Bureau was in charge of
conducting its own inspections and investigations. These inquiries took
the form of auditing accounts, inspecting supplies, and inspecting
material under procurement within that Bureau’s cognizance.
Officially, the Bureau system would last until 1966, when most Bureaus
were converted into Systems Commands.
During the Civil War,
the U.S. Navy underwent growth and expansion that was unprecedented at
that time in American history. On the eve of the Civil War in 1861, the
U.S. Navy had 90 vessels. By the end of the war, the number had risen
to 671 vessels. The breadth of the Navy’s growth concerned not only the
number of ships, but also the technologies and tactics employed by naval
vessels. In order to keep up with the Navy’s expansion, the Board of
Inspection and Survey was formed on March 16, 1869. The original
purpose of the Board was to prevent spending money on ships that were no
longer serviceable, and to prevent new construction from being stalled.
At first, the
new Board was responsible for personnel, material, and military
inspections. In its earliest configurations, the Board also had
intelligence and advisory functions. However, the Board lost many of
these functions over time and soon concentrated solely on the military
value and readiness of ships.
In particular, the Board of Inspection and Survey concentrated solely on
inspecting the material conditions of vessels, particularly for
deficiencies and to determine seaworthiness after battle damage or
The Board if Inspection and Survey is still in commission today, though
it is best known by its acronym, INSURV
For over a
century, and throughout World War I and the inter war years, the
Navy did not have a centralized investigative arm. This was in
sharp contrast to both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, both of
which had established offices of Inspectors General. Each Bureau
continued to inspect and investigate matters within its own
Events during the
early stages of World War II would soon drive the U.S. Navy to
establish an Office of the Inspector General of its own. In 1940,
the French ocean-liner SS Normandie sought refuge from the
fighting in Europe in New York City. Normandie was one of
the world's fastest and largest ocean liners at the time.
Following the fall of France later that year, the United States
seized Normandie and renamed the ship USS Lafayette
(AP-53); and decided to convert her into a fast troop transport
ship. In February 1942, while undergoing conversion in New York
Harbor, USS Lafayette caught fire and subsequently capsized.
While only one person was killed in the disaster, the loss of such a
prestigious and well-known ship was a tremendous embarrassment to
the Navy. Congress launched an investigation into the disaster to
determine if the ship's loss was an act of foreign sabotage or
merely negligence. In its report, Congress expressed frustration
with the multiple investigative agencies within the Navy. The
committee felt that the Navy Department needed an office of
Inspector General to "be charged with the duty of keeping Congress
and the Secretary of the Navy informed as to the conditions of the
The Office of the
Naval Inspector General was formally established on May 18, 1942,
per General Order Number 173.
RADM Charles P.
Snyder (later ADM) was the first officer named as Inspector General.
The staff included one deputy and three assistant inspectors.
The Naval Inspector General began the tradition of drafting subject
matter experts from other staffs and commands to conduct its
inspections and investigations. The office served throughout WWII
as a 'troubleshooting' unit for the CNO by conducting inquiries and
reporting on all matters which affected the efficiency and economy
of the Navy; and by conducting inspections and investigations into
any naval matter as required by the Secretary of the Navy, CNO,
Congress, or by law.