- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
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- June 2003 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The intricate mechanism of the modern ship – be it battleship, destroyer or submarine – requires such delicate handling and intimate technical knowledge, that the ‘fool’ would soon find himself hopelessly out of his depth and incapable of ‘carrying on.’
The bulk of executive naval officers may be divided into two classes, the Specialists and those who are commonly known as ‘salt horse.’ The former are those who, when promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, specialise in Gunnery, Torpedo, Engineering, &c. The Specialists (say, 30 per cent of the whole) are, generally speaking the ‘highbrows of the Navy,’ and need brains.
The remainder do not require the same knowledge of ‘x and y’ but a liberal amount of initiative and good sound seamanlike common sense.
It will thus be gauged from the foregoing remarks that at least 30 per cent of the boys who enter the Royal Australian Naval College each year must, of necessity, be above the average from an educational point of view, and the rest certainly not the ‘fools of the family.’ Of course the latter are eliminated in the educational examination which takes place prior to the interviewing test for suitability. Boys who successfully pass the educational examination – which is carefully designed with this specific object in view – may be duly considered to be suitable for entry, as far as the educational standard is concerned.
The Selection Committee tours the different States and sees each one of these boys individually; about three-quarters of an hour is devoted to each boy. It is extremely difficult to put on paper the exact type of boy required. A boy may be exceptionally brilliant as a scholar, and yet be quite hopeless from the naval officer standpoint.
A bright, smart, cheery boy, fond of games and open-air life, with a leaning towards the sea as a profession; alert and full of joie de vivre, even with a spice of mischief in him; imbued with a sense of honest straightforward manliness, who would not stoop to prevaricate in order to escape punishment; a strong-minded boy of good moral courage; capable of ‘taking charge,’ who will not be likely to lose his head in an emergency; quick to act and do the right thing; good physique – this is what is wanted, the ideal type.
The sensitive; the highly strung; the prosy, slow, poetical type; the bookworm; the effeminate; the boy without ambition, who is content to float along with the crowd; the boy lacking initiative, energy and vitality; the boy who is inordinately fond of home life; the sly type who confuses illicit acuteness with cleverness; the boy who never plays games, but prefers to mope indoors over a book – these are not wanted.