dentists, physicians assistants, hospital corpsmen,
and dental technicians, as well as a large number
THE CHAPLAIN CORPS
The Constitution of the United States guar-
antees free exercise of religion to all its citizens.
However, military personnel often find themselves
stationed far from their traditional religious
communities. Therefore, Congress authorized the
establishment of the Navy Chaplain Corps to
provide for the religious needs of personnel of the
Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Com-
manding officers have the responsibility to ensure
this constitutional right for each person in their
command. Navy chaplains are accountable to
their commanding officers for the pastoral care
of personnel of all faiths.
Though commissioned as an officer, the
chaplain is first ordained as a member of the
clergy in one of the religious bodies of the country.
The wearing of the naval uniform is believed to
enhance the chaplains effectiveness in ministering
within and to the military organization. The
itself, indicates the chaplains
responsibility to the naval service and the Nation.
The insignia worn, the Cross or the Tablets of the
Law, identifies a person as a chaplain. It also
emphasizes the chaplains responsibility to church
and spiritual values.
Standards for appointment as a chaplain are
high. Each appointee must be physically qualified.
Each must have completed at least 120 semester
hours of undergraduate study in an accredited
college or university and a minimum of 90
semester hours in an approved theological school.
Before the appointment can be made, the chaplain
must be duly ordained and provided with an
ecclesiastical endorsement by his or her own
As religious leaders, chaplains advise the
commanding officer on all matters pertaining to
the moral, spiritual, and religious welfare of
Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard personnel.
Chaplains always conduct divine services
according to the customs, traditions, and
regulations of their own church. Frequently called
upon to provide religious services for those of
other faiths, however, they must minister to the
needs of people of all faiths. Their responsibilities
include inviting appropriate clergy aboard,
training lay readers,
and providing proper
material and ecclesiastical support. Each chaplain
should use ideas, techniques, and methods that
will help all command personnel grow spiritually
and develop good character.
Navy chaplains have long upheld the tradition
of ensuring free exercise of religion by providing
moral and spiritual support and guidance. Often
chaplains devote the bulk of their efforts to
pastoral care and pastoral counseling. In giving
pastoral care, chaplains try to reflect the heart of
God in their actions. They serve as agents through
which God imparts healing, spiritual renewal,
and unconditional love. In pastoral counseling,
chaplains help personnel resolve domestic
problems as well as personal issues and crises. In
addition, chaplains conduct regular worship
services; provide religious educational opportuni-
and perform baptisms, confirmations,
marriages, and other sacraments and ordinances.
Chaplains serve at sea on a normal rotational
basis. Some are assigned directly to ships
companies. Others become circuit riders who
meet the needs of those on small ships and stations
or at widely dispersed units. For example, a
chaplain assigned to minister to destroyer
personnel will serve many ships operating over
great distances. Over 50 percent of the Navy
chaplains are assigned to sea or overseas billets.
In addition, Navy chaplains serve major tactical
and support units of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Approximately 20 percent of the total number of
active-duty chaplains are attached to Marine
Corps units at any given time. Ashore, three or
more chaplains may be assigned to larger Navy,
Marine Corps, and Coast Guard stations. Many
of these stations have well-equipped chapels and
educational facilities (fig. 13-2).
Chaplains serve in commissioned grades from
lieutenant (junior grade) through captain. Their
promotions are based on the same precepts and
regulations governing all other naval officer
promotions. The Chaplain Corps is directed by
the Chief of Chaplains, a rear admiral.
JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERALS
The American Fleet was authorized in 1775,
and the Department of the Navy was established
by an act of Congress in 1798. However, the Navy
had no official legal counsel until well into the
In 1864, because of contract frauds arising
under Civil War naval programs, Secretary of the
Navy Gideon Welles created the position of
Solicitor for the Navy Department. The quickly