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Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

File 11-5-4

CABLEGRAM RECEIVED. April <1,> 07202 <1918.>     WHH  Ser. No. 4475

Ref’d to

C-1       2 April

 25-D                   VERY SECRET


Opnav, 4475. “Situation regarding USS LEVIATHAN most unsatisfactory as regards routing to Liverpool England. Unless active steps are taken nothing will be accomplished. Necessity for actually putting troops into France is one which will admit no delay or temporizing over difficulties attendant thereupon. If USS LEVIATHAN runs to Brest France she can make round trips in from 18 to 20 days. On present schedule she takes over 40 days besides going through a more dangerous zone. All of difficulties cited your 56351 can be met except coal and the Army can handle troops. Divert for the purpose of building up coal reserves sufficient to coal U.S.S. LEVIATHAN either the USCT CROWELL or 1 of the 2 ships of Lake type assigned to mine operations northern barrage, make best arrangements possible for berth U.S.S. LEVIATHAN for on next voyage she will be routed to that port. Matters of converting a few boilers to burn oil under consideration.” Acknowledge. 18001 4475


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. In accordance with Benson’s wishes, Leviathan began direct runs the Brest beginning in April 1918, delivering up to 14,000 troops on each voyage to France. For more on Leviathan and its operations throughout 1918 (and beyond), see, Brent I. Holt, SS Leviathan: America’s First Superliner (Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press, 2009).

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