Rear Admiral Herbert O. Dunn, Commander, United States Naval Forces Based in the Azores, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
My dear Sims
Just a line to tell you I’m on the job. I am sending you an article which the Governor had printed concerning our first interview.1 As we have not recognized the Lisbon Government I have had to camouflage my diplomatic dealings and make them unofficial.2 To deal with the authorities and yet not recognize them -- I had to tread softly in some spots -- the lending of the guns I had to compromise by telling them I would be pleased to teach the native troops how to use such high powered and intricate guns and as soon as they became proficient in their use they could man them. I doubt if they ever become proficient.
Regarding repair ship. This is indeed a trouble port and a harbor of refuge. Ships generally arrive in a battered condition and unable to proceed further. The shore facilities are overtaxed besides being slow. The weather here is always bad from January to April. If you wish to expedite the convoys a repair ship during the winter months is an absolute necessity.
A sea going tug is also urgent. Last night K 6 broke down and I have sent one of Boyd’s3 tugs after her. Things like that happen often and our allied merchant ships with valuable cargoes are constantly in trouble.
I regard these two matters of prime importance. Gibraltar as a repair base is no use to me -- the ships can’t get there, that I have to deal with.
I try to hustle the convoys along but under the present conditions things do not go fast enough for me.
Boyd’s crowd has been unduly delayed by searching for 319 for ten days, -- no luck. I have appointed a board of Investigation for 28 and 319.
I am going to place one gun to protect the Radio Station and one to defend the harbor. Radio will not be ready before June, that is the station. I will get both guns in positionas soon as possible. The Governor has just resigned because Lisbon insisted on his appointing some officials here which he considered unfit. I am sorry because I had him well in hand. I may have to do my work all over again.
With best wishes,
Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 23. Document reference: “1/5/J.” Document is from: “Admiral Sim’s Personal File.”
Footnote 1: The referred to article was not enclosed. The Portuguese Governor of Ponta del Gada at this time is unknown, though secondary sources report that he enjoyed extremely good relations with Dunn. Still, Crisis at Sea: 134-139; Seward W. Livermore, “The Azores in American Strategy-Diplomacy” The Journal of Modern History 20 no. 3 (Sept. 1948), 197-211.
Footnote 2: Pro-German Portuguese Gen. Sidonio Paes staged a coup in Lisbon on 5 December 1917, and acted as military dictator for the remainder of the war. Although he did not withdraw Portugal from the Allies, the Wilson Administration informed him that the United States would not recognize his government until it had been validated by elections. International Encyclopedia of World War I, “Portugal”; Livermore, “The Azores in American Strategy-Diplomacy”: 205.
Footnote 3: Cmdr. David F. Boyd commanded a flotilla of armed yachts.