Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
<January 31, 1918>
Cablegram Received February 04102 SFM
Origin Opnav Washington. Ser. No. 2627
2627. Information. Present prospects indicate that your force will be increased as follows: By Feb. 15th 3 new destroyers, March 15th 4 older destroyers, April 1st 2 new destroyers, 2 older destroyers, May 1st 5 new, June 1st 5 new, 2 older, July 1st 6 to 8 old, Aug 1st 8 older, Sept 1st 8 older, after Sept.1st at rate of 8 to 10 per month.1
16 submarines should be available by May 1st and 12 more by Aug. 1st but before sending more Department desires further information regarding usefullness those already sent. 12 submarine chasers should arrive by March 15th and thereafter at rate of 20 month to total of 144, with parent ship for each 36. These craft will require a large amount gasoline and will be very dependent upon shore facilities Oll [i.e., Oil] capacity 2500 gallons useing about 3 gallons per mile.
Programs for delivery special type eighteen knots four hundred tons destroyers under construction by Ford Company is 10 by Aug. 1st then at rate of 20 month to total of 100. Naval Constructor MacBride now enroute has full details.2
In addition to U.S.S.PROMETHEUS U.S.S. BRIDGEPORT should arrive by March 15th U.S.S. BUFFALO by June 1st U.S.S. SAVANNAH, submarine tender, by May 1st. U.S.S.LEONIDAS April 1st, U.S.S. HANNIBAL May 1st, as parent ship for submarine chasers. 6 tugs and 2 yachts will be ready by March 1st and 7 tugs by May 1st, all to be used in moving submarine chasers.3
As matter of policy Department desires maintain our bases as mobile as possible. Necessity of Housing excessive stores and personnel ashore in order to cover period between store ships arrival and to permit continuous work on parent ship is recognized.
It is understood that small French Navy Yards L’Orient and Rochefort might be taken over and operated by our personnel and enrolled labor.
As long as mobile bases in form of available parent ships are utilized to maximum extent. Department will approve taking over French Yards, providing personnel and equipment is kept within absolute needs.
It seems that output of parent ships could be greatly increased by temporarily housing personnel ashore and increasing repair force so that shops could work 24 hours.4
Based on above information, submit minimum requirements for bases, supplies, and fuel, facilities in order to insure maximum operative effeciency [i.e., efficiency] of officers as they become available. 22031.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. There is some confusion as to the date of this document. A handwritten addition and the time stamp before the signature indicate it should be dated 31 January, however, the copy bears a date of “February 04102” or February 2. The editors have decided to use a date of 31 January 1918.
Footnote 1: Sims had already indicated that he believed that the Navy would be unable to keep to this time table and he was correct. See: Sims to Lewis Bayly, 31 January 1918.
Footnote 2: The ships listed by name here were all tenders/repair ships. DANFS.
Footnote 3: Benson was presumably referring to the Eagle-class boats of which the Ford Company built sixty, although only seven by the time the war ended. The Eagle boats are considered patrol boats and are smaller than destroyers. Frank A. Cianflone, “The Eagle Boats of World War I,” United States Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 99, no. 844 (June, 1973), 76-80.
Footnote 4: The idea of operating repair shops twenty-four hours a day, was suggested by Sims. See: Sims to Josephus Daniels, 8 January 1918.