Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

Chronological Copy.                              File No.

Cablegram Received  Jan: 19015 <January 15, 1918.> IT

Origin   Opnav Washington                         Serial No.

     [M-4 16?] Jan.

     27 ADR               VERY SECRET

          Simsadus.

2213. The U.S.S. AYLWIN is fitted with Fessendan listening device and has on board Mr. Pierce civilian expert on device.1 It is desired that apparatus be given good test under war conditions and report made._19015.

Benson.       

 

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: The destroyer U.S.S. Alywin was sent to Plymouth, England. Still, Crisis at Sea: 446. The Fessenden oscillator was developed by Reginald Fessenden at the Submarine Signal Company in Boston. It was hoped that it could be used to detect submarines, but its rather low operating frequency gave it a very broad beam, which proved unsuitable for detecting and localizing small targets, such as submarines. It was later found to work well as a depth finder. Gary L. Frost, "Inventing Schemes and Strategies: The Making and Selling of the Fessenden Oscillator," Technology and Culture, vol. 42, no. 3 (July, 2001): 462–488. Pierce has not been further identified.

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