Commander Joseph K. Taussig to Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas
Fore River Shipbuilding Co.,
Jan. 11, 1918.
Dear Captain Pringle:-
I have been intending for some time to let you know the general situation in regard to the new destroyers. As near as I can make out, the whole program is about one month behind, and I doubt very much if they will catch up. The trouble has been the unprecedented bad weather for so early in the year which has tied up the railroads to such an extent that some plants had to shut down on account of lack of coal.
Here at Fore River, the first destroyer was to be ready on January 15th, and one every two weeks thereafter, but the first one will not be ready before February 1st. This is the “LITTLE”, to which I am assigned. Johnson goes to the “KIMBERLY” which is next to complete, and Vernou to the “SIGOURNEY”. Courtney and Fairfield to the “STRINGHAM[”] and “GREGORY[”].1 They have not reported here yet, but are expected on the 15th. Wortman is going to one of the Cramp ships.2 All the ships here are those authorized a year ago or more recently – i.e. from the 79 on.3 I think the CALDWELL, GWIN, CONNER and STOCKTON are now in commission.|4| The CRAVEN of this class which is to [be] built at Norfolk Navy Yard, has not had her keel laid yet! The FAIRFAX building at Mare Island is to be ready on February 15th. Hooper goes to her.5
These ships I think are going to be very fine in appearance like the MANLEY,6 but all of ours are designed for 35 knots, and their normal displacement is 1225 tons. They have no more draft than the previous boats, but have one foot more beam.
I have been before the General Board several times, talked with Mr. Edison for a couple of hours,7 and delivered a lecture at the Naval Academy – so my talking machine has been going full speed. I tried to impress on everybody that what is needed on the European side is more destroyers; that there should be enough to carry on an energetic offensive and not be forced to a defensive program only.
I could get no satisfaction from operations as to our program on Commissioning. I gather that we will be directed to report to the C-in-C, Atlantic Fleet,8 and that it will be generally up to him as to what our immediate program will be.
I am going to ask to go to Guantanamo for ten days as soon as I can get away from the Navy Yard, and then proceed direct from there to Queenstown, refueling either at Azores or from the mid-ocean oiler. I doubt if the Department will let me do this as we will undoubtedly be wanted for convoy work with troop ships. If I am placed with one of these convoys, I will request to remain on the other side.
Unless some of the other yards are getting on very fast with their destroyers, it seems to me that when the big bunch now on their way home arrive, there will not be room for any more for awhile.
We were glad to see that all the destroyer force people were promoted this time.9 However, I think that some of those low down on the list will have to wait until the next re-adjustment before their appointments are issued. I have been unable to find out when the re-adjustment will be made.
Please give my regards to all those with whom I associated. I hope to be back not later than March 1st.
Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 79.
Footnote 1: LITTLE was commissioned 6 April 1918, KIMBERLY on 18 April, SIGOURNEY on 15 May, STRINGHAM on 2 July, and GREGORY on 1 June. The destroyer commanders that Taussing names are: Cmdr. Alfred W. Johnson, Lt. Cmdr. Walter N. Vernou, Cmdr. Charles E. Courtney, and Cmdr. Arthur P. Fairfield.
Footnote 2: Cmdr. Ward K. Wortman. The “Cramp ships” were vessels built by William Cramp and Sons Shipbuilding Company.
Footnote 3: This is a reference to the destroyer hull numbers, indicating all the ships being built would be numbered DD-79 and higher.
Footnote 4: GWIN, was, in fact, not commissioned until 18 March 1920. Taussig was closer on CONNER, which was commissioned the next day. The other two ships mentioned here had indeed been commissioned in late 1917.
Footnote 5: Lt. Cmdr. Stanford C. Hooper.
Footnote 6: Commissioned 15 October 1917.
Footnote 7: The inventor, Thomas Alva Edison. At this time, he was the head of the Naval Consulting Board.
Footnote 8: Adm. Henry T. Mayo.
Footnote 9: Navy promotions were announced in early January.