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Constitution of the Allied Naval Council


No. 31.




22nd January 1918.                 22 Janvier 1918.



     1. The Allied Naval Council will consist of the Ministers of Marine of France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and the United States of America, and of the Chiefs of the Naval General Staffs of these countries.

     2. Japan and the United States of America will nominate one Flag Officer of each Nationality, who will represent them on the Council in Europe.

     3. The Allied Naval Council is instituted primarily in order to secure and ensure the closet touch and most complete co-operation between the Allied Navies in regard to operations, personnel, information, and the scientific development of appliances.

     4. The Council will watch over the general conduct of the war at sea; and will make such recommendations to the respective Governments as are necessary to enable the desired co-ordination of effort to be secured.

     5. The Council will be kept informed by the several Members, though the Secretariat, regarding the progress of all measures upon which it has made recommendations.

     6. The Allied Naval Council will have no responsibility for the command and direction of the respective Naval forces, and the individual responsibility of the Chiefs of the Naval General Staffs and of the Commanders-in-Chief at sea to their respective Governments for operations which are undertaken, as well as for the strategical disposition and tactical employment of the forces under their respective commands, is in no way altered by the formation of the Allied Naval Council.

     7.   It is of the utmost importance that the Allied Naval Council and the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council should each have the fullest knowledge of the plans and views of the other, so far as they may be inter-related, in order that proper co-ordination of the joint Naval and Military efforts in the war may be ensured, and also that the most complete interchange of information should be arranged, and further that arrangements should be made whereby the Allied Naval Council and the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council shall from time to time meet together in joint session to discuss important matters which may arise.

     For the present each Nation represented at the Allied Naval Council will appoint a Naval Officer of suitable rank, resident in Paris or Versailles, as Liaison Officer to the Military Representatives of their respective countries appointed to the Supreme War Council on Naval matters as required, and they will meet together once each week and prepare a joint report on all matters of naval interest which come before the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council, and forward this report to the Secretary of the Allied Naval Council for circulation to the Members of the Council.

     8.   All important questions of principle regarding joint Naval operations in which the Allied countries represented on the Council are interested, and regarding joint measures for offence and defence against submarines and for the protection of Military transports, supply convoys, and mercantile trade, will be referred to the Allied Naval Council, and also all important matters concerning the provision or transfer of personnel and material by one country to another.

     9.   Less important matters in connection with these subjects, and also the daily and general routine business between the several Ministries of Marine and Marine Departments, will be conducted as heretofore through the Naval Attachés or Naval Liaison Officers, who will also continue to be responsible for the transmission of communications in connection with matters upon which recommendations made by the Council have been approved by their respective Governments.

     10.  The recommendations of the Council will be formally recorded in the Minutes of the Meetings, which will be communicated to the Members by the Secretary of the Council. The Members of the Council will communicate these recommendations to their respective Governments.

     11.  The unanimous assent of all the Members will be necessary before any recommendation can be made by the Council to the respective Governments. There is no definite obligation on the part of the Governments to adopt the recommendations of the Council, but it is confidently anticipated that such unanimous recommendations will be accepted.

     12.  The Council will not concern itself with questions of distribution of merchant tonnage nor of supply of coal, oil-fuel, &c., except in so far as the Naval Forces of respective countries may be directly affected, nor of matters connected with the importation of food, supplies, and materials.

     13.  The Council will not deal with financial arrangements in regard to matters which come before them.

     14.  The Council will decide from time to time what information it is necessary to have in order that its functions may be correctly performed, and periodical or other statements, lists, statistics, &c., and such other information as may be decided upon, will be furnished by the respective Ministries of Marine to the Central Secretariat for collation and general circulation.

     The information to be furnished may include particulars of operations carried out, details of apparatus in use or under experiment, and the methods of its employment, details of the resources of the Allies in warships, merchant vessels, armaments, apparatus, materials, and supplies of all kinds for naval use, details of merchant ship construction, losses, damages, and repairs, and intelligence of an important nature received on the operations, apparatus, and resources of enemy countries, and of Neutrals.

     15.  Information circulated to the Members of the Council will, as a rule, be available for the general use of the respective Ministries of Marine at the discretion of the Members, but in certain cases where the utmost secrecy is essential, the documents will be circulated for the personal information of the Members only, and will be so marked and transmitted separately. Documents of this nature should be clearly indicated when they are sent to the Secretariat for circulation.

     16.  The Members of the Council may arrange as necessary for the attendance at the meetings of specialist officers and officials of the various Ministries of Marine, in order to give technical information and assistance when special subjects are under discussion.

     17.  The Council may delegate to Committees of its Members the conduct of special business and the detailed investigation of special problems; such Committees shall also be empowered to co-opt specialist assistance and shall report periodically to the Council.

     18.  The Naval representatives in Europe of Allied countries (except Russia) which are at war with any of the enemy countries, but are not represented on the Allied Naval Council, will be notified formally of the institution of the Allied Naval Council, and will be invited to communicate to the Council any important matters connected with the Naval war which their respective Ministries of Marine may desire to discuss with the countries represented at the Council.

     19.  It is desirable that important questions regarding Naval matters, on subjects within the scope of the Council, which are brought before any of the Ministries of Marine represented on the Council by these other countries direct, should be referred to the Allied Naval Council.

     20.  The Council will, as necessary, invite the attendance at their meetings of the Naval representatives in Europe of these other countries for the purpose of discussion of special subjects, and the Secretariat will obtain direct from these representatives as necessary such information as is required for the use of the Council.

     21.  In order that all Members may be fully informed beforehand on important matters which are coming before the Council, complete particulars with an explanatory memorandum will, whenever practicable, be furnished to the Secretariat by the Members proposing an important subject for discussion, and the Secretariat will circulate copies before the meetings. Lists of subjects proposed for the Agenda will be sent to the Secretary 15 days before the date fixed for the Meetings, and the explanatory memoranda 10 days before the meetings.

     22.  The meetings of the Council will be held in Europe, and as a rule in London.

     23.  The Minister of Marine of the country in which meetings of the Council are held will preside at the meetings.

     24.  Meetings of the Council will take place about once a month, as a rule, and two days will be allotted to the monthly meetings. Under special circumstances the meetings will be held more frequently, as required. At least 10 clear days’ notice will be given of the ordinary meetings, and if possible the place and date of the next meetings will be decided before the termination of each Council.

     25.  In case an emergency arises which in the opinion of the Members on the Council of any one or more countries renders necessary a special meeting to consider some particular matter of emergency, they will request that an emergency meeting may be convened, and the Secretary will then make the necessary arrangements to convene a meeting as soon as possible. Such emergency meetings will be held in London, Paris, or Rome, as may be generally most convenient and expeditious.

     26.  Should it not be possible for either of the appointed Members of France, Great Britain, or Italy, or for the appointed Member of Japan or the United States of America, to attend either an ordinary or special meeting, one other representative of that country must be nominated in substitution. It is to be understood that such a special representative has full authority to act on behalf of his country.

     27.  The Central Offices of the Secretariat of the Council will be in London, for the present at the British Admiralty.

     28.  The head of the Central Secretariat will be a British Naval Officer, of suitable rank, to be appointed by the Council on the recommendation of the British Admiralty, and junior officers as necessary with a suitable staff will be provided by the British Admiralty to assist him in London.

     29.  Each country represented on the Council will appoint one or more Naval Officers of suitable rank as necessary to the Central Secretariat in London, to deal with subjects pertaining to their own country and to assist generally, and also such staff as may be required for clerical duties, translation, &c.

     30.  France and Italy will each form a special Bureau at the Ministry of Marine to act in conjunction with the Central Secretariat.

     31.  The duties of the Secretariat will be:-

(a) To make the arrangements for the periodical and special meetings.

(b) To collect the lists of subjects proposed for the Agenda from the several countries and to obtain and circulate the explanatory memoranda and such other information relating to these subjects as may be necessary for full discussion at the meetings.

(c) To keep Minutes of the meetings of the Council and its Committees and record the decisions reached, and circulate the Minutes to all the Members.

(d) To collect, collate and circulate such periodical returns, lists and statistics as may be directed by the Council, and such other information as the Council may from time to time require.

     32.  The official records of the Council will be kept in the English language, but translations of all important letters and documents into French, Italian, and Japanese as necessary will be made by the Allied Officers attached to the Central Secretariat in London, before circulation. Communications received in French, Italian and Japanese will similarly be translated into English by these Officers.

     33.  All documents and correspondence between the Ministries of Marine in France and Italy and the Central Secretariat will be transmitted through their respective Officers attached to the Central Secretariat. Documents and correspondence between the Member representing Japan and the United States of America and the Central Secretariat will be transmitted direct.

     34.  The fullest facilities will be given to the Secretariat and the respective attached Bureaux and Officers for the exchange of telegraphic communications.2

T. E. CREASE,3    


22nd January 1918.

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

Footnote 1: A corresponding copy is included in French.

Footnote 2: The Allied Naval Council was spearheaded by the British who hoped it would offer them influence over the direction of Allied efforts as well an bringing the Italians into the fold. The Council was subsequently a success in bringing together the Allied navy’s towards common plans and cooperation. Trask, Captains & Cabinets: 177-79.

Footnote 3: Capt. Thomas E. Crease, R.N.