Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Memorandum from Captain William W. Fisher, Director, Anti-Submarine Division

Register No.                                 Minute Sheet No.     368

 

          The proposal to lay a net barrage between Norway and Scotland has been put forward several times by Naval Officers and others.1

          From an operational point of view the scheme is considered to be unpractical and doomed to failure.

          The main objections to the scheme are as follows:-

          (a) thevirtual impossibility of obtaining the quantity of gear required.

          (b) the territoreal waters of Norway .2

          (c) no secrecy possible.

          (d) maintenance would in any case involve the employment of very large numbers of vessels, but even if these were available, it is not a practical possibility.3

          (e)the buoys would be frequently sunk by the Enemy, taking their sections with them to the bottom.

          The proposed net differs slightly in details from those in use, and there appear to be no points in this American design worthy of adoption.4

          The firing arrangements are dismissed in I line but the intention apparently is to have the whole net electrically alive

          The breaking of a wire makes an earth in the system and fires the mine

          In practice it would be extremely difficult to keep5 the insulation sound while laying the net, and afterwards.

          There are many other objections to the scheme as a whole and in detail which it is unnecessary to state, as similar proposals have been dealt with at various times.

W Fisher

D.A.S.D

5.7.17.

Source Note: DTS, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/1436

Footnote 2: Norway, being a neutral state, could not consent to an allied barrage in its territorial waters, therefore providing German submarines a potential point of egress from the North Sea.

Footnote 3: For further discussion of this point, see: Alfred C.W. Harmsworth to Imperial War Cabinet, 5 July 1917.

Footnote 4: For a description of the proposed mine, see, Northcliffe to Imperial War Cabinet, 5 July 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517, Box 5.

Footnote 5: Crossed out in pen and over it is written “The difficulty of keeping.”

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