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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels


SENT:     July 3, 1917.      TO: Secretary of the Navy.


Response to your number fortytwo.1

          Number seventyone. In view of present critical stage of war with probability of decisive developments in next few months which will be entirely dependent upon preservation of shipping I submit that it would be fundamental military error to attempt in any way to change present established administration, personnel or methods of communication, in connection with control of shipping.

          Undoubtedly the most serious military handicap of this war as of all Allied wars has been difficulty of coordination between Allies (stop).

          It would manifestly be the safest military policy to allow any one Ally to control and direct all operations but as this cannot be done we should certainly subordinate every interest possible to such an end (stop) To attempt at this time to establish new shipping offices with new personnel introducing necessity for increased number and different methods of communication would certainly involve delays misunderstanding, and confusion which would be direct assistance to enemy (stop)

     If success is to be assured and accelerated there should be no lines of distinction or introduction of complication. The shipping to be controlled is all of the Allied and neutral shipping which should be treated as a whole. It needs protection only in field of enemy’s campaign. We may and should assist by adding extra personnel to present established system of control, but under no circumstances should we attempt to supplant or take over any shipping offices now in efficient operation (stop) I submit that central control for all shipping should be concentrated here in London in centre of war area where all information of enemy methods is constantly available and from whence daily control of naval forces should originate (stop) British Admiralty has been consulted and is in complete agreement with this dispatch (stop) It is impossible to adequately present this case by cable and it is therefore hoped that Department will accept these recommendations based on one consideration only, namely, our interests in the one cause against common enemy (stop)


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG45, Entry 517B. Copy features a list of where additional copies were to be filed.

Footnote 1: See, Daniels to Sims, 30 June 1917, DNA, RG45, Entry 517B. In this cable, Daniels wrote that the United States intended to use its own intelligence officers in American ports and expected other nations to to do the same. Furthermore, Daniels wanted these officers to cooperae with each other and share  all information they gathered.

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