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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 7, 1917.         TO: Secretary of the Navy.

Via Naval Attache, Washington.1

THROUGH:   Admiralty.

     Number eightyfour  Replying your number thirty one all assistance which Bureau of Ordnance can render in manufacture of efficient type of mines and depth charges will be invaluable2 (stop) British output at present in excess of available ships to handle but numbers ships being increased (stop) Can we furnish minelayers as well as mines3 (stop) Admiralty experience now indicates necessity for abandoning entirely the Elia lever type in favour of the German Horn type with horns on bottom as well as top4 (stop) Also necessity for increased buoyancy to oppose tides (stop) Latest type will have five hundred pound buoyancy and thirteen hundred pound anchors. For mining against submarines they are now using fixed instead of automatic depth anchors as one floating mine or mines near surface discloses an entire field (stop) Many designs of mines effective against submarines but ineffective against surface craft have been <c>onsidered but no satisfactory type developed to date. Admiralty would appreciate information if such a mine has been developed (stop) Drawings of latest British mine of horn type forwarded twenty-eighth June (stop) Nets moorings and wire gear generally are available to the extent to which they can be used and it is urgently necessary to reduce demands on shipping (stop) Admiralty greatly appreciates Department’s offer. Brazil is asking England for nets. Can we meet her demands5 (stop) Delay in answering this cable due to impossibility of keeping up work here with present staff.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Identification number in top right-hand corenr: “31-4-1.” And in a column in the same location: 1/2/A/J.”

Footnote 1: Commo. Guy R. Gaunt.

Footnote 2: See: Daniels to Sims, 22 June 1917. Also, in a cable to the Imperial War Cabinet, Lord Northcliffe informed the British Admiralty that the Americans were preparing to manufacture mines and depth charges that they would share with the British. See: Northcliffe to Imperial War Cabinet, 5 July 1917.

Footnote 3: In 1918, the United States sent over a flotilla of minelayers to assist the British in laying the North Sea mine barrage.

Footnote 4: The Elia mines, invented by Giovanni Elia, operated by a cable attaching them to a lever on the bottom of the sea, which would be triggered if something bumped the mine. Horn mines had protrusions on the mine itself that could be triggered by contact with a submarine or ship. The United States Navy had developed a new type of mine that they called the Mark VI. See: Ralph Earle to William S. Benson, 18 July 1917.

Footnote 5: Although it broke diplomatic relations with Germany in April 1917, Brazil did not officially declare war on the Central Powers until October 1917. Consequently, there was no need to protect Brazilian ports with anti-submarine nets during the summer of 1917 and no evidence that the U.S. did so. Halpern, A Naval History of World War I: 395.

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