Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

Chronological Copy.                         File No.

Cablegram Received 09406 July <5,> 1918 BFB

Origin Opnav Washington                     Ser. No. 8138

CS-2 July 7

48  ARD

S E C R E T

Simsadus.

8138 Enemy espionage on West Coast of France has been subject of voluminous reports to ONI [i.e., Office of Naval Intelligence]. Evidence exists that Submarine Commanders have known exactly what ships left port and when. All American transports so far torpedoed have been Westbound and within 48 hours after leaving a French Port note U.S.S. ANTILLES U.S.T.T. FINLAND U.S.S. PRESIDENT LINCOLN U.S.S. COVINGTON.1 This shows probable coastal communication with enemy submarines. Situation indicates need of more vigorous counter espionage in France. The Department desires your view recommendation on this subject 22005 8138

Benson            

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The handwritten date is confirmed by the time/date stamp at the end of the cable.

Footnote 1: For the torpedoing of these ships, see: Pringle to Sims, 21 October 1917; “Eight on FINLAND Lost Their Lives,” Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 3 November 1917, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1917-11-03/ed-1/seq-6/; Sims to Pringle, 2 June 1918; and the COVINGTON entry in DANFS.

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