Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotilla, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

United States Naval Forces

Operating in European Waters

U.S.S. MELVILLE. Flagship.

          BASE SIX.

              16 July, 1918.

From:   Commanding Officer.

To  :   Force Commander.

SUBJECT:   Employment of Submarine Chasers.

REFERENCE:   (a)   District Commander, Rochefort, letter of March 19, file 427/A.1

(b)   F.C. letter CS 24477 of 11 July.

                       49-8-12

     1.   The consensus of opinion as to the employment of submarine chasers as outlined in reference (a) was, -

          (1)  Agree with paragraph 3.

          (2)  The conference was of the unanimous opinion that submarine chasers could be used to very great advantage in groups alone, - or supported by a destroyer.

              Their employment in connection with convoys as outlined is approved of, in general, but their distance, (from convoy)for cruising station should be greater and the relative bearing of the groups should be such as to cover the most probable sectors of approach of an enemy submarine.

              Further, their employment with convoys would necessarily be limited by cruising radius and ability to maintain speed of convoy.

              The distance between boats in line in an attack should not be greater than 140 feet.

              It is presumed that when destroyers are escorting

a convoy and an enemy submarine is sighted, that the destroyer will make the initial attack – and expend a large portion of their depth charges. When accompanied by S.C’s it is considered that the S.C’s should be used after the destroyer attack, to trial [i.e., trail] the submarine, leaving the convoy as will be necessary, and that the S.C’s should conserve their supply of depth charges until the most favorable opportunity presents itself for laying a barrage that will cover the maximum uniform area around the location of the submarine, rather than expend them at once and in a locality where the approximate position of the submarine is not determined, such as when a ship is torpedoed in convoy and submarine or torpedo has not been seen.

          The use of S.C.’s in groups acting independently or supported by destroyers is considered desirable. The only time that it appears necessary for a destroyer to accompany (or reenforce) them would be in case a large “cruiser” submarine were met, - and it is believed that such occasions would be rare as the areas covered by the S.C.’s would generally be near the coast and presumably the cruiser submarines would operate further out at sea. It is not seen why five or six S.C.’s could not destroy a submarine even if the submarine offered resistance, - and, it is not considered that the assistance that might be rendered by a destroyer would warrant the diversion of such an important unit from the duty of escorting traffic through areas which cannot be covered by the smaller craft.

          The location of S.C.’s as individual groups was, in the opinion of the conference, dependent on the areas of activity, of enemy submarines; This being known, the bases should be located at such points in those areas as to be within the shortest average striking distance for the particular area to be covered. The limited cruising radius of these boats makes it necessary that they should not have to cover any considerable distance before arriving in their proper area. Lack of information as to areas of activity prohibits any well considered recommendation on this point.

     (3)  Paragraphs 6 & 7. Agreed with this by interchanging of yachts and destroyers when applicable. The firing of a gun appears the best method of attracting attention and rather than flag signals it was the opinion that the dropping of a buoy and the first depth charge – (by the escort vessel first sighting submarine) would be the best indication of the location of the submarine.

     (4)  Paragraph 8. Agreed.

          J.R. Poinsett Pringle.

Source Note: LTS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 387. The notation “Refer to/No. 5134-16” appears in the upper-left corner, and identifier “(d-7)” appears on the right side of the first page near the top.

Footnote 2: This letter has not been found.

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