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Lieutenant Commander Thaddeus A. Thomson, Jr., Staff of Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain Nathan C. Twining, Chief of Staff, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters


MEMORANDUM FOR CHIEF OF STAFF.                    26 July 1918.


I.   The Italian Naval Attache1 was able to give no information whatsoever concerning the material which he recently requested that the United States Government furnish in connection with the Otranto-Aspri-Ruga barrage.

2.   I have conferred with Admiral Learmonth2 of the Admiralty who has furnished me all information desired at present.

3.   Briefly, the status is as follows:

     The British Admiralty do not desire to commit the British Government to laying a second barrage across the Otranto Channel until they have had some degree of success with the first net barrage (Otranto-Fago). The Admiralty has not stated that they are not in a position to furnish the material which the Italian Naval Attache has requested the United States Government to furnish. On the contrary I gained the distinct impression that they are in a much better position than the United States Government to furnish this material, with the additional advantage of saving cargo space across the Atlantic.

4.   I believe that the United States Government should keep clear of the net barrage. (I do not mean to convey the impression that we will not assist in any offensive operation towards containing the Submarine)

5.   Taking up each item of the material requested of the United States.

88 – 3 cwt Anchors.     These can be picked up in London with no difficulty whatsoever according to the Admiralty.

Glass Floats.           The Admiralty states that the British or Italians could furnish these glass floats without difficulty. The loss due to breakage is never less than I0%

The indicator nets are of a special design and are manufactured principally by women. Approximately 218 miles of 2" (circumference) galvanized wire rope and 150 miles of I.5 (circumference) galvanized wire rope is required. The Indicator nets are also made of wire. The supply of this material by the United States would unquestionably interfere with the supply of wire rope for moorings of mines. Information at hand is to the effect that after considerable effort the Bureau of Ordnance was able to obtain only 60,000 feet of wire mooring rope per month for mining operations. Any contemplated deep mining will increase the demand for wire rope for mine moorings.

     The design of this net barrage and the attendant difficulties of laying it in 500 fathoms of water in a tide of 3 to 4 knots renders its effectiveness problematical. It is considered that material for mine barrages should receive priority over material for net barrages. I believe that this matter should be decided by the Force Commander and not referred to the Navy Department.

/s/ Thomson.  

Source Note: TL, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 415. Identifiers “6/J/Q” appear in the upper-right corner.

Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. Ferdinando Farina.

Footnote 2: Adm. Sir Frederick C. Learmonth, R.N., Director of Fixed Defenses.

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