Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Commander Charles R. Train United States Naval Attaché at Rome

July 24th, 1918.        

My dear Train,

          Your confidential letter of July 16th,1 was received yesterday and I am much interested in what you say about the nets.

          I have no doubt that a net of this kind would be effective for a certain length of time. It would appear, however, doubtful as to whether it would remain effective very long. I would rather see a minefield laid with both deep and surface mines clear across any space you want to block, with the exception of a hole big enough to let through the necessary traffic.

          This whole question of mining in the Mediterranean has been under discussion here within the last day or so by a special Committee of the Allied Council. We have put forward a proposition based upon certain fundamental principles as to what a minefield should be like and have suggested that the whole subject of mining in the Mediterranean be examined by the Allied Council with the view of getting their opinion as to the passages and areas that should be mined.

          If they can come to an agreement about this we could supply both the mines and the mine layers to carry out pretty extensive operations.

          We have had one meeting of the Committee here and will probably have another. When the opinion is formulated it will be sent to the Mediterranean to be examined by the Commanders-in-Chief in order to get their opinion. It is practically decided that we will send Strauss2 down to represent us at the discussion as he would be the man that would have to carry out such part of the mining as we do. I think there is little doubt that this matter will go through.3

          I have not yet gotten the consent of the Navy Department but I first want to find out whether the Allied Council think that these mining operations should be carried out. Once I get that opinion I believe the Navy Department will be perfectly willing to supply the mines. They could be laid by a certain number of the minelayers that are now engaged in the North Sea. Their operations will be completed before very long, and a few of the mine layers would remain to keep the minefield complete in case any holes were dug in it, and the rest could be sent to the Mediterranean.4 Of course one or more bases would have to be established for the purpose of landing and overhauling the mines before they were placed on board the ships preparatory to laying.

 Very sincerely yours,       

S/ W.S.Sims.       

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 24. Addressed below close: “Commander C.R.Train, U.S.Navy,/Naval Attache,/American Embassy,/R O M E .” Document reference: “1/5/6/J/Q.” Document is from: “ADMIRAL SIMS’ PERSONAL FILE.”

Footnote 1: See: Train to Sims, 16 July 1918.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Joseph Strauss, Commander, Mine Force.

Footnote 3: See: Charles P.R. Coode to Somerset A. Gough-Calthorpe, 25 July 1918.

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