Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

To Vice Admiral Sims.                                                                           June 30, 1917.

44

     Referring to your previous cables.1 The Department recognized the urgent necessity of sending to European waters all anti-submarine craft possible and is using every effort to meet the demand. Five destroyers from Asiatic waters have been ordered to duty in European waters and will sail about August 1st.

     The Department will meet the Admiralty’s desire for the assignment of seven cruisers for convoy duty.

     The following method for routing merchant shipping across the Atlantic is suggested for discussion with the Admiralty: That the Admiralty predict for each week ahead and nominate the days on which it will escort ships through the danger zone. That the Admiralty select the rendezvous at which it will meet and escort merchant shipping. That their instructions be cabled to their agents here. That the United States authorities working in conjunction with the British agents here from the same office direct all belligerent shipping to the rendezvous to fit the dates predicted by the Admiralty. That the make-up of the convoy at the points of rendezvous be arranged for by classifying ships according to speed the alphabetical marking (not?) to be evident to the enemy. That the United States authorities report the rendezvous for incoming vessels to United States ports in case the submarine efforts on this side render escort in these waters a necessity. It is believed this method has the advantage of not slowing up the flow of merchant tonnage across the Atlantic while except for protection against raiders it meets most of the requirements of continuous convoy. It has the further advantage of making (less?) demand on the Allied coal supplies in European waters.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: This likely includes two separate cables Sims sent to Daniels on 20 June as well as several others in which Sims advocates for a substantial commitment from the Navy to combat the submarine menace. See: Sims to Daniels, 20 June 1917.

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