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Rear Admiral Albert P. Niblack, Commander, Patrol Squadron Based on Gibraltar, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters






Dear Billy:

          I am forwarding by the CHESTER tonight some official mail clearing up some of the things Roper1 left behind when he sailed on the 18th of June. Every time he came in from a trip he submitted written recommendations, or talked continually, about the changes that were necessary here, and in the Mediterranean, “to end the war.” The trouble with him and others is, everybody is encouraged to make recommendations, and the hardest thing I find is to get officers to be willing to stay on a job and pull it off exactly as they are told. Generally every one wants to do something else. Fortunately I have a goodly number of fine commanding officers, and I am never sorry to see the other kind go. Roper is full of enthusiasm, unworkable ideas, and misinformation. I have told him, as I have told others who have gone to England, that I will thank them not to represent anything as expressing my views, because I am able to present what few I have without help, and theirs are unfit for publication.

          I am building up a big plant here to meet any sudden call but the real weakness is repair facilities. The Department has never yet told me that I am to get a repair station here, viz: shops and enlisted personnel. As a result I have lost two sites which have gone for more pressing purposes. It is positively wasteful to put money for repairs into the NASHVILLE, MACHIAS and YANKTON (but the first named in particular) because they don’t render the equivalent service in return, generally break down, and are terribly unreliable. I am going to recommend that one or two of them be sent home while they can get there. Admiral Grant2 concurs in this. It maybe that the YNAKTON can hang on longer than the others but her boiler is twenty-one years old.

          The destroyers have steamed 40,000 miles since they were condemned in the Philippines. The BAINBRIDGE goes under an overhaul period today but must have two new high pressure cylinders, which means several months. On account of the deatch of Lieutenant Hoops3 I should be let off sending an officer from the BARRY on August 15th, as she now has only Emrick and Sampson4 as regular line officers. As she is entitled to two I think Sampson ought to stay. However, I have put it up to you by cablegram.

     I don’t seem to get the SALEM here but I imagine that about all we have has been distributed long ago. I am not looking for anything else coming here. Admiral Grant loses two or three ships a month by transfer and gets only trawlers and Canadian Drifters in their places. Fortunately the submarine activities are slowing down here (in June), and without any submarines our escorts ought to be able to make the trips if their engines and boilers hold out. If one shows up the only thing is depth charges.

          Please don’t send any more newspaper correspondents if you can help it. Roper basked in the favor of the last two until he tired them out. He is an unmitigated bore, and much worse than <an> inventor, for he has a new idea every day. I hope he stays home.

Very sincerely yours,        



TLS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 76. There is an identifier, “WHW-18.” in the upper-right corner.

Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. Walter G. Roper, formerly commanding officer of the armed yacht Cythera.

Footnote 2: VAdm. Sir William Lowther Grant, R.N., Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station.

Footnote 3: Lt. Lyman B. Hoops died of pneumonia on 7 June 1918.

Footnote 4: Lt. Cmdr. Roy P. Emrich, Commander, Barry; and (probably) Lt. (j.g.) William H. Sampson, Chief Carpenter, Barry.