Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander, Battleship Division Nine, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
BATTLESHIP DIVISION NINE
UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET,
U.S.S.NEW YORK, Flagship.
[Rosyth, Scotland] 29 June 1918.
From: Commander BATTLESHIP DIVISION NINE.
To: Secretary of the Navy (OPERATIONS).
Subject: General Report – week ending 29 June 1918.
1. MOVEMENTS OF VESSELS AND TARGET PRACTICE.1
On Monday, June 24th, the division exercised underway in the protected waters of this base at gun pointing and concentration on painted targets erected on shore, made to simulate enemy’s ships in battle formation. It was too rough to anchor targets and fire sub-calibre one-pounders as was intended. Later all of the ships exercised individually at various practices.
On Thursday, June 27th, the division less the TEXAS, fired full charge main battery practice. While making the approach TEXAS had to leave formation and return to port under one engine, the starboard main circulating pump having broken down beyond immediate repairs at that time. It has since been repaired and she will fire later alone.
The original practice had been arranged for NEW YORK and TEXAS to combine, firing 6 rounds; FLORIDA and DELAWARE, 8 rounds and WYOMING alone, 8 rounds. This was changed when the TEXAS fell out, and the WYOMING was substituted for her, and combined with the NEW YORK.
The practice simulated battle conditions, the division was manoeuvered by signal during the firing, speed 19 knots, distance from 17500 yards to about 16000. The firing vessels were not informed as to what the distance would be when fire was opened; the manoeuvering by signal was varied to suit the existing conditions.
So far as can be judged from the visible fall of shots, the firing was exceptionally fine, most encouraging and much better than we have ever done previously; reports will follow.
Fire was opened by the first pair with guns trained 55° forward of beam. This train and high elevation demonstrated that the anti-aircraft guns of the WYOMING on the boat derricks would be untenable under these conditions, and that a crew could not possibly remain there. The splinter mattresses used for protection there were blown away and the gun cover set on fire. The effects of the blast were very much in evidence. Only the off gun can be used under like conditions.
2. BORE SIGHTING UNDERWAY.
The FLORIDA’s dispersion was very small, apparently a minimum, and far better than on any previous occasion. The Commanding Officer attributes it, to some extent, to the fact that the guns were boresighted, and director corrected while at sea making a high speed, when the lines of the ship should be approximately the same as when she fired.
3. BISHOP BRENT.2
Bishop Brent of the Western Episcopal Diocese of NEW YORK, formerly of the Philippines, and now an Army Chaplain, visited this division and addressed the officers and men on all of our ships, and on two of the British. His speech was along the lines of the hearty co-operation of our troops in France with those of our allies, the friendliness, and close co-operation of the several armies and the good results that naturally follow. He was most enthusiastically received by all ships.3
4. MINE FIELDS.
Late information is to the effect that the enemy was active in laying mines off the entrance to Rosyth, in the vicinity of May Island, just prior to the departure of the Fleet from that Base.
While passing out to sea the FLORIDA’s steering gear failed to work and she steered out of column in the exact vicinity where the mine field had been reported. The flagship made signal at once “You are standing into danger”. Fortunately control was promptly shifted and she rejoined without striking a mine. Later a number of mines were swept up in this locality.
Ever since our arrival at this base it has been raw,cold and blowing, with frequent precipitation in the form of drizzling light rain and mists. On June 26th, the temperature on the bridge was 42°. It has been rough boating, sufficiently so to interfere with exercises on shore which had been planned.
The epidemic of influenza which prevailed in this division resulted in a number of serious cases of pneumonia and pleurisy, causing the deaths of several of the patients afflicted with the former. . . .
Source Note: DTS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 381. Distribution list at end of document: “To: Secnav.(OP) (2)./Copies to: CinC.Atl.Fleet. [Adm. Henry T. Mayo].//Force Comdr. [VAdm. William S. Sims]/Chief Naval/Intelligence. [Capt. Roger Welles, Jr.]/Adm. Badger. [Adm. Charles J. Badger, President, General Board of the Navy]/File.” Document identifier at top of first page: “File 7”; “1/L.” There is also a running head at the top of the second page: “C.B.D.9 [Commander Battleship Division 9] file 7, 29 June 1918 - Subject: General Report - week ending 29 June 1918.”
Footnote 1: On the issues with gunnery for the American battleships, see: Rodman to Daniels, 22 June 1918.
Footnote 2: Bishop Charles Henry Brent was Chaplain General of the American Expeditionary Forces.
Footnote 3: Promoting the message of British-American friendship and solidarity had been a point of emphasis in Europe. See, for example: Sims to Pringle, 31 May 1918.