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Rear Admiral Charles J. Badger, President, General Board of the United States Navy, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels


March 20, 1917.

From: Senior member present.

To:  Secretary of the Navy.

Subject:  Protection of American Shipping.

Reference: Secretary of the Navy’s confidential letter, March 20, 1917.1

Of the measures advocated by the General Board in its letter of February 4, 1917 (G. B. No. 425, serial No. 666),2 especial attention is invited to the following, which bear directly upon the protection of our commerce in transit between the United States and Europe:

(a) Escort vessels to deep water from our ports and similarly from deep water to our ports.3

(b) Arrange with British and French Governments for the convoy of our merchant ships through the barred zone.4

(c) Merchant vessels to proceed on high seas from points of leaving and receiving escorts, depending upon their guns for protection and upon changes of course to follow alternate routes.5

(d) Arrange with British and French Governments a code of signals to be used in directing merchant ships as to routes to be followed and points of meeting escorts.

(e) Establish a patrol of the Atlantic coast.

(f) Recruit us to the limit allowed by law for emergencies in order to provide crews for patrols and auxiliaries and fill battleship complements which have been depleted to supply gun crews to merchant ships.

2. In order to obtain what the General Board regards as the greatest measure of protection to American lives and American shipping on the high seas, the General Board invites attention to its letter March 20, 1917 (G. B. No. 425, serial No. 688), and of its previous letter of February 6, 1917 (G. B. No. 425-1, serial No. 553-b); February 17, 1917 (G. B. No. 425-1, serial No. 672); March 17, 1917 (G. B. No. 425, serial No. 683), on the same subject.6

Chas. J. Badger

Source Note: Naval Investigation, 2905-6.

Footnote 1: To date, this letter has not been found.

Footnote 3: The General Board called for a convoy system before the U.S. entered the war. Two weeks before this document was written a convoy and defense system was proposed for New York shipping up to 200 miles from the American coast. See “To protect the Trans-Atlantic commerce approaching and leaving New York for a distance of 200-miles from Sandy Hook,” 3 March 1917, DNA, RG 313, Entry 9D.

Footnote 4: For the regulations involving Armed Guard on merchants vessels, see: Regulations Concerning Armed Guards, 13 March 1917.

Footnote 6: For the documents listed here, see: Badger to Daniels, 20 March 1917; Badger to Daniels, 4 February 1917 (the editors believe Badger incorrectly dated the letter); Naval Investigation: 1268; Badger to Daniels, 17 March 1917.

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