British Admiralty Memorandum Concerning Convoys from New York and Ports Northward
OUTLINE PROPOSAL FOR CONVOYS FROM NEW YORK AND PORTS TO THE NORTH, INCLUDING GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE
The proposal is to form a convoy of 16 to 20 vessels every 4 days, vessels of 12 knots sea-going speed and above being excluded from the convoy. With this exclusion the volume of traffic for June is as follows:-
CANADA TO EAST COAST PORTS1. . . . . . . . . . .22.
CANADA TO WEST COAST PORTS2. . . . . . . . . . .30/
Canada to Havre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.
NEW YORK, BOSTON, PORTLAND [ME] TO EAST COAST. . .40.
NEW YORK, BOSTON, PORTLAND TO WEST COAST. . . . . 50.
or a daily average of approximately 5 per day.
It is proposed to assemble this North American and Canadian convoy at two ports, New York being the assembly port for Boston, portland, etc., Louisberg or Sydney (Cape Breton) for the Gulf of ST. Lawrence trade.
The New York convoy to be considered the main convoy and the port from which the escort ship capable of dealing with raider will start.
The Louisberg or Cape Breton convoy to be called the subsidiary convoy, and escorted by local vessels to a rendezvous south of parallel 40 North, and between the meridians of 50 and 60 West, where they would rendezvous with the main convoy and both be escorted together by the Ocean escort vessel to a secret United Kingdom rendezvous, there to be met by 6 destroyers, who would take them into port.
It is proposed to arrange that the convoys should be alternately East and West [coasts of Britain] convoys, in which case, generally speaking, the West going convoy would enter via the North of Ireland, and the East bound convoy through the English Channel.
In addition to a certain amount of material, such as the fitting of voice pipes from the fore bridge to the engine room, fog buoys, etc., extra personnel is required, and it is proposed that in addition to the escort vessel or cruiser, there should be one Naval Officer in one of the merchant ships, who would be called the commodore of the convoy, and be responsible for its manoeuvering. He will require 3 signalmen and 3 W/T operators;3 in addition to which, every one of the merchant ships will require one signalman. Provision for this is now being made by the Mobilization Department.
It is expected that the average speed of the convoy will be approximately 9 knots.
To institute this route every 4 days, both for vessels bound to the United Kingdom and those bound for America and Canada, 14 escort vessels will be required, as well as 18 destroyers, which it is suggested should be taken from the American vessels now at Queenstown.
Source Note: CCy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520. This memorandum was included with a cable dispatch dated 1 May 1917, from William S. Sims to Josephus Daniels concerning the British Admiralty’s proposed plan for a trans-Atlantic convoy system.
Footnote 1: That is, east coast of Britain.
Footnote 2: That is, west coast of Britain.
Footnote 3: Wireless/Telegraph.