Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
Cablegram Received Oct. 21, 1917
Origin Opnav Washington (Secnav) Serial No. Opnav 773
Via N C B 18 D Date No. 17020
Opnav 773. This cable outlines Navy Department reply to specific request made by Representative of French Government.1
First, in regard to supplies of coal for United States troops in France three Naval colliers have already been assigned to carry coal from Great Britain to France for United States troops and as many more vessels will be sent as are needed to make United States troops self-supporting in this respect.
Second, arrangements now underway to settle what port in France and in England shall be used for debarkation of American troops and their equipment. Special arrangements involved due large size some ships to be employed as troop transports.
Third, reference to ships building in United States for France and which have been commandeered by shipping board which has jurisdiction. Navy Department has used and will continue using its good offices to obtain release of any ships needed by French Government and specifically mentioned wherever such release is shown to be in interest of French Nation.
Fourth, referring French proposal to turn over to Allies for manning certain French cruisers now laid up for lack of personnel; Navy Department requests information as to what specific cruisers are available to United States for this purpose.
Fifth, French suggestion that United States predreadnoughts replace French (Almi) dreadnoughts in order to release French naval personnel is not considered practicable.
Sixth, question of aviation assistance is being dealt with in separate correspondence and cable.
Seventh, Navy Department is using every endeavor to reduce delay attending transfer and delivery patrol vessels and tugs bought in United States by French Ministry of Marine. Question of adequate dredging apparatus for contemplated port of debarkation for United States troops in France is considered as part of arrangement mentioned above as underway regarding general problems landing United States troops and supplies, and specific question of dredging apparatus will be referred War Department for attention of Army engineers.
Eighth, both War and Navy Departments are fully alive to situation that may arise if number of troops in France and supplies necessary for upkeep of troops in France and supplies necessary for upkeep of troops should fall below estimate and every endeavor is being and will be made to carry these matters through according to plan.
Ninth, Navy Department has commandeered twelve seagoing tugs which will be sent abroad for duty where most needed. 17020
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document is an: Action Copy.” Response was referred to : “C. of S.” Capt. Nathan C. Twining. See: Letter to French Minister Marine and Secretary British Admiralty, 23 October 1917.”
Footnote 1: See: Henry T. Mayo’s Report of Requests made by the French Government, 11 October 1917.