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Captain Nathan C. Twining, Chief of Staff to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Admiralty Oswyn A. R. Murray


O-4.                                       30th October, 1918.

From:  Force Commander.

To:    The Secretary of the Admiralty.

Subject:  Employment of U.S. Sub-chasers.

Reference:  (a) Secretary Admiralty’s letter M.024335, 17th                      Oct,1918.1

             (b) Commander-in-Chief, Devonport, Letter                           3565/0192, 7th October, 1918.2

     1.  The Force Commander has no desire or intention to prescribe rules governing the employment of U.S. Sub-chasers which will in any way hamper the Commander-in-Chief, Devonport, in their use. It is fully realised that the full responsibility for the safe conduct of vessels through any given area rests with the Senior Allied Naval Officer in command and that he should have full authority to use the vessels under his command in such way as he may consider best in order to accomplish the results desired. It is the Force Commander’s wish that the Senior Allied Naval Officer should always have this authority in case of all U.S. Naval Vessels operating under his military command.

     2.  In the case of Sub-chasers, it has been the policy and desire of the U.S. Navy Department, with which the Force Commander is in full accord that these vessels should be employed in hunting submarines, as they are specially equipped with devices for this purpose and are otherwise believed to be peculiarly suitable for this kind of employment. There has been held in view the great desirability of the continued development of submarine detection devices and the tactics for their proper use.

     3.  It is not believed that the Sub-chasers are suitable for escort duty for it is very doubtful if they will be able to maintain their positions in a convoy, except under the most favorable weather conditions, and are more likely to be a hindrance than a help. While in convoy the listening devices of the type installed on them are of no value because of the inability to eliminate the noise interference caused by other vessels, and their value when able to maintain position, would depend upon discovering the submarines presence before an attack by sightings only.

     4.  The Senior Allied Naval Officer, under whose minitary [i.e., military] command the U.S. Sub-chasers operate, has authority to use these vessels for escort or other duty as he sees proper in any emergency; of which he is the judge. If the Commander-in-Chief, Devonport, considers the U.S. Sub-chasers allocated to Plymouth will prove of more value by employing them as escorts for convoys, he may do so.

/s/ N.C. Twining.  

Captain U.S. Navy, 

Chief of Staff,    

Signed for Vice-Admiral Sims

in his absence.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 413. Document identifier in top right-hand corner in columnar fashion: “3/C/1.”

Footnote 2: In a report to the Admiralty of 7 November, the commander at Devonport, VAdm. Cecil F. Thursby, while discussing “recent losses off the Lizard” to German U-boats, recommended the creation of convoys for vessels travelling in that area. DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 413. What appears to be an internal Admiralty memorandum, dated 25 October 1918, suggested that American submarine chasers should be, if Thursby desired, used “for convoy and escort work.” Ibid. However, the expert on submarine chaser operations on Sims’ staff, Capt. Richard H. Leigh strongly disagreed arguing that the submarine chasers were not suitable for such duties. Leigh to Sims, 26 October 1918, ibid. It does not appear that the submarine chasers were used as convoy escort in the few days before the war ended.