Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
CABLEGRAM. <October 9, 1918.>
To: Opnav, Washington. Ser. No. 6637.
Date: October 10th, 1918.
6637. URGENT. Your 2816.1 Propose to allocate as follows next thirty-five destroyers arriving European waters for duty: French bay ports and Gibraltar twenty-three, exact distribution to be determined by flow of Army supply ships. For operation with Mine Force, twelve.
Do not understand Department’s statement regarding estimated number which should be allocated by months to Bases in British waters nor Department’s statement of ninety-four destroyers for British waters. The vital needs which must be met by additional American destroyers assigned to European waters are increased convoy escorts, escort for Mine Force for Mediterranean operations, and active offensive operations against submarines.
Subsequent to January first, the monthly allocation of three destroyers each to Queenstown, Brest and Gibraltar is considered necessary to meet increasing escort demands. This for eight months would account for seventy-two destroyers.
For Mediterranean mining first two excursions will probably be made from Scotland bases requiring our destroyer escort. Subsequent excursions from Bizerta will require same escort.
For offensive purposes, I deem it essential that at least four hunting groups of six Destroyers each be organised for continuous employment in hunting.
These allocations would account for twenty-four additional boats, making a total for the three cat<e>gories of one hundred and eight boats required for delivery between one January and thirty-one August. In my opinion all of these allocations should be given priority over all other demands, the proposed allocations to be subject of course to such adjustment as may be necessary should new and unforeseen conditions arise.
With respect to allocation of destroyers to British waters. It is my opinion that in order to reduce difficulties and dangers of supply and overhead charges in the way of administration, personnel and material, our destroyers should be operated in as few groups and from as few bases as practicable consistent with the demands of the military situation. In accordance with this view, it has been my intention when the proper time arrived to suggest that any excess of American destroyers available over the needs of the present bases be assigned to Plymouth-Devonport region, releasing an equal number of British destroyers from that area to join the Grand Fleet or to join the French Fleet in the Aegean, which is now very inadequately screened.
It was my intention after having received the Department’s assent to the principle to bring the matter up in the Allied Naval Council in order to insure the disposition of available forces being based upon full discussion and therefore satisfactory to the Allies concerned.
I urge that the department will not determine on any given allocation of American forces later to arrive in Europe without giving due weight to these views and that it will not commit itself or me by any promise to the British Naval Mission now in the United States. 195509. 6857.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The handwritten date is confirmed by the time/date notation at the end of the cable.
Footnote 1: This document has not been found.