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Naval Staff Memorandum on Further Assistance Desired from the United States

<September 27, 1917>


     The further assistance desired from the United States from available forces or resources is as follows:-

(1). Four coal-burning battleships of the “DREADNOUGHT” type to replace 3 or 4 Grand Fleet “DREADNOUGHT” battleships which it is desired to send to foreign waters to relieve older battleships which are being paid off for want of personnel.

(2). An increase in the number of destroyers, in order to enlarge the convoy system and to provide better protection for each convoy.

(3). An increase in the number of convoy cruisers for the same reason.

(4). An increase in the number of patrol craft, tugs, &c., for anti-submarine work.

(5). The rapid building of merchant ships.

(6). The supply of a large number of mines for the proposed barrage between Scotland and Norway, and assistance towards laying them by the provision of United States minelaying vessels.

(7). Aircraft assistance.1

As regards (1), the increase in the number of destroyers

during the war has forced us to pay off the older capital ships to provide trained personnel for the light cruisers, flotilla leaders and destroyers. This policy must still continue, as officers and crews will be required during the next 18 months for the 19 light cruisers, 12 flotilla leaders and 119 destroyers now in various stages of construction.

     Should the U.S.Government see fit to send over 4 coal-burning “DREADNOUGHTS”, they would be attached to the Grand Fleet and form an integral portion of it, working together as a Division of a Battle Squadron.2

     (2). The United States destroyers are more suitable for convoy work on the western approaches to Great Britain than British destroyers, owing to their size and greater radius of action. Any increase possible in this direction would enable more British destroyers to be used in the North Sea to operate offensively against enemy submarines. The total additional requirements are 55 destroyers for convoy work alone.3

     (3). An increase in the number of convoy cruisers would enable the number of convoys to be increased, or, alternatively, the number of merchant ships in each convoy could be reduced and better control and protection be assured. The total additional requirements of convoying vessels (Cruisers or old Battleships) are 41.4

     (4). The proposed barrage of mines between Scotland and Norway will entail the provision of large numbers of patrol vessels. Any assistance from the United States in this respect will be most welcome, either to co-operate in patrolling the barrage, or, alternatively, to release British patrol vessels for this purpose. The total requirements for this purpose are:-

              48 destroyers or sloops.

              128 trawlers

              80 motor launches (110 feet).5

              20 tugs.6

<(6)>7 At least 100,000 mines are required for the Barrage, in addition to the 100,000 British mines that will be used.8

     (7). Complete materiel and personnel for 3 large seaplane stations on the Coast of Ireland; not less than 36 machines at each station.9


     27thSeptember, 1917.

Source Note: D, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: The United States complied, at least partially, with all of these requests. Office of Naval Intelligence, Information Concerning the U. S. Navy and Other Navies (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1919), 21-23.

Footnote 2: A division of coal-burning U.S. battleships joined the British Grand Fleet in early December 1917. Ibid., 39.

Footnote 3: By 1 April 1918, the United States Navy had 56 destroyers operating in European waters. Ibid., 25.

Footnote 4: The United States never achieved this number of cruisers and battleships but did escort twenty-seven percent of all convoys. Ibid., 21.

Footnote 5: These were the submarine chasers. By war’s end, 120 submarine chasers were in European waters. Ibid., 25.

Footnote 6: While they never committed this number of vessels to the effort, the United States was primarily responsibility for laying of the North Sea mine barrage. Ibid., 55-56.

Footnote 7: This number was handwritten in the left margin.

Footnote 8: This estimate was too high; 70,000 mines were required to complete the barrage. Ibid., 54.

Footnote 9: By war’s end, the United States had four seaplane bases in Ireland and one in England; they had sixteen planes at each of these bases. Ibid., 24, 47.