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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, first cable of the day

Communication Copy.

Cablegram Sent 27 Sept 1918, Y-11

To Opnav                      Serial No. 5688

Prep. by 0-1   Ap’vd. By NCT1 SX  D.R.

Rec’d          Coded          Cypher    55 ARD Disp’chd Cable



5688. Your 2014.2 I respectfully invite attention to the undesirability from point of view of safety of shipping at sea of sailing additional convoys until this becomes necessary. A large part of success of the convoy system is due to difficulty submarines have in finding convoys. There is now to the Bay of Biscay a fast storeship convoy every 4 days in addition to the slow convoys. Any additional convoys sailed into the Bay of Biscay makes it easier for the submarine to find shipping and hence makes this area a more profitable hunting ground with consequent increased danger to troop convoys as well as storeships. Additional convoys also complicate the problem of furnishing protection against heavy raiders and makes an uneconomical expenditure of destroyers. I respectfully submit that in my judgement these disadvantages outweigh the advantages of sailing additional convoys under present conditions.

     At present time HB3 convoys are averaging only 10 storeships. I strongly recommend that the number of ships in these convoys, as well as in HN convoys and HH and HS convoys4 be increased as necessary to handle the increased shipping to French Bay ports until these convoys become so large as to require starting an additional convoy. With present forces there are not available sufficient destroyers to handle any additional convoys.5   150027 5688.


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

Footnote 1: Capt. Nathan C. Twining.

Footnote 3: HB Convoys went from New York to the Bay of Biscay.

Footnote 4: HN Convoys went from New York to France, HH Convoys originated in Hampton Roads, and HC Convoys originated in Halifax.

Footnote 5: Benson responded on 1 October: “department concurs in principles stated and will not attempt increase number of convoys until necessary. Our 2014 was to advise you of estimated rates of increase in shipping and steps Department intends taking to meet this increase.” Benson to Sims, 1 October 1918, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

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