Skip to main content

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

September 8, 1918.




<4391> Your 9041 implies that the Department has not yet developed a mine which can operate successfully in depths greater than twelve hundred feet. I have been previously assured in cable No. _<9327>_2 that the present mine would function satisfactorily without alteration in depths up to five hundred fathoms, provided only a mooring wire of smaller diameter were used, and on this statement I have based the plans already put forward for the Adriatic and Aegean barrages. If this information is incorrect all plans must be reexamined and as the Council meets in Paris on September thirteenth I urgently request early information.3

     I am as strongly in favor as the Department of the mid-Adriatic Barrage and all the necessary auxiliary operations as originally proposed in my cable 35614 but I fear it will be impracticable to secure approval of this plan by all nations concerned although I shall press it urgently at coming meeting of Council.5 Will Department agree to furnish a military force of twenty thousand marines in addition to battleships and material enumerated in cable.6 I understand the Department’s assent to the proposed barrage of the Dardanelles to refer to the Euboea dash Cape Kanapitza Barrage described in my 3267.7 I further understand that the Department would assent to one of the lower Adriatic Barrages provided the mid-Adriatic project could not be adopted and provided our mines can be made operative in deep water. I request confirmation or correction of my understanding.8


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

Footnote 3: Benson replied for the Navy Department replied on 10 September. See: Benson to Sims, 10 September 1918.

Footnote 5: According to historian David Trask: “Sims dutifully proceeded with what he must have known was a fool’s errand” and reintroduced the “mid-Adriatic project.” The Italians, British and French all immediately rejected the project arguing that the Otranto barrage should receive priority. Trask, Captains and Cabinets: 280.

Footnote 6: In its reply, Benson said the Navy did not have 20,000 marines available and they opposed executing “a separate and eccentric operation,” but would consider a joint enterprise. See: Benson to Sims, 10 September 1918.

Footnote 8: In his reply, Benson confirmed Sims’ “understanding.” See: Benson to Sims, 10 September 1918.