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Captain William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Station, to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

U.S.Flagship New York,1st Rate,   

Key West, Florida,     

March 30th,1898.


1.   I respectfully submit the following recommendations which will greatly increase the efficiency of the Squadron when it is required for active service. The supply of coal to the ships when on the Coast of Cuba is vitally important, and even now it demands the utmost care to keep the ships in the best condition for service, because of the poor facilities. I recommend that at least three steam colliers be sent here, each to carry 2500 or 3000 tons of coal. They can come here laden with Pocahontas coal.1 The Department to decide whether they shall return to Hampton Roads to recoal when it becomes necessary, or whether the coal shall be sent by rail to Tampa where the colliers can refill in less time than by going back to Hampton Roads. I mention small colliers in order that they can go to Tampa if necessary.

2.   I also recommend that the Squadron be provided with a tank steamer having fitted on board a plant for supplying fresh water for the ships, to be used especially for steaming purposes. There is no source here from which fresh water for the boilers can be obtained and they are suffering in consequence. An expenditure now for this purpose will prove an economy in the end.

3.   To supply the immediate demand, I request authority to order a tank steamer from Tampa which can bring is 90,000 gallons on short notice.  The price asked is 2 cts per gallon.

4.   The recommendations which Admiral Sicard2 made to the Bureau of Equipment will answer while the ships are held either here or at Tortugas, but they would be totally insufficient if the ships were on the coast of Cuba.

Very respectfully,          

W.T. Sampson           

Captain, Comdr.-in-Chief,   

U.S. Naval Force on North Atlantic Station.

Source Note: CyS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 227. Identifying number at top right corner: “No. 11.” Addressed below close: “The Secretary of the Navy,/Navy Department,/ Washington, D.C.” Docketed on reverse side of last page with an official preprinted form leading with a Bureau of Navigation stamp: “APR 2/1898” and no. “99670.” Preprinted wording: “U.S. Flagship New York,/(1st Rate.)/Key West FLA/MAR 30 98/SAMPSON, W.T.,/ Captain/Commmander-in-Chief/U.S. Naval Force,/North Atlantic Station./SUBJECT: (with the following handwritten)/Request 3 steam/colliers for fleet +c.” At times, the typist leave a space between punctuation and the next word. The editors have silently corrected this error.

Footnote 1: According to a detailed study and poll of commanding officers Pocohantas bituminous coal was by far the preferred variety. See, U.S. Bureau of Equipment, Reports of the Efficiency of Various Coals, 1896 to 1898 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1906), 89. Tampa and Hampton Roads were staging areas for operations in the Atlantic, the former for the Army and the latter for the Navy.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Montgomery Sicard was relieved of command of the North Atlantic Station on 26 March. He was replaced by Capt. William T. Sampson. It was required for the outgoing commander-in-chief to submit a report with recommendations.

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