Commodore Winfield S. Schley, Commander, Flying Squadron, to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long
Off Sand Key, Florida,
May 18, 1898.
S i r
1. I have the honor to report that this Squadron left Hampton Roads, Va., about 4 p.m., Friday, May 13th, in obedience to orders, passing Cape Henry about 7 p.m. and reaching Charleston Bar at 4 o’clock of Sunday afternoon. There was much delay in the Flagship clearing the anchorage on account of a foul anchor such as I have never before seen. There were several turns around the stock and flukes and a distinct half hitch, so that a bight of at least thirty fathoms hung on the bottom. Before the mine fields could be passed, this bight had to be cleared from around the anchor and raised off the bottom and clear of the water.
2. This done, the Squadron proceeded to sea and after ordering the rendezvous off Charleston, the speed was set at 10 knots, that being one knot less than what the Collier STERLING was recorded as making. Soon it was discovered that she could not maintain that speed, so nine knots was made the standard. Soon afterwards a dense fog set in from seaward and lasted all night and part of the next day until the Squadron passed south of Cape Hatteras. When it cleared away, the STERLING could not be seen but hoping that her speed might so increased as her force was broken in, I held this speed to the Bar without her.
3. Receiving orders from the Department in cipher, handed me by Lieutenant-Commander Arnold, directing me to proceed with the utmost dispatch to Key West and report to Commodore Remey, I signalled the various ships of the Squadron to ascertain the maximum they could make and found that twelve knots was the best the MASSACHUSETTS could do. This was set as the standard, and I found during the passage it was very difficult, without forced draft, to accomplish that speed owing to her bottom being so fouled up again since cleaning at Newport News. Orders were left with Lieut.-Comdr. Arnold for the Commanding Officer of the STERLING, directing him to proceed with that vessel to Key West with all possible dispatch.
4. I arrived off Key West at about 11 o’clock p.m., May 17th, and reported to Commodore Remey as directed.
Commander-in-Chief Flying Squadron.
Source Note: CbCyS, DNA, RG 313, Entry 68, p. 342. Addressed below close: “The Honorable Secretary of the Navy,/Navy Department,Washington,D.C.”