Captain Roy C. Smith, Commandant at Guam, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
To : Secretary of the Navy.
Subject: Destruction of S. M. S. CORMORAN
1. Demand was made for the surrender of S. M. S. CORMORAN about 8:00 a.m. April 7, 1917. The Captain offered to surrender the crew but declined to surrender the ship. This was refused.
2. The ship was blown up immediately afterwards. The officer making the demand, Lieutenant Owen Bartlett, U.S.N., had barely got clear of the ship. The crew were already jumping overboard. The ship listed to starboard and sank on her ends in two to six minutes.
3. The ship was about 1500 yards from the nearest shore in 22 fathoms water. The Naval Station and the U.S.S. SUPPLY assisted in the rescue. By 9:00 a.m., all had been picked up, including two dead. Three more bodies were recovered later. Two remain missing. The dead, including two warrant officers, were buried in the Naval Cemetery with military honors. The prisoners number 353.
4. Information obtained from the prisoners indicates that the explosion was caused by a service charge of high explosion in a coal bunker on the starboard side forward below the water line. The blast came up through the cabin and bridge, wrecking that part of the ship.
5. Separate reports are made of the dead, missing, and prisoners.
Roy C. Smith
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. There is a slip of paper attached to the top of this report that reads: April 7, 1917./Crew of S. N. S. CORMORAN (German) surrendered to U.S. Naval Officer, but ship blown up.” This typed text is done in red ink.