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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lieutenant Commander Joseph K. Taussig to Special Service Division, Destroyer Force


#3-11         Special Service Division, Destroyer Force

U.S.S. Wadsworth, Flagboat,   

24 April 1917-

From: Commander Special Service Division

To: Special Service Division

Subject: Procedures in case of sighting enemy submarine and in case of damage to vessel of this force by mine or torpedo.

     1. If submarine is sighted the vessel sighting it will make six toots on the whistle (in groups of two) open fire and head for the submarine. The next destroyer astern will head in the direction of the submarine on parallel course to the other and assist in the attack. Other vessels will continue on course keeping a lookout for other submarines. Use radio as per C-in-C printed instructions-1

     2. In case a destroyer of this force is torpedoed or strikes a mine, other vessels will not stop but will continue on course and make circle of wide radius around damaged vessels until other procedures become desirable Vessels passing close to a disabled vessel will throw life preservers if it appears advisable-2

J.K. Taussig  

Source Note: Cy, RNW, Joseph K. Taussig Papers, Mss. Coll. 97, Naval Historical Collection, Diary, entry of 25 April 1917. Taussig copied these orders into his diary.

Footnote 1: Those instructions, dated 3 April, are in DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. They mandate: only using the radio when absolutely necessary; not using English and being minimalist in sending messages to protect American codes from the enemy; that when an enemy submarine is sighted, the sighting vessel should immediately broadcast “I H Z” in Morse code, and then report their position, using a formula spelled out in the instruction.

Footnote 2: In his diary following the above order Taussig explained the rationale for point 2. “We have heard submarines often work in pairs so it is necessary that rescue work be done continuously or there will be a probability of another ship getting torpedoed.” Ibid. Taussig added that he planned for the destroyers to steam in column formation after dark and in column during daylight. He also planned to steam at a rate of fourteen or fifteen knots when the weather was good, but that pace put too much strain on McDougal, so the maximum speed they could attain was 14 knots. Ibid.; Taussig, “Destroyer Experiences,” 48: 2026.