First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe to Rear Admiral Sir Dudley R. S. De Chair, Commander-in-Chief, North American and West Indian Station
From Admy. [London] Date 27.4.17.
To NA Washington. Sent 1426.
From 1st Sea Lord to Admiral de Chair.
The situation shows no improvement.1
I am organising a system of convoy for all inward & outward trade.2
The arrangements will probably be that a cruiser will escort a convoy of about 20 merchant ships to positions westward of Ireland clear of submarine activity where convoy will be met & escorted to port by destroyers. But the system necessitates first a considerable increase in number of destroyers & therefore the assistance of USA in provision of as many more as possible is very urgently needed.
Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, ADM 137/655.
Footnote 1: The “situation” was the loss of British merchant ships to German submarines.
Footnote 2: The day before this message, Jellicoe suggested that the only solution to the submarine menace was an increase in anti-submarine patrols, making no mention of convoying. Ibid. Why the British took so long to use a convoy system has been much-discussed by historians, as has the question of who was responsible for its adoption at this time. For a discussion, see Anglo-American Naval Relations, 195-98.
Footnote 3: That is, Chief of Staff, VAdm. Sir Henry F. Oliver.