Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to the Bureaus of Ordnance, Construction and Repair, and Navigation

(COPY)

Op-19

CONFIDENTIAL                       Apr. 25, 1917.

28754-3:52

From: Chief of Naval Operations.

To:  Bureaus of Ordnance,

       Construction & Repair

       Navigation.

 SUBJECT:-Requisitioning of guns.

<Enclosure (1)>1

1.   The policy of requisitioning guns for the arming of merchant vessels is based upon the following considerations:

First – That the placing on American vessels engaged in trade with the allied powers of armed guards is one of the most effective measures to meet the present war situation.2

Second – That arming all American merchant vessels including those in coastwise trade must eventually be done.

Third – That supplying guns to merchant vessels of the allied powers that have urgent need for them and can otherwise be supplied should be favorably considered.

Fourth – That reserve guns for arming naval auxiliaries are not required to meet the immediate situation.

Fifth – That a large proportion of the torpedo defense guns of battleships and armored cruisers can be removed without materially hurting the military value of those ships.

Sixth – That the torpedo defense batteries of battleships under construction may be diverted for arming merchant ships without materially delaying the completion of those vessels for service.

  2. The probable demand for guns to arm merchant ships as far as can be anticipated at this time are:

Ships    

1. Vessels at present engaged in trans-Atlantic trade    70

2. Vessels in other trade that may possibly be diverted to trans-Atlantic                                         175

3. Vessels to be armed for naval service –

                                   Yachts - -               50

                                   Coast Guard - -       12

                                   Army Transports -   14

4. German and Austrian refugee vessels       134

5. Vessels in U. S. Coast trade                     165

6.    "    in Pacific trade                               80

7. Vessels of Shipping Board’s Program     __1000

                                             TOTAL - - -                1700

Of the total of 1700 ships, those to be provided for in the immediate future are included in Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, which give a total of 455. To supply this immediate demand, the requisitioning of guns will be based upon the following principles:

     All six-pounder and three-pounder guns will be held available for the arming of small craft in naval districts.

     Each ship shall be designated to supply a certain number of guns as specified by caliber, the decision as to which guns are to be removed to be left with individual ships.

     In determining which guns are to be removed those guns will be taken which interfere most with the firing of guns better placed, or can be best spared, having in view the probable duty of the ship.

     The order of requisitioning guns shall follow in the order to meet the demands as they arise,

     First – guns held in reserve;

     Second – guns of the torpedo defense batteries of battleships building;

     Third – guns from ships in coast defense divisions;

     Fourth – Guns of the older battleships;

     Fifth – guns from scouts and other vessels not dreadnaughts;

     Sixth – guns from the torpedo defense batteries of dreadnaughts in commission.

     Naval auxiliaries when armed should be supplied with high power guns of not less than four-inch caliber.

     All merchant ships should if possible have four guns and never less than two.

3.   The attached list shows the guns and vessels from which they are to be removed. It will be used as a guide as to numbers and the order in which they should be requisitioned.

W. S. BENSON.

Copy to Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet; 

        Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet;

        Commandants, Navy Yards, Boston, New York,

                     Philadelphia, Norfolk

[Attachment]

Guns now in reserve (including MEMPHIS and MILWAUKEE)

6-inch   5-inch  4-inch  3-inch

43      68       88      88

Guns of torpedo defense batteries for dreadnaughts building

50 cal. 5-inch - -  110    (CALIFORNIA       TENNESSEE

                           (NEW MEXICO       MISSISSIPPI

                           (IDAHO

 

Guns for the Coast Defense Divisions

SHIP                TAKE GUNS                LEAVE GUNS

Massachusetts  8  3-inch                4  3-inch

Indiana            8  3-inch                4  3-inch

Iowa                6  4-inch                4  4-inch

Oregon             8  3-inch                4  3-inch

Chicago            6  4-inch                6  4-inch

  Totals           24  3-inch               12  3-inch

                      12  4-inch               10  4-inch

 

Guns from older battleships.

DIV. 1

Alabama             6  6-inch           4 3-inch; 8  6-inch

  Illinois              6  6-inch           4 3-inch; 8  6-inch

Kentucky            6  5-inch           10  5-inch

Kearsarge           6  5-inch           10  5-inch

   Totals          12  6-inch              8  3-inch.

                      12  5-inch

 

DIV. 2

Ohio                    6  6-inch           6 3-in; 10 – 6-in.

Maine                  6  6-inch           6 3-in; 10 – 6-in.

Missouri               6  6-inch           6 3-in; 10 – 6-in.

Wisconsin          _6  6-inch          _4 3-in;  8 – 6-in.

   Totals              24  6-inch           22 3-inch.

 

DIV. 3

New Jersey         4  3-inch          6 3-in; 12 – 6-in.

Virginia              4  3-inch           6 3-in; 12 – 6-in.

Rhode Island      4  3-inch           6 3-in; 12 – 6-in.

Nebraska            4  3-inch          6 3-in; 12 – 6-in.

Georgia             ­_4  3-inch          6 3-in; 12 – 6-in.

  Totals              20  3-inch         30 3-inch.

 

DIV. 4

Minnesota         10  3-inch           6 3-inch; 12 7-inch;

Louisiana          10  3-inch           6 3-inch;

Kansas             10  3-inch           6 3-inch;

New Hampshire     _10  3-inch           _6 3-inch;_

  Totals           40 3-inch            24 3-inch.

 

DIV. 5

Connecticut       10  3-inch           6 3-inch; 12 7-inch;

Vermont           10  3-inch           6 3-inch; 12 7-inch;

Michigan           10  3-inch           12 3-inch;

South Carolina   10  3-inch          12 3-inch.

  Totals           40  3-inch           36 3-inch.

TOTAL BATTLESHIPS  36  6-inch           120 3-inch.

                   12  5-inch

                  100  3-inch.

Guns from the Scouts (armored and protected cruisers) –

Destroyer Flotilla, Patrol Force and Train.

Scout Force

DIV. 1

Charleston        12  3-inch           6  3-inch

St. Louis          12  3-inch            6  3-inch

   Total           24  3-inch          12  3-inch.

              

DIV. 2

San Diego          10  3-inch           6  3-inch

South Dakota     10  3-inch           6  3-inch

Frederick         _10  3-inch          _6  3-inch

   Total           30  3-inch           18  3-inch

 

DIV. 3

Pueblo              10  3-inch            6  3-inch

Pittsburgh         10  3-inch           6  3-inch

Huntington      _10  3-inch         _6  3-inch

   Total           30  3-inch           18  3-inch.

 

DIV. 4

Saratoga            8  3-inch            0  3-inch; 10 5-in;

Montana            10  3-inch           8  3-inch;

North Carolina  _12  3-inch          _8  3-inch;_

  Total            30  3-inch           16 3-inch.

 

Patrol Force

Dixie               2  3-inch           8  3-inch

Salem             6  3-inch          

        2  5-inch           0  3-in. & 5-in.

 

Destroyer Force

Seattle            10  3-inch           8   3-inch

 

Train

Prairie              2  3-inch               8  3-inch

Hancock             - - - - -               6  3-inch

Buffalo             - - - - -                 6  4-inch

TOTAL SCOUTS, &C.  134  3-inch

                   2  5-inch.

 

Guns from the Torpedo Defense Batteries of

the Dreadnaught Class.

DIV. [6]

Pennsylvania       8  5-inch          14-5 inch

New York            8  5-inch          13  5-inch

Texas                 8  5-inch          13  5-inch

Delaware            4  5-inch          10  5-inch

Oklahoma          ­_8  5-inch        _13  5-inch

  Totals           36  5-inch          63  5-inch

 

DIV. 7

Arkansas           8  5-inch         13  5-inch

North Dakota    4  5-inch          10  5-inch

Florida             6  5-inch          10  5-inch

Utah          ­      6  5-inch          10  5-inch

  Totals           24  5-inch         43  5-inch

 

DIV. 8

Wyoming           8  5-inch          13  5-inch

Nevada              8  5-inch          13  5-inch

Arizona            ­_8  5-inch         _13  5-inch

  Totals           24  5-inch          39  5-inch

 

TOTAL FROM

     DREADNAUGHTS  84  5-inch          145  5-inch.

 

Approximate general total of guns available for use on the basis of the above policy.

                              6-inch 5-inch 4-inch 3-inch

Reserve                   43       67      88      88

For new dreadnaughts                 110

Coast Defense                              12      24

Older battleships         36    12               100

Scouts, etc.                        2                134

Dreadnaughts            _____   ___  84_   ____ _____

                                 79      276         100    346 - - -801

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517.

Footnote 1: This is handwritten into the document.

Footnote 2: For more on the armed guard program, see: Information for Ship Owners Concerning the Armed Guard Program, 13 March 1917. The consensus among historians is that arming merchant ships was not a “most effective” measure. Still, Crisis at Sea: 198.

Tags
Related Content