Rear Admiral William S. Sims to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
SENT – April 16th,1917.
6014 - April 16th, 11 p.m.
For Secretary of Navy:
“Strongly advise that any destroyer or other patrol forces sent this side do not base on French Coast but as far to westward as practicable preferably south coast Ireland to operate principally in designated high sea area in zone to westward and southward which is present critical area.2
British have been obliged largely take over mine sweeping and patrol off Brest and Havre and official reports show difficulties with French due to lack of activity on their part. We should avoid similar experience if possible.3 SIMS”
Source Note: C, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. In the upper right-hand corner is the identifier “25-10-2.”
Footnote 1: Sims used the State Department to send sensitive messages “because of the unreliability and danger of using the code of the Naval Attache.” See: Sims to Daniels, 14 April 1917. On 17 May, he was advised that henceforth coded dispatches from the Navy Department would be sent using the “Sig. code and the ciphers which have been given to the destroyers now under his command.” William S. Benson and Daniels to Sims, 17 May, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517.
Footnote 2: The first divisions of American destroyers were based at Queenstown, Ireland, as Sims advised, though some later American anti-submarine forces were sent to French ports.
Footnote 3: On the same date, Daniels met with a delegation of French naval officers headed by Vice Admiral Ferdinand A. de Grasset who asked that American ships be assigned to “patrol at Brest and Bordeaux.” Daniels Diary entry for 16 April 1917, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diary, Roll 1.
Footnote 4: American ambassador to Great Britain Walter Hines Page.