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Vice Admiral Henry F. Oliver, Royal Navy, to Vice Admiral David Beatty, Royal Navy

[6 April 1917]

     It is suggested to reply that the Admiralty are asking the U.S.Navy:-1

     (1) To send as large a force of destroyers as possible to operate on the trade routes in the vicinity of Ireland against Submarines.2 The Admiralty are offering a base and all facilities.

     (2) To establish a flying squadron in the North Atlantic to hunt Raiders, in co-operation with the Allies.

     (3) To send a squadron to the S.E. Coast of America.

     (4) To keep the Gulf of Mexico and Coast of Central America as far as Trinidad under observation to prevent bases being established for submarines or raiders.

     (5) To look after the West coast of America as far South as Panama; and to co-operate on the West Coast of South America subject to the advisability of doing so with regard to relations with Chile.

     (6) To maintain the U.S.Squadron in China and the East to look after allied interests.

     As regards paragraph 2 of (the C.inC.’s) <your> letter:-3

     (a). The Blockade will be rendered more effective by the surveillance over neutral vessels loading in U.S.Ports which it is hoped the U.S.Government will shortly organise. The U.S. Government will also be invited to co-operate in the allied measures for the restriction of enemy supplies such as black list bunkering agreements, etc.

     (b). The relief gained will be slight owing to the necessity of safeguarding the troopship routes between England and Australia and providing for the Indian Ocean. The number of ships capable of long distance steaming is quite inadequate at present.

     (c). It is not intended at present to ask the U.S.Navy to co-operate with the Grand Fleet.

     (d). Should the enemy start a submarine campaign off the American Coast it is expected that the pressure off our Coasts will be somewhat relieved, as fewer enemy submarines will be available for this side of the Atlantic and those operating the other side will have further to go.

     Some addition in mercantile tonnage for allied needs is expected from the United States. Steps are also being taken to press the U.S.Government to repair the German ships in their ports and to build merchant ships for us.

H.F. Oliver


Source Note: DS, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/1426. Oliver was Chief of the Naval War Staff in the British Admiralty. Beatty had written on behalf of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.

Footnote 1: For more on the British requests and the American response, see: VAdm. Montague E. Browning to British Admiralty, 13 April 1917. The full version of the list was sent by the Admiralty to Capt. Guy R.A. Gaunt, the British Naval Attaché in Washington 0n 24 March 1917, for him to share with Browning and informally to the Americans. UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/1426.

Footnote 2: In a cable to Browning of 3 April 1917, the Admiralty emphasized that they attached the “greatest importance to the presence in our waters of as many U.S. destroyers as possible” and offered “all facilities” to support them. They also requested the “Immediate organization of sweeping squadrons” to intercept enemy raiders. Ibid.

Footnote 3: Someone has written “your” in pencil over “ C.’s.” Presumably, to correct the text. In “Paragraph 2” of his letter, Beatty asked what would be the effect of American entry on a) the blockade of Germany; b) the relief of British naval ships in the “Atlantic and possibly the Pacific”; c) co-operation with the British Grand fleet; and d) the German submarine campaign. Ibid.

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