Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
CABLEGRAM RECEIVED 09417 April <16, 1918>
Origin Opnav Washington Ser: No: 5016
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Ref’d to Date Action, Notes and Initials.
C S 4/8/18
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Opnav 5016 Your 6177 Department has approved plan to this extent “Letter of March 14th to Commander Squadron One Patrol Force”.
In view of the fact that it appears alike impossible for United States or Great Britain to furnish Ocean escort for Saint Thomas W.I. convoy, and that France has but four cruisers to spare for this purpose. the plan can be put into effect only by dispatching convoys without naval protection or control. This at present is not believed practicable or advisable.
As the use of Saint Thomas W.I.as convoy base is professedly only temporary expedient until defense of the Florida Straits is organised, at which time vessels are to resume their former rout to convoy base at Hampton Roads va, New York, n.y. and Halifax N.S. it may be necessary in default of proper ocean escort to route vessels through the Windward Passage and Mona Passage W.I. and thence independently into a Northern convoy base as remote as possible from the scene of submarine activity.
In view of importance of Saint Thomas as coal and supply port and its probable use for special convoys steps will be taken to increase coal and supplies assembled there and measures taken for the protection of the port.
Department approves in______ the conclusions of the conference and, subject to the above modifications, would be willing give them practical effect”.
This above represents policy of the Department in the matter. Steps are being made to provide certain defenses at Key West Fla, and Saint Thomas addition to present Caribbean Sea Patrol Force. 23016 5016.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.