Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

CABLEGRAM. <April 5, 1918.>

Origin: Opnav Washington.                       Ser. No. 4640

Date      April 7th, 1918.

VERY SECRET.

Simsadus.

4640. The question of allocating some of our new destroyers to the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia for protection of that area and of convoys sailing from there is one that is being pushed by Canadian authorities and British Commander-in-Chief these waters.1 Minimum number of destroyers wanted for this duty, five. We are sending our destroyers abroad as fast as they can be made available, reserving only 12, speed 10 knots, on entire coast, most of which are either crippled, under repair, or engaged on important experimental work. To allocate five additional destroyers to Halifax, Nova Scotia, will cripple our efforts ab<road> and in our opinion that is not justified now. The department desires a definite statement from you backed up by the Admiralty as to correctness of our present policy or whether they advise yielding to the Canadian desires. It is further desired that advance information be furnished us when it may be considered desirable to increase the reserve on our own coast due to the prospect of submarine operations here. This information requested not from any desire on our part to hold back destroyers but is dictated by the necessity which would naturally arise for protecting adequately the numerous convoys sailing from our ports. In case of attack on Canadian Coast we naturally would go assistance with such force as could be spared from imminent attack on our own coast. 19005. 4640.

Benson.                                   

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

Footnote 1: VAdm. William L. Grant, Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station.

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