Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Planning Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Memorandum

SECRET            Office of Naval Operations,

                 April 9, 1918.

     The Plans Division of the Office of Operations considered the enclosed papers, particularly paragraph five of the General Board report of February 12, 1918 (submarine base facilities) and the General Board paper of April 2, 1916, on submarine shore bases, and arrived at the following decisions regarding said bases.1

     I. (a) The presence of hostile cruising enemy submarines on our own coast is a likely probability in the near future. Experience of this war has shown that the cruising submarine does not like to operate in the neighborhood of other smaller and more easily handled submarines. It was therefore decided:

(a) For immediate defense during this war as now conducted

(b) provision for the future,

(c) and as a safeguard in case all Allies except ourselves had to make peace, while we were forced to conduct a submarine campaign against Germany, that immediate steps should be undertaken to provide adequate basing facilities for all types of our submarines in the Western Atlantic.

     II.  It was decided that further expenditure of moneys on submarine shore bases in the Pacific would be unwise and not efficient expenditure for the present. And that though Pacific bases will undoubtedly be needed in the future, the present effort should be devoted exclusively to the preparation of Atlantic submarine bases. That the Atlantic bases should be undertaken and hurried to completion at once.

     III.  The following is the list of bases needed on the Atlantic and in the Caribbean –

(1) New London, northern Atlantic training operating (first class base).

(2) Hampton Roads or vicinity. (Central Atlantic operating first class base).

(3) Key West (southern Atlantic training and operating, secondary base).

(4) St. Thomas (outer Caribbean operating, secondary base).

(5) Canal Zone (southern Caribbean operating, secondary base).

(6) Galveston (Western Gulf, for the present a mobile operating base).

     IV. It was decided that sites should be immediately selected in or near Hampton Roads, Key West, St. Thomas, and work begun. Pending the completion of the shore sites mobile forces should be stationed at all six of the operating bases selected.2

W. V. PRATT        

Captain, U.S.N.

R. R. BELKNAP,     

Captain, U.S.N.

L. McNAMEE,        

Captain, U.S.N.

J. R. Y. BLAKELY,  

Captain, U.S.N.

               J. T. TOMPKINS,    

Captain, U.S.N.

F. L. PINNEY,      

Captain, U.S.N.

Earl H. Ellis,     

Major, U.S.M.C.3

April 11, 1918.

          Approved.   Steps will be taken to place this plan in immediate execution.

W. S. BENSON,4

Chief of Naval Operations.

Source Note: Cy, DNA RG, 45, Entry 517B. There is a stamp in the bottom left-hand corner that reads: “NAVY DEPARTMENT,/Approved_ _ _ _ _ 19/JOSEPHUS DANIELS/_ _ _ _ _ _ _/Secretary of the Navy.”

Footnote 1: Neither of the enclosures are with this document.

Footnote 2: On the building of these bases, see Activities of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, Navy Department, World War 1917-1918: 381.

Footnote 3: William V. Pratt, the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, and aides in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations: Capt. Reginald R. Belknap; Capt. Luke McNamee; Capt. John R.Y. Blakeley; Capt. John T. Tompkins; Capt. Frank L. Pinney; and Maj. Earl H. Ellis of the U.S. Marines.

Footnote 4: Adm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.