Skip to main content

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

April 4, 1918.      TOH      

Opnav, Washington.                                 6038

O-3                         NCT1


6038. Your 4513.2 Following general lines <are> suggested for press account. Within three weeks following declaration war detachments Naval vessels departed from United States arriving in groups European Waters as of May 4, May 17, and May 24, and continuously since that time. Now upward one hundred and fifty vessels operating on this side including Battleships, destroyers, scouts, cruisers, submarines, armed yachts, coast guard vessels, minelayers, repair vessels, etc. Does not include chasers. Over thirty five thousand men and officers now serving European Waters, which is over half strength of Navy before declaration war. Above number does not include personnel of troop ships, supply vessels, armed guards, signalmen, radio-men, etc. that come into zone on recurring trips. Ships have been self-sustaining with assistance repair ships except major repairs, docking, etc. Schools and barracks established to house new men and when trained go aboard ships eventually relieving nucleus crews of men of long service who are sent home to bring out new units.3 Commanding Officers trained in zone and other officers of experience returned to America to Command new vessels and bring these vessels into war area as quickly as possible. Ships continuously supplied with stores, provisions, spare parts, and fuel. Warehouses, supply depots, etc, established Europe to house supplies. Torpedo Station established abroad. Ample hospital facilities created. Personnel and material for Aviation bases arrived Europe and bases practically ready for arrival machines. One dirigible manned by Navy now operating War service. Pilots go out daily war missions. Co-operation with English, French, Italian Aviation services. With Portuguese at Azores. Navy represented on Allied Naval Council by Force Commander and Staff assistants, which has involved visits to Italy, France and England. Establishment of Intelligence Service where advisable. As instance of Navy activity, following represents work of one detachment of destroyers for a six months period: Total miles steamed in War areas - - over one million

      Submarines attacked equals           81

      Total single vessels escorted          71

      Total convoys escorted                  86

      Total number of days at sea       3600

     Duty in wintry seas very severe but special clothing of suitable pattern supplied. After hard tour of duty men go recreation establishments at bases. These recreation establishments consist of theater, dining rooms, dormatories, library, writing tables, newspapers, gymnasium, etc.4 One such cost over thirty thousand dollars two thirds of which cost contributed by American business men abroad. Navy has accomplished much, but more must be done. Modest effort comparison great achievement Allies, but effort increasing rapidly. Excellent co-operation. Established joint planning sections. Comparison our effort with that of Allies should spur on our builders to great results. Hundred more rivets per man each day every shipyard will help to win. More ships are needed as our anti-submarine activities cover in war areas alone over one million square sea miles. Due to enemy activity the Navy has lost two fighting units, JACOB JONES and ALCEDO.5 Four other small vessels have been lost due to the War and sea hazard which comes from steaming without lights and in wintry seas. Loss of life has not been severe, not over one hundred and fifty total from fighting ships. 18204  6038


Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 23. There are two notes at the top of the first page of this document. The first reads: “Copy for Admiral.” The second, in Sims’ hand, reads: “I was asked to give some account of operations over here. Danny [Cmdr. Joseph F. Daniels, Sims' Flag Secretary] prepared the cable.”

Footnote 1: Sims’ Chief of Staff Capt. Nathan C. Twining.

Footnote 2: This cable has not been found.

Footnote 3: This rotation schedule was taking place in the destroyer flotillas.

Footnote 4: This refers to the facilities at Queenstown.