Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

Chronological Copy.                         File No.

Cablegram Sent April 9, 1918  MJK

To     Opnav Washington (Buord)1              Serial No. 6251

Prep. by      M-4           SX     D.R.

                                 29 ARD

VERY SECRET.

6251. Your 2345.2 British now laying mines area B, may desire shift activities soon to area C,3 in which case circumstances may render advisable laying surface mines area C immediately upon completion deep mining this area. 6000 mines fitted with mooring ropes 170 fathoms long required for laying 2 rows surface mines area c, no storage these mines available this side. Request 6000 mines be prepared in United States for area C in readiness for shipment when required and that necessary experimental work be undertaken to perfect and test method of laying these mines in water up to 170 fathoms.4 17109. 6251

SIMS.    

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The time/date stamp was originally located below the signature, but someone crossed it through and handwrote it at the end of the text.

Footnote 1: That is, Bureau of Ordnance, which was overseeing the Northern Mine barrage project, which is the subject of this cable.

Footnote 3: For the areas mentioned here, see: Chart, North Sea Mine Barrage in Illustrations for April 1918. The British had been laying mines in area B starting on 2 March 1918. However, on 22 March H.M.S. Gailardia was sunk while in the vicinity of this area while laying buoys to mark the barrage. The loss of this vessel “caused considerable alarm in the Grand Fleet” and on 31 March the fleet’s commander, Adm. Sir David R. Beatty, questioned if it was safe to mine so near the fleet’s anchorage and demanded that laying additional mines in area B be halted until it could be conclusively demonstrated that those mines were not a threat to the Grand Fleet. Northern Barrage: 101.

Footnote 4: The United States found this development “most unsatisfactory” and the Americans continued to press their fiew that the barrier must be completed as proposed until “a verbal agreement was at last reached that as soon as the defects of the mines could be remedied the mining of this area would be resumed.” Ibid.