Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain William V. Pratt, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations
April 16th. 1918.
My dear Pratt,
I enclose you herewith a letter that I have just written to Admiral Benson. Also copy of letter to the NEW YORK TRIBUNE on the same subject as the one I wrote to the ARMY AND NAVY REGISTER. Can you not drop me a line and tell me what there is in all this business?
All sorts of rumours drift over here. For example, we have just heard, upon the authority of a letter written by one of our retired rear-admirals to his daughter here, that Admiral Benson is going to be ordered in command of the Atlantic Fleet and that Admiral Winterhalder is to take his place. Can there be anyting in this? I can hardly believe it!
You will know by my letters to Admiral Benson that rumours have also been received here that Eberle is to be ordered over to commander the Destroyer Base at Queenstown. I have indicated in my letter to Admiral Benson what I think of this. I do not think that I should be subjected to that sort of thing. Certainly the responsibility of this billet is great enough for the Department to accord me the privilege of selecting the men to handle the situation for which I am responsible.
To say the least, the Department has had bad luck in people they have been sending me for certain billets. I need only mention the case of Admiral Fletcher. You know what conditions are in reference to Admiral Wilson. I assume that you know them because I have written to Admiral Benson fully about it and I assume that he has shown you my letters on this subject.
Let me also invite attention to the fact that without consulting me at all, they sent Admiral Strauss over here to take charge of the mining bases. I hope this will turn out to be satisfactory but it seems to me that on general principles, the selection is not a good one. For a job of this kind we need a confirmed optimist, and you have sent me the leading pessimist of the Navy. Moreover, he was the predecessor of the present Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, andit would be only natural if he did not believe that taking him out of the Bureau decreased its efficiency. The first thing he did when he arrived here was to criticize very severely the action of the Bureau of Ordnance in launching a tremendous undertaking depending upon the efficiency of a mine that had never been tried in its completed form.
See if you cannot arrange it so that I will be consulted as to who may be sent over here in the future. Also see if there is anything is this Eberle affair; if it cannot be headed off it might be disastrous.
I am not writing you very much nowadays because I put practically everything in Admiral Benson’s letters.
Always very sincerely-yours,
Source Note: TL, DLC-MS, William Sims Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: “Captain W.V.Pratt, U.S.Navy,/Office of Naval Operations,/Navy Dept.,/Washington, D.C.” Document is designated from, ”Personal File.”