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 Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas

U.S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS

U.S.S. MELVILLE, FLAGSHIP.

TELEPHONE, VICTORIA, 9110                 30, GROSVENOR GARDENS, 

CABLE ADDRESS, “SIMSADUS”                        LONDON, S.W. 1.

REFERENCE NO. AC                               22nd April, 1918.

My dear Pringle,

          I enclose copy of a letter I have today written directly to the Commanding Officer, U.S.S. PARKER which explains itself.1 I wrote him directly in order to save time.

          I understand that Captain Leigh2 selected the PARKER to continue Beelher’s experiments3 as the CALDWELL had apparently been diverted to other duty and there would be considerable delay in attempting to wait for her. Also as the PARKER is at a dockyard and hence rendering it easy to carry out the necessary work.

          I hope that you will diplomatically use your influence with Admiral Bayly4 to allow the PARKER unrestricted freedom to prosecute these experiments to a finish.

          Do everything you can to keep her from being diverted to escort duty until we know definitely whether the experiments are worth anything or not.

          I cannot impress upon you too strongly the importance of prosecuting this listening device game.

          Mine and net barriers, patrol operations and everything else sink into insignificance as compared to it. It simply means that we will bring the submarine back into the field of surface warfare and the moment we do that his death knell is sounded.

          As I said to Brown, I am deeply interested in this problem and hope you will keep me posted upon its development.

          So far we have very few American listening devices over here and what we have, together with the British have not been applicable to destroyers. They are principally installed and being used on trawlers which have insufficient speed, inadequate systems of communication, and also are not well manned by the Regular Navy. As you know perhaps, the trawlers have a large percentage of the Reserve Force and Merchant Marine on board of them.

          In any case the destroyer is the only anti submarine craft which can follow the submarine into any field of activity it may select. The destroyer has all the characteristics of an ideal anti submarine craft, that is, speed, ability to accelerate speed quickly,cruising radius, seaworthiness and adequate armament. Hence it is the destroyer that we must equip with any devices which promise to defeat the submarine.

          It is very gratifying that it was one of our own destroyer officers who discovered something in the sub-surface listening line which promises to be applicable to destroyers. If it works it will be a great feather in the cap of the Queenstown Force.

          Wishing you every success and hoping that you are trying to remain cheerful.

I am,

                     Very sincerely,

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 337. Addressed below close: “Captain J.R.P.Pringle, U.S.Navy/U.S.S. MELVILLE.”

Footnote 2: Capt. Richard H. Leigh, an expert in listening devices serving on Sims’ staff.

Footnote 3: For more on the invention of Lt. Weyman P. Beehler, see: Pringle to Sims, 19 April 1918; and Pringle to Sims, 27 April 1918.

Footnote 4: Adm. Lewis Bayly, R.N., commander of the base at Queenstown.

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