Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

British Admiralty to Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland

Mercantile Convoy

(Copy) T E L E G R A M        “A”

From:     Admiralty           Date:11th August 1917

To:       C-in-C. Queenstown.

          - - - - - -

“URGENT 263. A (stop) A system of mercantile convoys has now been arranged for all British, Allied and Neutral homeward bound vessels from North Atlantic of a minimum actual speed of 200 miles a day and of a maximum speed 12 knots and also from Gibraltar for vessels of a Minimum speed 170 miles a day and of a maximum speed of 11 knots (stop) All ships from South Atlantic of a Minimum speed of 200 miles per diem will also be in mercantile convoys in 10 days time (stop) The homeward bound slower vessels from Atlantic are gradually being eliminated and this will leave an average of two independent arrivals in United Kingdom per diem from Atlantic (stop) B (stop) It is now intended to form outward bound convoys for the Atlantic and Gibraltar and escort them through the Submarine danger zone utilizing the Destroyer escorts detailed for the homeward bound convoys (stop) The Destroyer escort to part company at dusk the night before it is due to meet homeward convoy and outward bound ships then to disperse and proceed independently (stop) C (stop) Under present arrangements one homeward East Coast mercantile convoy alternately from New York and Canada every 8 days will require Destroyer escort from Queenstown. The dates due at Rendezvous are 22nd August from New York, 28th August from Canada, 5th September from New York, 13th September from Canada and so on (stop) D (stop) In addition to “C” a Destroyers escort will be required from Queenstown to meet homeward bound slow mercantile convoys sailing from Dakar every 8 days from both East and West Coasts (stop) The first convoy is due to arrive at Rendezvous 1st September (stop) E. In addition to this one convoy will be sailing every four days for Gibraltar from Milford1 for which only Trawler escorts are available at Milford and you will be required to re-inforce each of these Trawlers escorts by two Sloops or Destroyers (stop) F (stop) It is proposed to assemble at Queenstown all vessels of 13 knots speed and below sailing from Bristol Channel ports bound for North or South Atlantic but not for Mediterranean (stop) Ships to be formed into convoys and sailed by you with outward escorts proceeding under “C” and “D” (stop) Berehaven is suggested as an alternative assembly Port to Queenstown if circumstances render this necessary (stop) The average number of ships affected would be 3 to 4 per diem (stop) G (stop) It is proposed to commence assembling ships as above at Queenstown forthwith to sail with escort which meets convoy on 22nd August (stop) The Average distance from Queenstown to Destroyer Rendezvous will be 380 miles and in Eastbound convoys Queenstown escort will be relieved on reaching Longitude 5.00 West (stop). Report by telegraph whether you see any objection.”

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Copies addressed to: “Office./Operations.”

Footnote 1: The coal port of Milford Haven, Wales.

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