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Lieutenant Commander Rufus King, Intelligence Officer, Atlantic Fleet, to Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Patrol Squadrons Based at Gibraltar


U.S.S. BARMINGHAM [i.e., Birmingham], Flagship.1

24 August, 1917.

From:  Force Intelligence Officer.

To  :  Commander Patrol Force.

Subject:  Notes on submarine situation in vicinity of the Straits of Gibraltar.

     1.   The following information was obtained mostly from the Commander of the French Patrol Squadron on the West Moroccan Coast.

     2.   Submarines operating in this vicinity come from the Austrian bases, but are German boats. They stay out from the base about a month, taking approximately eight days to go out and eight days to return, and operating the rest of the time on their assigned stations.

     3.   The Commodore does not believe that the submarines have bases on the Spanish or Spanish-Moroccan Coast, where they refuel or overhaul, but states that many towns, especially Cadiz and Larache keep them supplied with fresh provisions, which are sent off to them in small coasting vessels. These towns also send information to the enemy by radio and visual signals. There is a rather large German colony in Larache, and the residence of the German Vice-Consul there is believed to be a regularly organized signal and radio station.

     4.   Submarines coming round from Germany to the Mediterranean usually spend about two days in this vicinity but those operating regularly here come out from the Mediterranean bases. They carry sufficient fuel for the entire time that they remain away from the base. They invariably pass through the Straits of Gibraltar at night, keeping close to the African Coast, and have, as yet, attacked no vessels in the Straits proper. There are many small bays in this part of the coast, and the commodore believes that the submarines hide and rest in these bays.

     5.   The British authorities appear to be satisfied with safe-guarding the merchant shipping, while the French Commodore is in favor of offensive action to eliminate the submarines. His force is at present too small to undertake any offensive operations, and he believes that a large number of submarine chasers could be used to great advantage in hunting out and attacking the enemy submarines along the Moroccan Coast.

/S/ Rufus King.         

Source Note: LTS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 413.

Footnote 1: Birmingham, Capt. Charles L. Hussey commanding, was part of the patrol squadron based on Gibraltar.

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