Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Patrol Squadron Based at Gibraltar, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

PATROL FORCE, U.S. ATLANTIC FLEET,

 U.S.S. BIRMINGHAM, Flagship.     

 25 August, 1917.                 

From:  Commander Patrol Force

To  :    Commander U. S. Naval Forces operating in European Waters.

SUBJECT:   Report of Operations Patrol Squadron based on Gibraltar, August 17th-25th.

Reference: (a) Par. 3a. Force Commander’s Campaign Order #1, of 1 August, 1917.1

Enclosure: (I) List of Allied ships in Gibraltar and vicinity.2

     1.   The Commander Patrol Force, in the BIRMINGHAM, arrived at Gibraltar at six p.m. 17 August, and found the Sacramento in the harbor. The Nashville arrived on the 18th, the Machias and Castine on the 22nd.3 As soon as formal calls had been exchanged, the Commander Patrol Force reported to Rear-Admiral H. S. Grant, C.B., R.N.,4 commanding this station and Senior Allied Naval Commander Present; and tendered to him the services of the Patrol Squadron based on Gibraltar, to the extent of its ability. The list of the Staff of the Commander Patrol Force is as follows:-

          Commander John Halligan, Jr.        Chief of Staff.

          Lieutenant Rufus King,           Flag Lieutenant.

          Lieutenant MahlonS. Tisdale,      Flag Secretary.

Lieutenant (j.g.) Frank F. Reynolds, R.F.  Aide.

Gunner Martin Dickinson,                   Radio.

     2.  The limits of this Station are on the West, the Line Cape Trafalgar-Sparto<e>l,5 and on the East, Cape Palos-Oran.

     3.  Allied vessels on this Station are shown in enclosure (a).

     4.  The projected plan of utilizing the U.S. Naval vessels is contained in the Senior Naval Officer’s secret letter to the Secretary, Admiralty. No. N 648/N 78/52 of 20 August, 1917, which plan had been submitted for my approval.6

     5.  Pending the inauguration of this schedule, Admiral Grant has been informed that the U.S. Naval vessels are available for any service to which they may be assigned. The Sacramento has, during the period covered by this report, made two trips escorting a convoy division of merchant ships about two hundred miles to the westward, through the local waters considered to be dangerous. The Castine will sail on similar duty to-morrow.

     6.  The Nashville and Machias are patrolling from Spartel to Rabat, from ten to eighteen miles offshore, having left port at 2:00 a.m. yesterday on three hours notice in consequence of submarine activity southwest of Spartel.

     7.  The policy has been inaugurated of inspecting armed guards and batteries of all armed American vessels touching at this port. The following vessels have been inspected:

     19 August    S.S. Platuria   from Newport News.

     21 August    S.S. Dochra     from New York.

     24 August    S.S. Polarine   from Beaumont.

     25 August    S.S. Santa Cecilia  for Baltimore.

     8.  The vessels of this Squadron at present on Station are in good condition for any service that may be demanded of them. Certain of the vessels are inadequately provided with light boats or life rafts, and none are available here. This will be made the subject of separate correspondence.     s  d

9.  This port is well stocked with coal at 46/11 per ton,7 and with supplies which will be required by our ships in the immediate future. The dock yard is prepared to issue frozen beef and mutton to the extent required and to store 25 tons of frozen meats.

     10.  The attitude of all British authorities is very cordial and there is excellent spirit of co-operation between the two services.

(Sgd.) H. B. WILSON.    

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. In the upper left-hand corner is the notation: “HJ COPY/SECRET.”

Footnote 2: This enclosure has not been found.

Footnote 3: For a list of the American ships to be stationed at Gibraltar and their projected date of arrival at that station, see: List of United States Navy Ships to be Based at Gibraltar, 8 August 1917.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Sir Heathcoat S. Grant, took command at Gibraltar on 5 July 1917.

Footnote 5: This word was originally typed as “Spartol” however, someone crossed through the “o” and handwrote “e” above it. Cape Spartel is a promontory in Morocco at the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar.

Footnote 6: In his letter to Sir Oliver Murray of 20 August, Grant proposed to use the “USA force, being the better armed and having the larger radius of action, as the escort for both East and West convoys, and to retain the British force at my disposal for the necessary patrols, escorts of Western convoy in the straits as far as Cape Spartel, and the occasional strengthening of Eastern escort of convoys as far as Malta.” Anglo-American Naval Relations, 404.

Footnote 7: That is, 46 shillings, 11 pence or roughly $5.30 per ton in 1917 shillings and dollars.

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