Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

CABLEGRAM RECEIVED  August <1, 1917.>

Origin: <Opnav.>                                          Serial No. Simben 9

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Ref’d to

 C S1

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46 ADR

Simsadus

Simben 9, Your Simben 152 The Department desires to assure you that in all matters directly connected with naval policy it does not wish to limit your initiative in any way.Questions which involve national policy should not be initiated by you. Free discussion of such questions, when initiated by foreign governments, should be entered into, but it should be clearly understood and made clear to them that the decision must rest with Department. In this respect it will be seem [i.e., seen] that there are two fields; the first, a department or naval one; the second, a government or national one. Of the first, your initiative should be wholeheartedly applied; of the second, your suggestions and ideas are invited but these should be communicated to the Department prior to discussion with foreign governments. With reference to merchant vessels, the subject matter of your recommendations, the disposition is in another department of government and the need of ships here is so great it cannot agree to release for any purpose the ownership of any tonnage. Reapir [i.e., Repair] of ships is the comity that must prevail among Allied nations. The claim that tonnage should be turned over because of days consumed in work done is wholly untenable and could not be considered. We of course pay for such work. When it is remembered that we are making very great loans and that our sorest need is ships you will understand more clearly the unwillingness of the Government to accede the suggestions. Simben 9, 23001

Benson.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Sims' Chief of Staff, Capt. Nathan C. Twining.

Footnote 2: While “Simben 15” has not been located, it is summarized by Benson’s discussion in this cable.

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