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Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

Op-17                                   August 16, 1917.


     To noon of August 1, 1917, fifty-one replies to the Department’s Alnav message dated August 2nd had been received from officers of the Service.  These replies were distributed by ranks as follows -1

Rear Admiral, U.S.Navy -3  Rear Admiral, Retired - 1

Captain, U. S. Navy – 2  Captain, Retired - - 3

Commodore, Retired - 1

Commander, U. S. Navy – 2  Commander, Retired - 3

Lieut. Comdr., U.S.Navy – 1  Lieut. Comdr. U.S., Retired 1

Lieutenant, U.S.Navy – 10  Colonel, USMC, Retired - 1

Ensign, U. S. Navy – 1  Gunner, Retired - 1

Paymaster General – 1  Pharmacist, Retired - 1

Assistant Naval Constructor - 2  Captain, Coast Guard - 1

Lieut. Naval Reserve - 1

Radio Gunner – 1  Lieut. (j.g.) Naval Res. 1

Gunner- 1  Ensign, Naval Reserve - 1

Naval Constructor – 1  Passed Assistant Surgeon - 1

Chief Boatswain – 1

     The following is a brief synopsis of all suggestions received arranged in the chronological order of their receipt. These suggestions are all being referred to the General Board for study and recommendation. All recommendations have been acknowledged.

     From Lieut. R.C. Grady, USN., urging a more extensive use of mines;

     From Comdr. W. R. Gherardi, USN., giving information concerning German coast fortifications in Belgium, and urging the use of a mine barrage in the North Sea.2

     From Assistant Naval Constructor J.L. McGuigan, urging government control of labor at navy yards and ship yards by conscription;

     From Rear Admiral Leigh C. Palmer, U.S.N, recommending that a Naval mission be sent abroad to study the situation.

     From Surgeon E.O. Huntington, Retired, suggesting the use of decoy vessels.3

     From Capt. B.H. Camden, Coast Guard, suggesting the use of flat bottom vessels to avoid submarines and other mine layers.

     Captain John G. Quinby, U.S.N, Retired, suggests painting of outlines of destroyers on the sides of transports for disguise and decoy.

     Lieut C. C. Gill,U.S.Navy, suggestions regarding look-out system, depth bombs, small craft in general, dirigibles, and a complete translation of a French article on lookouts.

     Commander T. W. Ryan, U.S.N., Retired, suggestions regarding mine sweeping by the use of paravanes on high speed submarines.4

     Assistant Naval Constructor J. A. Davis,U.S.N, suggests commandeering of small fast motor boats and placing them on merchant ships to use against submarines.

     Rear Admiral H.P. Huse,U.S.N. – Organize bureaus of Navy Department under a single head corresponding to Chief of Naval Operations. Mobilize American merchant marine under the Navy. Stop transfers in Battleship Force One.

     Captain John G. Quinby, U.S.N., Retired – Transmits invention regarding moored submersible buoys fitted with torpedoes.

     Gunner F. Petry, U.S.N. – Method of defense and attack by timed torpedoes fired from merchant ships.

     Passed Assistant Surgeon R. B. Henry, U.S.N. – Plan for building huge reservoirs to flood out the enemy army.

     Lieut. (j.g.) Eric L. Barr, U.S.N., suggests sending submarine officers to destroyers to assist in anti-submarine warfare.

     Capt. S.S. Wood, U.S.N., suggests the building and retention, so far as possible, of our main fighting force, surrounded by necessary auxiliary craft.  Points out certain political considerations – a lengthy paper.

     Lieut. P. N. L. Bellinger, U.S.N. discusses present methods of anti-submarine warfare. Recommends an aeronautic ship.

     Lieut. (j.g.) L.F. Smith, U.S.N.R.F., suggests trailing torpedoes from patrol vessels.

     Lieut. J. N. Patton, U.S.N.R.F., suggests mystery ship.

Lieut. (j.g.) C.M. Cooke Jr., U.S.Navy, suggests a patrol service for the North Sea with 3-inch 50 caliber guns or larger. Indicates number of vessels required.

     Lieut. H.H. Frost, U.S.N. – Historical resume of the war. Discusses methods of anti-submarine warfare and suggests land operations.  Also a lengthy paper on control of torpedo fire.

     Col. H. K. White, U.S.M.C., Retired, suggests training birds to chase submarines.

     Lieut. Comdr. H.H. Royall, U.S.N., suggests aerial propeller for motor boats to deaden noise.

     Gunner I.F. Julian, U.S.N., suggests employment of baby submarines.

     Lieut. H.A. Waddington, U.S.N. suggests mining in and netting the Heligoland Bight and Belgian coast.

     Gunner T.C. Wester, U.S.N., suggests torpedo nets of light construction made of phosphor bronze

     Lieut. Comdr. A.M. Cohen, U.S.N. - Use of field artillery on Army transports.

     Commodore J.T. Newton, U.S.N. Retired, suggests tactical use of submarines in formation with battleships.

     Pharmicist I.N. Hurd, U.S.N. Retired, suggests hydrocyanic acid in shells.5

     Rear Admiral A.C.Dillingham, U.S.N., Retired, suggests conduct of the war by a board of officers free from administrative work.

     Commander W.M. Hunt, U.S.N., method of gunnery training.

     Lieut. F.R. McCrary, U. S. N., deep sea scouting by coastal dirigibles. Says seaplanes are ineffective.

     Rear Admiral Reynold T. Hall, U.S.N., suggests an audion detector.

     Commander C.M. Stone, U. S. N., Retired – Suggests torpedo nets for merchant ships.

     Lieutenant (j.g.) C. S. Gillespie, U. S. N. – Suggests financial support of newly organized aircraft companies in order to stimulate production

     From Chief Boatswain C.K.R.Clausen, U. S. N., suggesting men school teachers throughout the country and training camps for boys.

     From Lieut. C. M. Yates, U.S.N., suggesting detail of submarine officers to destroyers.

     From Lieut. B. Bruce, U.S.N., suggesting the wider dissemination of confidential information from abroad.

     From Lieut-Comdr. F. L. Sandoz, U.S.N., Retired, suggesting the concentration of shipbuilding on anti-submarine craft and the rapid building of aeroplanes, dirigibles and balloons.

     From Ensign (T) N. A. Johnson, U.S.N., suggestion for saving life at sea by the use of tethered buoys.

     From Lieut. Paul H. Rice, U.S.N., suggesting that a submarine detector be designed and installed at intervals along the coast.

     Captain Gustav Kaemmerling, U.S.N. suggesting method of increasing the output of private factories engaged on government contracts.

     Commodore James H. Heatherington U.S.N. (Retired), suggesting jet propulsion for submarines and small craft.

     Ensign L.S. Crosby, U.S.N., notes on compass attachment for steering spiral courses

     Lieut.(j.g.) P.S.Lincoln, U.S.N.R.Force, suggesting censorship of information to Latin America.

     Lieut.(j.g.) Scott M. Thompson, U.S.N.R.Force, suggesting the weeding out of unpatriotic and cowardly officers in order to save the money contributed to the Liberty Bonds by the widows and orphans.

     Naval Constructor G.A. Bissett, U.S.N., suggesting the control of Navy Yards in all industrial and purchase departments by Naval Constructors

     Commanding Officer, U.S.S. TYBEE, suggesting a special form of coil steel rod as a submarine barrier and the use of sea sleds in submarine warfare.

     Comdr. C. S. Stanworth, U.S.N. Retired, suggests the use of ground mines and “chevau de frise” in case submarines lie on the bottom.6

     From Gunner Fred. G. Keyes, U.S.N. suggesting the use of fishing schooners in anti-submarine warfare.

W S Benson         

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers.

Footnote 1: See: Josephus Daniels to All Officers of the United States Navy, 2 August 1917. This message asked all officers in the navy to consider and provide ideas on how to win the war.

Footnote 2: Comdr. Walter R. Gherardi was the Naval Attaché at Berlin and The Hague prior to the United States' entrance into the war.

Footnote 3: Decoy vessels, also known as Q-Ships or mystery ships were warships disguised to look like merchant vessels to lure U-Boats into battle.

Footnote 4: Paravanes, a British wartime invention, were small devices towed by ships. Their “teeth” could cut through a mine’s moorings, causing it to float to the surface where a ship’s gunners could explode it harmlessly. At the Royal Navy’s insistence, American ships operating with the Grand Fleet were equipped with paravanes. Still, Crisis at Sea: 324.

Footnote 5: Audion is a 3 electrode vacuum tube.

Footnote 6: “chevau de frise,” a misspelling of the French cheval-de-frise, translates to “Frisian Horses,” and refers to an obstacle where barbs or spikes are attached to a wooden frame.