Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

 

OFFICE OF NAVAL OPERATIONS.

SECRET.                  Washington, D.C.

Aug.,4.1917.

From---Chief of Naval Operations

To-----The Officer Commanding Forces in European Waters and to The Commander of Cruiser Force.1

Subject---Troop Convoy Procedure--General Policy of.

1.---In reply to the letter of Commander of Cruiser Force, 3 Aug., ’17,--C-94(30)6.2

2.---Referring specially to par(3), in which is outlined by that officer the method of procedure which should be followed, in these matters.

The Office of Operations deems it advisable to inform the Officer Commanding U.S.Forces in European Waters, and the Commander of the Cruiser Force,now,its policy in this matter to prevent any misunderstanding, ormiscarriage of its general plans.

3.---The present scheme of troop convoy adopted, is not similar to the method adopted for the sailing of the first expedition.Generally speaking, there is a port of embarkation, and one of debarkation.There are two separate and distinct naval forces one guiding the operations at each end.

4.---Div.,2 of the Cruiser Force and Divs.,2 and 3 of Flotilla One of the Destroyer Force,are specially designated for duty in connection with the escort of troop convoys from this coast.

The Commander of the Cruiser Force is expected to furnish the naval escort,and the Troop Ships under naval control, (to be used by the Army)when requisition is made on the Navy by the Army,for bottoms in which to transport troops across the Ocean.He will also be informed of the number of chartered Army Troop Ships it is the intention to move at the time specified.He will be furnished with any other necessary information.He will see that the forces under him are at all times in readiness to answer to any reasonable call the War Department may make upon the Navy Department in the matter of the transport and escort of troops.

He will exercise a general supervision over all naval transport units used for this particular purpose.He will also exercise general supervision over the particular units assigned to perform any special convoy task,but the officer specially selected for each particular convoy task,will be the one to whom the details of the routing are confided,and will be the one held immediately responsible for the successful performance of the particular task to which he is assigned.The Commander of the Cruiser Force will designate the ships of his force and the officer to whom the control of each particular convoy task is to be assigned.The responsibility of safely conducting any particular convoy group,will rest with the officer designated as the Commander of that Convoy Group,until said designated officer shall have turned his group over in safety to the commander of the escort group of destroyers detailed for this purpose by the Officer commanding U.S. Forces in European Waters.

5.---The Officer Commanding U.S.Forces in European Waters will be held responsible for providing a suitable destroyer escort for the troop ships through the Danger Zone.He will cause the troop ships of each convoy group,to be met according to a certain predetermined plan,and he will see that the escort provided by himself,accompanies the convoy group to its destination.He will further see that the convoy group when discharged at its port of debarkation,is suitably escorted through the danger zone on its return home.This shall be done either by providing an escort from our own destroyers,or by suitable arrangements with the Admiralty of the Allied power in whose territory our troops may be landed.He is further authorized as Senior Officer in European Waters,to facilitate in any way within his power,the movements of the troop ships under naval control,or the accompanying naval craft,to and fro within the waters of the danger zone,or in the Allied ports.

6.---The Office of Operations assumes charge and responsibility for the general plan of troop movements overseas.It will coordinate the movements of our two separate naval forces engaged in this type of operations.It will be the operating agent between the Army and the Navy,and between the Navy and our Allies.It will be the agent of communication between all forces concerned(including the Army),once a convoy group leaves our shores.It will charge itself with obtaining all information essential to the successful execution of the general plan.It will arrange the details of the plan for each convoy group,in personal conference with the officer specially detailed to convoy that group. It will cause to be desseminated to the proper authorities,all information necessary for them to efficiently perform their share of the task at hand.It will not disclose itself,nor does it permit to be disclosed by others except as it so authorizes,any information bearing on the duty to be perfomed by the various convoy groups.

W.S. BENSON.

 

 

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. A recipients list at the bottom details “Copies for/C-in-C/Comdr.Cruiser Forces/Officer Comdg.Forces European Waters/File.”

Footnote 1: RAdm. Albert Gleaves. In addition to serving as Commander of Convoy Operations in the Atlantic, Gleaves was still in command of the Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet.

Footnote 2: This letter has not been found.

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