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Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Admiral William B. Caperton, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet



From Secnav        To   C-in-C        Date: 11 August 1917

     Referring to 14308, the department desires that every unit of the fleet be so placed that it is utilized to its maximum, and therefore wishes that you examine into the question as to the necessity of desirability of the United <States> maintaining the present naval force on the Brazilian Coast,1 with a view to either its entire withdrawal or reduction thereof.2

     In reference to department’s 23004, the Department fully realizes the suggestive delicacy of the mission given you in this message. It deems it to be of greatest importance, and desires that you expedite the investigation of interned vessels with a view of obtaining as many for use by the United States a as early a date as possible. If arrangement is made to withdraw or reduce the force in Brazilian waters, it is contemplated by the Department to utilize such a movement for towing the German ships to the United States for repairs._Acknowledge._18010.

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

Footnote 1: In a 25 June meeting aboard Pittsburgh, Caperton and Commo. (2nd class) Sir Aubrey C. H. Smith, Commander, Patrol Squadron based on the East Coast of South America, made arrangements for a joint British and American force to patrol the eastern coast of South America. As part of this agreement, the United States committed four vessels to patrol and secure the Brazilian coast; see, Procedures for Patrolling the East Coast of South America Agreed to by the British and American Naval Commanders in the Theater, 29 June 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. A short time after this agreement was reached, the government of Brazil agreed to join the patrol of the waters off its coast; see, Caperton to Navy Department, 12 July 1917, ibid., and Caperton to Benson, 8 August 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 2: Despite Daniels’ wish for a reduction in naval forces off the Brazilian coast, Caperton ultimately recommended maintaining the force agreed upon with Commo. (second cla Smith, even after Brazil formally entered the war against Germany on 26 October 1917; Bisher, Intelligence War: 160-162 and 234-236.

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