Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

<August 29, 1917.>

COPY

From:  Force Commander

To:    Secretary of the Navy (Operations)

Subject: Shipping in the Mediterranean.

Reference:  Opnav Cable 210 of August 21, 1917.1

     The whole question of handling shipping in the Mediterranean is now in the process of a change, preparatory to installing the convoy system in so far as practicable. The problem is a very complicated one as British, French, Italian, Japanese and American forces are operating in the Mediterranean. Before the arrival of the American forces the allied naval representative decided to place the whole control of shipping of the Mediterranean under the British.Admiral, with headquarters at Malta.2 The admiral at Malta will co-ordinate the activities of the allied forces available for escort duty, and place the convoy system in effect so far as possible with the limited number of vessels available for this duty. There will undoubtedly be delays of shipping, caused by the convoy system; but the system has been successful thus far, and the increased safety warrants the delay.

     Ships westbound out of the Mediterranean are regularly formed into convoys at Gibraltar, but the shipping within the Mediterranean is a much more complicated problem.3

Wm S. Sims         

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

Footnote 1: See, Sims to Henry B. Wilson, 20 August 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 2: Sims is referring to a conference held at Corfu from 28 April to 1 May. A number of issues were discussed and after some resistance it was decided that the British would exercise direction over the anti-submarine campaign, which increasingly focused on convoying. Royal Navy in the Mediterranean, 210-13. VAdm. Sir Somerset A. Gough-Calthorpe was the British commander at Malta.

Footnote 3: For the role that the United States Navy was to play in the Mediterranean, see: Wilson to Sims, 25 August 1917.

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