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Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to All United States Naval Forces


U.S.S. MELVILLE,    Flagship.

London,        England.

21 August 1918.    


From:     Force Commander1

To:       All Forces.

SUBJECT:  Gunnery and Steaming.

     1.        The attention of all concerned is directed to the following letter from the Chief of Naval Operations :-

              In order to prepare and maintain all ships of the Naval establishment for service it is necessary that they should be able to perform satisfactorily in shooting and steaming, and that data should come in indicating the capabilities of the service afloat in these particulars under present conditions.

              It is directed that every effort be made to carry out gunnery exercises and steaming exercises with the consequent report of result of <methods> used and results obtained, with report of modifications found necessary to fit various service conditions.

              Certain exercises are prescribed from time to time for the use of the ships. It is the hope that these exercises and the reports dependent upon them are suitable to prepare personnel and material for active service and at the end know what has been accomplished by the data on hand. If the exercises do not tend to this end and the reports are not suitable it is desired that constructive criticism be made immediately by the usual methods.

              It has been demonstrated time and again that the only way to train personnel in shooting and steaming is for the ships to get out and carry out exercises. This not only trains the personnel but causes the personnel to keep the material in suitable condition for service. Several cases have been referred to the Department recently in which ships have asked to be excused from conducting exercises on account of poor condition of material and inexperienced personnel. In each case there has been ample evidence to show that if the personnel concerned had carried out even part of the exercises great good would have been accomplished. The Department does not approve a passive attitude in these matters, and it still less approves failure to make beneficial comment and constructive criticism when such would be appropriate.

              A considerable number of the ships of the Navy were out of commission for a long time prior to the declaration of war, and a considerable number of newly constructed ships are being put in commission. The Department is assured from past performance that these ships and their personnel will not be fit for service until they have conducted some of the exercises, modified if necessary, and taken steps to correct the errors made. Considerable latitude has been, and will be, allowed in methods of conducting exercises.

              It is directed that senior officers, particuarlyl in Naval Districts where the command is not so well centralized as it is afloat, require ships to get out and conduct exercises in gunnery and steaming. The cooperation of all officers is required to this end and it is directed that senior officers take the necessary steps to give the sense of this paper full publicity and bring it into affect with all units and all personnel under their commands.

/s/ W. S. BENSON.

WM. S. SIMS.       

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Notation below close: “Copies to :-/Brest 150/MELVILLE 75/ Gibraltar 35/ Aviation (Capt. [Hutchison I.] Cone [Commander, U.S. Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service]/Azores 15/[RAdm. Joseph Strauss] Commander Mine Force 32/Sixth Battle Squadron 15/Battleship Division Six 4/ Sub-Chaser Detachment One 40/" " " Two 40/" " " Three/ 40/C.O. Receiving Ship at Liverpool [Cmdr. Eugene L. Bisset] 2/N.P.O. [Naval Post Office] Plymouth 1/N.P.O. Cardiff 1/[RAdm. Henry T. Mayo] C-in-C Atlantic Fleet 1/[Medical Director Edward S. Bogert] Commanding Officer, Base Hospital Two 2/Captain [Richard H.] Jackson [United States Staff Representative, Paris] 2/[Cmdr. Frank R. McCrary] Commander Air Stations in Ireland 12/[Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth Whiting] C.O., U.S.N. Aviation Detachment, R.A.F. Killingholme 1/[Cmdr. Bayard T. Bulmer] C.O., U.S.N. Aviation Repair Base, Eastleigh, Eng. 1/Commander Roger Williams, General Headquarters American Expeditionary Force, France 2/U.S. Naval Railway Battery, No.1, A.E.F. Army Post Office No. 701, 1/Naval Attaches – Rome [Cmdr. Charles R. Train], Paris[Capt. Richard H. Jackson], Madrid [Capt. Walter S. Crosley], Christiania [Lt. Col. Arthur T. Marix, USMC], The Hague [Lt. Lynde D. McCormick], Copenhagen [Lt. Cmdr. John A. Gade], 1 each/Bunav 2/Bunav, for New Destroyers, 50/Files, 175.”

Footnote 1: This copy of Benson’s order to the entire Navy was sent to the headquarters of VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, for distribution to the forces under his command.

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