Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lieutenant Calvin H. Cobb, Commander, Duncan to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

                                  U. S. S. Duncan,

                                      Liverpool, England.

                                           17 August, 1918.

From:     Commanding Officer.

To:       Force Commander, U. S. S. MELVILLE.

SUBJECT:  Installation of underwater listening device on Duncan.

     1.   It is requested that, if possible, the M.V. listening device1 be installed on the Duncan during present refit, instead of the K-tube, for installation of which Cammell Laird2 has at present a standing order for all U.S. destroyers coming into their hands.

     2.   This request is made after having had an interesting experience with the K-tube which proved its inefficiency,in that instance anyway <;> after reading of the efficiency of the M.V. device as installed on the STEVENS<;> and after conversation with the Commanding Officer of the WILKES3<,> on which vessel the M.V. device is being installed at Devonport. The Commanding Officer of the WILKES appears to be enthusiastic about the M.V. device and Commanding Officers of vessels fitted with the K-tube are anything but enthusiastic about that apparatus.

     3.   The Duncan will be in this yard for about a month. It is understood that the inventor of the M.V. apparatus is at Devonport4, also that material, etc., for the installation of this device is obtainable at Devonport.

     4.   This seems to be a very favorable opportunity to install an efficient underwater listening device on the Duncan and it is urgently requested that steps be taken as soon as practicable and this vessel informed.

     5.   Work on installation of the K-tube has not been begun on this vessel yet and none will be done in this direction until the above requested information is received.

Source Note: D, DNA, RG45, Entry 520, Box 338. Document identifier: “44-5-W” in upper left corner of document. Time date stamp in upper left corner indicates the document was received by Sims on 20 August, 1918.

Footnote 1: The M.V. or MV Device (Multiple Unit Variable Compensated Acoustic Tubes) was an advanced variation the K-Tube listening device. The MV consisted of 12 air tubes covered by a blister-like metal casing. The device attached to the vessel by a plate which prevented ship noise from registering on the device itself, and allowed sonar detection while moving. The MV was adopted for use in submarine hunting and convoying. See: Norman Friedman, Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology, 297.

Footnote 2: Cammell Lairds was a shipbuilding firm in Liverpool, England.

Footnote 3: Lt. Cmdr. Thomas A. Symington.

Footnote 4: Charles Max Mason, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and member of the National Research Council, Submarine Committee, was the inventor of the MV device. The MV became the basis for the sonar detectors used in World War II. Friedman, Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology, 297.

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