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Major General William L. Sibert, Director, Chemical Warfare Service to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations



Unit F, Floor 3,

Seventh & B Streets, N. W.,

Washington, D. C.

August 29, 1918.   

From: The Director, Chemical Warfare Service, U.S.A.

To:   Office of Naval Operations, State, War & Navy Building,

          Washington, D. C.

Subject:  Ship Regulations for Handling Gas Material.

     1.   The precautions adopted by the Army in the handling on shipboard of gas shells, grenades, cylinders, drums, etc., as well as incendiary material, are as follows:  Shipments of gas material overseas shall be divided under two heads, that capable of being handled as a deck load, and that requiring to be stowed below decks.

     2.   Of the deck-load material, all shipments of gas shells in boxes are available up to the deck-carrying capacity of the vessel, approximately 50,000 rounds. Beyond this amount, stowage will have to be provided below decks.

     3.   Phosphorus grenades and other phosphorus containers should be carried as deck loads so that in theevent of fire, same may instantly be detected and, if necessary, that part of the cargo that is actually on fire be disposed of overboard.

     4.   Below-deck shipments should be provided for all shipments of shells exceeding the deck-carrying capacity of the vessel, in which case it is necessary to make special provisions in the hold of the vessel to safely handle same. These alterations, as accepted by the Director of Shipping, Outports, 45 Broadway, New York, comprise the following:

     5.   The hold selected for the reception of this cargo is to be provided with fairly tight bulkheads with a view to preventing any possible gas leaks from penetrating to other parts of the ship.

     6.   The alterations to such hold will consist of,first, the installation of a false floor so as to allow ventilating space below the cargo, and the installation of inlet and outlet air ducts passing from the deck without openings until they enter the cargo space reserved for gas material.

     7.   The inlet air duct will start in a deck ventilator and terminate on the ceiling level of the hold containing gas shells. The outlet air duct shall run from a point just above the floor of the hold containing gas material and continue without opening to the deck of the vessel and to the inlet side of a steam-driven exhauster, same having sufficient capacity to afford proper ventilation. (A No. 5 “Sirocco” exhauster direct connected to a 4" x 4" steam engine, will be found satisfactory).

     8.   From the outlet side of the exhauster, the air shall be conducted overboard by means of a conduit, discharging on both the port and starboard sides; to the end of this rigid conduit will be attached canvas pipes (equipped with wooden hoops to prevent the canvas from collapsing), these pipes to be so arranged as to allow the outgoing air from the exhauster to pass overboard below the deck level.

     9.   The cross section of the inlet air duct should be not more than 75% of the cross section of the outlet duct leading from the hold, as it is desired that the operation of the exhauster will thus maintain a minus pressure on the atmosphere in the hold, which in turn will insure against any air in the hold leaking into other parts of the ship even if the bulkheads are not tight.

     10.  A proper hatch cover to the hold containing gas should be provided, same to be battened down and caulked with oakum when cargo is in place.

     11.  The Chemical Warfare Service will supply two officers to supervise the loading, unloading and general handling of gas material, their duties being to see that no dangerous conditions arise and that in the event of any accident occurring, proper remedies are forthcoming.

     12.  These officers will be equipped with necessary mechanical and medical supplies when accompanying cargoes of gas stowed below decks; it is, however, ruled that when only deck loads are carried, it is not necessary for any officers from the Chemical Warfare Service to accompany same, as the risk in this case of a concentration of gas forming is absent, it being obvious that any leakage that may occur will blow overboard and be immediately dissipated.

     13.  Ships carrying only deck loads will be supplied with six gas masks, receipt for which will be accepted from the officer in charge.

     14.  Ships handling below-decks load will be supplied with two officers from the Chemical Warfare Service to safeguard handling of material, and these officers will have in their charge sufficient gas masks to equip everyone on board. They will also have with them such surgical and other equipment as might be necessary in any emergency arising out of accident to the gas cargo.

     15.  These officers will be responsible for the medical equipment and gas masks in their charge, and if they are requested to consign same to the officer in charge of the ship, proper receipt should be issued to them to keep their accounts straight. It is the expectations of the Chemical Warfare Service that these officers will return with the ship after it has discharged its cargo unless advices to the contrary are forthcoming from this department.

     16.  Further information can be obtained at any time by applying to Captain C. M. S. Tait, Chemical Warfare Service, U.S.A., stationed in Washington, who has these matters in charge.

 /s/ Wm. L. Sibert,          

Major General, U.S.A.,  

Chemical Warfare Service.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 330. Document identifier: “GMST-H.”

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