Skip to main content

Office of the Chief of Naval Operations to Lieutenant Commander Russell S. Crenshaw, Ocean Convoy Section, Naval Overseas Transportation Service





August 2, 1918.


          Lt. Comdr. Crenshaw.

     The following extract from report of Armed Guard Commander of S. S. PEARL SHELL is quoted for your information:1

     “This vessel left New York, N.Y.,on June 10, 1918, en route to Europe but had to return to New York when about 35 miles out on account of poor fuel oil. The oil would not burn properly and emitted a heavy black smoke that obscured everything in sight. This oil was pumped out at New York and a new lot pumped in which proved to be no better after we were out a few days and we were repeatedly warned by escort Commander in regards to our heavy smoke. The smoke was a serious menace to our convoy and the engineers force worked unceasingly to overcome it but to no avail. All day a heavy black smoke obscured half of the convoy and Captain Lane2 who is a veryefficient master inevery respect took this smoke nuisance very seriously. It seems that a very inferior grade of fuel oil is being supplied by some company’s and Captain Lane requested me to make this report so that the department might look into the matter. The Commanding Officer of theU. S. S. COLUMBIA3 no doubt, will make a report in regard to this smoke. The oil was supplied by the Standard Oil Co. of Bayonne, N. J.4

     No lights were shown by this vessel. But the use of blinker lights by ships in convoy is a matter that needs serious attention. The orders in regard to the use of Blinker lights should be stringently enforced as the use of these lights is going to be a serious menace to convoys.”

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The memorandum is on Office of the Chief of Naval Operations stationary.

Footnote 1: The identity of the commander of the armed guard on Pearl Shell is not known. For a photograph of the vessel, see: Illustrations for August 1918.

Footnote 2: Capt. Oscar Lane.

Footnote 3: Capt. Frank B. Upham, U.S. cruiser Columbia escorted the convoy.

Footnote 4: Nothing is known about what, if anything, was done.

Related Content