Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander, Battleship Division Nine, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

[Extract]

CONFIDENTIAL       

Battleship Division Nine

UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET,

U.S.S. NEW YORK, Flagship

[Rosyth, Scotland]

10 August 1918.    

From:     Commander BATTLESHIP DIVISION NINE.

To  :     Secretary of the Navy (OPERATIONS).

Via :     Force Commander.

Subject:  General Report – week ending 10 August 1918.

     1.   DIVISION OR SQUADRON FORMATION IN DANGER ZONES.

          Column or line-of-bearing should be maintained dependent upon kind of danger most likely to be encountered; using column in mined area, line-of-bearing when submarines are likely to be more dangerous.

          REASONS:

(a)    In mined area ships in column following the leader, with paravanes pass over a swept area.

(b)    In mined area in column, at high speeds, zig zagging, and an efficient destroyer screen, there is less danger to ships from submarines then there would be from mines if in line-of-bearing.

(c)    In unmined areas, or off soundings, line-of-bearing is preferred.

(d)    In the North Sea, where mining operations by the enemy are particularly active, and often in unknown and scattered localities, column is generally maintained.

(e)    In a recent operation when this and one other battleship division constituted a supporting force for minelayers, the formation maintained was as follows:-

(1)    In mined areas both divisions in column.

(2)    In supposedly unmined areas, leading division in line-of-bearing,1 open orders, followed by other division distant two miles in column, open order (800 yards); both zig zagging, speed 17-1/2, each ship with destroyer screen. The zig zagging of the two division was not simultaneous but staggered, thus adding to a submarine’s plotting and maneuvering difficulties.

(3)    The above formations held during daylight. At night both in column, close order, (500 yards) speed 16 knots, distant apart five miles, steering steady prearranged courses.

       2. INSPECTION OF FLORIDA.

          Tuesday, 6 August, inspected the FLORIDA, combining the annual and efficiency in one.

          The marked improvement in cleanliness and smartness in ship and crew was most noticeable; her spick and span appearance leaves nothing to be desired; she is a credit to the service.

          Faults noted at previous inspection have been largely overcome; her recent main battery practice was excellent; her dispersion was very small.

       3. MOVEMENTS OF VESSELS.

         Wednesday forenoon, 7 August, the Division had its usual weekly exercise underway; and repeated its previous schedule; namely:

(a)    Maneuvered to avoid simultaneous torpedo attack by two destroyer forces from different directions.

(b)    Concentration of main battery fire using one-pounders,

(c)    Rangefinder, plotting and tracking.

     4.   MINING OPERATION.

          This Division, together with a battleship division of the GRAND FLEET, with destroyer screens and a light cruiser squadron, sailed early Thursday morning, 8 August, to support mining forces in the North Sea. The operation was successfully executed and we all returned to base, arriving early Saturday morning, 10 August, when all ships filled with coal to capacity.

     5.   INCIDENTS OF THE OPERATION, SUBMARINES AND MINES SIGHTED.

          On Thursday, 8 August, at 10:00 to 12:00 P.M., low twilight, Lieutenant-Commander Smeallie,2 navigator of the FLORIDA, amongst others, unmistatably sighted the wake of a hostile torpedo, the bubbles being distinctly visible, which barely missed the ship. The torpedo was fired from the port side and the wake was seen on the starboard side abreast No. 2 turret, which indicates that it had passed just ahead or under the ship. A periscope was reported on the port side at almost the same time. The ship at the time was directly in the track of enemy’s submarines which used the Fair Island Passage around the North of Scotland.

          Several floating mines were sighted. On the morning of Thursday, 6 August, the ARKANSAS opened fire on some object, possiblya mine indicator, which was taken for a periscope, and was joined by the TEXAS and WYOMING, each firing one or two shots.

          6. COMPOSITION OF DIVISION NINE.

          Letter appended in reference thereto is self-explanatory.3 Information is at hand that the German Fleet is concentrating and that there is a greatly increased activity at her dockyards.

          7. VISIT OF PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA.

          Sir Robert Laird Borden, Prime Minister of Canada, with a body of Canadian Officials, paid a visit to this ship on Monday, 5 August. He was please to express his high appreciation of the very cordial relations which were found to exist between the American and British forces operating together in the Grand Fleet. . . .

Hugh Rodman            

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 381. Distribution list below close: “To: OPERATIONS (2)./Copies to: CinC., At.Fleet [Adm. Henry T. Mayo]/ Force Comdr. [VAdm. William S. Sims]/ Dir. Nav.Int. [Capt. Roger T. Welles, Jr.]/Adm.Badger [Adm. Charles J. Badger, President, General Board of the Navy].” Documentary identifiers at top of page: “File 7.” and “1/S.” There is also a running head at the top of the second page: “C.B.D.9 [Commander Battleship Division 9 - Subject: General Report – week ending 10 August 1918.”

Footnote 1: The ships in a line, using the same bearing, i.e., direction.

Footnote 2: Lt. Cmdr. John M. Smeallie.

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