Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY.
August 1, 1918.
Simben No. 9. Your Simben No. 15.
The Department desires to assure you that in all matters directly connected with naval policy it does not wish to limit your initiative in any way. Questions which involve national policies should not be initiated by you. Free discussion of such questions, when initiated by foreign governments, should be entered into, but it should be clearly understood and made clear to them that the decision must rest with the Department. In this connection it will be seen that there are two fields: The first, a Departmental or Naval one; the second, a Governmental or National One. Of the first, your initiative should be whole-heartedly applied; of the second, your suggestions and ideas are invited, but these should be communicated to the Department prior to discussion with foreign governments. With reference to merchant ships, the subject matter of your recommendation, the disposition is in another department of Government and the need of shipping here is so great it cannot agree to release for any purpose the ownership of any tonnage. Repair of ships is the comity that must prevail among allied nations. The claim that tonnage should be turned over because of days consumed in work done is wholly untenable and could not be considered. We of course pay for such work. When it is remembered that we are making very large loans and that our sorest need is ships, you will understand more clearly the unwillingness of the Government to accede to the suggestion.