Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the British Admiralty Sir Oswyn A. R. Murray

S E C R E T.

August 8, 1918.

From: Force Commander.

To  : Secretary of the Admiralty.

SUBJECT: Protection of convoys in the event of escape of an enemy battle-cruiser from North Sea.

REFERENCE: (a) Memorandum No. 26, American Planning Section.1

           (b) P. D. 080 Admiralty Plans Division.2

ENCLOSURES: 2.

     1.   Based on the Memoranda by the Planning Section of my staff and the Plans Division of the Admiralty as above referred to but with some modification, the United States Navy Department has prepared a plan for the protection of convoys in the Atlantic against an enemy battle-cruiser or other strong raider which might escape from the North Sea or Dardanelles. Two copies of a draft of the plan are enclosed herewith.3

     2.   I have cabled to the Navy Department certain comments4 on this plan but the Department does not desire to make any material modification in it and proposes that it shall become immediately effective as respects United States troop convoys to France and the direct cargo convoys to French Bay ports and that it shall become operative with respect to those convoys on notification that a German battle-cruiser or strong raider has entered the Mediterranean or Atlantic.

     3.   I am directed by the Navy Department to take up this plan with the Admiralty5 immediately with a view to securing their concurrence as to HX and HC6 convoys carrying United States troops or for such suggestions as they may have to make respecting modification of the plans.

     4.   I am further directed to secure statements from the Admiralty of their opinion on the following points:

(a) The Admiralty’s ability to provide information concerning the exit of raiding forces from the North Sea, not later than the time when those forces would cross the line Scotland-Iceland. 

(b) Their opinion of the advisability of using our pre-dreadnaughts for troop and cargo escort duty; and their opinion as to the time when these battleships should begin this escort duty.

     5.   I would be obliged if the Admiralty will give me as early a reply as they find convenient, since the matter is somewhat urgent and a settlement should be reached without delay.7

/s/ WM. S. SIMS.        

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Identifier “CS 29440” appears near the top of the first page on the left side, and “3/C/H/J” appears in the upper-right corner of each page.

Footnote 1: This memorandum can be found in The American Naval Planning Section in London (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1923): 213-223.

Footnote 2: This document was the British Admiralty’s response to Planning Section Memorandum 26 and is included in ibid.

Footnote 3: This enclosure has been printed as a separate document. See: Raider Plan, 30 July 1918.

Footnote 5: Sims wrote to the Admiralty soliciting their response. See: Sims to Murray, 8 August 1918.

Footnote 6: HX convoys ran between New York and the west coast of England. HC convoys ran between Quebec or Halifax and England.

Footnote 7: There was considerable back-and-forth between the U.S. Navy and the Admiralty over the best plan to defend against a battle-cruiser. In October, British and American representatives met in Washington D.C. to hash out their differences. A final plan was not approved until 4 November, a week before the Armistice. No German battle-cruiser ever escaped the blockade, and thus no version of either nation’s defensive schemes was ever put to the test.

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