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 Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, Patrol Forces Based in France

          S 1<-42/4/1 27870>                     2 August 1918

From   :  Force Commander.

To     :  Commander, U.S.Naval forces in France.

Subject:   Taking over of Lake Steamers by Navy.1

Reference: (a) Force commander’s letter to you #S1.25942 of July

                 17, 1918.2

     1. The following is a paraphrase of cable received from the Department:-

“You have authority to take over and man the following    Army transports now manned by civilians and being operated  “by General Pershing3 on bare boat charter :-

AUSABLE, JUPITER, KERESAN, KERLEW LEVISA U.S.A.T. McCLE<LL>AN, William O’BRIEN, BERWIND, HILTON, KEROWLEE, KERMOOR, LOUIS <LEWIS> K. THURLOW MOLDEGARD <MOLDEGAARD>, CAROLINIAN, FREDERICK LUCKENBAC<H>KERKENHA, MACONA, PEQUOT.

“Besides these, you have authority to take over and “man 20 Lake Steamers now on Time Charter to General “Pershing from Shipping control committee and manned “by civilians :-

LAKE ARTHUR, LAKE LEMANDO, LAKE OWENS, LAKE SUNAPEE, LAKE “WESTON, LAKE CAPENS, LAKE ELIZABETH, LAKE CLEAR, LAKE “LILLIAN, LAKE PEWAUKEE, LAKE TRAVERSE, LAKE EDON, LAKE MARY, LAKE PORTAGE, LAKE CRESCENT, LAKE OTISCO, LAKE ST. REGIS, LAKE TULARE, LAKE ST. CLAIR, LAKE LARGO.

“The first 19 vessels will be taken over by you as “soon as you have personnel available and will “continue on bare boat charter.

“The second 20 vessels will be taken over by you on “bare boat charter. Until you take them over, they “will continue on time charter.

“The second 20 Lake boats will be taken over by you “and crews provided as opportunity permits.

“Instruct present agent to continue the operation of “these boats until you are ready to man them.

“Payment of supplies, repairs, etc., will be made from “Naval appropriations and will be adjusted and charged “to the Army account later.

“Authorize you to enroll in appropriate Naval ratings “as many members of present crews as are qualified in “accordance with existing instructions. Inform “Bunav5 immediately number and ratings necessary in “addition to operate this vessel, also state where men “are to be sent.”

     2. In accordance with the authority contained in the foregoing, take these vessels over for purposes of manning and operation for account of the United States Army, and consider them in all respects as part of your command. The officers and crews, for purposes of pay, disciplinary measures and other matters of personnel will be handled by you from Brest.

     3. These vessels will continue in their present service for the United States Army, and you should arrange direct with the Director of Army Transport Service, Tours, France,6 in regard to the division of authority over these vessels. It is desirable that a clear understanding be arrived at,in order to avoid confusion in the future. It will also be necessary for this understanding to cover the relations between your representative at Cardiff,and the representatives in London and on the Bristol Channel of the Army Transport Service. It is requested that you keep this Office informed of the arrangements arrived at in this respect.

     4. Repairs and alterations will be approved by you or your local representatives at Cardiff and the French ports at which these vessels touch. The work should be carried out so far as possible without interfering with the movements of the vessels. Such work as if done in France can be done in accordance with your existing arrangements. Work done in Bristol Channel ports will be carried out by the Admiralty District Superintendent of Ship Repairs, at the request of your representative at Cardiff; the bills for this work will be checked and paid by the Admiralty as in the case of other United States Naval vessels, and the Admiralty will be reimbursed therefor through the United States Naval Headquarters in London.

     5. To carry out the above functions, it will undoubtedly be necessary to provide an adequate Staff for Commander Jeffers7 at Cardiff as your local representative.

     6. An Ordnance gunner has recently been ordered to report to Commander Jeffers.

     7. Commander Jeffers will shortly be ordered to report to you for consultation with regard to this subject, stopping in London en route and returning to Cardiff via London for consultation with the Force Commander.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: The “Lake” steamers were used to transport coal from Cardiff, Wales, for the use of the U.S. Army. Crowell and Wilson, The Road to France, 3: 359-60.

Footnote 2: Sims’ letter to Wilson of that date has not been found.

Footnote 3: Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, commander, American Expeditionary Forces.

Footnote 4: That is, United States Army Transport.

Footnote 5: Bureau of Navigation, which handled personnel matters for the Navy.

Footnote 6: Maj. Gen. F. J. Kernan.

Footnote 7: Cmdr. William N. Jeffers.

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