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 Navy Josephus Daniels

21 August 1918.

From:-    Force Commander.

To:-     The Secretary of the Navy (Operations).

Subject:- SHORTAGES AND MISSING PARTS IN NAVAL AVIATION SHIPMENTS FROM THE UNITED STATES.

1.   It is extremely unfortunate that, having completed practically all of our obligations as regards the construction of aviation stations in Europe, we are prevented from actual participation in the war offensively with American material due to the serious confusion in which Naval aviation shipments arrive in Europe.1

2.   Perhaps the most vitally important point is the condition in which Liberty Motors are received by our operating forces. Almost invariably these motors have to be overhauled, damaged parts replaced, and generally tuned up to such an extent that if it actually requires 200 man hours before they are available for use. Naturally this great loss of time is of the most serious importance and must be eliminated before we can participate with anydegree of success in the anti-submarine campaign alongside of our Allies in the air.

3.   The defective propellers which were shipped to us in large numbers caused us exceedingly great embarrassment and, although we have actually contracted for a considerable number of propellers in France, every effort should be made to remedy this defect in the United States and propellers sent to us should be thoroughly tested and proved before being despatched.

4.   The delay in the delivery of numerous items urgently needed for the construction of our Naval Aviation Repair Base at Pauillac, France, has also been a very serious set-back to us. Manufacturing conditions in France are such that it is practically impossible to secure certain necessary articles to replace those missing in aviation shipments from the United States. The Aviation Repair Base at Pauillac is only now beginning to operate and it will, therefore, be some considerable time before we can manufacture parts to replace those damaged or missing.

5.   I do not consider it necessary to enumerate the many instances in which we have been handicapped by the evident lack of proper inspection and the confusion in the shipping of aviation material to us. Sufficient to say that had aviation material been properly inspected and shipped, we should even now be operating quite extensively in the anti-submarine campaign. Under the existing conditions, however, we are falling behind our estimated entry into the war from the standpoint of Naval aviation, and, for this reason, I strongly urge that every possible effort be made to eliminate our present troubles.

6.   Although it is somewhat of a deviation from the general subject of this letter I cannot lay too much stress upon the magnificent work accomplished by the officers and menattached to our Naval Aviation Forces in Europe. Handicapped as they are by the existing conditions, they are making steady progress in the right direction, and just as soon as we shall have assembled sufficient aeroplanes, we will make ourselves as distinctly felt in the air as we have done in other theaters of the war.

WM. S. SIMS.                 

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Identifier “A-1 30311” appears in the upper-left corner.