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 Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

Subject Copy.                               File No. 29-11-3

CABLEGRAM SENT           August 22 1918 JFG

To: Opnav Washington              Serial No 3267

Prep. by M-1        NCT1    D.R.

                                           36 ARD.

SECRET

3267 Malta Conference on Mediterranean mining2 with representatives from United States, England, France, Italy and Japan recommended as follows :

     (a) Great Britain, France and Italy disapproves Cape Bon-Sicily Barrage on two grounds : first it would make extremely difficult manage convoys in and out Mediterranean: second, it would increase submarine activities against ships from East which carry important supplies.

     (B) Conference approved barrages in following sequence :

(I)  British and French continue present mining operations in Dardanelles which are of minor importance.

(2)  Italy and France complete mine nets between Otranto and Fano Island. United States lay one row deep mines below nets except where water is over 600 fathoms, where nets will be increased by Italy and France to 300 feet below surface, so that completed barrage will offer obstruction to passage from 30 feet below surface to 300 feet. Surface to be patrolled by present mobile barrage consisting of Great Britain, France, Italy and United States surface craft. Fano to Corfu already closed by nets by Italy and France.

(3)  United States lay a mine barrage between Santa Maria <di Leuca> and Fano Island or from some point further north between Santa Maria de Leuca and Cape Otranto across to Fano Island, conditional upon the successful production of a mine suitable for depths involved. This barrier to extend from 10 feet to 285 feet below surface. If however the objections raised by Italy could be overcome a mine barrage with suitable gate should be laid between Otranto and Cape Linguetta in preference to the one between Cape Santa Maria de Leuca and <F>ano Island.3

(4)  United States lay mine barrage in Aegean between Eubo<e>a Island and Cape Kanapitza as proposed in planning section memorandum 374 with one gate 500 to 1000 yards wide in middle of Doro channel.

Subsequent to adjournment of Conference, information received from Italian authorities favoring location of mine barrage between Brindisi and Sa<s>eno Island with one gate on Italian coast in lieu Santa Marie de Leuca and Fano Island proposal of Conference.

     This location farther north believed more acceptable to other members of Conference as giving greater freedom of action to mobile barrage of Allied patrol vessels, greater protection to mine field against weather, and depths of water under 500 fathoms.

     I request Department’s approval of following which I consider satisfactory solution submarine situation Mediterranean: Upon completion North Sea Barrage, or in case the weather renders further mining there impossible, United States Mine Force undertake mining in Mediterranean as follows :

(I)  Lay one row deep mines below mine nets between Otranto and Fano Island, except where water is over 500 fathoms.

(2)  Lay complete mine field between Brindisi and Sa<s>eno Island: Limits of field Latitude 4- - 43, Longitude 18 - 04

Limits of field Latitude 40 - 24 Longitude 18 - 27

                       40 - 19          19 - 15

                       40 - 36          19 - 19

Field to consist of ten rows at 45 feet, four rows at 125 feet, four rows at 206 <205> feet and four rows at 285 feet. Mines in rows to be 300 feet apart. Gate on Italian coast not over four miles wide to be reduced to two miles if possible and to have mine nets in gate extending from 30 feet below surface to bottom. These nets to be laid by French and Italians with such materials as they cannot furnish supplied by United States. Passage between Sas<s>eno and mainland to Eastward is already closed by France and Italy.

(3)  Lay mine barrage in Aegean between Euboea Island and Cape Kanapitza with gate in Doro Channel.

     If this approved by Department and accepted by Allied Naval Council material required is as follows :-

Number I, 1500 mines with 70-feet antennae, 285 foot plummet cords, and 500 fathom mooring cables.

Number 2, 7700 present type and 13000 with 500 fathom mooring cables

Number 3, Approximately 13000 present type and 6000 with 500 fathom mooring cables, the exact number to be cabled when calculated.

          All these operations are to be carried out from one Base in Mediterranean, the location of which will be cabled later. 133222. 3257.

                                  SIMS.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document identifier: “1/6/J/Q” appears in upper right corner. The date is confirmed by the time/date stamp at the end of the text.

Footnote 1: Captain Nathan C. Twining, Chief of Staff, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.

Footnote 4: See, Memorandum No. 37 “Estimate of General Situation in the Mediterranean,” American Naval Planning Section London (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1923): 245-254.

Related Content