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 Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas

August 23rd 1918.  

My dear Pringle,

     When Admiral Bayly1 passed through here the other day he made some rather disquieting remarks to Babcock2 about intending to sending the submarine chasers out for a month to cruise around Ireland and learn the harbors and so forth.

     I have not had any conversation with him about this myself but I want to particularly invite your attention to the instructions that were sent up with regard to the use to which these chasers were to be put.3

     You will see from these that they are intended for hunting work exclusively. This thing has been taken up carefully with the Navy Department and has been discussed before the Allied Naval Council and the Admiralty. I enclose you herewith a memorandum on this subject which gives quotations from papers that have been submitted to the Allied Council and also instructions that have b been issued to the commanders of submarine chasers at Base 25.4

     It must be clearly understood that these chasers are to be used only for the purpose for which our Government intended. Of course the tactics of the chasers will depend largely upon the instruments with which they are fitted and upon the capabilities of the boats. We do not know much about these tactics at the present time, but a good deal of experience has been gained with those now based on Corfu and withthose based on Plymouth. As fast as information is available on this subject it will of course be sent to you. I should think this would be a guide to begin with. We hope however,that Hepburn5 will be able to develop his own soon.

     The point of the whole matter is that we want to use these boats to hunt submarines, and we want as far as possible for the man in command of them to be pretty free to develop his own tactics. Of course Admiral Bayly will have absolute military command of them and will do as he pleases with them, but if there should be any decision to use them for any purpose for which theywere not intended, I am so sure of the Navy Departments attitude in this matter, that I should be obliged to withdraw them and send them back to Plymouth.

     I am trusting to you and to Hepburn to put this thing acros s in the way in which it is intended.

Very sincerely yours,        

/s/ W.S.Sims.           

Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: “Captain J.R.P. Pringle,U.S.N. /U.S.S.Melville./ Queenstown, Ireland. Note at top of page: “Admiral Sims’ personal files.” Document identifier in columnar fashion: “1/3/J/D.”

Footnote 1: Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander-in-Chief, Coast of Ireland. On his visit to London, see: Bayly to Sims, 12 August 1918.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. John V. Babcock, Sims’ personal aide.

Footnote 4: Neither of these documents has been found; Base 25 was at Corfu, Greece.

Footnote 5: Capt. Arthur J. Hepburn, Commander, United States Submarine Chasers at Queenstown.

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