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

[Extract]

                        <4>5 August <4,> 1918.1

From:     Force Commander

To  :     Secretary of the Navy (Operations)

SUBJECT:       General Report.

     1.   CONCERNING THIS REPORT.

          Owing to the uncertainty of mail movements in European Waters, and the demands made upon the Force Commander’s staff, it is impossible to make this General Report a weekly report. It is submitted as often as sufficient material is available to warrant, and as time permits.

     2.   ENEMY SUBMARINE OPERATIONS.

          During the week ending July 20th the number of enemy submarines of the large type operating outside the North Sea was from 16 to 22. Two of these of the converted cruiser type were working off the North American coast where one of them has apparently been laying mines. The submarine activity during the week was evidently directed toward interfering with traffic into the Irish Sea and the Channel ports. There was a concentration of submarines off the North Channel to the Irish Sea; four to six submarines were constantly operating in that area during the week. Similarly there were from six to eight boats operating to the South of Ireland and west of Brest. Part of the week there were as many as ten submarines in this area. One which was far west has proceeded toward the Azores and another is known to be now homeward bound. There were apparently a number of smaller submarines on the east coast of England, and also in the Channel. There is a submarine in the Azores operating between longitude 13-15 degrees west. There was very little activity in the Bay of Biscay and there seems to have been a smaller number of submarines operating inthe Mediterranean than usual.

     The following table is the British Admiralty’s estimate of the approximate distribution of submarines during the week, including submarines of the smaller as well as the larger type:-

 

AREA

Average No. of s/ms in area per day

North Sea, South of 53 degrees 30’ N

1

North Sea, North of 53 degrees 30’ N.

5 - 6

S. W. of Ireland

1

Atlantic, North of Finisterre

7

Atlantic, South of Finisterre

1

N. W. of Ireland and Scotland

5 - 6

Atlantic (Western)

2

Irish Sea, North of 54 degrees N

?

Irish Sea, South of 54 degrees N

?

Irish Sea, Bristol Channel

1

English Channel, approaches

2 (?)

English Channel W. of Lyme Regis

1

English Channel E. of Lyme Regis

1

Bay of Biscay

1

Unplaced

4 - 5

                             TOTAL             33 – 36

          The public reports of the sinking of the JUSTICIA to the north of Ireland were very inaccurate.2 The submarine movement experts of the Admiralty believe that when the JUSTICIA WAS FIRST TORPEDOED there were four submarines on station off the North Channel and that the JUSTICIA convoy ran across the track of an additional submarine which was just taking station further out or was on its way south. This submarine scored the first hit on the JUSTICIA. The JUSTICIA was then taken in tow and protected by twelve destroyers, several sloops and five or six trawlers and was headed to the southward by five tugs. While in tow the JUSTICIA passed through the area of one of the submarines on station off the North Channel and was torpedoed and sunk by her in spite of the efforts of the escort. There is no evidence of a concentration of submarines for the purpose of attacking the JUSTICIA and it is probable that both submarines which attacked the JUSTICIA at intervals of about eighteen hours, were accidentally encountered. The JUSTICIA was first torpedoed at 4:08 p.m. on the 19th, 19 miles west southwest of Sperryvore Light, and was sunk at 1:45 p.m. on the 20th in a position eighteen miles south west by north from Malin Head. The patrol craft, which had been protecting the JUSTICIA, continued their hunt for the enemy submarines and at 6:50 p.m. UB-124 was sighted on the surface by the British destroyer MARNE and was sunk by gunfire, the commanding officer and 31 men being taken prisoners.3

     (a)  ATTACKS UPON ENEMY SUBMARINES.                       

          During the week July 13-20, British Admiralty reported 36 engagements with submarines in North Atlantic waters, as follows:-

              13 by T.B.D’s of T.B’s [i.e. torpedo boat destroyers]

              5 by Northern “Fish” hunting Force

              1 by Special Service Ship

              1 by Merchant Vessel

              7 by Auxiliary Patrol

              1 by Minesweeper

              7 by Aircraft

              1 by Shore Battery

          In addition to the UB-124, sunk by H.M.S. MARNE, the UB-110 was also sunk.4 The action with this submarine was of interest, especially because of the co-operation in attack between the various patrols. The submarine had attempted to attack a local east coast convoy from the Tyne tothe Humber on July 19th. She was first sighted and fired on by a trawler and was then bombed by a seaplane, which was on patrol escorting the convoy. The submarine then submerged but was almost immediately brought to the surface by depth charges dropped by ML-263. On coming to the surface she was twice rammed and sunk at 3:50 p.m. by the H.M.S. GARRY in a position 11 miles east by south from Hartlepool. A total of 12 prisoners, including the commanding officer, were taken. The H.M.S. GARRY was seriously damaged as result of the ramming and had to be towed back to port.

          Another action during the week illustrates the difficulty of identifying submarines and the possibility of mistakes in reports. On July 13th at 7:30 p.m. a seaplane on patrol sighted what was supposedto be a submerged submarine 15 miles east of Spurn Point on the east coast. The <d>estroyer H.M.S. OUSE, which had observed the action of the seaplane, immediately came to the position and observing what was supposed to be the wash of the submarine, dropped six depth charges in the vicinity. Large quantities of oil came to the surface and a large object appeared which capsized and sunk immediately. Both the seaplane and the destroyer were convinced that a submarine had been attacked and sunk. Later investigations located a wreck in ten fathoms of water in the position where the attack took place, and examination proved that this was the wreck of a merchant vessel which had been sunk sometime before.

          During the week, the hydrophone patrols in the Fair I<s>land passage had several engagements with submarines. H.M.S. SYRINGA and a division of the northern patrol picked up a submarine by hydrophone on July 13th and finally drove her to bottom near Tangesvaag, Faroe Islands. The position was patrolled for twenty-four hours and nothing more was seen or heard. H.M.S. BEAGLE and another division hunted in the same position from 11:50 p.m. on July 13th to 6:00 p.m. on July 14. The position was repeatedly depth charged and the patrols believed the submarine to have been destroyed. On July 17th-18th, three further attacks on submarines were made by the northern patrol. One submarine was followed by use of hydrophone from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the second from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and a third from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The two latter are believed to have taken refuge on the bottom. All three were attacked with depth charges. There is no evidence that they were destroyed.

     3.   ENEMY MINING OPERATIONS

          During the week of July 13-20th, the enemy’s mine laying activity was chiefly carried out off the east coast of Scotland, where for some time enemy submarines have been laying a mine barrage about 40 miles east of the Firth of Forth in an arc enclosing the port. It is believed that 360 mines have already been laid in this barrage. During the week under review, 68 mines were swept up in that area alone and a broad channel was cleared for fleet purposes. The enemy policy had been anticipated and the situation was therefore kept in hand.

          During the week of July 20-27, the enemy’s mine laying operations were again practically confined to the area about the Firth of Forth. Over 40 mines were swept up from the presumed barrage 40 miles east of the Firth of Forth. Fourteen mines were also swept up close in-shore off the entrance to the Firth of Forth. It is, therefore, probable that during the week a cargo (18 mines) of a mine laying submarine was laid at this point. It is estimated that four cargoes (32-34 mines per cargo) of mines were laid in the barrage area, forty miles east, during the week. Eighty per cent of these four cargoes was almost immediately swept up.

          The only other area in which the enemy laid mines during the two weeks was off Havre and Cherbourg. Six mines were swept up off Cherbourg on July 14th. From July 18-21 eight were swept up off Havre.

     4.   MERCANTILE LOSSES BY ENEMY ACTION

          The following is a comparative statement of the number and tonnage of all merchant vessels sunk since the 29th of June by enemy action:-

 

British Vessels.

Week Ended.

1600 tons gross and over

Under 1600 tons gross

1600 tons gross and over

Under 1600 tons gross.

Total all sizes

No. 

Tons

No.

Tons

No.

Tons

No.

Tons

No.

Tons

July 6

6

25860

4

542

3

22992

8

3535

21

52949

July 13

6

26793

1

339

9

27319

11

3684

27

58135

July 20

10

78713

1

79

3

11902

7

6877

21

97515

 

          The high figures of losses for the week of July 13-20 is due to the loss of the JUSTICIA of over 32,000 tons and the CARPATHIA of over 13,000. These two ships, therefore, represent practically half the tonnage lost during the week.

          During the week of July 13-20, 5,000,000 tons of shipping arrived at or left United Kingdom ports. This is the first time that this figure has been attained in any one week since the beginning of the unrestricted submarine warfare. The percentage of losses to sailings of vessels in the overseas trades is 3.12% this week, as against 1.39 for the previous week. The percent of losses in all United Kingdom trades including the cross-Channel and coasting trades was 1.25 as against .54% in the previous week. Active operations were resumed by the enemy submarines in the Irish Sea and the Bristol Channel after several weeks of inactivity in those regions. There was a considerable reduction of submarine activity in the Mediterranean. All of the nine attacks made by the enemy in the Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay areas during the week resulted in the sinking of the vessels attacked.

          During the week 1378 ships sailing in convoy completed their voyages. Ten vessels were sunk while in convoy during the week. Five of these were in the Mediterranean local convoys; three in the outward-bound Atlantic convoys; one in-inbound Atlantic convoy, and one in a local east coast convoy. In the Mediterranean three vessels were lost in the Bizerta-Alexandria Convoy; one in the Genoa-Gibraltar Convoy and one in the Marseilles-Malta Convoy.

          The total number of enemy attacks upon steamships of all nationalities of more than 500 tons gross was 123 in June, as against 155 in May, 160 in April, and 213 in March. The following table shows the method and result of attacks in June and the areas in which they took place.

Method

of

Attack

East Coast

English Channel

West Coast

Medit-erran-

ean

Ameri-can Coast

Other Areas

Total

Sunk by:-
 Torpedo

 Gunfire

 Mine

 

21
--
--

 

9
-
2

 

11
--
--

 

13

--

2

 

3

7

-

 

2

1

2

 

59)

8) 73

6)

Damaged by:-

 Torpedo

 

 

3

 

 

3

 

 

--

 

 

5

 

 

-

 

 

2

 

 

13

Escaped from:-

 Torpedo

 Gunfire

 Submarine
encountered

 

 

7

-

-

 

 

4

-

-

 

 

6

-

-

 

 

7

-

-

 

 

-

2

3

 

 

5

3

-

 

 

 

29)

5) 37

3)

      TOTAL

31

18

17

27

15

15

123

 

          The average daily loss of world’s tonnage including losses both by enemy action and marine risk for the last two years are shown by the following statement.

Period

British Tonnage

Foreign Tonnage

World tonnage

1916:

  4th Quarter

 

 

6,712

 

5,889

 

12,601

1917:

  1st Quarter

  2nd Quarter

 

 

10,132

14,966

 

7,861

9,616

 

17,993

24,582

First Half-year

 

  3rd Quarter

  4th Quarter

 

12,562

 

10,358

8,509

8,744

 

5,886

5,326

21,306

 

16,244

13,835

Second Half-year

9,434

 

5,606

15,040

1918:

  1st Quarter

 [2nd Quarter]

 

7,750

6,756

 

4,948

3,646

 

12,698

10,402

 

First Half-year

7,251

 

4,293

11,544

 

          Since the second quarter of 1917, when the highest losses by enemy submarine action were suffered, the average daily loss of world’s tonnage has steadily declined. When the figures for the last three half-years are considered, the decline of enemy success is even more marked.

     5.   MISCELLANEOUS – MILITARY INFORMATION

          On July 15th, the transport BARUNGA outbound to Australia was torpedoed and sunk 114 miles south west of Bishop’s Rocks. She was carrying unfit Australian troops, but there were no casualties.5

          On July 16th, Sloop ANCHUSA attached to the second sloop flotilla was torpedoed and sunk at 2:00 a.m. 30 miles north of Malin Head; there were only twelve survivors. All officers were lost.6

          On July 17th at 10:17 a.m. the CARPATHIA was torpedoed and sunk about 166 miles south west from Bishop’s Rocks Light House, Scilly Islands.7

          On July 18th, the destroyer HMS PELLEW was torpedoed 43 miles from Kinnaird Head while escorting a Scandinavian convoy, but was towed safely to port. There were no casualties. On the same day HM trawler LANCER was sunk in collision with H.M. yacht VAGRANT off the Brighton Light Vessel. The crew were saved.

          On July 18th, the Norwegian motor schooner, which had been damaged by gunfire one and one-half miles east of Hornsea, and abandoned by the crew, was picked up by the T.B.-23 and towed to the Humber. While being taken into the basin by an escort the ELIN sunk in the Royal Lock Dock.8 The entrance to the Grimsby Lock was completely blocked but the schooner was removed by the 21st. The postal motor boat No. 50 was lost on the night of the 18th July in the Heligoland Bight. The motor boat developed engine trouble and was destroyed by the crew, who were later picked up.

          On July 24th H.M.S. MARMORA, an armed merchant cruiser of 10,500 tons, was sunk in a position 144 degrees 52 miles from Fastnet; survivors were picked up by the P-67. On July 24th HMS PINCHER went ashore near Devonport and sunk shortly after. HMS VANITY struck a mine two miles north east of May Island, Firth of Forth at 11:30 p.m. on July 23rd. One man was killed and several were slightly injured. The ship reached Leith under her own steam.9

          Mines continue to be swept up eastward of the Firth of Forth. Since August 1915 the enemy has apparently from time to time attempted to lay mine fields off Moray Firth.

          On July 19 the Admiralty reported that 39 mines had been dragged up directly eastward of the Firth of Forth about forty miles at sea. Forty-nine mine sweepers are engaged in attempting to clear this area as it is believed that a large number of mines are still unaccounted for.

          On July 19 one of the new UB boats, <UB->110, was sunk off the East Coast. She was fired at by a trawler, then bombed by an aeroplane, subsequently depth charged by a motor launch, which brought her to the surface, and then twice rammed by one of the 30 knot destroyers. Six survivors were captured <of> whom one has since died. The destroyer was badly damaged, and is being towed in.

          Recently three separate incidents were reported of a submarine being followed upwards of seven hours by trawlers fitted with listening devices.

          Information has been received that enemy submarines are making use of Norwegian Territorial Waters.

          Information has been received that new and important type of UB boat is under construction, designed to carry 36 mines; also a new type of UB boat characteristics unknown.

     6.   FORCES BASED ON QUEENSTOWN

OVERHAULS.

MANLEY – repairs progressing satisfactorily. Estimated day of completion October 25, 1918.

WILKES – under repair at Devonport. Estimated date of completion August 18, 1918.

BEALE -  docked at Rushb<r>ooke, Ireland, on account of injury to rudder probably caused by depth charge which started some side plating. The helm can only be used one way.

JENKINS – Under overhaul Liverpool. Date of completion July 21.

BUSHNELL - Finished docking and resumed station July 16.

BALLYBRICKEN HOUSE

     Construction of small pier continued.

WHITE POINT BARRACKS

     Construction work begun. Cable sent for additional buildings necessary to complete the installation.

BASE HOSPITAL

     The extended work required in constructing and placing into operation this hospital is continuing satisfactorily.

RADIO

     Continuing installation of Sperry Emergency Transmitters. Construction of naval radio at Naval Air Stations at Aghada, Whiddy Island, Wexford and Lough Foyle are 95% completed.

SUPPLY DEPARTMENT

     Construction of a new store house is progressing satisfactorily. Provisions are on hand at Base Six as follows:

                   Fresh Frozen . . . . 31 weeks

                   Barrelled . . . . . .39 weeks

                   Bagged . . . . . . . 16 weeks

                   Tinned . . . . . . . 19 weeks. . .

          50% reserve of ammunition for major <c>alibre guns has been received and stowed at Kirkcaldy, near Rosyth. Spare 14, 12 and 5-inch guns have been received and packed at Rosyth.

     . . .14.  OTRANTO DETACHMENT.

Sub-Chasers.   Report from the Otranto Detachment indicate that during the last week the Chasers operating from Corfu made only one contact with enemy submarine. This submarine was reported as having been sighted on the surface with sail set and as having been pursued by sound contact for fourteen hours, and then lost without an attack being made. From consultation with officers at the Admiralty I believe the sail reported was an awning.

          The chasers are still operating on the line 39° - 15 N but their longitude limits of patrol have been extended so that during a four days hunt they go practically from the south end of Corfu to the Italian coast (Cape Neto). This line is, of course, at any one time covered by sound range for a distance of only thirty three miles, the line itself being about 120 miles long.

          The question of moving the chasers to a line where they will be more effective has recently been taken up with Captain (B) by Commander Nelson.10 A cable has just been sent to Commander Nelson requesting information of the result of this conference, and his recommendation in the matter. . . .

     15.  TONNAGE LOSSES MEDITERRANEAN AND ATLANTIC.

          There is attached a table showing the proportion of losses experienced from those submarines operating from Mediterranean bases and those from German bases.11 It is to be noted that in the past six months approximately one third of the losses have been experienced from the Mediterranean submarines.

     16.  U.S. TROOP MOVEMENTS.

          During July there will arrive in Europe 317,864 troops. These will be carried as follows:-

American Ships

  111,909  or  35% of total.

British ships or ships  controlled by British

 

  195,819  or  62% of total.

French Line as passengers and French ships

 

  10,136   or  3%  of total.  

                      TOTAL  

 317,864

 

     Arrived in France . . . . . . . . . . . . 139,660

     Arrived in England . . . . . . . . . . .  178,204

                                      TOTAL 317,864

          In addition a considerable numberof Canadian troops and Chinese Coolies have been transported.

          The foregoing figures do not include Canadians, Australians and other troops, nor do they include U.S. Bluejackets, a number of whom are being transported in both British and American ships.

          The largest convoy into France consisted of 15 ships with a total of 36,000 troops. The largest convoy into England consisted of 13 ships with a total of 32,000 troops. One convoy of 5 large ships to France carried 22,000 troops. The best troop carrier from the point of view of size is the U.S.S. AMERICA which, with a displacement of 22,000 tons, carries 5,284. The AQUITANIA and OLYMPIC, vessels of more than twice the size of the AMERICA carried only about 6,000.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

          The total troops arrived in Europe up to the end of July are . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,196,742

These have been carried as follows:-

American ships

  575,534

British or British controlled ships

 

  604,476

French Line as passengers and French ships

 

   15,079

Italian ships

    1,653  

                        TOTAL

1,196,742

- - - - - - -- - - - - - - - -

          It is understood that about 125,000 U.S. troops have been assigned for duty with the British Expeditionary Force.12

- - - - - - -- - - - - - - - -

17.  VISIT OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY AND CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE.

          The Assistant Secretary of the Navy arrived, reported by cable and was met at Portsmouth by the Force Commander and by an Admiral representing the First Lord of the Admiralty.13 After a tour of inspection of the Portsmouth Navy Yard, the party proceeded to London by motor cars. The Secretary was quartered at the Ritz Hotel and treated as a guest of the nation.

          Lieut. Commander Roys14 was detailed as an Aide to assist the Secretary while in Europe.

          The Secretary has been given every facility for inspecting our activities and the organization and records of Naval Headquarters. He has also been in conference with the various officials of the Admiralty and made a trip of inspection with the First Lord of the Admiralty to Queenstown and various British shipbuilding plants.

          He has been received by the King and by the Prime Minister and has been entertained by various officials and organizations.15

          He has now left for France and plans that after visiting Italy and inspecting U.S. Naval activities in France, he will return to London.

          The Naval Committee of Congress arrived at Scapa, was met by Captain Gaunt, R.N., Captain Scholfield, U.S. Navy and Paym<a>ster Higgins. They then proceeded by train to Inverness and inspected our mining bases and the Naval Hospital at Strathpeffer. From there they proceeded to Edinburgh, inspected the Grand Fleet, being received by the Commander-in-Chief and going over British as well as American ships.16

          The Force Commander’s staff took steps to confer with the Foreign Office and Embassy, as well as the Admiralty, before their arrival with a view of ensuring that their time while in England should be spent as profitably as possible.

          They were met at the station in London by an Admiral representing the First Lord of the Admiralty, by a representative of the American Ambassador and a representative of the Force Commander and taken to the Savoy Hotel where accom<m>odations were furnished by the Admiralty.

          While in England they are being treated as guests of the Nation.17

          They have visited the Dover Stations where Admiral Keyes had planned a most complete and interesting programme, with opportunities of inspecting all of the Dover Station activities.

          They have visited and thoroughly inspected U.S. Naval Headquarters and have been given every opportunity of acquainting themselves with U.S. Naval activities.

          They have been entertained by the American Ambassador, the House of Commons and received by the King.18

          Yesterday afternoon, the Force Commander’s Staff was assembled and the Committee given an opportunity of conducting a “Congressional hearing”, the same as in Washington, examining all members of the staff at their pleasure.

          To-day they are to have c a conference with the Prime Minister. To-morrow will visit Harwich and on Sunday will proceed to Queenstown.

          On their return they will leave immediately for France and plan to visit Italy. It is expected that they will return to the United States from France on a transport.

          There can be no question but that visits of inspection of the above nature will be very beneficial, as greatly modified understanding and point of view is obtained by actual personal observation.

          There is forwarded herewith a memorandum prepared by the Intelligence Section of this staff for the information of the Committee.19

     19.  CONCERNING MINES ADRIFT ON NORWEGIAN COAST.

          Some of the U.S. mines from the Norwegian barrage have apparently gone adrift on the Norwegian coast. An officer has been sent from our Mining Base to inspect them and every effort has been made through our Naval Attache20 to prevent the mines, or any information concerning them, falling into the hands of the enemy.

          The Naval Attache has met with considerable opposition from the Norwegian Government and finally, as a last resort, delayed in giving his adquiescence to the clearance of the a number of Norwegian ships for the United States.

          While he gave as his official reason of his action the fact that he was over worked and could not keep up with the demands, it was nevertheless well understood by the Norwegian authorities that more consideration should be given to his requests.

          I have informed the Naval Attache that I approve of his action on the assumption that he is the best judge of local conditions in Norway, and also on the distinct understanding that he at all times works with the consent and thorough accord of our diplomatic authorities.21

     20.  AIR STATION KILLINGHOLME.

          On July 20 the British Air Station at Killingholme was taken over and commissioned as a U.S. Station under command of Lieut. Commander Whiting.22

          It is hoped that the Northern bombing Squadron will be able to begin operations on August 15.23

          All arrangements have been completed for taking the British Aircraft Acceptance Park at Eastleigh, England, near Southhampton. This will be used as a r<e>pair base for our Northern Bombing Squadrons and also will undoubtedly gradually grow in importance. It has been considered particularly important to establish such an aviation base in England against the possibility of a successful drive by the enemy in Flanders. Our machines will be able to fly from Eastleigh to their advance bases in the field.

     21.  RECORD OF MARINES IN FRANCE.

          In order to satisfy the natural interest of the Naval personnel concerning the accomplishments of the Marines, Lieut. Colonel Dunlap of this staff recently visited the Front and a copy of his report is herewith forwarded. Extracts from this report have been published to all forces.24

          The Force Commander receives numerous requests from the Marines, through unofficial channels, requesting his influence in their dealings with the army. He has consistently declined to take any steps whatever other than transmitting certain information to the Department for its information.

          The present relations existing between the Force Commander and Army Headquarters are highly satisfactory and it is important not to jeopardize them in any way by his taking any action which might be construed as interference in army affairs.

     22.  PERSONNEL.

          From present prospects it is feared that it will be impossible to send officers home fro for command of Eagle boats. This force has put forward every effort to co-operate with the Department in training and supplying personnel for the new destroyer programme.

     23.  DEPTH CHARGES.

          The Depth Charge situation has recently become rather critical, apparently owing to labor difficulties and demands for depth charges at home. The reserve supply at Base 6 has been exhausted. 200 are, however, en route on the PROTEUS. Vessels from Base 6 are now using British depth charges. The present prospect is that the depth charge situation in these forces will not be on a satisfactory basis before the 1st September. It is, of course, of the greatest importance to accumulate a large reserve stock at each base as soon as practical, as it can never be foreseen when a heavy demand will occur.

     24.  GUNS.

          3” guns removed from the 750 ton destroyers, the coastguard cutters and the BIRMINGHAM and CHESTER, have been allocated and are being installed as far as possible on army coal carriers and cross channel service vessels.

          We can probably arm 15 of these vessels, and the others will have to be provided from the United States.

          Two 3” guns have been removed from the DIXIE for installation on the SONOMA and ONTARIO.

     25.  TORPEDO REPAIR BASE.

          The torpedo repair station at Queenstown is now overhauling 60 torpedoes per month. It is hoped that it will be possible to overhaul and test 200 per month by January 1st, 1919.

          As soon as future distribution of U.S. Forces in the Mediterranean is sufficiently decided upon, a recommendation will be made concerning a torpedo repair base in these waters.

     26.  TARGET PRACTICE.

          Destroyers from Base Six are just beginning to conduct long range target practices. Target ranges are also being installed at Berehaven.

          Every effort will be made to carry on target practice, although the difficulties are serious.

     27.  NAVAL RAILWAY BATTERY.

          All personnel of this battery have arrived at St. Nazaire and the assembly work is well under way.

          In view of the number of personnel attached to this battery, and the resulting necessity for contact with the Department, it is intended to retain this unit under this command for administrative purposes, the operations being entirely under army command. In other words, this unit will be handled in the same way that our battleships are handled with the Grand Fleet.

     28.  MINING OPERATIONS.

          There is attached a report on the Third U.S. Mining Excursion from Base 18.25

          The Third Operations of the U.S. Mine Force laying the Northern Barrage was completed, having planted approximately 5400 mines, which made a total of 11,000 mines (this included those laid in area “C” as well as area “A”). No American mines laid west of Greenwich Meridian but they will be continued to longitude one west. U.S. Mine Force is due to be out on the 4th laying operation now.

          Mining Operations of Mediterranean considered by Sub-Committee of Allied Naval Council. 2 Mk. VI mines complete with firing device and seven sets of confidential ordnance pamphlets relating to them were delivered to Admiralty in accordance with their request. Similar request from Italian Naval Attache was not complied with as no pamphlets were available.26

          Rear Admiral Strauss and representative of Admiralty have proceeded to Malta for conference regarding future mining operations in the Mediterranean.27

NET BARRAGES.

          The Italian Naval Attache has made a request that the U.S. Government furnish a large amount of material for the Otranto Aspri-R<u>ga Barrage. Preliminary consideration indicates the inadvisability of our becoming directly involved in furnishing this net barrage.

          It is understood that a similar request has been made of the British.

     29.  DISPOSITION OF FORCES.

          U.S.S. BUFFALO, U.S.S. BRIDGEPORT, salvage vessel FAVORITE and 25 submarine chasers are en route to Brest, chaser to be sent ultimately to Plymouth, other vessels to be retained under command of Admiral Wilson. Vessels due to arrive Brest about 4 August.

          One submarine has been ordered from Queenstown to Plymouth to assist in the training of submarine chasers.

          The DELAWARE has sailed for home. U.S.S. DYER has been sent to Gibraltar, and arrived on 29th. U.S.S. GREGORY and U.S.S. DYER are the only two new destroyers now assigned to Gibraltar. While a number of new destroyers are promised for August no information of their sailings has yet been received. U.S.S. WADENA left Azores for Gibraltar 26 July.

Cross Channel Steamers.

          U.S.S. NOPATIN made her first trip across the Channel on 19 July, carrying 1,000 troops. British Army authorities estimate that this vessel will carry about 2800 troops.

          U.S.S. CHARLES, U.S.S. YALE and U.S.S. NARRANGANSETT arrived Southhampton on 24 July and are being fitted out for service. The YALE has already made one trip. The CHARLES expects to make her first trip on the night of the 30th.

          All these vessels are in good material con<d>ition and should help to relieve the strain on cross-Channel work.

     30.  NAVAL BASE, PLYMOUTH.

          Reports from the Plymouth ,<d>etachment indicate no contacts were made with submarines during the past week. On August 1st the present British Commander-in-Chief Plymouth will be replaced and considerable change in policy is expected.28

          Steps are being taken to make this our permanent experimental station in European Waters for sound detection devices. A submarine has been ordered from Berehaven to temporarily assist in experimental work and training of the submarine chasers.

Detection Devices.

          Professor Mason29 is at Devonport supervising the installation of the M.V. devices on the destroyers PARKER and WILKES. The type of M.V. being put on the WILKES is usually known as the spark plug type, and has the advantage of permitting repair without dry docking the vessel.

          The boom type K-tube has been installed on the ROE and nearly completed for the JENKINS.30

          Mr. Farnsworth, technical assistant to the Scientific Attache31 has returned from the British Dirigible station at Mullion where he successfully tried out a K-tube from a dirigible. The successful use of listening gear from air craft means that many oil slicks etc. can be investigated without waste of bombs and unnecessary summoning of surface vessels.

          At Paimbouef, France, there are K-tubes available for dirigible use. Also at Pauillac.

          At Brest there are K-tubes available for our vessels or for forwarding to air stations, as most needed.

          The trailing electric sweep has been given one test installed on two British Mine Sweepers, and was broken by fouling the periscope of the British submarine used for the “target”. The periscope being of bronze did not cause the sweep to respond by a ringing of the bell. The periscope was bent and the test could not be continued, but will be at an early date. Ensign Rice, R.F. is conducting the test.

          Mr. C.F. Scott is now at Plymouth putting the K-tubes of the chasers in repair.32

     31.  COMMUNICATIONS.

          There is attached hereto a memorandum submitted by the Communication Section to the Chief of Staff which gives a general idea of the activities of the Section and the difficulties which have been experienced.33

     32.  MEDICAL DEPARTMENT.

          From information so far received, the number of influenza cases during the past two months in our forces have amounted to about 1,500. Thirty-four cases were experienced amongst officers and men at London Headquarters.

          A 75-bed hospital at Corfu is urgently needed. Request has also been made for a hospital outfit sufficient for the 2,000 men at Eastleigh, England, which is to be the aviation repair station.

     33.  MATERIAL.

          The PROTEUS, with guns and ammunition for the 6th Battle Squadron and Aviation stores for Killingholme and Ireland, arrived at Glasgow and is now discharging at that port. Upon completion the ship will proceed to Queenstown to discharge the remainder of her cargo before returning to the United States.

          Negotiations are under way with the Ministry of Shipping by which it is hoped to secure the assignment for Naval purposes of a portion of one of the large warehouses at one of the large warehouses at one of the docks at Southampton. This will serve as a supply base for the cross-channel supply vessels which are to be taken over by the Navy, and also as a reserve space for other bases.

          Cold storage space has also been found at Southampton for excess supplies. Every effort is being made to accumulate reserve supplies in order to provide against emergencies, and particularly the loss of any supply ship.

     34.  REPAIRS.

          There is attached hereto a statement of vessels of this force undergoing overhaul or extensive repairs.34

          Every effort is being made to obtain complete information concerning repair facilities at Lisbon and to assist the authorities of repair plants in Lisbon to obtain material which has been promised them from other countries.

          It is desired to keep in close touch with the facilities at this port as they may be very useful particularly in cases of emergencies.

          Naval Constructor McBride35 in charge of the Repair Section of this staff has, for the last 2 1/2 months, been representing the American Shipping Mission on the Tonnage Committee of the Allied Maritime Transport Council. This Committee deals with the allocation of neutral vessels which have been obtained for Allied service and with all questions with regard to routing of ships which might result in a more economical utilization of tonnage.

          Naval Constructor McBride’s membership has, however, this week been turned over to Mr. George R. Gordon who has recently reported from home as an expert advisor on shipping matters.36

          Commander McBride also attends meetings of the Tug Distribution Committee held every two weeks at the Admiralty, and which deals with the distribution of tugs for all purposes.

          As a result of this arrangement, the services of the paddle wheel tug EARL ROBERTS has been assigned for use at Plymouth.

          We will probably be able to obtain the services of other tugs in the future.

WM. S. SIMS

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: The date of 5 August is crossed through and 4 August written in twice in two different handwritings. Although there is no time/date notation at the end of the document, it seems clear the original date was mistyped.

Footnote 2: For additional correspondence regarding the inaccurate reporting on the sinking of the JUSTICIA, see: Sims to Benson, 21 August, 1918.

Footnote 3: UB-124 was severely damaged by a depth charge attack from HMS MARNE on 20 July 1918. After the attack, UB-124 surfaced and was scuttled by her crew. https://www.uboat.net/wwi/boats/?boat=UB+124, accessed 30 July 2018.

Footnote 4: UB-110 was damaged by a depth charge attack. She surfaced and was rammed by HMS GARRY. The ship suffered 19 casualties, with 13 survivors https://www.uboat.net/wwi/boats/?boat=UB+110, accessed 30 July 2018.

Footnote 5: BARUNGA was sunk by U-108 on 15 July 1918. https://www.uboat.net/wwi/boats/?boat=108, accessed 30 July 2018.

Footnote 6: ANCHUSA was sunk by U-54 on 16 July 1918. https://www.uboat.net/wwi/boats/?boat=54, accessed 30 July 2018.

Footnote 7: CARPATHIA torpedoed and sunk by U-55 on 17 July 1918. https://www.uboat.net/wwi/boats/?boat=55, accessed 30 July 2018.

Footnote 8: ELIN damaged by gunfire from UC-70 on 17 July 1918. https://www.uboat.net/wwi/boats/?boat=UC+70, accessed 30 July 2018.

Footnote 9: HMS MARMORA was sunk by UB-64 on 23 July 1918. https://www.uboat.net/wwi/boats/?boat=UB+64, accessed 30 July 2018.

Footnote 10: Capt. Charles Nelson, Commander, Submarine Chaser Squadron, Corfu. Captain “(B)” seems to refer to Comm. W. A. Howard Kelly, Commander, British Adriatic Force, although why Sims refers to him as “(B)” is unknown.

Footnote 11: The table Sims refers to has not been found.

Footnote 12: Initially, the United States entered the war committed to maintaining a separate American army, and Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, Commander-in-Chief, American Expeditionary Forces, doggedly refused to integrate American reinforcements into existing British and French units. The situation became so perilous in May 1918, however, that he compromised and agreed that the 280,000 Americans transported to Europe in May and June could join the fighting immediately. Gilbert, The First World War: 419-421.

Footnote 13: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. On Roosevelt’s first days in England, see: Roosevelt to Josephus Daniels, 27 July 1918. See also: Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 22 July 1918.

Footnote 14: Lt. Cmdr. John H. Roys, U. S. N. R. F.

Footnote 15: King George V and Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

Footnote 16: Scapa Flow was the base for the British Grand Fleet. Comm. Guy R. Gaunt, British Naval Attaché at Washington, Captain Frank H. Schofield, and Pay Inspector J. S. Higgins.

Footnote 17: For additional correspondence on the Naval Committee of Congress’s visit to England, see: Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 28 July 1918, and Sims, to Charles R. Train, 30 July 1918.

Footnote 18: Ambassador Walter Hines Page.

Footnote 19: This report has not been found.

Footnote 20: Lt. Col. James C. Breckinridge, U. S. M. C., Naval Attaché at Stockholm.

Footnote 21: The Allies put significant pressure on Norway to do something about submarines using its territorial waters. The protracted negotiations culminated on 29 September 1918 when Norway announced that it would mine its territorial waters and that these waters would be closed to general traffic as of 7 October. Northern Barrage, 120-21.

Footnote 22: Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth M. Whiting.

Footnote 23: The Northern Bombing Group did take part in its first attack on the night of August 15. Rossano and Wildenberg, Striking the Hornet’s Nest: 172-174.

Footnote 24: Col. R. H. Dunlap, Planning Section, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.

Footnote 25: Report not found. However, On the third excursion of the mine force, which got underway on 14 July, the mining force encountered fog on their return journey. The swept channel that the force was using on its return was narrow and close insure. Moreover, Belknap had ordered that it was danger to take soundings (i.e., verify the depth of water they were in) while in the channel that caused three of the captains for the mine layers not to take soundings. At 4:20 A.M., one of the escorting destroyers informed Belknap in San Francisco that the squadron was too close inshore. The squadron “turned out, stopped and backed but before headway had been checked Roanoke and Canonicus had grounded. Canonicus was able to back off but Roanoke remained stuck and not until the next high tide and lightening of the ship was it able to free itself. Neither vessel was damaged. Northern Barrage, 109. See also: Sims to Belknap, 25 July 1918.

Footnote 26: Capitano di Corvetta (Lt. Cmdr.) Ferdinando Farina, Italian Naval Attaché at London.

Footnote 27: RAdm. Joseph Strauss, Commander, Mine Force.

Footnote 28: VAdm. Sir Alexander E. Bethell, Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth.

Footnote 29: Charles Max Mason, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin and member of the National Research Council, Submarine Committee. Mason was one of the primary developers of the K-tube listening device.

Footnote 30: See: Descriptive Specifications of “C” Tube Set.

Footnote 31: S. W. Farnsworth, Associate Scientific Attaché to American Embassy, London. For further correspondence regarding Farnsworth’s experiments see: Louis H. Maxfield to Hutchinson I. Cone, 15 June 1918.

Footnote 32: Ensign Rice, and C. F. Scott have not been further identified.

Footnote 33: Memorandum not found.

Footnote 34: This statement has not been found.

Footnote 35: Naval Constructor Lewis B. McBride, Bureau of Construction and Repair.

Footnote 36: George R. Gordon was a member of the Tonnage Committee on the Allied Maritime Transport Council.

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