Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

C O P Y

CABLEGRAM RECEIVED December 05018  FHA

Opnav, Washington                              Ser. No. 1645,

Ref’d to    Date

  0-1       18 Dec. [1917]

      18 D

VERY SECRET.

Simsadus.

1645.     My investigations of operations of our patrol and other vessels at Brest and along western coast of France reveal a very unsatisfactory condition.1 A number of these vessels were tied up at Brest either undergoing or awaiting repairs. So far as I was able to learn both Captain Magruder and Admiral Wilson2 since his arrival have done everything possible to improve situation.

          In order that department may be able to properly place responsibility you will direct Admiral Wilson to investigate the case of each vessel and report to Department all causes of delay in operations and place directly the responsibility for this delay.

          Should it be found upon investigation that any naval personnel connected with that ship or detailed for duty in connection with their overhauling and repair is not showing proper zeal and energy you will so inform Department with suitable recommendations. I cannot escape impression that commanders and other officers serving in patrol force in France are not making the effort and obtaining the results which gravity of situation demands.3

          Greater effort must be made to utilize more efficiently forces available for escort duty in order that delay in _______# of transports may in no case be due to the Navy. 11017

Benson.

# Group omitted.

Source Note: Cy, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 413. Identifying numbers in top right-hand corner: “25-16-2” and in columnar fashion “3/J.”

Footnote 1: Benson was in Brest on 6 and 7 December 1917. Klachko and Trask, Benson: 101.

Footnote 2: Capt. Thomas P. Magruder, the commander at Brest, and RAdm. Henry B. Wilson, the commander of the U.S. patrol forces in France.

Footnote 3: Magruder responded to Benson’s criticisms in a cable to Wilson of 2 January 1918. See: Magruder to Wilson, 2 January 1918.

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