Captain William V. Pratt, Assistant (Acting) Chief of Naval Operations, to Rear Admiral Leigh C. Palmer, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation
For information of Commander Patrol Squadrons Based on French Coast.
OFFICE OF NAVAL OPERATIONS
Dec. 6, 1917.
From: Chief of Naval Operations.
To: Bureau of Navigation.
SUBJECT: Armed Guards on Army Cargo Vessels.
Reference: (a) Sec.Navy #28754-1:25/97 Aug. 16, 1917. to Sec. of War.
(b) Bureau Navigation #3031-607 Nov.28,1917.
1. Reference (a) stated that a commissioned officer had been detailed to command the Armed Guard on certain vessels assigned to Army cargo service, and that the status of the Armed Guards on these vessels would therefore be the same as on the original fourteen vessels chartered by the Army for troop transports.
2. In view of the conditions noted in reference (b) whereby friction has arisen as a result of an inexperienced National Naval Volunteer Officer being given the control of the vessel, and as it appears that more experienced officers are not available for this duty, the Chief of Naval Operations directs that until further orders the commissioned officer be relieved from duty on Army cargo vessels and a warrant officer or Chief Petty Officer be ordered to command the Armed Guard on this class of vessels, which includes all Army chartered vessels except Troop Transports.
3. The status of the Armed Guard on these Vessels will then revert to that previously held, before a commissioned officer was ordered to these vessels, and is defined by the following recommendation of a joint Army and Navy Board:
“337. The Naval Guard. – (a) The naval guard may be placed on duty on board any vessel operated or employed or chartered by the Army, whether carrying troops, animals or military stores, by competent naval authority, at the request of the War Department. The armed guard mans, works and supplies ammunition to the battery, stand regular watch at the guns; takes the most important posts on lookout if it does not interfere with working the guns; and performs police duties in the part of the ship occupied by them.
(b) A commissioned or warrant officer or enlisted man of the seaman branch may be detailed in command. Such officer or man shall follow closely the instruction given him by competent naval authority as to his duties and the duties of the naval guard. If a commissioned officer, his authority, responsibility and duties are those laid down in these regulations for the “Senior Naval Officer on Board”. If a warrant officer or enlisted man, his authority is limited to commanding the Naval Guard and employing it in the defense of the ship in case of attack. He shall, however, assist the Master of the vessel, or the competent Army authority on board, in every way possible whenever his professional knowledge may tend to promote the safety of the vessel and the success of the expedition. The status of the Senior Naval Officer on board a transport is not changed by the transport proceeding without naval convoy, or parting company with the convoy commander.
(c) Men detailed at the request of the officer or enlisted man in command of the naval guard to assist in the supply of ammunition, or for other necessary purpose connected with the duties of the naval guard insuring the safety of the personnel and in protecting the ship, shall perform their duties under his direction.”
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