Commander Walter N. Vernou, Commander, USS Cassin, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
Base No. 6, [Queenstown, Ireland]
4 December 1917.
From: Commanding Officer.
To: Force Commander.
Subject: Suggestions submitted as result of experience gained when torpedoed.1
1. As a result of experiences gained when this vessel was torpedoed on 15 October, 1917, the following suggestion are respectfully submitted:-
(a) The sick bay with all its contents was blown overboard. There were no medical supplies or instruments left with which to care for the wounded except those in the small first aid packages distributed at the guns. It is suggested that at least two places be designated for stowing sufficient medical supplies and instruments to care for the wounded after an action. The places designated to be as widely separated as possible.
(b) Practically all tools were blown overboard. It was difficult to find tools with which to work. It is suggested that two chests, with duplicates stes [i.e., sets] of tools for the repair party, be located as widely separated as possible. These tools should be used for no other purpose. The chest should be kept locked. A hammer and chisel should be kept in pouch, lashed to chests when at sea., to enable entering chests rapidly in an emergency.
(c) Upon arrival in these waters,orders were given to turn in all lumber. As a result of this order there was no suitable material on board for shoreing bulkheads. Two inch stages were used. It is suggested that a sufficient number of four by fours and wedges be carried to properly shore at least two bulkheads.
(d) The radio was out of commission for nearly half an hour after ship was torpedoed before any message could be sent out. A message was then sent out on an improvised auxiliary set. It was over an hour before main set was got in an operating condition and then only by use of auxiliary serial. It is suggested that a secondary station, so far removed from main station as possible, be fitted on all destroyers. This station to contain key, storage batteries and spark coil. A one wire auxiliary serial, much slacker than main serial so that it was not carried away by shock of explosion, was the only way in which we succeeded in getting our main set in operation. Batteries should be of sufficient capacity to enable sending at least ten or fifteen miles.
(e) Life preservers were distributed in all parts of the ship. This proved of great assistance as each man procured a life preserver without difficulty and without any conjestion at any one point.
(f) The eight inch towing hawser is too light for weather encountered in this locality, especially when the ship was met with an accident [i.e., accident] which made it impossible for her to steer which is not at all unlikely to be the case when a destroyer has to be taken in tow.
(g) The bull-nose, fitted for towing, answered very well when using our own towing gear. When receiving towing gear from another ship, however, it was found that the bull-nose was too small to take shackles, eyes, etc. It [i.e., If] a check, fitted with a closing device such as used when going through Panama Canal, were submitted for the bull-nose, this difficulty would be overcome.
(h) It might be of interest to note that the deck ammunition rack for the after gun was not over twenty or twenty-five feet from scene of the explosion. Some of the ammunition in this rack was blown over board and the remainder scattered about the deck but none of it went off.
(i) Although what remained of the stern was twisted to starboard, both struts fractured, and tail shafts several inches out of line. An examination of all turbines has shown that no damage was done to them although both engines were worked for some time after the explosion.
s/ W.N. VERNOU.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Destroyer Ships Files: CASSIN. Document reference: in the upper left-hand corner: “95-18”; in the upper right-hand corner: “40-4a-5”; in columnar fashion: “3/C/H.”
Footnote 1: The destroyer U.S.S. CASSIN was torpedoed on 15 October 1917. See: Report on Torpedoing of U.S.S. CASSIN, 15 October 1917.