Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander, Battleship Division Nine, to Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander, Atlantic Fleet

BATTLESHIP DIVISION NINE

UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET.

U.S.S. NEW YORK, Flagship.

19 December 1917.       

CONFIDENTIAL­­­_

From:  Commander BATTLESHIP DIVISION NINE.

To:    Commander in Chief.

Subject:  Division Nine; synopsis of events since departure from

the United States.

The following is a brief synopsis of the events and

conditions since sailing from the United States.

     1.   Weather prevented target practice off the Capes;1 will have it over here.

     2.   Ran into a severe gale off the Grand Banks; Florida, Delaware and Manley2 got separated, but two former rejoined later. Manley went to Queenstown direct on account of shortage of fuel, the weather being too heavy to refuel in midocean; action approved. All ships lost or injured some of their boats and had their gun decks flooded. Florida’s forecastle was sprung (not very seriously). Some of the forward compartments on the NEW YORK were filled through ventilators, hawse pipes, and other openings; nothing more serious than loss of a few stores.2

     3.   Arrived at destination as per schedule; had a most hearty and cordial reception.

     4.   Have been assigned as a fast wing of the Grand Fleet,3 and designated as the Sixth Battle Squadron, the Fifth Squadron under Vice Admiral Evan-Thomas constitutes the other fast wing.4

     5.   Hope the Texas can be sent over;5 not only will it add greatly to our strength but will enable us to keep at least four ships ready at all times. We remain continually on “4 hours notice”, and more than half the time have been on from 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours notice for steam for from 18 to 20 knots. This prevents us from undertaking any repairs or overhauls that cannot be completed in the time designated, hence our repairs to date, etc. have been practically nil. The British keep an odd ship in each squadron using her as a substitute when necessary, and having all five when available.

     6.   Have been given copies of all battle orders, plans, policy, codes, communications, etc., and have gone over these matters with the British Commander in Chief.6 We can already communicate easily by visuals, radio, codes, etc.

     7.   Rosyth has been designated as repair, docking, and overhaul yard.7 The Department has been requested to send spare parts, material and extra ammunition there. We have landed at Rosyth our spare shafts, etc.

     8.   Great stress is laid on paravanes; at least four capital and over thirty commercial ships are known to have been saved by them. Enemy is particularly active in laying mines in the war zone.8

     9.   We obtain fresh beef, mutton and potatoes from the British, but no other provisions of any kind; also stores may be had if they be on hand.

     10.  We look for a supply ship from home about the first of April. Requisitions will be submitted and the matter hand-led through Vice Admiral Sims in conjunction with other ships over here.|9|

     11.  Target practice and maneuvers will be carried out as opportunity offers; there will be ample opportunities.

     12.  Special reports will be forwarded from time to time to keep you informed of existing conditions; some that were necessary in home waters, but are not applicable here, have been eliminated.

     13.  Everything is running smoothly and nicely, there being no hitch of any kind. We are trying to crowd a full day’s work into six or seven hours daylight to keep up what is expected of us.

     14.  Am deeply impressed with the absolute readiness of the British Fleet to sail on short notice and in its efficient upkeep under war conditions, and do not expect to fall behind their standard; this will be assured if the Texas is sent.

     15.  Vice Admiral Sims visited this ship yesterday. Everything is thoroughly understood and most satisfactorily arranged between us.

/s/ Hugh Rodman.        

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 382. Note below signature: “To:/CinC/File.” Identifier in top left-hand corner of first page: “FILE 72”; and in top right-hand corner: “3/S.”

Footnote 1: That is, Virginia Capes. Rodman’s battleship division left Lynn Haven Roads, VA, on 25 November 1917. Jones, “U.S. Battleship Operations:” 52.

Footnote 2: The former two were battleships in the battleship division commanded by Rodman; the latter was a destroyer tender.

Footnote 3: That is, the British Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet then located in Scapa Flow, Scotland.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Sir Hugh Even-Thomas, R.N. In the British Grand Fleet, Battleship Division Nine was designated the Sixth Battle Squadron.

Footnote 5: As Rodman requested, U.S.S. Texas was sent to join the Ninth Division, arriving at Scapa Flow on 11 February.

Footnote 6: The British commander of the Grand Fleet was Adm. Sir David R. Beatty, R.N.

Footnote 7: Rosyth is on the Firth of Forth and the site of a Royal Naval Dockyard, built in 1909.

Footnote 8: Paravane, a form of towed underwater “glider,” was developed in 1916 by two British naval officers. The paravane would stream alongside the ship to which it was attached and force mines away from the ship. If the tow cable of the paravane snagged the cable of an anchored mine, it would cut the cable, and the mine would float to the surface where it would be destroyed by gunfire. If it did not cut the mine cable, the mine and paravane would be brought together and the mine would explode against the paravane, thus protecting the ship from damage. The cable could then be retrieved and a replacement paravane fitted on the ship.

Footnote 9: VAdm. Williams S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.

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