Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
[3 December 1917]
CABLE FROM ADMIRAL BENSON TO SECRETARY
OF THE NAVY
Secnav Washington Most Secret
British are making active preparations for decided aircraft offensive in spring. Those in position to know feel certain that such offensive will be necessary preliminary to other forms of offensive action. Before acting have waited to discuss question with Cone, and after consultation with him strongly urge that the following program be carried out with all possible despatch.
Proceed immediately with construction of following:
Thirty towing lighters as shown on drawings recently supplied Department.
Forty seaplanes type H.16.
One hundred engines for seaplanes.
All the above to be delivered in England not later than March 1st 1918.
Put in training immediately one hundred pilots, one hundred observers, fifty mechanics; all to be trained in actual flying in large seaplanes.
Begin assembling crew of six hundred men for two large seaplane stations.
Lieutenant Commander Whiting leaving for United States to assemble men and material with a view to command of stations when established.
Having in mind the importance of proposed operations and the necessity for all possible speed in work outlined above I strongly urge that the best and most reliable contractors for this class of work be communicated with by telegraph and that the work be considered of an emergency character and contracts awarded immediately without the delay incident to formal bids, advertisements, and other procedure usually followed.
The following arrangements have been made with regard to Killingholme:-
Accommodation for 600 men and approximately 60 Officers of the United States Navy to be accounted at Killingholme on their arrival on or about the beginning of March.
Shedding accommodation to be turned over to them for the erection of machines.
Moorings to be laid for 30 lighters in the vicinity of Killingholme, and also off Spurn Point and off Hiale Sand.
These machines belonging to the United States Navy will carry out their preliminary flying and assist in the patrol work until such time that they are fully organized and ready for operations.
It will be necessary to provide two additional Slipways in order to handle these machines and a proposal should be put forward at once for the construction of these Slipways.
If additional accommodation is required above 600, they will have to go under, but there is ample space in the vicinity for this purpose. These tents could be provided by the United States Navy. Tugs or drifters will be required to co-operate with these units, the United States Navy to provide their own Motor Launches for purely local work.