Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
Subject: <Allied Naval Council>
Date: <December 1, 1917.>
From: Admiral Benson
Allied Naval conference convened Paris, France, November twenty-ninth-November thirtieth presided over by French Minister Marine.1 Following countries represented France, England, Italy, Japan, United States, and on last day Greece. Conference agreed upon following constitution for Inter-Allied Naval Council with understanding that constitution would be referred to the several governments concerned for approval and that decision would be communicated to French Minister of Marine who if approved by all would inform interested parties simultaneously. Quote.
Constitution of Inter-Allied Naval Council.
Paragraph one. Council at present composed of Chief of Staff of English, French and Italian Navies and Admirals designated by Governments of United States and Japan;2 the question of representation of Russia on this board is reserved.
Sub-paragraph. Council presided over by Minister Marine of country in which Council is held. The Ministers Marine of the countries being at liberty to attend these meetings.
Paragraph two. The object of the Council is to watch over general conduct of naval warfare and coordination of action at sea. It prepares projects submitted for decision of the governments; keeps itself informed as regards carrying out of same; and reports to governments concerned according to circumstances.
Paragraph three. The General Staff of each Navy and Commander-in-Chief of each power charged with conduct of naval operations remain responsible to their respective governments.
Paragraph four. The general maritime policy followed by the different naval authorities is submitted to Inter-Allied Council in such manner that Council may be always informed of general course of events; decide on method that will insure complete cooperation; and determine best division of forces employed.
Paragraph five. The Inter-Allied Naval Council meets usually in London; it can however meet in any other place agreed upon according to circumstances. The meetings of the Council will take place as often as may be necessary and at least once a month.
Paragraph six. The Inter-Allied Naval Council will designate such permanent committees as may be considered necessary to enable it to carry out its function efficiently.
Sub-paragraph. The information services of the allied admiralties will supply Council with all information at its disposition. Unquote. Paragraph.
I have taken up this subject with Colonel House who approves.3 I request that the matter be given immediately consideration and that I be informed at earliest possible moment of President’s decision.
The conference prepared a Press notice which it is proposed to give out simultaneously in all countries after the ratification of the constitution quoted above by all governments. Until that time it is requested that no information relative to the constitution of the Inter-Allied Naval Council be given to the press. Benson unquote. 22001.
10.44 am 12-1-17
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The text in angle brackets at the top of the first page was added at a later date by an unknown editor.
Footnote 1: Georges Leygues.
Footnote 2: First Sea Lord Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe, R.N., Adm. Fredinand Jean Jacques de Bon, Adm. Paolo Thaon di Revel, VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, and United States Naval Attaché in London, and Adm. Sato Kozo, I.J.N.
Footnote 3: Edward M. House, advisor and personal confidante to President Woodrow Wilson. House was currently in Europe as the Head of the House Commission, which had arrived in London in November. Benson represented the Navy on this diplomatic mission.
Footnote 4: Capt. Richard H. Jackson, American Naval Representative in Paris. As Benson was in Paris at the time for the Allied Naval Conference referred to above, Jackson dispatched this cablegram to Daniels on behalf of the Chief of Naval Operations.