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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain William V. Pratt, Assistant (Acting) Chief of Naval Operations


13 Dec 1917   

From:  SiMS

To:    CNO

2125 Owing to increased amount of wheat supplied to French and Italians at expense of Great Britain the British War Cabinet has found itself confronted with a most dangerous situation as regards British wheat supply.

  Only seven weeks liquid supply of wheat will be available in this country on January 31 unless immediate and drastic steps are taken to import more wheat from United States.

  Among other measures it is considered necessary to stop all double bottom supplies of oil fuel for the month of January in view of the fact that every ton of oil so imported shuts out a ton of wheat.

  In spite of all efforts they have failed - - beyond ten and one half week’s consumption which is dangerously low and makes it necessary to restrict naval mobilization.

  British Admiralty most strongly urges that of the total of 300,000 tons of tanker tonnage it was agreed at the Paris conference should be supplied to the British government 100,000 tons may be provided forthwith.

  This would nearly carry the amount that would be shut out by the proposal.

  Complete details of employment of every British tanker and complete details of estimated consumption and receipt of oil fuel were personally given to Mr. Colby by Admiralty.1 Reply by Sunday sixteenth instant urgently requested2  19113.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Bainbridge Colby, a member of the United States Shipping Board.

Footnote 2: Pratt’s reply has not been found. It apparently was not to Sims’ satisfaction, however, since on 21 December he sent another, even more urgent message regarding the supplies of oil and wheat in Britain. See: Sims to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 21 December 1917.

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