Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander, Battleship Division Nine, Atlantic Fleet

December 20th, 1917.

My dear Rodman,

          This morning I discussed with the Admiralty the question of your division being relieved by divisions from the United States in about six months. This matter was discussed with the Admiralty by Admiral Benson.1

          While the Admiralty recognizes the many advantages of keeping the same division here, once it was trained in the use of British methods, and after all the alterations, and so forth, were made, still the believe that certain other questions are of greater importance.

          One of these is the serious lack of labor and repair and overhaul facilities on this side. Another is the possibility, not to say probability, that more than one division will eventually be required. This latter will depend upon the position ultimately taken up by the Northern countries, particularly Norway. It is understood that the susceptibilities of Norway render it advisable that if a base is to be established on their coast, in the event of their coming into the war, this should be done under the American Flag.

          In any event it is probable that the decision will be adhered to to relieve the division now here, probably temporarily, by another division next summer.

          This being the case, it follows that the next division that it is to come over should not only be in as a complete a condition of repair as possible, but it should have completed all of the changes and additions which you now believe should be made on the vessels of your division. For example, the changes in berth deck hatches, making them watertight, the man hole plates in certain other hatches, the fitting of P.V.’s and so forth and so forth, should all be in order before the vessels leave the other side.

          Therefore, manifestly, it is desirable that as soon as any alterations and changes are decided upon in regard to the vessels of your division, information should be sent to me immediately in order that I may inform the department.

          I understand that Admiral Jellicoe2 intends visiting Rosyth in the immediate future and all this matter will of course be discussed with the Commander-in-Chief,3 and if any modifications of the present policy are decided upon both you and I will doubtless be at once informed.

          I have made arrangements in the office for copes of our ordinary weekly report to be sent to you, and also a daily bulletin of information which is gotten out for the benefit of the personnel handling the business at headquarters.

          Doubtless the bulk of this will not be of any importance to you, but there will be a considerable amount that will be of a certain interest.

 Very sincerely yours,           

s/ W S Sims            

Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman,

     U.S.S. NEW YORK,

          C/o British Admiralty,

              Whitehall, S/W.

Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 23. Battleship Division Nine was a division of four (later five) dreadnaughts (NEW YORK, Delaware, Wyoming, and Florida; Texas joined 11 February 1917) detached from the Atlantic Fleet to serve as the American contribution to the British Grand Fleet. Upon joining the Grand Fleet, the division became officially known as the Sixth Battle Squadron and was based at Rosyth, Scotland; Nathan C. Twining, Information Bulletin, 8 December 1917, DNA, RG 45, Destroyer Ship Files, Jacob Jones.

Footnote 1: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 2: First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe.

Footnote 3: Adm. Sir David Beatty, Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet.

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