Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, Bulletin to the United States Navy

TRANSLATION                             4 February 1917.

USS ILLINOIS

Sigcode On three February the President formally announced to Congress severance diplomatic relations Germany comma stated he refused believe intention German authorities to do in fact what they have warned us they feel at liberty to do1 semicolon but that if American ships and American lives should in fact be sacrificed in heedless contravention international law and obvious dictates humanity he would ask Congress authority use any means necessary protection high seas period Rumors of submarines in Carribean waters period2 Exercise every precaution preservation ship: Acknowledge 16004

<Opnav.>

Source Note: CyR, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. In upper left corner: “Op-11” and in upper right corner: “M-5432.” These are identification numbers. “TRANSLATION” and “Sigcode” mean the message was sent in code. This copy was directed to the U.S.S. ILLINOIS. “Opnav” is handwritten and appears to have been added later.

Footnote 2: The rumor that German U-boats were operating in the Caribbean Sea was not true.