Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Rear Admiral Ralph Earle, Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, and Rear Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet
February 19, 1917.
From: Chief of Naval Operations.
To: <Bureau of Ordnance & C-C Atlantic Fleet>
Subject: Mine Force, Notes on the Functions, Organization and
Training of the Force.
Reference (a) Command in Chief’s letter: 227, of 10-28-16
1. The General Board indorsed the reference as follows. This indorsement was approved February 13, 1917
“2. As pointed out by the Commander of the Force, the mining done by the Coast Artillery is under the guns of coast fortifications, whereas the function of the mining force of the Navy is that of ‘effective mining’. There are, however, ‘wide’ stretches of accessible coast and many shelters, harbors and landing places far from fixed defenses’ which are clearly not within the province of the Coast Artillery to mine, and the control of which necessitates the control of the coastwise and local harbor craft, already under the Navy Department as represented by the Commandants of the Naval Districts.
“3. The General Board concurs in the view that the organization of this branch of defense, its training, the standardization of its equipment, and the designation of the areas to be mined according to war plans, should be under the cognizance of the Navy, and recommends that the Commandants of the Naval Districts shall have [control] of such matters within their Districts.
“4. The General Board believes that offensive or tactical mining and mine laying should be done by vessels of high speed, such as cruisers and destroyers temporarily detailed from the active fleet, and the Mine Force unless specially directed should not be charged with this duty. It is not intended to recommend that cruisers and destroyers shall carry mines either anchored or floating as part of their permanent equipment. Such mines are to be carried by mine depot ships or other fleet auxiliaries ready for issue when needed.
“5. The Navy Department has already designated the following vessels to be provided with portable installations of mine tracks, those tracks in the case of destroyers to carry 10 mines and in case of cruisers and gunboats 20 mines each:
Destroyer Force – Atlantic Fleet.
Torpedo Flotilla – Pacific Fleet, 1st Division:
PAUL JONES PERRY PREBLE
Torpedo Flotilla – Asiatic Fleet:
BAINBRIDGE BAGLEY CHAUNCEY
ALBANY NEW ORLEANS BIRMINGHAM
CHESTER SALEM CINCINNATI
RALEIGH DENVER DES MOINES
TACOMA CLEVELAND GALVESTON
ANNAPOLIS HELENA NEWPORT
PETREL WILMINGTON SACRAMENTO
“ 6. The above installations of mines on portable tracks are for Mark III and Mark IV mines, of which the Navy has now on hand only 2500, which are distributed as follows:
SAN FRANCISCO 200
MELVILLE 100 (for issue to destroyers)
Stored in New York District 875
En route to the
Navy Yard, Puget Sound 800 (for Pacific Fleet)
Pearl Harbor 200
Cavite _ 80
“7. Two thousand additional mines are now nearing completion at the Navy Yard, Norfolk, and an order has recently been placed at that yard for the manufacture of 4000 more.
“8. As the design of our more recent destroyers and the new scout cruisers the deck space aft has been so arranged as to permit the shipment of tracks to carry 10 mines on destroyers and 20 mines on cruisers. The General Board believes that where practicable the capacity of the mine planting installation of these vessels should be increased. The German Navy has long followed the custom of fitting light cruisers and destroyers to carry mines for tactical mining. Prior to the war now going on in the world destroyers were fitted to carry 40 mines each, the [HAMBURG] class 60 each and the STRASSBERG class 100 each. After the war broke out the number carried by the cruisers was doubled. The new light cruisers in the Italian Navy, the MIRABELLIO, RIBOTY and RACCHIA, are fitted with tracks on each side of 50 mines, or 100 in all. The displacement of these cruisers is given as 1500 tons.
“9. With the organization and functions of the Mine Force as summed up in paragraph 18 of the Mine Force Commander’s letter as modified in paragraphs 3 and 4 of this endorsement, and with the proposed organization of the standard mine unit or mine squadron as outlined in paragraph 33, the General Board is in accord.”
W. S. Benson