Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

CABLEGRAM RECEIVED  Feb<ruary 18, 1918.> 21819    JCH1

Origin Opnav, Washington                       Ser. No. 3077

Refd to C-12  Date 20 Feb.

25 ADR                    Very Secret

Simsadus.

3077 Your 40353 After discussing subject with Commodore Grant4 and Lieutenant Commander J V Babcock5 (who both thoroughly agree with following conclusions.) It is consensus of opinion that centralization of control and organization for handling convoys is not as efficient as it could be. Department is of opinion that if British method of handling affairs were more in accord with our organization in London the situation would be simplified and we would be in closer touch with Admiralty than we are at present. In matters connected with operations abroad touching the Department you are naturally the medium through which most information and consequently action flows, but there are certain matters mostly connected with operations and affairs on this side which do not pass through you. Under these circumstances the lack of a Central Controlling British Authority on shore in Washington, D.C. leads sometimes to a confusion of requests and a certain lack of thorough cooperation in any plan which affects our joint forces operating on this side of the Atlantic.

This is especially true of convoy situation now and would immediately <be>come acute involving all joint plane and operations of any sort the instant a single cruising submarine were to appear on our coast. To forestall any such confusion in joint plans and operations the Department bel<ie>ves that:

     A.   The Controlling British Authority representing Admiralty should be stationed in Washington, D.C

     B.   That a convoy officer representing Admiralty be stationed here as part of this office.

     Take this matter up with Admiralty for a decision. This matter should be brought to an early settlement because were a submarine to operate off our coast undoubtedly the Department would immediately take some sort of action into its hands, especially as regards routing for incoming vessels and it is desired that we not only have full information on subject but also take no separate action which the present lack of centralization would force us to <d>o.6 19018

/s/ Benson         

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document identifier: “11-I-8”; and in columnar fashion: “3/C/J.”

Footnote 1: Initials of transcriber/decoder.

Footnote 2: Probably refers to the convoying section within Sims’ staff.

Footnote 3: Document referred to has not been found.

Footnote 4: Presumably, this is a typographical error as Benson was undoubtedly referring to Commo. Guy R. Gaunt, R.N. See also the version of this cable printed in Anglo-American Naval Relations: 456. There it is dated 20 February and the conferee is listed as “Gaunt.”

Footnote 5: Sims’ personal aide Cmdr. John V Babcock who was then on a visit to Washington, D.C.

Footnote 6: See: Sims to Benson, 1 March 1918. In the end, Acting Capt. Hugh B. Mulleneux was appointed as the representative of the British Admiralty. Sir Oliver Murray to Sims, 3 April 1918. UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/1621.

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