Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

Translation

<February 11, 1918>

From:     Vice Admiral Sims

To:       Opnav.

#3854 The American steamer Dora was intercepted forenoon February 9 thirty miles from entrance to Kola Inlet and sent back to Lerwick.1 This was in accordance with instructions issued by British Admiralty before the United States Government’s wishes in the matter were known. After being advised of those wishes Admiralty disallowed that the Dora be not stopped but allowed to carry out her original orders. Before this message went through the Dora has been stopped and turned back. The Russian Admiral at Mourmansk was assassinated on Saturday or Sunday.2 Particulars not yet received but it is probable that as a result of this murder the situation at Mourmansk is quite different than that supposed by the United States Government when the Dora was dispatched. There are large quantities of store at Archangel such as steel, wolfram, tin and copper which are now valuable in a military way and should by no means be allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy. It seems to secure the delivery of these stores at Mourmansk in exchange for food and the British Admiralty is endeavoring to affect this result. It is earnestly recommended that the same policy be adopted with respect to the Dora, her cargo not to be delivered to Russian authorities except in exchange for an equivalent amount of the military stores previously referred to. 20411

Sims.         

Memo. for Admiral: The British view seems sound from all points of view. Probably the most material aid we can give Russia now is food and that would probably be aid least likely to find its way into Germany now. The problem is how to do it. That would be a matter the British could best handle, provided our policy coincided with theirs. Pratt

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document reference at top of first page: “IL-3807 A.” As seen at Twining to Daniels of this date, Sims was in Italy so while this cable bears his signature, it must have been written by a member of his staff. The date was handwritten and added later. It was taken from the time stamp that is affixed to the message before Sims’ signature. The memorandum below Sims’ signature was added after this cable had arrived in Washington, D.C., by Capt. William V. Pratt, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations. The admiral for whom it was intended was William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 1: Kola (Kol’skiy) Inlet is at the entrance to Kola Bay, a fjord in the Barents Sea. The port of Murmansk sits on the east shore of Kola Bay. Lerwick is the chief port in the Shetland Islands.

Footnote 2: Russian Adm. K. F. Kyetlinski was the highest ranking Russian authority in Murmansk. He was a socialist sympathizer and incredibly popular with Russian sailors in Murmansk, including those in Bolshevik circles. Outside of Murmansk Bolshevik leaders in Petrograd took issue with Kyetlinski for executing revolutionary sailors who attempted to blow up the cruiser Askold. The Bolshevik government ordered his arrest in hopes of stripping Kyetlinki of his growing popularity and authority. When the local sailors refused to arrest the Admiral, two agents dressed in naval uniforms assassinated Kyetlinski on orders from the Petrograd government. George F. Kennan, Decision to Intervene: Soviet-American Relations, 1917-1920 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 31-32.