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 Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

February 19, 1918.

From:     Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in European Waters.

To  :     Secretary of the Navy (Operations).

Subject:       Data re Mediterranean Convoys.

     1.   The following information has been furnished by the British Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, in report dated 7 February, 1918, covering the month of January, 1918.1

          The following data is furnished in regard to the general situation in the Mediterranean. It will be noted that there has been a general improvement due to the development of the convoy system.

     2.   The Spanish coastal route has been closed, and convoys from Gibraltar are being sailed by open sea routes direct to Genoa. There are still a considerable number of escorting forces needed in the Mediterranean in order to give adequate protection to convoys already organized. Additional convoys would speed up shipping, but it is unlikely that additional convoys can be undertaken for the present.:-

          (a)  The total number of vessels escorted has been almost doubled, having risen from 963 vessels in December to 1231 in January, and the percentage escorted has been 79.7% as compared with 52.2% in December.

          (b)  The average number of vessels at sea at any time shows an appreciable decrease, having fallen from 307 to 261. This would not appear to indicate that the actual number of vessels in the Mediterranean is decreasing or that the time spent in port is increasing, but is probably due to the extension of the convoy system, which, by enabling vessels to reach their destination more quickly, reduces the proportion of time spent at sea as compared with the time spent in port.

          (c)  Losses byxxxxx enemy action have been slightly less than in December, the number of vessels sunk being 29 of 122,292 Gross tons as compared with 38 of 136776 Gross tons in December. Twelve vessels were sunk in regular convoys.

          (d)  The percentage of loss on regular convoy routes compare less favorably with the general percentage than was the case in December, though the former remains slightly lower.

     the figures are:-

                   December  January

Regular Convoys    2.04%     1.59%

All routes         2.30      1.70%

          (e)  The total number of vessels convoyed over the regular convoy routes was 753 as compared with 556 in December and 381 in November. The total tonnage in these convoys since 4th November amounts to 6 1/2 million tons gross.

          (f)  The total number of vessels sunk by enemy action in these convoys to date has been 33, the total gross tonnage lost being 131,465, giving a percentage of loss 2.04. The percentage has steadily decreased during the three months in which the organized convoys has been in operation.

Wm. S. Sims       

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document reference numbers appear at the top of the page: “11-13-2”, “01.9323-1”, and “1/4/5/6/C/J”.

Footnote 1: Adm. Sir Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe, R.N., British Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean. The report mentioned herein has not been located.

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