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 the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

Chronological Copy.

Cablegram Sent     February 4, 1918.    SFM

To Opnav Washington.                   Serial No. 3625

Prep. by C-1            Ap’vd. by NCT1              D.R.

Rec’d              Coded         Cypher 25D    Disp’chd Cable

3625. Your 2673.2 If vessels of American Line can be converted to carry coal for round trip these ships can be used in regular convoys to France and return. This would require additional naval personnel and further congest French ports. It would seem better to route these ships in fast Halifax convoys. By this method the vessels should make more trips, no personnel changes are required, there will be no coaling difficulties, fewer destroyers are required, and strain on French ports will be less. The only disadvantages will be and extra tax on Cross-Channel service and the loss of a small amount of cargo capacity as all freight carried must be destined for England.

The third method proposed is not recommended as this would require a long escort for destroyers and the direction of approach to England would be unfavorable. Regarding proposal for using French liners, it will be possible to divert these liners to Bordeaux if routed with our regular troop convoys. There is considerable doubt as to advisability of this procedure, however, owing to danger of exposing routes, signals, instructions, etc. of our troop convoys as well as further danger of collision while in convoy.

It is most unlikely that Southampton will be used for troops so long as the submarine situation is unchanged. The safest ports are on west coast of France and west coast of England and it is desirable to restrict all troop movements to these ports if possible. 21304.

Sims.        

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Sims’ Chief of Staff.

Footnote 2: See: William S. Benson to Sims, 2 February 1918.

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