Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

British Admiralty to Commodore Guy R. Gaunt, British Naval Attaché at Washington

 

21st July,     [191]7

-: CONFIDENTIAL :-

Sir,

     With reference to Admiral De Chair’s1 correspondence with the Department of Commerce at Washington relative to a proposal to block the entrance to the North Sea to submarines by means of a net barrage, I am commanded by My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to request that the Department may be thanked for the trouble they have taken in working out this scheme, which has been carefully considered by the Admiralty.

2-   The experience which the Admiralty has had leads them to the conclusion that there would be insuperable difficulties in providing the vast amount of material that would be required and in maintaining the obstruction in the exposed waters of the North Sea. The memorandum and drawing of anti-submarine nets, which have been communicated to the United States Authorities deal fully with the practical limitations of this class of work.2 These difficulties are referred to in the telegram which was sent to Admiral De Chair on the 14th May,3 and a copy of it was communicated to Admiral Sims.4

I am, Sir,

Your obedient Servant,  

Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/1436.

Footnote 1: Rear Admiral Sir Dudley R. S. De Chair.

Footnote 2: Despite skepticism from the British Navy (and Sims) the U.S. went forward with the plans for a North Sea mine barrage laying over 70,000 mines between the spring of 1918 and the Armistice. Historians continue to debate whether it was cost-effective to this day. An estimated seven submarines were sunk by the barrage. Halpern, A Naval History of World War I: 38-41.

Footnote 3: See, British Admiralty to De Chair, 14 May 1917, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/655.

Footnote 4: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.

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