Skip to main content

Captain Edwin A. Anderson, Commander, Squadron Three, Patrol Force, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

U.S. Patrol Force


               U.S.S. ALGONQUIN, Flagship,

11 July 1917.      

From:     Commander, Squadron Three, Patrol Force.

To:       Secretary of the Navy (Chief of Naval Operations).

Via:      Commander, Patrol Force.1

SUBJECT: Proposed plan of co-operation with CUBAN FORCES.

Reference: (a) CNO dispatch 16009.

     1. Referring to Chief of Naval Operations” dispatch 16009 director Commander Squadron Three, Patrol Force, to proceed to Havana, Cuba, when practicable to confer with American Minister2 and Cuban authorities and arrange complete plan for cooperation with Cuban forces, I submit the following for your consideration:


Although I understand that the dispatch gives me power to arrange for full co-operation with the CUBAN forces, still I think it better that I submit my ideas in advance so that if they should not meet with your approval I would not be placed in the embarrassing position of having to change. My natural impulse is to proceed immediately on this duty as I consider that the sooner this matter is arranged the better, still I do not believe it would be advisable to go there on the ALGONQUIN as my flagship. Cubans are a very impressionable people, and would probably be influenced by my surroundings. Although the Commanding Officer of the ALGONQUIN is pleasant and of good appearance, yet, frankly, I think he is lacking in the force necessary to make a proper impression on these people. Again, I feel certain that there will be official courtesies extended to me, and it would be absolutely impossible for me to return them on the ALGONQUIN as the quarters are inadequate, the messing arrangements crude, and servants and cooks untrained and inefficient; this would be very embarrassing and would undoubtedly cause unfavorable comment, and probably weaken my prestige as an intermediary between the Navy Department and the Cuban officials. For these reasons I have decided that it would be best for me to postpone the visit to Havana until the arrival of the DOLPHIN at that port, to which I will order her to meet me after the completion of her repairs about the 24th of July. I shall proceed there on the ALGONQUIN.

2. I trust that my motives in doing this will not be misunderstood as they are entirely actuated by my desire to make a success of this mission. It is rather unfortunate that our American Minister at Havana is currently believed to not have the standing that would be of great assistance to me provided that we had a strong man in his place. However, I will try to utilize his services to the best advantage.

     3. The principal lines on which I shall proceed are these:

I will prepare in advance a paper stating the lines on which I hope to establish the co-operation between the Cuban Navy and our own.

        In general terms I will demand that the Cuban Navy be placed under the general control of the Commander of the Caribbean Patrol.3 As I am a senior captain, near the head of the list, I do not believe that any one in the Cuban Navy ranks me, so I think this can be arranged without offending the sensibilities of the Cuban officials.

        It will be necessary that an officer be detailed for the purpose of an advisor to the Cuban naval officers and to be the means of communicating my instructions to them. I think that Lieutenant Hewitt, commanding the U. S. S. EAGLE, is competent to fill this position. He speaks Spanish, knows the Cuban character very well, is an energetic officer and the vessel he commands, being light draft, is well fitted to visit shallow draft harbors where the Cuban patrol would operate.4 There would have to be two officers, either junior lieutenants or ensigns, to go on the two larger Cuban gunboats in an advisory capacity to organize and regulate the training. We should have on the Coast Guard gunboats and larger patrol vessels chief petty officers or petty officers, first class, for the same purpose.

        It is supremely necessary that the Commander of the Caribbean Patrol should have vested in him the power to discharge or to have transferred Cuban officers who are found to be inefficient or negligent in the performance of their duties. In other words, to weed out the political appointments. Without this the service would be a farce.

        We, on our side, would obligate ourselves to arm Cuban vessels and furnish them ammunition; to dock these vessels, either at Key West or Guantanamo Bay, and make necessary repairs; to furnish them with fuel and oil at our expense; they to furnish their officers and crews and to subsist them at the Cuban expense. It is this feature of the case I wish to bring to the attention of the Department before proceeding further in the matter. I do not believe that the Cubans would themselves be willing to spend the funds necessary for the proper upkeep of their Navy which the contemplated service would entail, but they would be willing to meet the usual current expenses.

     4. As the Department knows, we have been trying for over two years to arrive at some satisfactory arrangement with the Cuban Government. It is necessary now, if anything is to be done, to take a firm stand. I shall represent to the highest officials what would be the result of a submarine campaign in these waters to the prosperity of the Cubans, and will paint the matter in as dark colors as I can. If shipping from the outside was cut off from Cuba the people would soon be in degenerate straits for food, as the majority of rice and beans on which they subsist are imported. The consequence of this would undoubtedly be a recurrence of the revolution in Cuba, and on a larger scale. President Monecal[sic]5 possesses large sugar holdings and I believe that by appealing to his self-interests I can get action quicker than by any other method.

     5. Any serious modifications of the above proposed plan would result in destroying any chance of useful co-operation on the part of the Cubans.

     6. To sum up, the principal points are that:

The service should be under the control of the Commander of the Caribbean Patrol;

     He should have authority to dismiss incompetent officers;

We should train the Cuban personnel and see that the vessels are kept in an efficient condition for service.

     7. I propose to have the plan in detail signed by the responsible Cuban officials before submitting it to the Department, for only by doing so can we have a hold on them. They are perfectly willing to promise anything, but they will fail to carry it into execution unless they will place themselves on record. If this meets with the approval of the Department I request that I be briefly so informed by naval dispatch.6

/s/ E. A. Anderson

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517.

Footnote 1: Adm. Henry T. Mayo.

Footnote 2: William E. Gonzales.

Footnote 3: The Cuban Patrol was another name for Squadron Three of the Patrol Force.

Footnote 4: Lt. Cmdr. Henry K. Hewitt. Despite Anderson’s recommendation, the Navy ultimately appointed Lt. Cmdr. Carelton R. Kear to fill this position instead.

Footnote 5: Mario García Menocal (1913-1921).

Footnote 6: Attached to this document was a list of endorsements, the last of which, from Daniels to Mayo on 23 July, stated, “Forwarded, approved.” DNA, RG 45, Entry 517.

Related Content