President Woodrow Wilson to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
Received:- July 5th, 1917.
July 4th 7 p.m.
Strictly confidential for Admiral Sims.
CONFIDENTIAL----------From the President.
“From the beginning of the War, I have been greatly surprised at the failure of the British Admiralty to use Great Britain’s great Naval superiority in an effective way. In the presence of the present submarine emergency, they are helpless to the point of panic. Every plan we suggest they reject for some reason of prudence. In my view, this is not a time for prudence but for boldness even at the cost of great losses. In most of your despatches, you have quite properly advised us of the sort of aid and co-operation desired from us by the Admiralty. The trouble is that their plans and methods do not seem to us? efficacy <effective>. I would be very much obliged to you if you would report to me, confidentially of course, exactly what the Admiralty has been doing and what they have accomplished and added to the report, your own comments and suggestions based upon independent ?thought <study> of the whole situation without regard to the judgments of? <already> arrived at on that side of the water. The Admiralty was very slow to adopt the practice of convoy and is not now I judge ? singleness <supplying> convoys on <an> adequate scale within the danger zone, seeming to prefer to keep its small ? <craft with the> fleet. The absence of craft for convoy is even more apparent on the French coast than on the English coast and in the channel. I do not see how the necessary military supplies and supplies of food and fuel oil are to be delivered at British ports in any other way within the next few months than under adequate convoy. There will presently ? <not> be ships or tankers enough ? and our ship-building plans may not begin to yield important results in less than 18 months. I believe that you will keep these instructions absolutely and entirely to yourself and that you will give me such advice as you would give if you were handling <an independent> navy of your own.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The person decoding this encountered problems with certain words that are indicated by question marks in the text. A “clean” copy of this cable can be found in DNA, RG 59. The missing words, which appear in the clean copy, have been added by the editors and designated by angle brackets.