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Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, Memorandum for Ship Owners

N A V Y   D E P A R T M E N T.





July 10, 1917.    




     1.   In connection with furnishing Armed Guards to merchant vessels the following extract from a report to the Navy Department is quoted for the benefit of owners whose vessels are being furnished with Armed Guards:-

     “At the Navy Yard (New York), the principal complaint upon which they lay great stress is that it frequently involves not only greater expense in connection with their work, but also great delay due to lack of control of the movements of shipping in harbor. All vessels outside of the regular liners, which have fixed locations for discharging and loading, practically shift their berths at will and without giving the Commandant of the District proper notice and warning. Apparently there is no authority over the harbor of New York so that vessels are at liberty to move from one part of the harbor to another without any person in authority being notified. This is a subject which should be taken up as early as possible and an effective means provided for notifying some central authority that a ship is about to move to another berth, and give as much warning as to her probable movements as possible. It should be understood that much of the work and material in connection with the armed guard is done on the vessels while they are discharging or loading, and at some distance from the Navy Yard, involving the transportation of workmen and material from the yard to the ship and return of the same to the Yard. It is extremely aggravating to get notice that a ship needs some material attention and that she is lying at the Bush Terminal, only to go there in great haste and find that she has moved in the meantime two or three miles away to another dock which you had probably passed on the way to the Bush Terminal and which even then may be unknown to the Yard people. The same thing applies to placing armed Guards on board ships; there seems to be a lack of coordination between the persons in charge of loading vessels and the owners or agents, armed guards being called for much in advance of the time they should actually be placed on board, and also a failure on the part of the owners or agents to notify the Commandant of the early sailing of the vessel, and the consequent haste in getting the guards on board.”

     2.   In order to save time and expense to the Government and in order to expedite the furnishing of Armed Guards to merchant vessels, as well as saving annoyance both to the Yard officials and to the Companies, it is suggested that in all cases where application has been made for Armed Guards for any vessel the Commandant of the Navy Yard be kept fully advised by the owners as to the exact location of the vessel in port. Anticipated changes of berth should be communicated so as to reach the Commandant sufficiently in advance of the vessel’s movement as to avoid material and working parties being sent to a designated location only to find the vessel has shifted to another part of the harbor. In port like New York, for instance, this causes a very considerable delay to all parties.

     3.   The above applies not only to the original outfitting of the vessels, but also to all subsequent visits to a port in order to facilitate necessary overhaul of equipment and renewal of supplies.

W. S. BENSON,               

Admiral, U.S. Navy,

Chief of Naval Operations.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG45, Entry 517B.

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