Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to General José Martí, Chief of Staff, Cuban Army, and President of Cuban Mission
My dear General Marti’:
Your letter of the eleventh instant has been received in the Navy Department and the contents thereof given the most careful consideration by the various bureaus concerned. Before entering into any detailed reply to your letter, allow me to express to you the keen appreciation of the Navy Department for the offer by the President of Cuba1 of his military and naval forces to cooperate with the forces of the United States against our common enemy.2 The Navy Department will render to the Government of Cuba every assistance possible, both now and in the future. The Department notes especially with the sincerest gratification the statement that it is the desire to make Cuba self-sustaining and also to relieve the United States of the necessity of using her Army and Navy for protection, and it believes that in maintaining normal conditions in Cuba and keeping its shores and harbors secure, the forces of the Cuban Government will render the greatest service possible, not only in the common cause, but to Cuba. Again let me assure you of the hearty cooperation of the Department of the Navy.
Lieutenant Commander C. R. Kear, U. S. Navy, has been detailed for duty in Havana and will be instructed to act as the official to maintain the cooperation between the Cuban forces and the forces of the United States.
Guns Crews. The Commandant at Guantanamo3 will be instructed to render every assistance in the training of the guns crews, and the vessels in Cuban waters will be instructed if desired to take on board a number of guns crews for training. It is regretted that owing to the present demand for trained personnel the Department is unable to comply with the request for a detail at Havana.
The Department finds that it can legally place contracts for the Cuban Government and offer the facilities of its Navy Yards for repair of ships, and will be glad to do so, and desires to quote for your information the opinion rendered by the Solicitor for the Navy Department4 on that subject, which is as follows: “There seems to be no legal obstacle to the repairing at Navy Yards of Cuban ships on request from the government of that country, as is done from time to time in the cases of ships of foreign governments generally, provided, of course, reimbursement of our expenditures on that account is made. Inasmuch as such repair work is not provided for in any appropriation for the Naval Establishment, deposits of cash in advance to cover the expenditures should be requested on the ground that such expenditures from our funds are not authorized by law.
Purchase and inspection by our government of supplies for another government, though much less usual than the repair at our Navy Yards of foreign national ships, is a matter in the same category as far as the legal aspect thereof is concerned and, it would seem to be admissible, legally, to purchase and inspect the supplies desired by the Cuban government, care being taken to protect the Department against a shortage in the appropriation, which would eventuate as a tangible violation of the law, by securing deposits in advance as indicated above”.
All dates set for delivery are based upon immediate placing of the orders, and it is recommended that the action to be taken by the Government of Cuba be transmitted to the Navy Department at the earliest possible date.
REPAIR OF SHIPS The Navy Yard at New Orleans has been assigned as the repair station for the vessels of the Cuban Navy. The two vessels which are desired to be repaired first are the Patria and the Baire, and they can be sent to that Yard whenever desired. It is requested that the Department be informed at the earliest possible moment of the probable date of the dispatching of these vessels, and that it receive in the future advance information of any prospective sailings for repairs to that Yard of vessels of the Cuban Navy, in order that arrangements may be made for their reception and the proper expedition of the work to be accomplished.
PURCHASE OF SHIPS. The Department will endeavor in every way to comply with the request of the Cuban Government for sixteen of the standard type 110 foot submarine chasers with full equipment. The first of these boats will not be complete until September, and it will be impossible for the Department to grant the entire request for sixteen at that date, but will endeavor to make deliveries from that time on.
Electrical Equipment. The following items can be delivered at approximately the dates set opposite each one.
2 5-K. W. 110 volt direct current sets Sept. 1, 1917.
3 2-K. W. 110 “ “ “ “ " 1, 1917.
7 2-K. W. 110 “ “ “ “ July 15, 1917.
Receiving equipment for above, Aug. 1, 1917.
6 1/4 K. W. field radio sets, Aug. 1, 1917
15,000 meters aerial wire, June 1, 1917
1,500 aerial insulators, July 1, 1917.
3 wave meters, Aug. 1, 1917.
300 porcelain wall insulators June 1, 1917.
6 searchlights, 60 to 80 amp., 110 volt Aug. 1, 1917.
RADIO TOWERS The ten sets of two towers each self-supporting 200 feet high, and the two sets of two towers each self-supporting 300 feet high, can be manufactured and delivered for transportation in approximately six months if the order is placed immediately.
ORDNANCE. The Bureau of Ordnance can furnish immediately four 3 inhc 50 calibre semi-automatic guns and mounts of the type used by the United States Navy, and can place the orders for the remaining twelve guns.
Ten 57 small m.m. semi-automatic (six pounders) can be shortly issued.
Six 47 m.m. semi-automatic (three pounders) can be issued shortly.
Ammunition listed in paragraph two, except four inch ammunition can be issued immediately in proportionate amounts. The four inch ammunition can be ordered.
There are no check telescopes and fittings available at present for issue, but can be ordered.
Sub-calibre rifles and fittings none in stock, but can be manufactured.
Bore sights ready for issue.
SIGNALS. The Navy Department can furnish the Cuban Government with copies of the service radio code, and with a special cipher for use with that book. This book can be furnished in any reasonable quantity, but it is deemed desirable that the Cuban Government make a special edition of this book in order that it may be translated into the Spanish language. If this is done there would have to be a coding and decoding copy as the alphabet arrangement of the English book would be disturbed by the translation into Spanish. In reference to the recognition signals to be used between the vessels of the United States Navy and the Cuban Navy it seems preferable that the Cuban Government furnish the Navy Department with the system of recognition signals to be used by their vessels, which system will be transmitted to all vessels of the United States Navy operating in Cuban waters for their information and use.
Trusting that the above letter will meet the desires of the President of Cuba and assist in expediting the accomplishment of the end desired, believe me, my dear General Marti’,
Secretary of the Navy.
Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. Below the closing appears, “General Jose’ Marti’,/Chief of Staff Cuban Army,/President of Cuban Mission.”
Footnote 1: Mario García Menocal (1913-1921).
Footnote 2: Cuba declared war on Germany on 7 April 1917. Although the Cuban government sent a military and naval mission to the United States in April, where they presented Menocal’s offer of close cooperation with the United States, no Cuban solider or sailor ever made it to the battlefronts of Europe. Bisher, Intelligence War: 212.
Footnote 3: Cmdr. Dudley W. Knox.
Footnote 4: Graham Egerton.