Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
RECEIVED: 9th July 1917. From: Washington.
Through: Admiralty. No. 209. Sent 5:15 pm 8th
Recd. 3.5 am
209. Following from Commodore Gaunt for Admiral Sims.
Future ? cross water operations concerning safe transportation of our troops to France is one of the most important operations of future. For this purpose every guarantee has been given to War Department that every effort will be made by the Navy Department to safeguard lives of the soldiers in crossing. From the interned German ships 14 of fastest largest and best will be commissioned under complete ? naval control and used to take over the troops. It is of the utmost importance these ships should receive greatest protection on the passage in and owing to the valuable nature of ships and difficulty of obtaining others in their place if lost it is desirable to guard them on passage ? in ? Atlantic. Will you therefore submit an outline <of what> you consider the best method of carrying out such operations after you have consulted various authorities especially the French. About four tho<u>sand troops will be despatched in each ? ship. Do you think that they should sail in company or singly? During the voyage in<,> what protection can they expect from our destr<o>yers and what from the French? Also<,> on the voyage out<,> what protection can and will be (given? omitted) by French<,> or do you contemplate providing that from our Forces? In addition to sending you all t<h>e information in advance possible<,> should we request from you a rendezvous for each ship<,> or group of ships<<,> leaving here and a course in from there<,> or will you in advance set out a course<,> both of which will be understood to hold good until you change the same (note of interrogation) Should the army supply ships, large number of which will be of moderate speeds, sail together in groups<,> or singly<,> so that greatest security may be given them in that part of vo<y>age when it is the most essential (note of interrogation), Even if these points have been discussed by you<,> it is desirable to have them clearly indicated<,> so that greatest efficiency and co-operation may be obtained from our combined efforts.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The author is not given, however in their testimony to Congress both Sims and Daniels quoted this message and said it had come from Daniels and the Navy Deparment. Naval Investigation, 1: 155-56; 2: 2136. There are notes at the bottom of the last page: “1-L. (3)/Ans. By our No. 95 of July 11th, 1917. CHRONOLOGICAL FILE.”