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Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels


23 July 1917.      

From:     Commander in Chief.

To  :     Secretary of the Navy (Operations)

Subject:  Destroyer force – force and flotilla commanders.

Reference: (a) organization of United States Fleets, promulgated in Opnav 20392-656, 14 July, 1917.

           (b) Opnav let. no. 28754-20:46, 9 July, 1917.

           (c) Opnav let. no. 20392-648, 2 July 1917.

     1.   In reference (a) the DESTROYER FORCE is laid down composed of four flotillas, for which no flagships are assigned and for which only three tenders are available, neither is any force flagship assigned.

     2.   There is at present no DESTROYER FORCE Commander, nor are there any flotilla commanders, so far as is known, there are only fourregularly appointed division commanders in the twelve divisions of which the FORCE is now composed.

     3.   It is suggested and recommended that Vice Admiral Sims1 be designated as Commander DESTROYER FORCE, for the following reason:

1. He now holds no definite command in the ATLANTIC FLEET, nevertheless is commanding “United States Naval Forces in European Waters”, all of which forces are part of the Atlantic Fleet (References (b) and (c);

2. Now has part of the DESTROYER FORCE operating under his immediate orders;

3. has previously had command of the DESTROYER FORCE for over two years;

4. is largely responsible for the development of existing destroyer tactics and methods of employment;

5. if regularly assigned to command an integral part of the Fleet (DESTROYER FORCE) his designation would be COMMANDER DESTROYER FORCE and Senior Officer Present European Waters.

     4.   It is suggested and recommended that the following named officers be considered for assignment as flotilla commanders:

Captain G.W.Williams

Commanded torpedo flotilla ATLANTIC FLEET about 1909.

Commander J.R.P.Pringle

Has commanded destroyer division and is now commanding DIXIE

Commander A.M.Procter

Commanded torpedo boat division several years ago and is now commanding PANTHER.

Commander H.I.Cone2

Took torpedo boat flotilla around Cape Horn in 1907-08 and has last sea duty in command of DIXIE.


          The following Officers may also be considered for assignment as flotilla commanders:

Commander G.C. Day

Commanded present destroyer FLOTILLA ONE when first organized.

Commander W.S.Crosley

Commanded torpedo boat division several years ago.

Commander J.P.Morton

Commander destroyer division about 1911-1912.

Commander F.N.Freeman

Has twice commanded PACIFIC Torpedo Flotilla.

Commander K.M.Bennett3

Has commanded destroyer division.


     5.   (a) It has been learned that the IRIS, former tender to the torpedo boats of the Pacific Torpedo Flotilla, has been dismantled as tender and turned over to the Shipping Board. It is recommended that her tender equipment, (Machine tools, foundry forges, etc) be assembled and installed in a suitable vessel, and that the equipment of such vessel be expedited so that she may be available as soon as possible.

          (b) It is suggested that the PRAIRIE, being a sister ship of the DIXIE, might readily be adapted for Service as destroyer tender. She is understood to be now due for extensive repairs at a Navy Yard and the necessary installations could readily be made during such overhaul.

          (c) It is understood that the CAMILLA RICKMERS (ex-German ship) has been converted into a tender for Division C, recently ordered from the Philippines to European waters, but nothing is known of her capacity.

          (d) Attention is invited to the fact that destroyers now in company with the Fleet in Western Atlantic waters are without a tender and unless steps are taken along the lines indicated in sub paragraph 4 (a) and (b) above, not only is the operating efficiency of the destroyers concerned impaired, but the matter of providing tenders for destroyers soon to be commissioned appears to be one that merits immediate consideration.

     6.   As mentioned in paragraph 1, there is no DESTROYER FORCE Flagship, nor are there any flotilla flagships. A previous organization of the Atlantic Fleet assigned the three scout cruisers BIRMINGHAM, CHESTER and SALEM as flagships of the three flotillas then existing. It is possible, as has been done in the past, to assign tenders as flagships, but such arrangement is not satisfactory and should not be resorted to if it is at all practicable to make any other arrangement – even if yachts (such as the recently acquired ISABELLE) have to be assigned as flotilla flagships.4


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 413.

Footnote 1: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces in European Waters.

Footnote 4: The tender Melville became the flagship of the destroyer flotilla at Queenstown.