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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels


SENT:     July 3, 1917. To: Secretary of the Navy.

THROUGH:  State Department.

     Number sixtynine Replying your twenty-nine.1 The British needs for assistance in Naval Aeronautics are in order of importance as follows quote First, four seaplanes carriers ships capable of carrying six two seater seaplanes and six single seater seaplanes or land machines speed eighteen knots or more (stop) Second four or more vessels for use as depot ships in conjunction with large sea-planes on antisubmarine work (stop) Third one hundred kite balloon units complete with trained officers and men (stop) Kite balloons much more desirable than blimps (stop) As kite balloons very valuable for antisubmarine work and as they can be provided quickly it is recommended that their construction be started immediately (stop)|2| Fourth complete squadrons of large sea planes with personnel and equipment (stop) Fifth Satisfactory engines of not less than three hundred horse power (stop) At present Admiralty unaware of any satisfactory American aeroplane engine of this size (stop) Best engine here Rolls Royce (stop) Sixth Any number of units of trained pilots and mechanics for anti-submarine work end unquote. Any units sent over would of course operate under their own officers (stop) Should the United States Navy decide upon proceeding with any part of the above programme the Admiralty will provide every possible assistance and to that end will send to America experts in each branch concerned (stop) Have communicated with French Admiralty regarding this question but am not yet in position to reply (stop) In View of necessity for quick action in anti-submarine campaign and in view of time required for aeronautic construction it is recommended that no aeronautic developments be undertaken which will in any way interfere with completion of other more immediately available antisubmarine craft and equipment.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG45, Entry 517B. At the bottom of the document is a list of where additional copies were to be filed.

Footnote 1: See, Daniels to Sims, 22 June 1917, DNA, RG45, Entry 517B. In this cable, Daniel’s requested “definite indications of what assistance in air work it desired the United States Navy to supply.”

Footnote 2: First used by the British in 1917, kite balloons (sausage-shaped and filled with hydrogen) were developed as a means of combating the U-Boat menace. Towed by destroyers with a crew member aloft, the balloons provided an excellent vantage point to spot submarines and surface raiders, as well as friendly ships. Still, Victory at Sea, 465.

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