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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Commander Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas



Office Vice Admiral, Commanding  

U.S. Destroyer Forces, European Waters.

London, July 10, 1917.      

From: Vice Admiral Wm. S. Sims.

To:  Captain J.R.P. Pringle, Commanding U.S.S. MELLVILLE on Staff of Force Commander.

Subject: Enclosure letter from Department concerning organization of U.S. Forces operating in European waters.

     1.   The attached letter from the Department is forwarded for your information and guidance as my Staff Representative with the Destroyer Forces based on Queenstown.

     2.   It is recognized that the nature of the present duties being performed by the destroyers precludes any definite organization by flotillas or divisions as far as that duty itself is concerned.1

     3.   However, the possibility must be borne in mind at all times of these forces being demanded for other duty either in nearby or distant waters. The possibility of our main fleet advancing to European waters and requiring the services of destroyer flotillas must also be kept in mind.2

     4.   It is my present intention that in case of a sudden call for the services of our destroyers elsewhere than in the Queenstown area, I shall merely give the order to you concerning the duty required and the number of destroyers desired, leaving to you the organisation in such units as the circumstances of the moment may render advisable.

     5.   It is desired, however, that you consult with the senior destroyer division commanders (as they came from the United States) and advise me as to any steps concerning the definite organisation by flotillas, divisions or sections which may be considered as being warranted.

          I think a more or less definite organisation should be prepared, and well understood by the Forces, against the emergency of all of the destroyers or parts thereof being suddenly withdrawn from the Queenstown area for duty elsewhere, either with our main fleet or with other allied forces. Such an organisation should probably be primarily based on steaming qualities or machinery questions.

     6.   In accordance with paragraph 3 of the Department’s letter,3 will you please submit to me a brief weekly report of operations of the destroyers; and also report concerning their materiel state of readiness for other service than that in which they are now engaged.

          It is desired that such reports be of general nature covering only essential military subjects.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: At the time, destroyers operated primarily on anti-submarine patrol solitary or in small groups, rather than on a division or flotilla level. See: Diary of Joeseph K. Taussig, 8 May 1917.

Footnote 2: The main fleet, consisting primarily of battleships and cruisers, needed destroyers and torpedo boats in battle, according to contemporary doctrine. These smaller vessels would not only combat enemy destroyers; they would also attack the main fleet with a combination of speed and torpedoes. Friedman, Fighting the Great War at Sea: 104.

Footnote 3: See: Daniels to Sims, 8 July 1917.