Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating In European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
Cablegram Sent 18th July 1917.
To Secretary Navy, Washington Serial No. 112
Via Navy Secret Code
18th July 1917 File No.
Number one hundred twelve. Repair facilities for patrol squadrons in France very inadequate. Unless we can send repair ships, the patrol squadrons operations will be greatly restricted. They are already in need of work which has delayed their readiness for duty. Melville and Dixie now working to the limit of their capacity and should not be diverted.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The length of time it took to repair ships at Brest (the base of operations in France for the United States Navy) was a frequent complaint by U.S. naval officers. Capt. William B. Fletcher, Commander, Special Patrol Squadron, and Capt. Richard H. Jackson, United States Naval Attaché at Paris, both strongly recommended deploying a repair ship, with Jackson suggesting the tender Panther. Both Sims and Lt. Cmdr. Joseph F. Daniels (Sims’ representative in France) agreed with these suggestions; See: Daniels to Sims, 10 July 1917. Despite these and other recommendations, however, it was not until 31 August 1917 that the Navy Department ordered a repair ship to Brest, a delay that occurred due to the fact that none were available until that time. Sims initially requested Prometheus be detached from the Atlantic Fleet and sent to Brest, but Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, strenuously objected. Ultimately, Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, decided to send Panther to Brest instead; the tender arrived in the final week of September. Still, Crisis at Sea: 157-158.