Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
Information Copy For First Sea Lord1
Cablegram Sent. 28th July 1917.
To Secretary of the Navy
Admiralty “Q” 21
One hundred and forty-six. The following is the text of a memorandum prepared at a combined Allied military and naval conference in Paris2 after a statement before the conference by the British Minister of Shipping3 and a general discussion initiated by the French Chief of Military staff4 (stop) The memorandum was unanimously agreed to (stop) quote – The review of the maritime situation and the very clear explanations given by Mr. Graeme Thomson5 show that we have to face a total monthly reduction (Allied and neutral countries) which can be estimated at 500,000 tons for the high seas tonnage (stop) In the first instance Graeme Thomson on behalf of the British Ministry of Shipping, is of opinion that it will be possible to meet the requirements of the supply of the United Kingdom (limited to those which are absolutely necessary) until October 1918 provided that new construction amounts to 3,000,000 tons from the 1st of January 1918. For this it is essential that the necessary labour should be called back from the British army and the steel required provided. Mr. Graeme Thomson states that for the period extending to October 1918 the continuously reducing available tonnage will suffice for imperative needs but the people of Great Britain will undoubtedly have to suffer serious privations (stop) It will not be possible to make an increase of imports into allied countries with British tonnage (stop) From November 1918 – and with the help of the Americans – presuming their shipbuilding programme comes up to expectations – we may hope that the total construction will approximately compensate for the losses caused by submarines (stop) It appears from the above that the situation will only begin to improve from November 1918 and that until then the total available tonnage of the Allies may be sufficient to cover all their requirements (stop) It is therefore indispensable to establish a general list of the available tonnage for each of the Allies and to put against it the figure of their requirements (stop) Only then will it be possible to make a decision as to the amount and the nature of the restrictions which will have to be made in the various kinds of traffic (stop) Further, the transport of the American Army to France has created fresh needs which we have to face (stop) On this particular account, it is indispensable to draw up a statement of the total interallied tonnage, and it is only when this is done that it will be possible to get an idea of the amount of transport of any, which can be put at the disposal of the American Army in France; it seems, on a first examination that these means will be limited solely to the resources of the American mercantile marine as supplemented by their shipbuilding programme (stop) The members of the meeting consider that is a most important point which must be cleared up without delay and ask that the Allied governments should take at once the necessary measures to that effect: with this end in view a meeting of the representatives of the Transport services of the Allies should be held in London at the earliest opportunity (stop)
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.
Footnote 1: Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe.
Footnote 2: This conference took place 24-26 July and was attended by various representatives of the American, British, French, and Italian armies and navies concerning the state of the war effort and joint allied measures to further pursuit of their objectives. For more on this conference, see: Sims to Sims, 26 July 1917 and Sims to Violet Voysey, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 22.
Footnote 3: Sir Joseph Paton Maclay.
Footnote 4: Gen. Philippe Pétain.
Footnote 5: Thomson served as the head of the Directorate of Shipping for the Ministry of Shipping and Admiralty.