Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Joseph Strauss, Commander, Mine Force, Atlantic Fleet, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

Base Eighteen, [Inverness, Scotland]

11 July 1918.

From:  Commander Mine Force.

To  :  Force Commander

Subject:  Mining Operations---Area “A”.1

          1. The following telegram was received today from the Commander-in-Chief, British Grand Fleet2:

“MINES ARE NOT TO BE LAID IN AREA A NORTHERN BARRAGE TO WEST OF MERIDIAN OF GREENWICH FOR THE PRESENT. PLEASE MAKE NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS IN DRAWING UP ORDERS FOR ENSUING MINELAYING OPERATIONS. 1029”.

          2. In response to the above which from its wording is presumed to be based on an agreement between the Admiralty and the Force Commander, directions have been given which will limit the Western end of the mines laid on the next Excursion to Longitude Zero.

          3. Five lines will be laid (abutting the three-line system of the first excursion) instead of three as previously contemplated. This is rendered necessary in order to utilize all the capacity of the minelayers, leaving to the future the completion of the three-line system in Area “A” laid on the first excursion.

          4. It is urged that the completion to the Westward of as many systems as possible be authorized before the Winter weather intervenes, otherwise we will be unprotected during many months when mine-laying will be impossible.3

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, Joseph Strauss Papers, Box 4. Identifier in top left-hand corner: “File No. 25-S.” and in top right-hand corner: “JS/Fah.”

Footnote 1: For a cartographical representation showing the location of “Area A,” see: Illustrations for April 1918.

Footnote 2: Adm. Sir David Beatty, R.N.

Footnote 3: The controversy highlighted in this document is illustrative of a basic philosophical difference between the Americans and British when it came to the North Sea mine barrage. Beatty and the British wanted non-mined passages on the east and west side of the barrage to create channels for use by the Grand Fleet. The Americans, by contrast, wanted an unbroken barrage from Norway to Scotland and from the surface of the sea to a depth of three hundred feet. Still, Crisis at Sea: 437.