Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Bureau of Ordnance
Copy of Cablegram Sent 8 July 1918. RES
To: Opnav, Washington (Buord) Ser. No 781
Prep. by M-4 SX D.R.
781. Admiralty states during last few months several cases, estimated at two to three percent, of premature explosions of British depth charges fired from throwers have occurred, explosions taking place on charge striking water. Some casualties have been caused by fragments thrown back on board vessels. Exact cause premature explosion still obscure, Admiralty taking steps provide supply modified form primer safety gear for use in charges fired from throwers, but state this gear not available for issue for about three months and orders being issued limiting use British depth charges from throwers except in special circumstances in which it is considered the risks must be accepted. In order avoid loss of offensive which such restrictions must necessarily impose, Admiralty very anxious obtain sufficient number United States charges for use in depth charge throwers, exchanging equal number of British depth charges for use on tracks on United States vessels. As I consider the United States depth charge safer than the British depth charge, I desire to avoid if possible the necessity for exchanging United States depth charges for British depth charges and consider it preferable to furnish the Admiralty a special immediate supply of United States charges for use in their depth charge throwers. I therefore urgently recommend that a large special shipment of United States depth charges be made for special purpose of meeting this urgent demand as it is of the utmost importance to avoid restricting the offensive action against submarines in any way. Immediate reply is requested together with information as to the earliest date shipment can be made and number of charges available this purpose. 18108 781
|fn1:Sims’ reply has not been found, but on the 10th the Bureau of Ordnance wrote Sims saying that it was manufacturing as many depth charges as possible and would give the British Admiralty whatever it could spare. The Bureau also recommended against accepting British charges in exchange “on grounds of safety.” See: Ordnance to Sims, 10 July 1918.||
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document reference: “C.I. 27/2/3”