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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Rear Admiral Albert P. Niblack, Commander, Patrol Forces Based on Gibraltar

15 July 1918

My dear Nibs,

              Your letter of July 2nd. just received, quoting a passage from Mr. Archibald Hurd on the question of unity of command in the Mediterranean.1

              This had no possible reference to the subject of your letter, but exclusively to the struggle that has been going on for four or five months to try and induce the Italians to get their battleships out of port and get them in training with the French, so that the available heavy forces in the Mediterranean can be so disposed as to counteract the Russian Black Sea force in case the Germans put the vessels in commission and come out for such damage as they can do.2

               Of course, we know that there has been no difficulty at all as far as concerns our co-ordination with all of the forces with whom we are in contact.

              I can readily understand that there is some misunderstanding between the Gibraltar force and the British Commander-in-Chief at Gibraltar, but of course this is not our affair, although it does affect us directly. I may be able to do something about this by mentioning what you recommend, that is, that there should be a liaison officer between Malta and Gibraltar.

              You have already been informed that we are going to pass down to you a lot of the big destroyers as often as they come out. Present information is that there will be two destroyers coming out with each troop convoy, and that they will remain on this side. The GREGORY is on her way to you, but later I will have to send her a new Commanding Officer, as Fairfield3 is slated for certain specific duty in Queenstown. You will, of course, find these new destroyers good boats except that they are disappointing as regards their radius of action. We understand that this will be corrected in later boats.

              Times have been pretty strenuous up here, not only as regards the volume of business, but on account of the numerous social and official functions that have taken place in connection with the celebration of the Fourth of July.4

              This will be further complicated by the arrival of Assistant Secretary Roosevelt, who is coming to make a “look-see”. He is on the destroyer DYER, accompanying a convoy, and will stop in at the Azores for a kick of oil before coming on to England. It may be that he will visit Gibraltar. I have no details as yet as to his intentions.5

Very sincerely yours.

Source Note: LT, DLC, William S. Sims Papers, Box 76. Addressed below close: “Rear- Admiral A.P.Niblack, U.S.N./Commander, U.S.Patrol Squadrons based on Gibraltar.”

Footnote 2: The Germans did not have the degree of control over the Russian Black Sea fleet necessary for a sortie of this type. See: Sims to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 3 June 1918.

Footnote 4: For a more in-depth discussion of these functions, see: Sims to Benson, 10 July 1918.

Footnote 5: For an in-depth discussion of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s European tours, see F.D.R. His Personal Letters, edited by Elliott Roosevelt (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1948), vol.2: chapter 10.

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