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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations


Date  July 26, 1918

To  Opnav

Prepared by  CS                                  No. Simben 15

     Simben 15. Referring to your Simben 5.1 I feel that if the Department carefully considers the enclosure with my letter one nine seven two seven of June first nineteen eighteen2 it will see that I did not initiate a policy, but merely made a tentative suggestion of a possible method by which the difficulties in which we were involved in the matter of repair facilities for our Naval vessels might be met. I have not at any time assured the British Admiralty that this plan would be approved by my Government, but have limited myself to saying that I thought it would receive sympathetic consideration. In this opinion I was apparently mistaken, but I could not have been aware prior to the receipt of the Department’s decision that this proposal was decidedly contrary to the wishes and intentions of the Government. If the instructions contained in the message referred to are to be literally construed, I would be unable at any time or in any circumstances to handle any new questions that might arise in which my approval was not to be final, but in every case in which my approval was not to be final, but in every case in which the Department’s approval might be involved I should be obliged to refer the matter to the Department before even entering into a discussion of it with foreign officials. I am sure the Department will realize that this would create a very difficult situation for me. Full report is being made by letter showing the difficulties I have encountered in making arrangements for the maintenance of our vessels in European Waters.3 20526.


Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 2: This document has not been found.

Footnote 3: The issue in question was how the United States would compensate Britain for repairs done on American ships in British facilities. Sims had proposed paying the British in the form of tonnage from merchant ships. The Department did not approve. See: Sims to Opnav, 14 July 1918.

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