Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

                                                TELEGRAM                No.

From      Admiralty                                                   Date 15 16/6/17.1

To        N.A., Washington

Following for Secretary of Navy (Operations) from Vice-Admiral Sims. Begins. Thirty. Strongly urge our putting convoy system into effect immediately from Philadelphia, Boston, New York and North Atlantic ports as previously recommended (stop) British propose to assemble Canadian convoys to join ours (stop) Convoy system is an offensive measure (stop) At present our fuel is being expended and machinery strained in seeking an enemy whose primary object must be to avoid action and attack merchant shipping (stop) We are also necessarily attempting to combine escorting duty with independent offensive operations escorting such individual ships as the situation combined with our limited number of vessels permit<s> (stop) If shipping were grouped in convoys we would thereby force the enemy to seek us and thus impose upon him the necessity of dispersing his forces in order to locate us while we obtained the benefits of the principle of concentrated attack upon his dispersed line (stop) A study of the convoy system shows that even if a few ships of each convoy were sunk our losses would be much less than at present (stop) The enemy has marked limitations owing to his distance from bases and limited ammunition and offensive power (stop) It is manifest that the enemy cannot afford to expend much effort against our anti-submarine craft (stop) Experience indicates that submarines have not attempted concentrated attack in numbers owing to difficulty of co-ordination and danger to themselves (stop) Such attacks if attempted would facilitate offensive operations of escorting destroyers (stop) If diverted from attacks on shipping the objective of the enemy campaign is lost (stop) Request that Department consult with British Commodore in charge of assembling convoys Hampton Roads2 (stop) If the plan proposed is to be adopted at all it is mandatory that it be put into force without delay and while the campaign is most severe (stop) Request early information as to Department’s action3 (stop) A convoy may be started at any time the larger number of ships the better, escorted by cruiser or reserve battleship and preferably with naval officers and signalmen on each ship. Ends.

Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/656. Below the message is a notation indicating that a copy of this cable was sent to the First Sea Lord, VAdm. Sir John R. Jellicoe. There is also a stamp, “COPIED”, on the message as well. Due to concerns about the security of American codes, Sims sent many of his messages through the Admiralty, using its codes. This cable was sent to Commo. Guy R.A. Gaunt, the British Naval Attaché at Washington (“N.A., Washington”), for delivery to Daniels and the office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 1: The date “15” was originally typed here but someone wrote “16” over it in pencil. The same person also added, in pencil, “99” after “No.” and “1655” below the date. At the top of the page someone wrote “L (in its turn)” with a different pencil. This refers to the code used to transmit the message.

Footnote 2: Commo. Lionel de Vere Wells.

Footnote 3: For Daniels' reply, see: Daniels to Sims, 20 June 1917, and Daniels to Sims, 30 June 1917.

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