Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
RECEIVED 24th June 1917. TO Alusna, London.1
FOR VICE ADMIRAL SIMS NO. 37. 25-9-2
This is in reply to your various letters and cables.2
The need of reserve personnel for such active forces as may be engaged on duties of particularly arduous kinds under conditions permitting of little respite is recognised by the Department. This refers particularly to destroyers on active service. There is a limit of the number of trained personnel enlisted and commissioned that can be spared for reserve indicated above, owing to the very heavy demands for this type of man needed for other active operations of most important kinds; however, the Department will endeavor to maintain a personnel reserve in your destroyer forces, consisting of something like one-fiftieth of the destroyer complement. This to be supplied from our naval reserves.
Another thing that the Department recognises is the necessity of sending all anti-submarine craft which can be spared from the home waters into active European waters, and when such craft become available will send them. In making the local assignments abroad of such forces, the Department requests and will be guided by your advice, which should be given after consultation with the various Admiralties concerned as to priority of requirements.
The Department is strongly of the opinion – based on recent experiences – that the question of supplying adequate guns and trained gun crews to merchant ships is one which can – in no wise – be treated as a minor issue. Coupled with a rigid system of inspection, this method is believed to constitute one of the most effective defensive submarine measures.
It announces, moreover, as its policy its willingness to co-operate in every way, and will consider the question of supplying additional naval forces of types other than anti-submarine craft, whenever the advisability of so doing is justified. The department is also considering the outline of a scheme which it is hoped will allow of a greater degree of co-operation and ability to supply escort to vessels through the danger zone, without interfering with the destroyers’ other duties as much as does the present system of individual escort, and it will not displace the present method of handling merchant shipping from United States ports. Details when presented (?) will be cabled.
In the matter of construction, the Department recognises the necessity of pushing to the utmost the type of destroyer of the general specifications recommended by you and this it will do.19023.
Source Note: Cy, RG45, Entry 517.
Footnote 1: That is, American Legation, United States Naval Attaché at London. The naval attaché there was Capt. William D. MacDougall.
Footnote 2: See: Sims to Daniels, 30 May 1917; Sims to Daniels, 1 June 1917; Sims to Daniels, 19 June 1917.