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

Letter No. 6.

Office Vice Admiral,Commanding

U.S.Destroyer Forces,  

European Waters,

London,        June 15,1917.

From:     Vice Admiral Sims.

To:       Secretary of the Navy (Operations).

Subject:  Addenda to General Report concerning

 Destroyer Force, British Waters.

     1.   On June 10th the WALKE and STERETT arrived from Brest, having escorted JUPITER to France. Cruising of these vessels up to arrival here totaled 4500 miles. Cruise uneventful except torpedo fire by unseen submarine, missing JUPITER, just before end of journey. Destroyers oiled three times during passage taking advantage of good weather.1

     2.   PERKINS and JARVIS arrived on the 11th June having escorted NEPTUNE to France. Voyage uneventful; saw no submarines. Both vessels oiled at sea, weather rough. Each boat took about 4500 gallons in one hour and forty five minutes. These boats commenced voyage by being towed, but weather conditions not favorable; tow line parted twice. Thereafter under own steam. All four destroyers arrived here in excellent condition.

     3.   JUPITER did not take sufficient fuel to make return voyage. NEPTUNE however did so. Such ships should fill for both outward and return voyage as fuel is scarce on this side.

     4.   NEPTUNE was much admired both for size and cargo handling ability. The arrival of these vessels brought a great amount of encouragement to the French and had a fine effect on the situation.

     5.   DIXIE arrived on 12th in excellent condition. Just before her arrival discovered several mines outside and had to make sweeping operations.

     6.   Destroyers are averaging <about> seven thousand miles per month on patrol and escort duty. No severe material casualties have been recorded thus far. Small defects caused sometimes by nature of duty – sudden stepping – quick starting, etc., such as small condenser leaks and the like, have been repaired at once. Auxiliaries have to be gone over frequently to maintain them.

     7.   PAULDING broke a blower turbine casing and will require a new one. For temporary use MELVILLE has installed reciprocating engine to PAULDING blower until turbine can reach us.

     8.   It may be of interest to know that the quenched spark gap on our destroyers gives a note similar to that of the Telefunken sets on German submarines.2 Because of this similarity, many merchant men are afraid and very unwilling to give information about position, course and speed that is required in order that we may make contact and escort them through the zone. For this reason we are adopting the rotary spark gap, which is used entirely by the British, and are sending for sufficient rotary gaps to replace the rotary gaps given us by the British for such of our destroyers as are not equipped with the rotary gap.

     9.   The health of the crews has been excellent. There have been no personnel casualties on any of the destroyers.

     10.  The JENKINS collided with the LABURNUM several nights ago. Damage was not serious, aned both vessels are being quickly repaired at the Dockyard.

     11.  Small British patrol vessels are occasionally mistaken as long range submarines, and are fired on by both British and American men-of-war. No hits have been scored as yet, however ,and the incidents usually closes good-naturedly. In the case of the WADSWORTH several days ago, the “victim”, after WADSWORTH had discovered her mistake and approached to close range, signaled “Please have a good look at us now”.3


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Someone crossed through some typographical errors and handwrote the corrected version of the letter or word above the line. These have been indicated with angle brackets.

Footnote 1: This at-sea re-fueling of destroyers done by Jupiter, Neptune, and Maumee was the first time it had been attempted operationally. See: Albert Gleaves to Destroyer Force, 9 June 1917.

Footnote 2: A reference to newly designed radio transmitters and receivers inside vacuum tubes.

Footnote 3: For more on this incident, see: Diary of Joseph K. Taussig, 10 June 1917.