Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Commandants on the Atlantic Coats and Chiefs of Navy Bureaus
<June 27, 1918.>
To: Commandants, 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Naval Districts, Bureaus of S. E., C. & R., and S. & A.1
SUBJECT: Distant service vessels, cargo carriers, troop transports; fitting out of.
1. A tremendous problem confronts the Navy in manning and supplying the ships of the N. O. T. S.2 In an appreciably short time the Navy will be in all probability caring for at least 1000 such vessels and this number will increase as time goes on.
2. The work of supplying these ships promptly is, and will be, of vital importance – not a day or an hour must be lost while they are in port by reason of delivery of their supplies – every possible step must be taken before the ship arrives to arrange for obtaining and assembling her stores for immediate delivery when the ship heaves in sight.
3. In order to correct previous errors in the outfitting of N. O. T. S. ships and most emphatically centralize responsibility, the following instructions are issued. Any suggested deviation from these orders must be taken up as local cases immediately with the Department:-
(a) Each ship will be assigned a home district as soon as practicable and each district will be informed as far in advance as possible of the ships that will base on that district.
(b) Commandants of Naval Districts will hold the Aide for Supply of the District responsible that each vessel turned over to the Yard or District is properly and promptly supplied with her allowance of stores and equipage. (It is the present intention of the Shipping Board to turn over these ships properly outfitted for the initial cruise but in all probability these outfits will not be complete and must be made complete).
(c) The Commandant of the District will immediately appoint an officer who will be held responsible for providing proper allowance lists, using the type list as supplied by the various Bureaus as a guide so far as they are practicable. These lists will be furnished well in advance of the date the vessels are to be turned over and in ample time for the supplies to be purchased and assembled. The Aide for Supply will designate the Supply Officer in the District to whom these lists are to be furnished. Additional copies of the list will be furnished the Commanding Officer of vessel and the Bureau concerned.
(d) The Supply Officer so designated by the Aide for Supply to receive these lists will consider the receipt of the list as his direct authority to proceed with the obtaining and assembling all material called for and will arrange for delivery on board the vessel.
(e) The Officer designated to prepare lists will also be held responsible for obtaining and furnishing to the Supply Officer designated by the Aide for Supply all information of a technical or other nature necessary for procuring spare parts, equipment and other stores and he shall keep himself personally informed as to the progress of the work of outfitting vessels.
(f) In no case will the Aide for Supply or any other officer concerned await requisition before assembling the original outfit of stores for these ships; her equipage and the supplies will be made ready in advance of the time she is received at the yard and will be delivered to her by the Supply Officer designated by the Aide for Supply to so assemble and make ready these stores.
(g) The Aide for Supply acting under the Commandant of the District will direct movement of stores between the various supply organizations in the district in order that the above directions may be carried out. He will exercise this authority directly with the Supply Officers of the other activities. Further, he will keep himself constantly in touch with the progress of supply of each individual ship, requiring such reports as may be necessary from the Supply Officer designated by him to attend to the actual supplying. He will also keep himself informed with future schedule of new vessels to base on his District and of their requirements for stores in order that ample stocks will be kept on hand.
(h) The general plans for additional Navy Storage facilities for the purpose of supplying the ships of N. O. T. S. are as follows:-
Boston: 500,000 square feet of the Army Embarkation Depot now under construction to be completed about March 1919.
New York:3,000,000 square feet at the Fleet Supply Base and the Bush Terminals Building Company.
Philadelphia: 250,000 sq. feet; the Army has evidenced its willingness to assign this space to the Navy upon completion of the Army Embarkation Depot at this point.
Baltimore: 250,000 sq. feet, to be supplied by the Army upon completion of the Army Embarkation Depot there.
Norfolk: 500,000 sq. feet, to be assigned by the Army upon completion of their Embarkation Depot at Bush Bluff.
Charleston: 250,000 sq. feet, to be assigned by the Army upon completion of their Embarkation Depot there.
(i) Upon receipt of information that the home District of the ship will not be the outfitting point or supplying point of that ship, the Commandant of the District will immediately direct that all information in the possession of the Aide for Supply and Material Officer be forwarded to the supplying point concerned, together with a statement of work, patterns, spare parts and etc., held at the home district.
(j) The Bureaus of Steam Engineering, Construction and Repair, and Supplies and Accounts, will immediately prepare type allowance lists for the articles under their cognizance and in such form that the sheets may be used as data sheets by the Officer preparing the allowance list for any ship.
W. S. BENSON
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document reference: “8745-293/Mat-ML 8/20.” Document was dated by later editor.
Footnote 1: RAdm. Spencer D. Wood, Comm. James P. Parker, RAdm. Nathanial R. Usher, Capt. George F. Cooper, RAdm. Augustus F. Fechteler, RAdm. Frank E. Beatty, Cmdr. Warren J. Terhune, Comm. Valentine S. Nelson, RAdm. Robert S. Griffin, Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering, RAdm. David W. Taylor, Chief of Bureau of Construction and Repair, and Paymaster General Samuel McGowan, Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts.
Footnote 2: Naval Overseas Transportation Service.