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Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Bureau of Steam Engineering

June 15, 1918.

From: Chief of Naval Operations.

To  : Bureau of Steam Engineering.

SUBJECT:  Fitting vessels for Armed Guards.

Reference (a) Bureau of Steam Engineering letter #271240-771-L,June 4, 1918, Subject: fitting vessels for Armed Guards.1

1. In furnishing Armed Guards to merchant vessels, it has been the Department’s policy to require the minimum equipment on these vessels consistent with an efficient protection to the vessel.

          2. Although Armed Guard Commanders fresh from Battleship duty, frequently make recommendations for additional equipment and installation, the Department has in mind the annoyance, delay, expense, etc. to the owners if these recommendations were incorporated in the standard requirements for all merchant vessels and the Department is unwilling to insist on any of these unless it is apparent that they are really essential.

          3. In drawing up the standard requirements, Opnav. circular letter #28754-1:25/86 of December 27, 1917,2 it was agreed by representatives of Operations, Bureau of Construction and Repair and of Steam Engineering that call bells on voice tubes between lookout stations and bridge was not an essential and as stated in reference (d) of reference (a) such an installation was purposely omitted as a requirement on merchant vessels.

          The reasons for this decision were in part as follows:-

          On merchant vessels the related location of the bridge, forward lookout, and forward gun is as a rule such that either of these lookouts should have little difficulty in attracting the attention of the bridge particularly in the War Zone where it is assumed everyone, on the bridge at least, is on the qui vive3 and anticipating a call from the lookout.

          It was further noted that where the distance from the bridge to the after gun is too great to preclude easy voice tube communication, telephones are required.

     4. The Department therefore feels that this installation is not an absolute necessity and as the requirement of its installation was purposely omitted by agreement of representatives of Operations, Bureau of Construction and Repair, and Steam Engineering, before the Department requires owners of vessels to make this installation, it is requested the Bureau of Steam Engineering, advance its reasons for its dertermination that this is now a necessity.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document identifier in top left-hand corner of first page: “Op-24-S 6/13/C-1:25/86.” Note below close: “Copy to:/Bureau of Construction and Repair.”

Footnote 1: This letter has not been found.

Footnote 3: That is, alert.

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