Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations to H.A. Walker, Tank Steamer Executive, Shipping Control Committee

[Extract]

JUN 13 1918        

CONFIDENTIAL

ATTENTION: Mr. Walker.  

From:     Chief of Naval Operations

To:       Shipping Control Committee, (Tanker Executive).

SUBJECT:  American Tankers in coasting and Mexican Trades.

     1.   The receipt is acknowledged of a list from you of the tankers in coasting and Mexican Trades with the suggested order of priority for arming.1

     2.   These vessels will as far as practicable be furnished with Armed Guards as promptly as the vessels are prepared to receive them.

     3.   The Department does not wish to suggest holding these vessels for any considerable length of time in order to prepare them for gun emplacements and Armed Guard quarters, but if the owners of these vessels will, upon the arrival of any of them in port, promptly notify the Commandant’s Aide for Armed Guard of the vessels’ arrival and request inspection, and inspection will be made and information furnished the owners as to the necessary preparation to fit the vessel for Armed Guards.

     4.   It is understood that a few of these vessels are already practically prepared for this purpose and the Department is prepared to promptly furnish Armed Guards to those upon arrival at New York, Philadelphia, or Norfolk.

          While no guns are immediately available at Gulf ports, preparation will be made for furnishing Armed Guards at New Orleans to those vessels trading exclusively between the Gulf ports.

          The vessels should be inspected by a representative of the Commandant at New Orleans,2 and as soon as the battery has been determined upon and the Department informed when any particular vessel will be prepared to receive Armed Guards, guns, ammunition and personnel will be shipped to that place.

          This procedure is adopted in order to avoid tying up longer than necessary guns that are also urgently needed elsewhere.

     5.   In the case of these vessels on which no preparation has yet been made and where a considerable delay in the vessels sailing would result in so preparing her, it is suggested that this preparation can be done in installments during successive stays in port. After the Commandants inspection of the vessel, material can be prepared the owners during the vessel’s absence and installation of [guns] upon the vessel’s next return to port.

     6.   Upon the vessel’s arrival in port and inspection requested of the Commandant, formal application for Armed Guards, on form similar to the enclosed, should be submitted to the Office of Naval Operations, (Duplicate to the Commandant’s Aide for Armed Guards) a separate application being submitted for each vessel.

          Where practicable, it is requested that the owners indicate also on this form whether it is the intention to prepare the vessel during her present stay whether the preparation will be started with the expectation of completing upon a future return to port.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Addressed below close: “Copy to:/Comdts.,[Nathaniel R. Usher] 3rd Naval Dist.(Armed Guards)/[George F. Cooper]4th do/[August F. fechteler]5th do/Bureaus of Ordnance,/Navigation,/Construction & Repair,/Steam Engineering,/Comdt.,[Valentin S. Nelson] 8th Naval Dist.,(Armed Guards)/Capt. [Montgomery M.] Taylor,(Material)/[Edward N. Hurley] U.S.Shipping Bd.,(Director of Operations)/Standard Oil Co.(Mr. [William G.] Warden).” Document reference: “Op-24-C.”

Footnote 1: The list was attached, but has not been printed.

Footnote 2: Commodore Valentine S. Nelson, Commandant, 8th Naval District, New Orleans.

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