Office of the Chief of Naval Operations to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Water
CABLEGRAM RECEIVED June <11, 1918.> 00413 RIM
Origin: Opnav Washington, Ser.No. 7117.
7117. Referring to letter of Commander Naval Forces France, May 9th subject “Control American Shipping France” and your endorsement. Department in accordance with policies as outlined, has been and is working towards that end. Situation this side is most delicate requires careful handling and diplomacy as there are many interests concerned. Ship Control Committee was not in position to dispatch representatives abroad therefore Bacon’s party was sent as entering wedge trusting his experience would be appreciated and that sufficient latitude would be granted him so that his organization could work to maximum efficiency establish itself useful to all ships through its service to vessels of the Naval Overseas and extend its sphere of operations as practicable. At present Department has no established organization in France whose efficiency is acknowledged which would justify bringing pressure to bear to effect change recommended.
It is suggested Lieutenant Commander Bacon be utilized in position for which Captain Halstead is desired on Admiral Wilson’s staff and every means and authority be afforded him to further his effort along policy outlined above thereby leading other interests to see his assistance and control rather than force it officially.
Magnitude difficulties and importance this work fully recognized and every effort will be made to obtain sufficient experienced personnel upon request and it is hoped the delicacy of the situation will be realized and handled accordingly. Department at present feels very apprehensive regarding success shipping situation abroad and possible failure on part of Navy to handle efficiently and believes that unless immediate steps are taken to remove all possible chances of friction between local authorities and hearty cooperation it not given the officers assigned this duty, a disgraceful and unnecessary situation will follow therefore it enjoins each and every person connected therewith to get together and deliver the goods feeling assured that the Department is assisting and backing them in every respect possible.
Authorization appointment Admiral Wilson as shipping representative of any other Department of Government than Navy cannot be given at present. Situation lies entirely in your hands. Department does not desire to enter into the detailed matter of handling it but desires to invite your attention to its apprehension at the same time assuring you of your full authority to utilize your discretion in handling this matter of anticipation of success and belief that more can be done over there to gain this desired control than over here.
Bacon has absolute confidence Ship Control Committee and this office. It is believed that by utilizing this fact and his experience and reputation in shipping world backing it with sufficient authority assistance any by able diplomatic handling of Army authorities by Commander American Forces in France the desired control over all shipping may be eventually had. 16011 7117.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Sims forwarded a copy of this cablegram to Wilson on 17 June 1918.