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Press Conference of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels


June 19, 1918- - -- P.M.

     SEC---Gentlemen, how are you all today? You are looking well.


     PRESS---Are you making any progress on the aviation fund?

     SEC---I think we are going to get it. I went before the committee1 this morning and made an eloquent argument.

     PRESS---What is your idea about the joint aerial service? Dud the Committee take it seriously?

     SEC---One of the Senators asked me what I thought of the united air service, and I told him as far as the Navy was concerned you might as well have a joint ordnance service or torpedo service. They are as much a part of the fleet as the submarines, the destroyers, or the cruisers, and they will be more and more the eyes of the fleet, and they must be under a commander-inochief. A man who flies in the Navy, especially across the water, must be a navigator, and understand naval methods if they fly across the ocean. I think you will find when Commander Read2 gets back that his knowledge of navigation stood him in great stead. If he had been a landsman, he would probably never have gotten over. I think the Navy ought to follow its own line of finding aircraft for naval purposes and not mix up with the land purposes. If any man learns anything on land, of course, it helps all along the line in aviation, but the Navy aviators cooperate with the fleet; they are a part of it.

     PRESS---HAS THAT IDEA of united air ministry ever been taken up seriously?

     SEC---Senator New3 has a bill now. Baker4 and I went before the Military Committee once about it. I do not think it a military question. It ought not to be considered apart from the ships. We will have more ships in the air in years to come than we have in the water. It is not impossible, quite probable and reasonable. Now think about it, suppose anyone were to come to this country with ships to shell our coasts, say to shell New York or Boston. If you did not have aircraft you would not know they were coming, except by ships on the water which could not go much faster than the others. With radio on the airships you can see half way across the ocean and mobilize the fleet. They are the eyes of the fleet and will serve for the protection of our coasts. Here is a man in trouble at sea; aircraft can save people from drowning.

     PRESS---Do you meant that they will become so powerful as to do away with the fighting ships?

     SEC---No, I do not mean that. It might ultimately do away with the necessity of so many fast scout cruisers, because they can look down on everything on the water.

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Roll 68.

Footnote 1: The Senate Committee on Naval Affairs. Sen. Benjamin R. Tillman , D-South Carolina, chaired the committee until his death on 3 July 1918. The other members of the committee were: Sens. Claude A. Swanson, D-Virginia, John Walter Smith, D-Maryland, J. Hamilton Lewis, D-Illinois, James D. Phelan, D-California, Key Pittman, D-Nevada, Thomas J. Walsh, D-Montana, Robert F. Broussard, D-Louisiana, Peter G. Gerry, D-Rhode Island, Park Trammell, D-Florida, Boise Penrose, R-Pennsylvania, Henry Cabot Lodge, R-Massachusetts, William Alden Smith, R-Michigan, Carroll S. Page, R-Vermont, Miles Poindexter, R-Washington, Warren G. Harding, R-Ohio, and Frederic Hale, R-Maine.

Footnote 2: Naval Aviator 24 Albert C. Read, Sr. In May 1919, Read became the first man to complete a successful transatlantic flight using an NC-4 Curtiss flying boat.

Footnote 3: Harry S. New, R-Indiana.

Footnote 4: Secretary of War Newton D. Baker.

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