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Rear Admiral Albert P. Niblack, Commander, United States Naval Forces Base on Gibraltar, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters





14 June, 1918.

FROM:     Commander U.S. Patrol Squadrons Based on Gibraltar,

  TO:     Force Commander.

SUBJECT:  Speed of Ships in Convoy.

     1.   Returned.

     2.   As regards fitting depth charges it will be noted that it was to be applied only to ships having Armed Guard crews, and that the crews had sufficient trained personnel to carry out the necessary safety precautions. As that is held not be the case, this suggestion is withdrawn.

     3.   The suggestion is also withdrawn that American merchant ships carrying Armed Guards should be used as escorts to slower Convoys.

     4.   As to American merchant ships in the Mediterranean of over 11-knots speed, all ships of over 13-knots speed have heretofore been sent on their own, and Vice-Admiral Calthorpe, the British Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean,2 has approved the suggestion that American vessels of over 11-knots speed, when well armed, may be sailed without escorts between Gibraltar, Genoa and Marseilles. It will be noted in this connection:

(a)  That the Italian Government for whom the American ships are carrying supplies, have favored this through their representative here.

(b)  The Conference here at Gibraltar favors it.

(c)  The American merchant Captains are unanimously in favor of it.

(d)  The Routing Officers at Gibraltar, Genoa and Marseilles now have orders to dispatch American ships singly of over 11-knots speed, when requested by their Masters to do so.

(e)  The Force Commander does not concur in this.

     5.   It is suggested that if the Force Commander desires to reverse the action taken by the Authorities in the Mediterranean, that the matter be taken up with the British Admiralty.

A. P. NIBLACK.     

Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document reference: “FILE 412./WHW-18.”

1. This document was written in response to a cablegram Sims had sent to Niblack on 31 May 1918; see: Sims to Niblack, 31 May 1918.

2. VAdm. Sir Somerset Gough-Calthorpe, R.N., Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Sea.|

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