Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves, Commander, Cruiser and Transport Force, to Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations

10 June 1918.           

From: Commander Cruiser and Transport Force,

To:  Chief of Naval Operations.

Subject: U.S.S. LEVIATHAN; Operation.

Reference (a) Vice Admiral Sims’ radio 8923.1

     1. I have to renew my previous recommendation that the LEVIATHAN be accompanied by the GREAT NORTHERN and NORTHERN PACIFIC. I have received a copy of the reference in which the Force Commander in European Waters recommends against the plan but states that the only objection is the danger to the LEVIATHAN due to collision while in convoy. This, in my opinion, constitutes no valid objection to the plan. The similar vessels could be placed at such a distance on the flank or the formation could be such that the possibility of accident from this source would be negligible, and, in fact, impossible.

     2. With enemy submarines liable to be met at any part of the LEVIATHAN’S route it would appear advisable, if not, in fact, almost incumbent upon the Navy to furnish the maximum protection possible to the 13000 souls on board. If disaster should overcome the LEVIATHAN in mid-ocean when without escort it is probable that many thousand lives would be lost before help could reach her.

     3. There are no men-of-war that can escort the LEVIATHAN across without reducing her speed. The GREAT NORTHERN and the NORTHERN PACIFIC appeal to me as being remarkably adaptable to this important duty. They have the speed, and the cruising radius; they are small, quick handling, and active; they would provide a battery of four guns on either flank of the LEVIATHAN together with the possibilities of the ram and the depth charge. In short they closely approximate the protection that could be furnished by destroyers, if destroyers, having such a steaming radius were available. And finally they furnish the means of rescuing thousands of lives in case of disaster. They should be considered as large destroyers.

     4. The only objection to the plan that I can conceive would be crowding the port of debarkation. This might be overcome by routing the GREAT NORTHERN and NORTHERN PACIFIC to other ports after joining up with the destroyers. In any case the delay would not be more than twenty-four to forty-eight hours and this cost, in my opinion, is well worth the greatly increased protection to the LEVIATHAN.

     5. I strongly recommend that the Department reconsider its decision in this matter and that the LEVIATHAN, GREAT NORTHERN and NORTHERN PACIFIC, hereafter, sail in company.

Albert Gleaves          

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. “SECRET” is stamped in two separate places near the top of the first page.

Footnote 1: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters. This message has not been found.

Footnote 2: It does not appear Gleaves’ suggestions were implemented.

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