Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Naval Forces in France, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
30 June, 1918.
From: Commander U. S. Naval Forces in France.
To: Force Commander.
Subject: Report of Operations – week of 23 to 29 June, 1918.
1. (a) Vessels Available:
LITTLE, CONNER, SIGOURNEY, CUSHING, O’BRIEN, NICHOLSON, WAINWRIGHT, TUCKER, ISABEL, BENHAM, CUMMINGS, WADSWORTH, PORTER, ERICSSON, WARRINGTON, WINSLOW, FANNING, BURROWS, MONAGHAN, JARVIS, DRAYTON, LAMSON, FLUSSER, PRESTON, SMITH.
Sea-going Yachts –
NOMA, APHRODITE, NOKOMIS, CORSAIR, MAY.
Coastal Convoy Escort –
WANDERER, SULTANA, EMELINE, TRUXTUN, CORONA, WHIPPLE, HARVARD, STEWART, VEDETTE, UTOWANA, WORDEN, REMLIK, CHRISTABEL, RAMBLER.
Squadron Four (Mine Sweeping) –
PIQUA, McNEAL, ANDERTON, CAHILL, COURTNEY, DOUGLAS, JAMES, LEWES, HUBBARD, HINTON.
CONCORD, CRICCIETH, SMEATON, BARNEGAT.
Station Ship –
Repair Ship –
Floating Barracks –
(b) Under Repair:
REID, McDOUGAL, GYPSUM QUEEN, ROE, McDONOUGH.
Repairs to the REID will be completed 30 June. Repairs to the GYPSUM QUEEN will be completed about 6 July. Date of completion of repairs to the McDOUGAL is not known.
The MONAGHAN, having completed refit, rejoined this force on 25 June. The ROE sailed for Liverpool for refit on 28 June, arriving Liverpool 29 June. Refit is to be completed by 11 July.
The PIQUA completed temporary repairs on 26 June, and resumed her duty as Flagship of the Mine Sweeping Squadron.
The NICHOLSON was docked on 22 June,had new propellers fitted, and was undocked on 24 June.
The McDONOUGH is completing repairs to her boilers, which will be finished about 3 July.
Vessels assigned to the coastal convoys have followed their schedules, with the exceptions noted above. Movements of troops and store ships and of vessels engaged in the Army Coal Trade are as shown in enclosure. Vessels passing up and down the coast of France were placed in coastal convoys.
The destroyers which escorted O.P. 22, O.R. 45, O.R. 46, and O.R. 471 to westward, sailing on 23 June, intercepted Group 42 and escorted it to Brest and St. Nazaire.
The NICHOLSON and LAMSON reinforced the escort of the convoy which sailed from Verdon on 26 June.
The HANNIBAL, ONTARIO, and 23 submarine chasers, sailed for Devonport on 28 June, arriving 29 June.
The destroyers which escorted O.R. 50 to westward had orders to intercept H.N. 732 on 2 July and, when reinforced by the ISABEL, DRAYTON, FANNING, and two French gunboats, to escort H.N. 73 to Quiberon Bay.
The Army have assigned the port of Cherbourg to the District Commanded by the Commander of Base Section No. 53 with headquarters at Brest. In view of the use of this port for storeships in the immediate future Lieutenant H. B. Robinson, USNRF,4 has been ordered there as Naval Port Officer.
Lieutenant-Commander Isaac C. Johnson, U. S. Navy, has been assigned to duty under the District Commander Brest as Captain of the Port; his function will be to look out for the berthing, fueling, supplying and boarding of the vessels based on Brest. In this capacity he will control all tugs and lighters belonging to the Navy.
The proposed charter of the steamer ILE D’OUESSANT, which has been authorized by the Force Commander, has not been consummated, there being an apparent backwardness on the port of the owners to close the deal.
4. SUBMARINE ACTIVITY.
The calm of the previous week was broken by the appearance of submarines both on the French coast and in the traffic routes between France and the United States.
At 9:00 a.m., 24 June, a French fishing vessel reported a submarine in latitude 47-18 north, longitude 2-47 west.
On the afternoon of 25 June this same submarine was seen three times in the vicinity of latitude 47-19 north, longitude 2-36 west, and in this position was attacked by American avions at 7:10 p.m., result unknown. This is supposed to be the same submarine which regularly appears off the coast of Spain near San Sebastian. This submarine did not make any attacks on ships during the entire week, but at 6:57 a.m., 30 June, the ship “FRANK DELMAS” was missed by a torpedo in latitude 43-25 north, longitude 1-49 west, probably fired by this submarine, which is believed to be returning to the coast of Spain.
The operations of a submarine “au large” of the coast of France are traced by the following positions:-
25 June 1940 Lat 48-16 N., Long 8-52 W. ALLO
27 June 0555 ″ 47-40 N., ″ 7-30 W. Ship sunk, OD 104
28 June 0647 ″ 45-10 N., ″ 10-15 W. QUEEN sunk, OM 795
28 June 1517 ″ 45-35 N., ″ 10-25 W. RUBY attacked, OV 22
No further ALLO’s were heard from this submarine, but it appears that it is now bound north between longitudes 9° and 11° W.
At 5:00 a.m., 29 June, a submarine was cut in by direction finder in latitude 47-04 north, longitude 18-12 west. This is assumed to be the same submarine which torpedoed the ANTLANTIAN6 on 25 June and is now bound in the direction of the Azores.
The three following positions are plotted as being those of a submarine bound for the mid-Atlantic:-
25 June 0100 Lat 48-50 N., Long 15-21 W. ALLO – DUNGEVAN CASTLE
26 June 2200 ″ 45-35 N., ″ 23-50 W. ALLO - WECLIN
29 June 2348 ″ 45-52 N., ″ 28-19 W.
ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION. From an analysis of the situation, supported by reports from different authorities, as well as actual submarine activity in the Atlantic, it is now believed that a decided change in submarine warfare has taken place, namely, that the effort to starve out England has been abandoned and that, while submarines will no doubt continue to operate against merchant shipping near the coasts of the British Isles and France, yet the major activity will be directed against troop transports enroute between America and Europe. Incoming transports are now being met considerably further west than was the former practice, and westbound transports are being escorted further to westward.
If it becomes necessary, as now appears probable, for destroyers to join incoming transports still further to westward, the destroyers will have to be sent out without westbound convoys in order that they MAY proceed to the rendezvous at economical speed. This will necessarily result in additional destroyers being required at this base.
5. MINING ACTIVITIES.
On 23 June, 1918, a mine was washed ashore at Arcachon. The following day the field was discovered by aviators eleven miles N. 70° W. of Cape Ferrat perpendicular to the coast, and a zone of five miles around latitude 44-41-30 north, longitude 1-29 west, was declared dangerous to navigation.
On 25 June, having swept carefully around the wreck of the CALIFORNIAN and, no mines being discovered, the five mile area around 46-19 north, longitude 2-12 west, was declared open.
On 25 June the SOUFFLER swept up an old mine in the channel three miles N. 22° W. of Ile de Batz light in 70 meters of water (old mine field).
On 26 June, 1918, the aviators from Bayonne discovered a mine field five miles W.S.W. of Contes Light, and a zone of two miles around latitude 44-04 north, longitude 1-26 west, was declared dangerous to navigation.
On 27 June a floating mine was seen in the channel, in latitude 50-05 north, longitude 3-49 west.
6. EXTRACTS FROM WAR DIARY.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 440. Document reference: “509” and “0d/0.”
Footnote 1: O.P. 22 originated from Quiberon Bay (St. Nazaire) and departed 23 June 1918; O.R. 45, O.R. 46, and O.R. 47 originated from Brest and departed 23 June 1918. Wilson, American Navy in France: 50-51.
Footnote 2: H.N. 73 originated in New York and arrived at Brest. Ibid., 50-51.
Footnote 3: Brig. Gen. George Harries, U.S.A., Commander, Base Section No. 5 (Brest).
Footnote 4: Lt. Hugh B. Robinson, U.S.N.R.F.
Footnote 5: The British steamship Queen was torpedoed by U-53 on 28 June 1918. “Queen,” U-Boat.net, Accessed on 16 June 2018, https://uboat.net/wwi/ships_hit/4971.html.
Footnote 6: The British passenger steamer Atlantian was sunk by U-86 on 26 June 1918. “Atlantian,” U-Boat.net, Accessed on 16 June 2018, https://uboat.net/wwi/ships_hit/526.html.