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Documentary Histories

Warning to All Ships and Stations


<June 3, 1918.>




Begins unmistakable evidence enemy submarine1 immediately off coast between Cape Hatteras and Block Island, vessels not properly convoyed, advised to make port until further notice.2 07403

1:16 P.M.

Source Note: D, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The document is on a Navy Radio Service form with printed boxes for information both at the top and bottom of the form. As few of these are filled in and where they are filled in the information is repeated in the text printed here, the editors have chosen not to re-create the form.

Footnote 1: U-151. For more on the activities of U-151, see: Diary of Josephus Daniels, 2 June 1918.

Footnote 2: This was one of a series of orders responding to the arrival of the German submarine in American waters. A separate radio message to the commandants of the Naval Districts along the east coast of the United States qualified this war warning, asking them to use “discretion in carrying out order for no vessels to leave port without escort period Shipping should continue to move using best available means as to time routing and escort.” DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. At the same time, there was a mobilization of naval forces. The commandants were ordered to report “all anti-submarine craft available” and “any dispositions they have already made” and orders were sent to the commandants of the Naval Districts headquartered in New York and Norfolk that they should prepare “any destroyers now repairing” for immediate service. Ibid. In a separate order to those same commandants and the commandant of the naval district headquartered at Philadelphia and the commander of the base at New London were ordered to ready “all submarine chasers that are equipped with listening devices and depth bombs” for immediate service. Ibid. The commander at New London was to link the submarine chasers under his command with a force of destroyers from Newport, R.I., to “form a scouting line” and search for the enemy submarine along the coast of the United States starting at Montauk Point, Long Island, and moving southward. Ibid. On the same day, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations sent out “lanes” of approach that convoys and ships leaving from and coming to New York, Chesapeake Bay, and Delaware Bay were to use during the emergency. Ibid. See also: William S. Benson to William S. Sims, 3 June 1918.