rigid dirigibles to maintain a close air patrol over the established lanes of approach to our harbors, and the waters adjacent thereto. (6) To provide surface patrol vessels large and small, the former to operate off shore to destroy submarines, the latter to patrol the lanes of travel for shipping and the harbors, both co–operating with the aerial scouts already mentioned to destroy submarines. (7) To provide anchored mines in large numbers. (8) To provide submarine nets to cover the outside entrances to all harbors and lanes of travel if practicable, and to equip patrol vessels. What quantities of the above described material do we need? At this time it is utterly impossible to tell the total amount we will require but it is far more than the money at our disposal will buy and more than our resources can produce in a short time. We should attempt to provide as much as possible of each kind at once, bearing in mind that no matter how much we get now it will be far short of what we must finally have if war comes. In the present situation all armed merchant ships become auxiliaries and to equip them we can utilize what guns and ammunition we now have ready for arming auxiliaries. While we have not a great many guns for the purpose we can probably arm most of our shipping that now goes to Europe, but as more shipping enters for that service more guns and ammunition will be needed.25 In arming ships we must bear in mind that they must have gun fire superior to that of the submarines. From this it follows that guns for merchantmen should be of equal or greater size than are carried by submarines and they must be so placed as to permit at least two to fire in every arc. Depending on the way ships can mount guns they should have three or four guns of five–inch caliber or larger. To provide these, contracts should be entered into for all the five and six inch guns and ammunition for them that can be purchased out of the appropriation “Batteries for merchant auxiliaries, $4,731,174” and “Ammunition for merchant auxiliaries, $7,731,460.[“] Three–inch and four-inch guns can be used to arm ships until larger guns are available, but all future guns for shipping should not be below five-inch. To provide more ships for carrying supplies to the Allies, the United States Government can not itself do much at once. If ships are to be provided by the Government they must come from other than the present Naval appropriations. We can and should encourage private ships to enter the trade by offering insurance or subsidies for it is of vital importance that the supplies to the allies be maintained. On the success of maintaining them a favorable decision for the allies rests and their success now means our own success at the least cost. To provide mine sweepers will not be very difficult. There are already many small tugs and steam fishermen that can be quickly taken over by purchase or charter, and sweeping equipment is easily obtained. The number of sweepers so obtained will probably not be sufficient and we may have to construct many. We should provide for at least one hundred pairs immediately, arming each with a small gun, preferably a 3–inch. The sweepers will have to be obtained out of the “emergency fund” and $10,000,000 should be set aside from that fund for the purpose. The battery, ammunition, and sweeping equipment of the sweepers will have to come from the ordnance appropriations “Ordnance and Ordnance Stores” and “Reserve Ordnance Supplies” etc. In order that that there may be proper buoying of swept lanes, an enormous number of buoys must be provided. These buoys should be provided by the Lighthouse establishment and notice should be sent them immediately to provide those buoys.26 As the Lighthouse establishment may not have funds at this time we could possibly contract for them and arrange for reimbursement later. To make sure that the buoys will be ready we should set aside $100,000 for them from the emergency fund. The Lighthouse establishment should be informed of the lanes to be kept swept and should plan the buoyage system to mark them. Our coast air patrol as now arranged for provides for fifteen stations.27 It seems that four dirigibles would be the minimum for each station and that those stations near important ports where close patrol is necessary should have more. We have 16 dirigibles ordered and need 44 more to equip stations to the minimum, but if we get 80 all told that should be enough for a start. That means that 64 more dirigibles than have been ordered and these will cost about $50,000 apiece. They should at once be ordered from the appropriation “Aviation, $5,133,000.00.” But in addition to providing dirigibles we must provide places for their stowage and operation. Of these we have none and they will cost much. We must allow $10,000,000 from our emergency fund for aviation purposes in addition to the “Aviation” Appropriation. Patrol vessels to be provided are of two classes––those for inshore work and those for offshore work. There are many small craft available for inshore work that can be purchased or chartered and perhaps not many small boats will have to be built. A very different situation holds for the larger patrols for offshore work. There are some fair–sized yachts immediately available by charter or purchase but in addition to which we require many more. We should allow for at least 300 offshore patrols at a cost of $100,000 each ($30,000,000). For patrols $30,000,000 of the emergency fund should be immediately utilized. The arming and equipping of these patrols should will have to be paid for from the Ordnance appropriations or other Bureau appropriations. 28 Bases will have to be provided for these patrols and funds must be found for them, since without bases they cannot be maintained. Makeshifts can be provided if funds are available and at least $5,000,000 will be required for that purpose. Mines will have to be provided from the Ordnance appropriation and in large numbers. Ten thousand should be provided for at least. Submarine nets also come from the Ordnance appropriations and are needed in enormous quantities. The Ordnance appropriations are probably insufficient to provide for as many nets and mines as are needed at once so we should allot $5,000,000 for those purposes from the emergency fund. The Ultimate Menace.29 Up to this point we have discussed only those materials to meet the immediate menace. What we have found necessary to provide so far is material to meet that menace alone. But what should be done to meet the far more dangerous ultimate menace? To meet that requires that I must have a strong and well balanced fleet. It is not sufficient to merely have the power to strike, for unless I have a security and information force the enemy can attack my heavy ships at will while I cannot attack him because I can get no information of his whereabouts. A study of what will be required to meet the ultimate German menace shows what we should have. Without going into the reasons, the force we require is indicated in the 2d column of the table given below. In the third column I have listed what we now have; in the fourth column what must be provided to give us the needed strength; and in the fifth column, what has been done toward providing the material column three indicates as necessary.30 Type Number Required Authorized by by Military Com. Now Ready To be Provided Steps taken to provide missing units. Battleships,1st line 2 729 1 31 1 217 9 building, 3 authorized, but not contracted for. Battleships,2nd line 21 21 0 Completed Battle cruisers 68 0 68 5 authorized but not contracted for. Armored cruisers 9 9 0 Completed Scouts <10>24 0 24 1 contracted for, <6> 5 authorized. Destroyers <108>12 3 52 7156 27 contracted for, 15 authorized. Torpedo boats 16 16 10 Submarines,small 87 29 58 All under construction. Submarines,coast 58 60 0 58 60 3 contracted for; 38 authorized. Submarines, fleet 3 20 0 3 20 3 contracted for. Fleet Mine sweepers <4>2 0 4 08 1 617 None Mine layers planters 3 10 3 0 7 None Fleet Aeroplanes 114 36 78 All have been ordered Fuel ships 24 40 20 4 20 28 4 building 2 authorized but not approp for Supply ships 5 12 4 18 1 building Destroyer tenders   58 3 25 3 authorized 1 app for Submarine tenders      312 2 110 2 authorized appropriated for   With the material previously mentioned as necessary to meet the immediate menace in the material listed in the second column above, we should be able to meet even the ultimate menace. We may not even with those forces be able to win a decision over Germany but it is practically certain that she would not be able to decisively defeat us. It is however the minimum we should have to be even reasonably safe from defeat. It is seen from the above table that we have much to do. It might appear at a first glance that we should at once prepare to meet the ultimate menace by completing all authorized ships and starting additional ships as necessary. Such would be the case if we had sufficient funds to do that after providing for the immediate menace. But we have not. After providing for the immediate menace as indicated above, we have less than $55,000,000 available in the emergency fund which is not even sufficient to rush to completion all authorized ships much less to provide for additional destroyers and other small craft. To determine how best to handle our remaining funds we must analyze our building program. Of the nine battleships authorized the actual construction of only five has been started. Three of these are well along in completion and two are started. All five may be completed before the ultimate menace comes and we may act wisely in expediting them. It is not probable that the other three authorized can be made ready in time to meet that menace and therefore to use any of our emergency fund on them would be useless. They should be expedited to the fullest extent within their special appropriations and steps should be taken to provide money to allow the work to be rushed. Of the five that can be expedited one million dollars each should cover the cost of expediting the three that are furthest advanced and two million each for the other two. The battle cruisers and scouts, excepting one scout, have not yet been contracted for. It is doubtful if any of them can be completed in time to meet the ultimate menace so it is useless to spend our present small emergency fund on them. They should be expedited as much as possible under their present appropriations and other appropriations should be asked for to expedite these and to build the many others required.31 Being without scouts we urgently need destroyers. We should get all we can at the earliest possible time, not only by rushing to completion all that have been provided for but also by building as many more as we can put on the ways. We have 27 contracted for and 15 more authorized and all these can be rushed to completion at an average cost of not over $200,000. We should allow money from the emergency fund for the purpose but should ask for more money to provide additional destroyers and rush them to completion. Perhaps our greatest immediate need for meeting the ultimate menace is to have many submarines. We cannot win a decision with submarines but it is probable that with sufficient of them we can keep the enemy from gaining one over us.32 A large submarine force will prevent an invasion for a while at least and they should therefore get our very great attention now. We should rush to completion all that are now authorized and build as many others as the building capacity of the country permits and Congress should be asked to provide them. Of submarines we have 58 small size contracted for and they can be rushed to completion at an average cost of not over $150,000.00. We have 3 eight hundred ton submarines contracted for and 38 authorized that can be rushed to completion at a cost of not over $350,000.00 each. We have three fleet submarines under construction that can be rushed to completion at a cost of not over $300,000.00 each. We should provide for rushing these from the emergency fund but should at once ask for additional funds to provide more.33 A summary of the rush work that should be undertaken on new construction and its cost is shown in the following table: Ships on which work : should be rushed.   : Cost per ship: to rush: Total cost to rush Battleships,1st line:   1,000,000.00  : $3,000,000.00      "      "     " : 2,000,000.00  : 4,000,000.00 Destroyers: 200,000.00    : 8,400,000.00 Submarines (small)  : 150,000.00    : 8,700,000.00 Submarines (coast)  : 250,000.00    :     10,250,000.00 Submarines (fleet)  : 300,000.00    : 900,000.00   To be allotted for speeding up construction       35,250,000.00 The remaining ships called for on our list to meet the ultimate menace should be rushed to completion also but not at the expense of our emergency fund. Congress should be urged to provide for these. No consideration has as yet been given the essential shore stations and bases for handling these large amounts of material required for either menace yet in order to maintain the upkeep of that material and to supply it requires vast additions to our shore plants. Our facilities for handling our fleet upkeep work are constantly strained even in peace times. They simply cannot handle a larger fleet under war time conditions. Toward supplying the fleet we find the same inadequate preparation.34 Fortunately we have some appropriations that can be used to meet these emergencies outside of our emergency fund. We have the remainder of the $6,000,000,000.00 made available in last year’s appropriation for equipping yards for building ships, and $12,000,000.00 available from the new appropriation in the event the Secretary of the Navy is unable to secure from the private ship builders contracts for the expeditious construction of the ships heretofore authorized at a fair or reasonable price to enable him to equip the navy yards with suitable and necessary machinery, implements, building ways, and equipment for the construction of such of said vessels as may be assigned to navy yards for construction. It is practically certain that private shipbuilders will be unable to construct expeditiously at a reasonable price all the ships authorized and therefore the total $18,000,000.00 will be available for adding equipment to yards which while installed for building purposes would be available and used also for upkeep purposes. The need of equipping yards is pressing and no time should be lost in making all the funds available and allotting them to yards for equipment, etc. These $18,000,000.00 available should be sufficient to cover the yard's needs for upkeep work and I need not consider utilizing any of the emergency fund for that purpose at this time.35 Supplying the fleets in peace times has reached a high state of perfection but the preparations are insufficient for an increased fleet and especially so under war conditions. The bill contained two items of $500,000 each for storehouses at New York and Puget Sound but while these will help they will not nearly meet the requirements. Central distributing depots will have to be provided as well as smaller distributing stations. Stations may be of a temporary nature but funds must be provided for them at once. We should set aside $5,000,000.00 from the emergency fund for that purpose. It is also to be noted that the tremendous augmentation of naval craft necessary to meet the immediate and ultimate menaces requires tremendous additions to our fuel depots. This is especially true of oil fuel, for while there will not be a very great increase in coal burning craft there will be enormous additions of oil burners.36 Even now our fuel oil storage is inadequate and not underground as is necessary for its proper protection. As establishing fuel oil stations require special appropriations for the purchase of land, Congress should be asked to make special appropriations for the purpose. Estimates have been for storing 2,000,000 barrels of oil to meet the fleet requirements at a cost of $10,000,000 and that amount should be asked for for the purpose. A particular feature that must be borne in mind in this estimate is that the machinery and personnel of the Department in Washington was designed largely on a peace basis. With the vast expenditures provided in the naval bill the activities in the Department are multiplied. Technical experts, draftsmen, material experts, clerks and stenographers are absolutely necessary to all Bureaus and offices to carry on the huge increase of work, yet the wording of the appropriation bill is such that no part of any sum appropriated in it can be used for any expense of the Navy Department at Washington, unless specific authority is given by law for such expenditure. This situation is so serious that unless steps are taken to provide the additional personnel necessary to handle work in the Department the whole program may be seriously interfered with. Immediately upon the convening of Congress steps should be taken that will permit the employment of the essential personnel. Up to this point we have covered to some extent the things we need immediately. We must realize that we have not made sufficient provision to fully meet either the immediate or the ultimate menace but if we do all that has been laid out we will have gone far and in the right direction. We will at least have started some of the things urgently and immediately needed without which we are practically helpless. Before we get this material Congress will again be in session and if more is needed there is no doubt but that provision for it will be made. Having started the work it will be easy to continue and tremendously increase it if necessary. The total money that should be allotted now is about $10,000,000 less than what we have at our disposal. It is not safe to set it all aside at this time as there are surely other things that will be needed at once. If we find the $10,000,000 remaining will not be needed for other purposes, we can devote it to increasing our material along certain of the lines indicated above.37 Therefore, in order to provide for the country's safety as seems to be the wish of the people, and to carry out the intent of Congress, we should at once allot money in accordance with the following decision and proceed to carry that decision out as rapidly as possible. DECISIONS38 1.  Arm all merchant ships engaged in trade with the allies, cost to be charged to ordnance Appropriations. Use guns of five inch or larger calibre if available. 2.   Encourage by subsidies and insurance as many additional ships as possible to enter into trade with the allies, arming all that do. 3.   Encourage new construction of merchant shipping in all ways. 4.   Enter into contracts for all five and six inch guns and ammunition for auxiliaries that ordinance appropriations permit. 5.   Rush to completion the 16 dirigibles now contracted for and enter into contracts for 64 more to be delivered as soon as possible. 6.   Proceed with the erection of the air patrol stations for the above dirigibles. 10,000,000 7.   Set aside from the emergency fund $10,000,000 for dirigibles, stations, and other aviation purposes. 8000000 8.   Start construction at once and rush to completion, or charter, 300 large size patrol vessels capable of keeping the sea. Those built should be not less than 110 feet long, and should have a speed of not less than 24 20 knots. 3000000 9.   Secure by purchase or charter all , yachts and small craft suitable for harbor and in 88 shore patrol. 10.  Make $30,000,000 available at once for the above patrol vessels from the emergency fund. used for the__of yachts__ 11.  Equip the above named patrol vessels at once with suitable guns to be paid for as far as possible from the Ordnance appropriations. 5000000 12.  Make available at once from the emergency fund $5,000,000.00 to be used by the Bureau of Ordnance to provide additional guns and ammunition for patrol vessels that cannot be covered by their appropriations. 13.  Provide 100 pairs of mine sweepers by commandeering, charter or purchase of all available and suitable vessels. If 100 pairs cannot be obtained in this way construct the others. 14.  Allot $10,000,000 from the emergency fund for obtaining sweepers. <10000000> 15.  Equip for sweeping and arm all mine sweepers from present Ordnance appropriations. 16.  Inform the Light House service that many largest size spar buoys will be needed for marking swept lanes of travel and set aside $10,000, 000 from the emergency fund until Light House service has funds for the purpose. 100000 17.  Provide bases for surface patrols boats the ___ of the ___ in protected and convenient harbors, setting aside $5,000,000 from the emergency fund for equipping them. 18.  Bureau of Ordnance provide 10,000 anchored contact mines. 19.  Bureau of Ordnance provide anti-submarine nets in large quantities both for harbor protection, protection of lanes of travel and for use of patrol boats.out of other necessary uses 5000000 20.  Allot $5,000,000 from emergency fund to Bureau of Ordnance for use in connection with their own funds for purchase of mines and nets. 21.  Rush to completion the following craft under construction or authorized: 1.    The five battleships now nearest completion. 2.    All authorized destroyers. 3.    All authorized submarines. 22.  Set aside $35,250,000 from the emergency fund for rushing the above construction. 23.  Endeavor to rush other authorized ships to completion to the greatest possible extent within the limit of their appropriations. 24.  Provide necessary technical experts, draftsmen, material experts, clerks and stenographers in all bureaus and offices of the Department to handle the increased work. 25.  Provide underground storage for 2,000,000 barrels of oil fuel at cost of $10,000,000. to be provided by Congress special approp. 26.  Urge upon Congress as soon as it convenes to supply an additional emergency fund of $450,000,000 to complete authorized craft and to provide such other craft and material as may be needed not specially authorized. (This to cover itemized lists furnished the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense. <450000000> 27. Make immediate allotment of the remainder of the $6,000, 000.00 appropriated last year to improve yard equipment to the East Coast Yards. not out of 115000000 28.  Call for bids on all authorized new construction at earliest possible time and thereby make the $12,000,000 appropriated for improving yards available and at once allot the money to the yards to equip them properly. It must be remembered that additional yard equipment is also absolutely necessary. 29.  Start the construction of the additional storehouses provided for in the new bill for New York and Puget Sound and allot $5,000,000 from the Emergency Fund to provide for such additional storehouses and depots as may be necessary to handle the increased supplies and material. <51000000> 30.  As soon as Congress meets urge upon them the necessity of bringing our fleet up to the required standard to meet the ultimate menace which in addition to all the material above provided for requires the following: 5 3 battleships first line 3 1 battle cruisers 18 4 scouts 26 14 destroyers 19 17 coast submarines (800 tons) 0 17 [6] fleet submarines   0 16 [17] mine sweepers (fleet) 0 7 mine layers fleet 0 20 fuel ships 0 8 supply ships 0 5 destroyer tenders 0 8 9 submarine tenders. Source Note: TDf, RG 45, Entry 520. Handwritten in red pencil in the right corner of every page: “3/13/17.” This plan was unsigned, but was found in a group of documents with Pratt’s signature. It was apparently reviewed and corrected as indicated most revealingly in the tables. They have been indicated with angle brackets and marginalia noted in the annotation. An underscored line signifies indecipherable words. This version appears to be a draft as someone went through and made a number of changes, in pencil, particularly to the numbers assigned to certain categories of ships. This person crossed through the original numbers and then added numbers, and occasionally words, in pencil. In our transcription of this document, the cross throughs are rendered as cross throughs; the additions are indicated by angle brackets. Just before the American declaration of war, Pratt worked for the Army War College and in the planning section of the Office of Operations under the Chief of Naval Operations. Given these factors we assume that he was the author of this document. In July 1917, he became the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations. Naval Investigation, 1199. Pratt and other high-ranking officers, as this report indicates, continued to be highly influenced by War Plan Black. While historians assume that the American naval leadership set aside the plan as unrealistic, Pratt is positing the possibility that the U.S. would be forced to fight Germany without allied support because German submarine warfare would force Great Britain out of the war by starving its population. Pratt was echoing a long-standing concern of U.S. Naval War College planners regarding German intentions. (For a synopsis of Black Code studies, see “Appendix ‘D’” of War Plan Black entitled “Studies and Conclusions of Naval War College: 1901-1913,” DNA, RG 80, Entry 289.) Pratt also believed that a German invasion of the U.S. East Coast was possible. In the first versions of War Plan Black done early in the twentieth century, planners deemed a German invasion of the U.S. East Coast to be feasible. However, subsequent plans done after World War I commenced suggested that the German Navy would never consider an invasion of the U.S. mainland but would instead occupy an island in the Caribbean. Pratt is here reverting to the scenario. The “ultimate menace” mentioned in this report was first identified by Adm. George Dewey upon encountering a German squadron at Manila Bay in 1898. See: the Blockade and Siege of Manila. Footnote 1: A reference to the Naval Appropriation Bill of 1916. Footnote 2: On 31 January 1917, Germany announced unrestricted submarine warfare in an effort to interdict supplies going to the Allies, and particularly Great Britain. For a history of this German activity, see, Gray, The U-Boat War. Footnote 3: President Woodrow Wilson responded two days later with his “Address to a Joint Session of Congress on the Severance of Diplomatic Relations with Germany.” The American Presidency Project, Accessed 1 March 2017, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=65397. Footnote 4: See, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, “Regulations Governing the Conduct of American Merchant Vessels on which Armed Guards have been Placed,” 17 March 1917, DNA, RG 59, M367. Footnote 5: Germany, Austro-Hungary, and Turkey. Footnote 6: This sentence is an over-exaggeration. Whereas Germany did have in place a strong military and reserve system, the other countries of the Central Powers were not organized so well. Douglas Fermer, Three German Invasions of France: The Summer Campaigns of 1870, 1914 and 1940 (Barnsley, Eng.: Pen & Sword, 2013), 24-25. Footnote 7: The first manifestation of German food shortages occurred in October 1915, with the Berlin “butter riots.” Beckett, The Great War: 266. For a discussion of the privation Germans were facing and how they were coping with it, see: Holtzendorff to Hindenburg, 22 December 1916. Footnote 8: Most likely a reference to a combination of events, such as the collapse of the Romanov dynasty and the ship tonnage loses inflicted by the German U-boats. Footnote 9: At the beginning of 1917, the British populace enjoyed a reasonably stable supply of provisions, but both France and Italy suffered from food shortages. Beckett, The Great War: 267-71. Footnote 10: The “barred zone,” as outlined in Germany’s 1917 note to the United States regarding neutral shipping to and from Europe, included the British Islands, and the coast of Europe from Terscheilling, an island off the northern coast of the Netherlands, along the French coast to Cape Finisterre in Spain. “Germany’s Policy of Unrestricted Submarine Warfare,” last modified 22 August 2009, http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/uboat_bernstorff.htm. Footnote 11: Contrary to Pratt’s expectations, the Germans did not send submarines to operate off the American coast until the summer and fall of 1918. See, Clark, When U-Boats Came to America. Footnote 12:   A reference to foreign spy and sabotage activity in the United States. Such concerns became evident even before the declaration of hostilities in April 1917. See, John B. Stanchfield, Some Suggestions on the Perils of Espionage (New York: The National Security League, 1916). Footnote 13: For American concerns about a German attack on the U.S. Navy, see: All Navy Order from Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 4 February 1917. Footnote 14: On January 1, 1917 the peacetime standing U.S. Army numbered 5,286 officers and 137,214 soldiers. De Witt C. Falls, Army and Navy Information: Uniforms, Organization, Arms and Equipment of the Warring Powers (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1917), 23. Footnote 15: “Batteries” in this instance, refer to guns. Footnote 16: Congress gave the Navy Department the ability to appropriate emergency money in March 1917. Kirschbaum, “The 1916 Naval Expansion Act:” 235. Footnote 17: Pratt assumed that the U.S. would enter the war on the side of the Allies. Pratt’s assumption was shared by most Americans, especially after Germany’s declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare. See: Mary Caroline Wing Mayo to Mary Elizabeth Tennant, 20 March 1917. Footnote 18: The blue-penciled handwritten notation “-bombs.” appears in the left margin. Footnote 19: For a discussion of these potential issues, see: Badger to Daniels, 17 March 1917. See also, “Estimate of Situation,” 3 March 1917, DNA, RG 313, Entry 9D. Footnote 20: A few German World War I U-boats carried 24 torpedoes, but most carried between 6 and 16. “German U-Boats,” Accessed 16 March 2017, http://www.uboat.net/wwi/types. Footnote 21: The U.S. Navy began to develop its first non-rigid lighter-than-air aircraft in 1916 and the first flight was in May 1917. Robert Jackson, Airships: A Popular History of Dirigibles, Zeppelins, Blimps and Other Lighter-than-Air Craft (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1973), 123-25. Footnote 22: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt advocated for the construction of small patrol boats. Roosevelt first wanted boats of fifty feet in length, but many naval officers and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels believed such boats would be “junk”. Daniels Diary entry of 21 March 1917, DLC, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diary; Daniels, Years of War and After: 254. The Navy eventually decided that a 110-foot patrol boat would be its standard design. The first of these submarine chasers were launched in May 1917, and commissioned in August 1917. Dwight R. Messimer, Find and Destroy: Antisubmarine Warfare in World War I (Annapolis, MD.: Naval Institute Press, 2001), 125. Footnote 23: There were two kinds of nets used to protect anchorages: a “submarine trap net” and a “drifting mine net.” The nets were to remain closed unless a vessel needed to pass through them. In that case, a tug would open a “gate” and the vessel would proceed using a marked channel. The channel and the nets were patrolled and protected by picket vessels ranging from launches to destroyers. There was also a “guard ship” anchored just inside the nets that was tasked with inspecting any vessel passing the nets. See, Mayo Campaign Order No. 11, 8 April 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B; and Regulations Governing Submarine and Mine Traps, 6 April 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. On 28 March 1917, Admiral Henry T. Mayo received orders to deploy a net and close the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. Naval Operations to Mayo, 28 March 1917, RG 45, Entry 517B, Box 20. Footnote 24: Blue-penciled check marks appear before each numeral. Footnote 25: In the end, the Navy was forced to remove guns from its older ships to provide arms for merchantmen. Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Ordnance Activities, World War, 1917-18 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1920), 42. Footnote 26: The Lighthouse Establishment (Service) had been established in 1789; in 1910, it was transferred from the Treasury Department to the Commerce Department. During World War I most primary lighthouses, lightships, and lighthouse tenders were transferred to the War Department and the U.S. Navy so it is doubtful the service did as Pratt recommended. “Important Dates in United States Light House History,” Accessed 16 March 2917, http://www.foghornpublishing.com/history.cfm. Footnote 27: See: Squier to Daniels, 13 March 1917. Footnote 28: The last sentence is handwritten in pencil. Footnote 29: This heading is handwritten in blue pencil. Footnote 30: Numerous handwritten notations appear in this section. Footnote 31: The blue-penciled handwritten notation “shift to ___]” appears in the left margin. Footnote 32: For example, A memorandum to Capt. Josiah S. McKean depicts the completion dates for eleven submarines and auxiliary vessels, 20 February 1917, DNA, RG 313, Entry 9D. Footnote 33: For the Emergency Fund, see footnote no. 14. Footnote 34: Pratt has a different opinion than the General Board regarding fleet preparation. The Strategic section of Code Plan Black, written by the Naval War College, calls for a three-tiered incremental fleet escalation of a considerable number of ships. A hefty capital-ship construction program was also underway. For the former, see “Composition of the ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ Fleets for a War in the Atlantic,” March 1916, DNA, RG 80, GB425. For a study of the latter, see Kirschbaum, “The 1916 Naval Expansion Act:” 110-15. A lengthy Bureau of Supplies and Accounts report appended to Code Plan Black suggests that the Navy Department was gearing up for mobilization. See, DNA, RG 80, GB425. Footnote 35: A blue-penciled handwritten “?” by the last sentence is in the left margin. Footnote 36: The U.S. Navy started to convert to oil for fueling steam-driven ships before the war, however, with the declaration of hostilities in April 1917, this process was hastened. Leonard M. Fanning, Our Oil Resources (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1945), 285. Footnote 37: The blue-penciled handwritten notation “shift equip. at yards” is in the left margin. Footnote 38: A checkmark in blue pencil appears before the thirty numbered requirements; sometimes an “OK” is written before these checkmarks. In the right margin someone has written what appears to be dollar amounts for all the numbered “decisions” with the notation “m” which, in all likelihood, signifies “million(s).”"> Captain William V. Pratt to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, 3/13/1917
Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain William V. Pratt to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

 

NAVY DEPARTMENT,

Washington,

March 13, 1917.

 

Estimate of the Situation.

Mission: The Naval Appropriation Bill having become a law and its funds made immediately available, to determine the best plan for utilizing these funds in the present situation.1

Summary of the Situation.

About 1 February, Germany announced her intention of destroying all shipping without further warning in certain zones established by herself, around the coasts of the nations in Europe with which she is at war.2 The United States denying that Germany has a right to destroy any neutral ships without warning and without visit and search and safeguarding lives, at once broke off diplomatic relations with her.3 Since that time both enemy and neutral ships have been sunk in the barred zone by German submarines without warning, but as yet no United States ships have been so sunk. In order to protect American ships from those illegal attacks the President has ordered the arming of merchant ships and authorizes them to resist illegal attack.4

At this time the condition is not one of war, but with German submarines carrying out the announced German policy and being resisted therein by our government-armed ships, a state bordering on war exists and the situation is such that at any time we may be actually involved in war.

This situation has been gradually developing and in order that the Navy might be ready to meet war conditions, Congress has passed an enormous naval appropriation bill and has made its funds immediately available. If the Navy is to be ready for possible and probable war there is no time to lose in preparing for it. There can be no doubt that Congress and the entire Nation expect us to immediately use such of the appropriated funds as are necessary to prepare ourselves. To fail to use them now to the best advantage may bring terrible disaster to the nation, but by using them, if war comes, we may bring it to a successful conclusion. But the great reason for using the funds at once and in the best manner is that we may keep from waging war on the vast scale of the war in Europe, even if we do not altogether avert it.

Enemy Forces

Strength and Disposition.

The possible enemy forces in the present situation are those of all of the Central Allies.5 On both land and sea their forces are enormous, are magnificently trained and equipped, and are organized in a way beyond the conception of the vast majority of our population.6 They wage war in the most scientific way and apparently let no opportunity of injuring their enemies escape. They are brave, resourceful and ruthless.

Fortunately for us, the tremendous forces of the Germanic powers are not free to operate against us in their full strength. Their vast armies are generally on the defensive and are opposed by armies of greater numbers and as splendidly equipped. To maintain her armies Germany depends entirely on her internal resources and in this lies her strength. To maintain their armies, the allies seem obliged to call on the rest of the world, or at least to bring supplies across the sea, and in that lies their strength and their weakness;– their strength because of the inexhaustible ability and quantity of their supplies, but their weakness because of the danger to their lines of communication.

The huge naval forces of the Central Powers, as great as they are, do not control the sea. Their coast is blockaded and except for submarines their fleets are contained. So blockaded, except for her power of self–sustenance, Germany would long ago have collapsed, but in spite of her enormous resources and her intelligent use of them she is facing serious shortages of food and possibly of other supplies essential to the conduct of the war.7

If the present conditions can be continued, everything points to the Ententes’ final success, but there is some doubt that these conditions will continue.8 There is but little chance of victory for the German armies until the Entente’s supply lines are broken and it is at these, with the only weapons she has, that Germany is striking, and in so striking has denied our rights on the sea. It is yet too early to estimate the result of her blow but it is to prevent the success of the blow that we must bend our efforts. Should we, with the allies, fail in that effort, success may come to Germany and should it, it may fall to us to have to meet Germany's full strength alone.

It follows then that we must prepare ourselves to render futile and destroy the immediate menace of the German submarine campaign in order to destroy the ultimate menase [i.e., menace] of our full strength used against us, but at the same time we must prepare ourselves to meet the ultimate menace if it comes, for unless we are prepared to meet it the very life of our nation is endangered.

Possible intentions.

The enemy intentions are fairly well understood. With his enormous submarine force he is endeavoring to break the lines of supply to the Entente forces. Should he succeed he may gain a decision or at least get a draw, either of which would leave him with far greater strength than we have. His submarine pressure works against his enemies in the field and against non-combatants. If he cuts the lines of supply of those in the field he may win a decision. If he cuts the lines of supply to non-combatants their demands may force an indecisive peace. He operates with both ends in view. Even though he may not immediately succeed, he may so scare the civil population that their demands will force the entente powers to sacrifice protection to their fleets to save their populace from starvation. In such case Germany might take advantage of the lack of protection to the allied fleet, weaken it by submarine attack, and possibly engage it successfully, thereby gaining to themselves the control of the sea and immediately threatening us as well as the allies' communications.9

To carry out the above general plan, Germany is already operating her submarines in the “barred zones”.10 That she will continue to operate them there cannot be doubt since it is in those zones that shipping converges, and it is there that submarines are nearest to their base. But knowing also that those zones are best defended against submarines it is likely and probable that other much used lanes of travel will be attacked. Naturally, lacking bases, not a great many submarines can be used for distant work and it would take many to stop shipping at the source. However it is probable and possible for some to so operate and it is natural that they should choose to attack in those lanes that are nearest and most frequented. Such lanes are those leading out of our own east coast ports, including the Panama Canal, and it is on these lanes that we must prepare for counter operations at once even though we do not attempt offensive operations in conjunction with the allies.11

In every instance when a nation has entered this war against her, Germany has at once struck that nation a powerful blow. Such blows delivered as soon as war comes have the double effect of damaging and discouraging the new enemy and reducing his power, and of encouraging Germany's own people. There is every reason to believe that should we be involved in the war Germany will make such an attempt on us. We may expect serious attacks from her emissaries within the limits of the country, but such attempts are not to be met by this Department.12 Her one way to strike the Navy a hard blow and a serious one is to operate submarines against the fleet. Germany knows that we have practically no security force in our fleet and that a very small submarine force could possibly deliver a serious blow. We must guard against such a blow.13

Germany's probable intentions in the immediate submarine menace have been fairly covered. The ultimate menace, should she get into a position to adopt it, involves the use of her full strength against us. It will probably take the form of an advance across the sea with a naval force to gain control, accompanied by an army to carry out a victorious campaign on land. The details of the methods she would follow are well known to us and will not be taken up here. That we must be ready to meet such a campaign is evident and while preparing to meet and overcome the immediate menace we must not lose sight of the ultimate menace or fail to prepare for it. Success against the immediate menace may remove the ultimate menace but to be sure of safety against both we must prepare for both.

Our Own Forces.

Strength and Disposition.

As compared with the forces of our probable enemy our land forces are insignificant and in no way ready to defend the country.14 Even though immediate steps are taken to prepare land forces, they can hardly be ready to meet the ultimate menace within a year. Our sole reliance for many months to come must be in the Navy and the Navy must at once prepare to meet both menaces confronting us.

Our total of naval forces may be grouped into three classes:–

(1) Ships completed that are now ready for service or that will be ready shortly.

(2) Ships now under construction or authorized, and

(3) The funds made available in the recent appropriation bill for speeding up (2) and for providing material in addition to (1) and (2).

It is to determine how to best utilize the third part of our force that this estimate is made, but in order to do that I must ascertain what is needed to meet the present situation, compare it with what is now ready, and then arrange my expenditures to make up the pressing deficiencies as far as possible. I must realize that an expenditure of these funds in any but the right direction will materially reduce any power to meet the situation, so the greatest care must be exercised.

Not including the Asiatic force, my available fighting force now practically ready for service consists of:

12 Battleships, first line

21     "      , second line

9 Armored Cruisers

4 Cruisers,  1st class

3     "       2d class

12    "       3d class

7 Gunboats

5 Monitors

52 Destroyers

11 Coast Destroyers

3 Mine layers

4 Mine sweepers (with fleet)

6 Mine sweepers (coast)

36 Aeroplanes

Submarines

3 Kite balloons

Under forces appropriated for but not ready we have:

Now building                            Authorized

9 Battleships, first line     3 Battleships, 1st line

1 Scout                       5 Battle Cruisers

27 Destroyers                 5 Scouts

58 Submarines  (coast)        15 Destroyers

3    "         (800 tons)     38 Submarines (800-ton)

3    "         (fleet)  

1 Gunboat

16 Non Rigid dirigibles

78 Aeroplanes

Kite Balloons

Under funds immediately available that may be used to complete authorized material or to provide material not specifically authorized we have the following:

For aviation                       $5,133,000.

Ordnance and Ordnance Stores       8,488,333.

Batteries for merchant

Auxiliaries15                     4,731,174.

Ammunition for merchant

auxiliaries                        7,731,941.

Storehouses, N. Y. & Puget Sd.     1,000,000.

Naval Emergency fund               115,000,000.16

For equipping navy yards           12,000,000.

 

Courses Open To Us

In order to ascertain what to do we must first compare the above listed forces with what we actually need to meet both the immediate menace and the ultimate menace. Let us therefore study the methods of combating each menace and thereby determine our needs after which we will determine how to provide all of them or not being able to provide for all to provide those things that will best enable us to meet both menaces and hold them in check until we can prepare additional forces.

The immediate menace is from submarines so our first step must be to render that menace futile and destroy it. It will become futile if, in spite of it, we and the entente allies can maintain the allies’ overwater lines of supply if we destroy it our first mission is gained.17 How can we do those things?

Submarines have only three offensive weapons;––guns, mines, and torpedoes.18 Of these the gun is naturally the favorite for use because by its successful use it does the most damage at the least cost. To use guns the submarine must operate on the surface, but so operating, owing to the very few guns they carry and the vulnerability of the ship, they are easily sunk by gun fire. A submarine cannot operate on the surface against armed ships and hence properly arming ships requires that submarines attack while submerged and denies the use of their guns.

With their guns eliminated submarines must depend on mines or torpedoes. Of mines they may carry both the floating and the anchored types. They are not well suited for using floating mines and at best such mines do not meet their requirements. Good lookouts usually enable a ship to avoid them. Anchored mines are more suitable but submarines can carry only a few of them and when laid they can be quickly destroyed by sweeping. They cannot be used in over 50 fathoms of water and as the quantity is limited they must be placed in the approaches to harbors. To eliminate the danger from mines requires that we must keep certain lanes for ingress to or egress from our harbors free of mines. This requires sweeping, for which special types of boats especially fitted for their work are required. Owing to the facility with which mines can be placed and the large areas along our coast that are suitable for mining work we will require a very large force of mine sweepers, but with such a force the dangers from anchored mines, placed by submarines, will be a minimum.19

With guns and mines practically eliminated the only other weapon carried by submarines that we need fear is torpedoes. Torpedoes are powerful weapons but they are expensive and submarines can carry very few of them.20 By arming merchantmen we force submarines to depend almost entirely on torpedoes for their offensive operations and to remain submerged while attacking. This alone greatly reduces the danger from submarines, for working submerged they can use only slow speeds, cannot choose their position and have great difficulty in getting the course and speed of the target upon which knowledge accurate torpedo fire depends. But while arming merchant ships practically insures their safety from gun fire and coincidently renders torpedo fire less successful, those steps only tend to render submarine warfare futile. We must expect many casualties even after we arm merchant ships and the only way to stop those casualties is to effect the destruction of the submarines. How can we effect their destruction?

To destroy submarines we must first locate them and then sink or capture them. A submarine’s safety lies in her ability to completely hide beneath the surface of the water. Its greatest weakness lies in the fact that it cannot remain submerged for any great length of time except while resting on the bottom in less than 30 fathoms of water. It follows then the best means of destroying submarines is to utilize the most suitable device for locating them and when they come to the service to bring to bear on them sufficient gun fire to destroy them. The best position for seeing submarines is from aloft. We can locate them from surface craft but eyes well above the sea not only cover larger areas of water but can see better. Aircraft are therefore a necessity. Aeroplanes being heavier than air and entirely dependent on speed to remain up are unsuited as air patrol for submarines. Lighter than air craft are especially suited for the work, being more habitable, better range for the work, able to cover as much water, having great speed, and being capable of moving slowly in any direction if desired. It follows that we should have small lighter-than-air craft for the purpose. The small non rigid dirigible appears best suited for it.21

To give us the gun power to sink submarines when located by the dirigibles we must have patrol boats suitably armed near at hand. To have them near at hand at all times means that they must be available in great numbers. Those that operate close in shore may be only large enough to carry the necessary size guns, but those that operate well out at sea must be large enough to withstand any and all weathers and be able to keep the sea. It would appear then that we must have many large patrols and many small patrol boats, but for outside work the minimum size should be the 110-foot boat.22

In addition to destroying submarines by gun fire we may also destroy them by mines placed in areas they will infest. Nets to entangle submarines can also be used to great advantage, especially in shoal waters. They should be used to protect all harbors and if available in sufficient quantities to protect lanes of travel of shipping. Patrol boats should be fitted with entanglement nets.23

It would appear then that the steps to meet the immediate menace are:24

(1) To arm all merchantmen, but especially those carrying supplies to the entente powers.

(2) To increase the number of merchantmen carrying supplies to the allies to insure that these supplies will be sufficient.

(3) To provide mine sweepers sufficient to sweep all lanes of travel from our harbor entrances to water of 50 fathoms depth.

(4) To provide sufficient buoys to mark the lanes of travel kept clear of mines.

(5) To provide sufficient <non>rigid dirigibles to maintain a close air patrol over the established lanes of approach to our harbors, and the waters adjacent thereto.

(6) To provide surface patrol vessels large and small, the former to operate off shore to destroy submarines, the latter to patrol the lanes of travel for shipping and the harbors, both co–operating with the aerial scouts already mentioned to destroy submarines.

(7) To provide anchored mines in large numbers.

(8) To provide submarine nets to cover the outside entrances to all harbors and lanes of travel if practicable, and to equip patrol vessels.

What quantities of the above described material do we need? At this time it is utterly impossible to tell the total amount we will require but it is far more than the money at our disposal will buy and more than our resources can produce in a short time. We should attempt to provide as much as possible of each kind at once, bearing in mind that no matter how much we get now it will be far short of what we must finally have if war comes.

In the present situation all armed merchant ships become auxiliaries and to equip them we can utilize what guns and ammunition we now have ready for arming auxiliaries. While we have not a great many guns for the purpose we can probably arm most of our shipping that now goes to Europe, but as more shipping enters for that service more guns and ammunition will be needed.25

In arming ships we must bear in mind that they must have gun fire superior to that of the submarines. From this it follows that guns for merchantmen should be of equal or greater size than are carried by submarines and they must be so placed as to permit at least two to fire in every arc. Depending on the way ships can mount guns they should have three or four guns of five–inch caliber or larger. To provide these, contracts should be entered into for all the five and six inch guns and ammunition for them that can be purchased out of the appropriation “Batteries for merchant auxiliaries, $4,731,174” and “Ammunition for merchant auxiliaries, $7,731,460.[“] Three–inch and four-inch guns can be used to arm ships until larger guns are available, but all future guns for shipping should not be below five-inch.

To provide more ships for carrying supplies to the Allies, the United States Government can not itself do much at once. If ships are to be provided by the Government they must come from other than the present Naval appropriations. We can and should encourage private ships to enter the trade by offering insurance or subsidies for it is of vital importance that the supplies to the allies be maintained. On the success of maintaining them a favorable decision for the allies rests and their success now means our own success at the least cost.

To provide mine sweepers will not be very difficult. There are already many small tugs and steam fishermen that can be quickly taken over by purchase or charter, and sweeping equipment is easily obtained. The number of sweepers so obtained will probably not be sufficient and we may have to construct many. We should provide for at least one hundred pairs immediately, arming each with a small gun, preferably a 3–inch. The sweepers will have to be obtained out of the “emergency fund” and $10,000,000 should be set aside from that fund for the purpose. The battery, ammunition, and sweeping equipment of the sweepers will have to come from the ordnance appropriations “Ordnance and Ordnance Stores” and “Reserve Ordnance Supplies” etc.

In order that that there may be proper buoying of swept lanes, an enormous number of buoys must be provided. These buoys should be provided by the Lighthouse establishment and notice should be sent them immediately to provide those buoys.26 As the Lighthouse establishment may not have funds at this time we could possibly contract for them and arrange for reimbursement later. To make sure that the buoys will be ready we should set aside $100,000 for them from the emergency fund. The Lighthouse establishment should be informed of the lanes to be kept swept and should plan the buoyage system to mark them.

Our coast air patrol as now arranged for provides for fifteen stations.27 It seems that four dirigibles would be the minimum for each station and that those stations near important ports where close patrol is necessary should have more. We have 16 dirigibles ordered and need 44 more to equip stations to the minimum, but if we get 80 all told that should be enough for a start. That means that 64 more dirigibles than have been ordered and these will cost about $50,000 apiece. They should at once be ordered from the appropriation “Aviation, $5,133,000.00.” But in addition to providing dirigibles we must provide places for their stowage and operation. Of these we have none and they will cost much. We must allow $10,000,000 from our emergency fund for aviation purposes in addition to the “Aviation” Appropriation.

Patrol vessels to be provided are of two classes––those for inshore work and those for offshore work. There are many small craft available for inshore work that can be purchased or chartered and perhaps not many small boats will have to be built. A very different situation holds for the larger patrols for offshore work. There are some fair–sized yachts immediately available by charter or purchase but in addition to which we require many more. We should allow for at least 300 offshore patrols at a cost of $100,000 each ($30,000,000). For patrols $30,000,000 of the emergency fund should be immediately utilized. The arming and equipping of these patrols should will have to be paid for from the Ordnance appropriations or other Bureau appropriations. <but as the Ordnance appropriation is already allotted $5,000,000, [it] should be set aside from the emergency fund to arm patrol vessels.>28

Bases will have to be provided for these patrols and funds must be found for them, since without bases they cannot be maintained. Makeshifts can be provided if funds are available and at least $5,000,000 will be required for that purpose.

Mines will have to be provided from the Ordnance appropriation and in large numbers. Ten thousand should be provided for at least. Submarine nets also come from the Ordnance appropriations and are needed in enormous quantities. The Ordnance appropriations are probably insufficient to provide for as many nets and mines as are needed at once so we should allot $5,000,000 for those purposes from the emergency fund.

The Ultimate Menace.29

Up to this point we have discussed only those materials to meet the immediate menace. What we have found necessary to provide so far is material to meet that menace alone. But what should be done to meet the far more dangerous ultimate menace? To meet that requires that <we> I must have a strong and well balanced fleet. It is not sufficient to merely have the power to strike, for unless <we> I have a security and information force the enemy can attack my heavy ships at will while <we> I cannot attack him because <we> I can get no information of his whereabouts. A study of what will be required to meet the ultimate German menace shows what we should have. Without going into the reasons, the force we require is indicated in the 2d column of the table given below. In the third column <is> I have listed what we now have; in the fourth column what must be provided to give us the needed strength; and in the fifth column, what has been done toward providing the material column three indicates as necessary.30

Type

Number Required

Authorized by by Military Com.

Now

Ready

To be

Provided

Steps taken

to provide

missing units.

Battleships,1st line

2729

131

1217

9 building, 3 authorized, but not contracted for.

Battleships,2nd line

21

21

0

Completed

Battle cruisers

68

0

68

5 authorized but not contracted for.

Armored cruisers

9

9

0

Completed

Scouts

<10>24

0

24

1 contracted for, <6>5 authorized.

Destroyers

<108>123

52

7156

27 contracted for, 15 authorized.

Torpedo boats

16

16

10

Submarines,small

87

29

58

All under construction.

Submarines,coast

58 60

0

5860

3 contracted for; 38 authorized.

Submarines, fleet

3 20

0

3 20

3 contracted for.

Fleet Mine sweepers

<4>20

4

08 1617

None

Mine layers planters

3 10

3

0 7

None

Fleet Aeroplanes

114

36

78

All have been ordered

Fuel ships

24 40

20

4 20

284 building

2 authorized but not approp for

Supply ships

5 12

4

18

1 building

Destroyer tenders  

58

3

25

3 authorized 1 app for

Submarine tenders <small.>    

312

2

110

2 authorized appropriated for

 

With the material previously mentioned as necessary to meet the immediate menace in the material listed in the second column above, we should be able to meet even the ultimate menace. We may not even with those forces be able to win a decision over Germany but it is practically certain that she would not be able to decisively defeat us. It is however the minimum we should have to be even reasonably safe from defeat.

It is seen from the above table that we have much to do. It might appear at a first glance that we should at once prepare to meet the ultimate menace by completing all authorized ships and starting additional ships as necessary. Such would be the case if we had sufficient funds to do that after providing for the immediate menace. But we have not. After providing for the immediate menace as indicated above, we have less than $55,000,000 available in the emergency fund which is not even sufficient to rush to completion all authorized ships much less to provide for additional destroyers and other small craft. To determine how best to handle our remaining funds we must analyze our building program.

Of the nine battleships authorized the actual construction of only five has been started. Three of these are well along in completion and two are started. All five may be completed before the ultimate menace comes and we may act wisely in expediting them. It is not probable that the other three authorized can be made ready in time to meet that menace and therefore to use any of our emergency fund on them would be useless. They should be expedited to the fullest extent within their special appropriations and steps should be taken to provide money to allow the work to be rushed. Of the five that can be expedited one million dollars each should cover the cost of expediting the three that are furthest advanced and two million each for the other two.

The battle cruisers and scouts, excepting one scout, have not yet been contracted for. It is doubtful if any of them can be completed in time to meet the ultimate menace so it is useless to spend our present small emergency fund on them. They should be expedited as much as possible under their present appropriations and other appropriations should be asked for to expedite these and to build the many others required.31

Being without scouts we urgently need destroyers. We should get all we can at the earliest possible time, not only by rushing to completion all that have been provided for but also by building as many more as we can put on the ways. We have 27 contracted for and 15 more authorized and all these can be rushed to completion at an average cost of not over $200,000. We should allow money from the emergency fund for the purpose but should ask for more money to provide additional destroyers and rush them to completion.

Perhaps our greatest immediate need for meeting the ultimate menace is to have many submarines. We cannot win a decision with submarines but it is probable that with sufficient of them we can keep the enemy from gaining one over us.32 A large submarine force will prevent an invasion for a while at least and they should therefore get our very great attention now. We should rush to completion all that are now authorized and build as many others as the building capacity of the country permits and Congress should be asked to provide them.

Of submarines we have 58 small size contracted for and they can be rushed to completion at an average cost of not over $150,000.00. We have 3 eight hundred ton submarines contracted for and 38 authorized that can be rushed to completion at a cost of not over $350,000.00 each. We have three fleet submarines under construction that can be rushed to completion at a cost of not over $300,000.00 each. We should provide for rushing these from the emergency fund but should at once ask for additional funds to provide more.33

A summary of the rush work that should be undertaken on new construction and its cost is shown in the following table:

Ships on which work : should be rushed.   :

Cost per ship: to rush:

Total cost to rush

Battleships,1st line:  

1,000,000.00  :

$3,000,000.00

     "      "     " :

2,000,000.00  :

4,000,000.00

Destroyers:

200,000.00    :

8,400,000.00

Submarines (small)  :

150,000.00    :

8,700,000.00

Submarines (coast)  :

250,000.00    :    

10,250,000.00

Submarines (fleet)  :

300,000.00    :

900,000.00

 

To be allotted for speeding up construction       35,250,000.00

The remaining ships called for on our list to meet the ultimate menace should be rushed to completion also but not at the expense of our emergency fund. Congress should be urged to provide for these.

No consideration has as yet been given the essential shore stations and bases for handling these large amounts of material required for either menace yet in order to maintain the upkeep of that material and to supply it requires vast additions to our shore plants. Our facilities for handling our fleet upkeep work are constantly strained even in peace times. They simply cannot handle a larger fleet under war time conditions. Toward supplying the fleet we find the same inadequate preparation.34 Fortunately we have some appropriations that can be used to meet these emergencies outside of our emergency fund.

We have the remainder of the $6,000,000,000.00 made available in last year’s appropriation for equipping yards for building ships, and $12,000,000.00 available from the new appropriation in the event the Secretary of the Navy is unable to secure from the private ship builders contracts for the expeditious construction of the ships heretofore authorized at a fair or reasonable price to enable him to equip the navy yards with suitable and necessary machinery, implements, building ways, and equipment for the construction of such of said vessels as may be assigned to navy yards for construction. It is practically certain that private shipbuilders will be unable to construct expeditiously at a reasonable price all the ships authorized and therefore the total $18,000,000.00 will be available for adding equipment to yards which while installed for building purposes would be available and used also for upkeep purposes. The need of equipping yards is pressing and no time should be lost in making all the funds available and allotting them to yards for equipment, etc. These $18,000,000.00 available should be sufficient to cover the yard's needs for upkeep work and I need not consider utilizing any of the emergency fund for that purpose at this time.35

Supplying the fleets in peace times has reached a high state of perfection but the preparations are insufficient for an increased fleet and especially so under war conditions. The bill contained two items of $500,000 each for storehouses at New York and Puget Sound but while these will help they will not nearly meet the requirements. Central distributing depots will have to be provided as well as smaller distributing stations. Stations may be of a temporary nature but funds must be provided for them at once. We should set aside $5,000,000.00 from the emergency fund for that purpose.

It is also to be noted that the tremendous augmentation of naval craft necessary to meet the immediate and ultimate menaces requires tremendous additions to our fuel depots. This is especially true of oil fuel, for while there will not be a very great increase in coal burning craft there will be enormous additions of oil burners.36 Even now our fuel oil storage is inadequate and not underground as is necessary for its proper protection. As establishing fuel oil stations require special appropriations for the purchase of land, Congress should be asked to make special appropriations for the purpose. Estimates have been for storing 2,000,000 barrels of oil to meet the fleet requirements at a cost of $10,000,000 and that amount should be asked for for the purpose.

A particular feature that must be borne in mind in this estimate is that the machinery and personnel of the Department in Washington was designed largely on a peace basis. With the vast expenditures provided in the naval bill the activities in the Department are multiplied. Technical experts, draftsmen, material experts, clerks and stenographers are absolutely necessary to all Bureaus and offices to carry on the huge increase of work, yet the wording of the appropriation bill is such that no part of any sum appropriated in it can be used for any expense of the Navy Department at Washington, unless specific authority is given by law for such expenditure. This situation is so serious that unless steps are taken to provide the additional personnel necessary to handle work in the Department the whole program may be seriously interfered with. Immediately upon the convening of Congress steps should be taken that will permit the employment of the essential personnel.

Up to this point we have covered to some extent the things we need immediately. We must realize that we have not made sufficient provision to fully meet either the immediate or the ultimate menace but if we do all that has been laid out we will have gone far and in the right direction. We will at least have started some of the things urgently and immediately needed without which we are practically helpless. Before we get this material Congress will again be in session and if more is needed there is no doubt but that provision for it will be made. Having started the work it will be easy to continue and tremendously increase it if necessary.

The total money that should be allotted now is about $10,000,000 less than what we have at our disposal. It is not safe to set it all aside at this time as there are surely other things that will be needed at once. If we find the $10,000,000 remaining will not be needed for other purposes, we can devote it to increasing our material along certain of the lines indicated above.37

Therefore, in order to provide for the country's safety as seems to be the wish of the people, and to carry out the intent of Congress, we should at once allot money in accordance with the following decision and proceed to carry that decision out as rapidly as possible.

DECISIONS38

1.  Arm all merchant ships engaged in trade with the allies, cost to be charged to ordnance Appropriations. Use guns of five inch or larger calibre if available.

2.   Encourage by subsidies and insurance as many additional ships as possible to enter into trade with the allies, arming all that do.

3.   Encourage new construction of merchant shipping in all ways.

4.   Enter into contracts for all five and six inch guns and ammunition for auxiliaries that ordinance appropriations permit.

5.   Rush to completion the 16 dirigibles now contracted for and enter into contracts for 64 more to be delivered as soon as possible.

6.   Proceed with the erection of the air patrol stations for the above dirigibles. 10,000,000

7.   Set aside from the emergency fund $10,000,000 for dirigibles, stations, and other aviation purposes. 8000000

8.   Start construction at once and rush to completion, or charter, 300 large size patrol vessels capable of keeping the sea. Those built should be not less than 110 feet long, and should have a speed of not less than 24 20 knots. 3000000

9.   Secure by purchase or charter all , yachts and small craft suitable for harbor and in 88 shore patrol.

10.  Make $30,000,000 available at once for the above patrol vessels from the emergency fund. used for the__of yachts__

11.  Equip the above named patrol vessels at once with suitable guns to be paid for as far as possible from the Ordnance appropriations. 5000000

12.  Make available at once from the emergency fund $5,000,000.00 to be used by the Bureau of Ordnance to provide additional guns and ammunition for patrol vessels that cannot be covered by their appropriations.

13.  Provide 100 pairs of mine sweepers by commandeering, charter or purchase of all available and suitable vessels. If 100 pairs cannot be obtained in this way construct the others.

14.  Allot $10,000,000 from the emergency fund for obtaining sweepers. <10000000>

15.  Equip for sweeping and arm all mine sweepers from present Ordnance appropriations.

16.  Inform the Light House service that many largest size spar buoys will be needed for marking swept lanes of travel and set aside $10,000,000 from the emergency fund until Light House service has funds for the purpose. 100000

17.  Provide bases for surface patrols boats the ___ of the ___ in protected and convenient harbors, setting aside $5,000,000 from the emergency fund for equipping them.

18.  Bureau of Ordnance provide 10,000 <additional> anchored contact mines.

19.  Bureau of Ordnance provide anti-submarine nets in large quantities both for harbor protection, protection of lanes of travel and for use of patrol boats.out of other necessary uses 5000000

20.  Allot $5,000,000 from emergency fund to Bureau of Ordnance for use in connection with their own funds for purchase of mines and nets.

21.  Rush to completion the following craft under construction or authorized:

1.    The five battleships now nearest completion.

2.    All authorized destroyers.

3.    All authorized submarines.

22.  Set aside $35,250,000 from the emergency fund for rushing the above construction.

23.  Endeavor to rush other authorized ships to completion to the greatest possible extent within the limit of their appropriations.

24.  Provide necessary technical experts, draftsmen, material experts, clerks and stenographers in all bureaus and offices of the Department to handle the increased work.

25.  Provide underground storage for 2,000,000 barrels of oil fuel at cost of $10,000,000. to be provided by Congress special approp.

26.  Urge upon Congress as soon as it convenes to supply an additional emergency fund of $450,000,000 to complete authorized craft and to provide such other craft and material as may be needed not specially authorized. (This to cover itemized lists furnished the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense. <450000000>

27. Make immediate allotment of the remainder of the $6,000, 000.00 appropriated last year to improve yard equipment to the East Coast Yards. not out of 115000000

28.  Call for bids on all authorized new construction at earliest possible time and thereby make the $12,000,000 appropriated for improving yards available and at once allot the money to the yards to equip them properly. It must be remembered that additional yard equipment is also absolutely necessary.

29.  Start the construction of the additional storehouses provided for in the new bill for New York and Puget Sound and allot $5,000,000 from the Emergency Fund to provide for such additional storehouses and depots as may be necessary to handle the increased supplies and material. <51000000>

30.  As soon as Congress meets urge upon them the necessity of bringing our fleet up to the required standard to meet the ultimate menace which in addition to all the material above provided for requires the following:

5 3 battleships first line

3 1 battle cruisers

18 4 scouts

26 14 destroyers

19 17 coast submarines (800 tons)

0 17 [6] fleet submarines  <needed when definite type is settled upon>

0 16 [17] mine sweepers (fleet)

0 7 mine layers <planters> fleet

0 20 fuel ships

0 8 supply ships

0 5 destroyer tenders

0 8 9 submarine tenders.

Source Note: TDf, RG 45, Entry 520. Handwritten in red pencil in the right corner of every page: “3/13/17.” This plan was unsigned, but was found in a group of documents with Pratt’s signature. It was apparently reviewed and corrected as indicated most revealingly in the tables. They have been indicated with angle brackets and marginalia noted in the annotation. An underscored line signifies indecipherable words. This version appears to be a draft as someone went through and made a number of changes, in pencil, particularly to the numbers assigned to certain categories of ships. This person crossed through the original numbers and then added numbers, and occasionally words, in pencil. In our transcription of this document, the cross throughs are rendered as cross throughs; the additions are indicated by angle brackets. Just before the American declaration of war, Pratt worked for the Army War College and in the planning section of the Office of Operations under the Chief of Naval Operations. Given these factors we assume that he was the author of this document. In July 1917, he became the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations. Naval Investigation, 1199. Pratt and other high-ranking officers, as this report indicates, continued to be highly influenced by War Plan Black. While historians assume that the American naval leadership set aside the plan as unrealistic, Pratt is positing the possibility that the U.S. would be forced to fight Germany without allied support because German submarine warfare would force Great Britain out of the war by starving its population. Pratt was echoing a long-standing concern of U.S. Naval War College planners regarding German intentions. (For a synopsis of Black Code studies, see “Appendix ‘D’” of War Plan Black entitled “Studies and Conclusions of Naval War College: 1901-1913,” DNA, RG 80, Entry 289.) Pratt also believed that a German invasion of the U.S. East Coast was possible. In the first versions of War Plan Black done early in the twentieth century, planners deemed a German invasion of the U.S. East Coast to be feasible. However, subsequent plans done after World War I commenced suggested that the German Navy would never consider an invasion of the U.S. mainland but would instead occupy an island in the Caribbean. Pratt is here reverting to the scenario. The “ultimate menace” mentioned in this report was first identified by Adm. George Dewey upon encountering a German squadron at Manila Bay in 1898. See: the Blockade and Siege of Manila.

Footnote 1: A reference to the Naval Appropriation Bill of 1916.

Footnote 2: On 31 January 1917, Germany announced unrestricted submarine warfare in an effort to interdict supplies going to the Allies, and particularly Great Britain. For a history of this German activity, see, Gray, The U-Boat War.

Footnote 3: President Woodrow Wilson responded two days later with his “Address to a Joint Session of Congress on the Severance of Diplomatic Relations with Germany.” The American Presidency Project, Accessed 1 March 2017, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=65397.

Footnote 4: See, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, “Regulations Governing the Conduct of American Merchant Vessels on which Armed Guards have been Placed,” 17 March 1917, DNA, RG 59, M367.

Footnote 5: Germany, Austro-Hungary, and Turkey.

Footnote 6: This sentence is an over-exaggeration. Whereas Germany did have in place a strong military and reserve system, the other countries of the Central Powers were not organized so well. Douglas Fermer, Three German Invasions of France: The Summer Campaigns of 1870, 1914 and 1940 (Barnsley, Eng.: Pen & Sword, 2013), 24-25.

Footnote 7: The first manifestation of German food shortages occurred in October 1915, with the Berlin “butter riots.” Beckett, The Great War: 266. For a discussion of the privation Germans were facing and how they were coping with it, see: Holtzendorff to Hindenburg, 22 December 1916.

Footnote 8: Most likely a reference to a combination of events, such as the collapse of the Romanov dynasty and the ship tonnage loses inflicted by the German U-boats.

Footnote 9: At the beginning of 1917, the British populace enjoyed a reasonably stable supply of provisions, but both France and Italy suffered from food shortages. Beckett, The Great War: 267-71.

Footnote 10: The “barred zone,” as outlined in Germany’s 1917 note to the United States regarding neutral shipping to and from Europe, included the British Islands, and the coast of Europe from Terscheilling, an island off the northern coast of the Netherlands, along the French coast to Cape Finisterre in Spain. “Germany’s Policy of Unrestricted Submarine Warfare,” last modified 22 August 2009, http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/uboat_bernstorff.htm.

Footnote 11: Contrary to Pratt’s expectations, the Germans did not send submarines to operate off the American coast until the summer and fall of 1918. See, Clark, When U-Boats Came to America.

Footnote 12:   A reference to foreign spy and sabotage activity in the United States. Such concerns became evident even before the declaration of hostilities in April 1917. See, John B. Stanchfield, Some Suggestions on the Perils of Espionage (New York: The National Security League, 1916).

Footnote 13: For American concerns about a German attack on the U.S. Navy, see: All Navy Order from Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 4 February 1917.

Footnote 14: On January 1, 1917 the peacetime standing U.S. Army numbered 5,286 officers and 137,214 soldiers. De Witt C. Falls, Army and Navy Information: Uniforms, Organization, Arms and Equipment of the Warring Powers (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1917), 23.

Footnote 15: “Batteries” in this instance, refer to guns.

Footnote 16: Congress gave the Navy Department the ability to appropriate emergency money in March 1917. Kirschbaum, “The 1916 Naval Expansion Act:” 235.

Footnote 17: Pratt assumed that the U.S. would enter the war on the side of the Allies. Pratt’s assumption was shared by most Americans, especially after Germany’s declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare. See: Mary Caroline Wing Mayo to Mary Elizabeth Tennant, 20 March 1917.

Footnote 18: The blue-penciled handwritten notation “-bombs.” appears in the left margin.

Footnote 19: For a discussion of these potential issues, see: Badger to Daniels, 17 March 1917. See also, “Estimate of Situation,” 3 March 1917, DNA, RG 313, Entry 9D.

Footnote 20: A few German World War I U-boats carried 24 torpedoes, but most carried between 6 and 16. “German U-Boats,” Accessed 16 March 2017, http://www.uboat.net/wwi/types.

Footnote 21: The U.S. Navy began to develop its first non-rigid lighter-than-air aircraft in 1916 and the first flight was in May 1917. Robert Jackson, Airships: A Popular History of Dirigibles, Zeppelins, Blimps and Other Lighter-than-Air Craft (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1973), 123-25.

Footnote 22: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt advocated for the construction of small patrol boats. Roosevelt first wanted boats of fifty feet in length, but many naval officers and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels believed such boats would be “junk”. Daniels Diary entry of 21 March 1917, DLC, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diary; Daniels, Years of War and After: 254. The Navy eventually decided that a 110-foot patrol boat would be its standard design. The first of these submarine chasers were launched in May 1917, and commissioned in August 1917. Dwight R. Messimer, Find and Destroy: Antisubmarine Warfare in World War I (Annapolis, MD.: Naval Institute Press, 2001), 125.

Footnote 23: There were two kinds of nets used to protect anchorages: a “submarine trap net” and a “drifting mine net.” The nets were to remain closed unless a vessel needed to pass through them. In that case, a tug would open a “gate” and the vessel would proceed using a marked channel. The channel and the nets were patrolled and protected by picket vessels ranging from launches to destroyers. There was also a “guard ship” anchored just inside the nets that was tasked with inspecting any vessel passing the nets. See, Mayo Campaign Order No. 11, 8 April 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B; and Regulations Governing Submarine and Mine Traps, 6 April 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. On 28 March 1917, Admiral Henry T. Mayo received orders to deploy a net and close the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. Naval Operations to Mayo, 28 March 1917, RG 45, Entry 517B, Box 20.

Footnote 24: Blue-penciled check marks appear before each numeral.

Footnote 25: In the end, the Navy was forced to remove guns from its older ships to provide arms for merchantmen. Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Ordnance Activities, World War, 1917-18 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1920), 42.

Footnote 26: The Lighthouse Establishment (Service) had been established in 1789; in 1910, it was transferred from the Treasury Department to the Commerce Department. During World War I most primary lighthouses, lightships, and lighthouse tenders were transferred to the War Department and the U.S. Navy so it is doubtful the service did as Pratt recommended. “Important Dates in United States Light House History,” Accessed 16 March 2917, http://www.foghornpublishing.com/history.cfm.

Footnote 27: See: Squier to Daniels, 13 March 1917.

Footnote 28: The last sentence is handwritten in pencil.

Footnote 29: This heading is handwritten in blue pencil.

Footnote 30: Numerous handwritten notations appear in this section.

Footnote 31: The blue-penciled handwritten notation “shift to ___]” appears in the left margin.

Footnote 32: For example, A memorandum to Capt. Josiah S. McKean depicts the completion dates for eleven submarines and auxiliary vessels, 20 February 1917, DNA, RG 313, Entry 9D.

Footnote 33: For the Emergency Fund, see footnote no. 14.

Footnote 34: Pratt has a different opinion than the General Board regarding fleet preparation. The Strategic section of Code Plan Black, written by the Naval War College, calls for a three-tiered incremental fleet escalation of a considerable number of ships. A hefty capital-ship construction program was also underway. For the former, see “Composition of the ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ Fleets for a War in the Atlantic,” March 1916, DNA, RG 80, GB425. For a study of the latter, see Kirschbaum, “The 1916 Naval Expansion Act:” 110-15. A lengthy Bureau of Supplies and Accounts report appended to Code Plan Black suggests that the Navy Department was gearing up for mobilization. See, DNA, RG 80, GB425.

Footnote 35: A blue-penciled handwritten “?” by the last sentence is in the left margin.

Footnote 36: The U.S. Navy started to convert to oil for fueling steam-driven ships before the war, however, with the declaration of hostilities in April 1917, this process was hastened. Leonard M. Fanning, Our Oil Resources (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1945), 285.

Footnote 37: The blue-penciled handwritten notation “shift equip. at yards” is in the left margin.

Footnote 38: A checkmark in blue pencil appears before the thirty numbered requirements; sometimes an “OK” is written before these checkmarks. In the right margin someone has written what appears to be dollar amounts for all the numbered “decisions” with the notation “m” which, in all likelihood, signifies “million(s).”

Related Content