Information for Ship Owners Concerning the Armed Guard Program
CONFIDENTIAL March <13> 1917.
INFORMATION FOR SHIP OWNERS.
1. Owners of merchant vessels of American registry desiring that Armed Guards be placed on their vessels should fill out, sign and forward the attached form of application. A separate form should be made out for each vessel for which Armed Guard is requested. Upon receipt of the application, an inspection of the vessel by Naval Officers will be ordered to determine the charactor of the armament most suitable and to furnish the owners sketch plans of gun emplacements and structural changes necessary to fit the vessel to receive the guns.
2. Upon completion of inspection, the inspecting officers will report by wire to the Navy Department their recommendations. The Navy Department will decide what guns to furnish the vessel. The owners will be informed of the decision and should then go ahead with the preparation of the gun emplacements, etc.
3. The work of preparing the gun emplacement, quarters for gun crews, etc. must be done by the owners, at the owners’ expense. The Navy Yards cannot undertake this work, but will assist in placing guns and mounts on board.
4. Ship owners are required to furnish suitable quarters for one commissioned naval officer, two petty officers for each vessel, and for five men in addition for each gun assigned to the vessel. Two guns is the least number that will be assigned to any vessel. Arrangements should be made to quarter and mess the guns crews by themselves. The Armed Guard does not perform any duty on board except military duty which includes lookout duty near the guns and the cleaning of their own quarters.
5. The shipowner must quarter and mess the Armed Guard on board both at sea and in port without expense to the Government or to the Armed Guard.
6. The regulations concerning the Armed Guard are confidential and are not disclosed to shipowners until the Armed Guard goes on board. Copies of these regulations cannot be obtained except upon formal application of the ship owner after the Armed Guard has been ordered. The general tenor of the regulations is that the Naval Officer commanding the Armed Guard has absolute power to decide when, where, and how, the military duties of the Armed Guard shall be performed but that he shall never control the movements of the vessel. It is expected, of course, that the master and the commander of the Armed Guard will act in harmony each in his own sphere.
7. The Commandant of the nearest Navy Yard will be pleased to furnish you such other information as pertains to any particular vessel and it is suggested that upon forwarding to this office the form referred to in paragraph 1, you get into direct communication with the Commandant, forwarding to him at the same time a copy of the above form.