Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
CABLEGRAM RECEIVED March <4, 1918.> 07005 LEM
Origin Opnav Washington Ser. No. 3493
CS March 5
Opnav 3493. Your 4304. The department policy follows,
A. In principle approve establishment of extra cargo convoys from U.S. to France Atlantic ports. This convoy much needed by Army.
B. To put this convoy into effect department willing to accept four French ships with crews now in West Indies. Will endeavor to allocate to this work other U.S. Cruisers. If French release four cruisers for the convoy work will they still maintain their Caribbean patrol or do Allies desire we take it over.
C. Do not desire to accept French Cruisers MONTCALM and CONDE now in reserve for fear of material condition even if personnel could be supplied. Final decision in this matter will however be withheld until arrival of your report by mail from Paris.
D. Department not in accord with the view expressed as to desirability of including old battleships in escort duty and does not wish to allocate them to convoy work. First it interferes with the training program of fit crews for destroyers and other crafts. Secondly, the apparent ever increasing need of utilizing these ships for supporting Allied offensive operations outside the lanes of ocean travel. Third, advantage of holding these ships concentrated in support of our own line of supply. Until forced to do so Department prefers not to scatter U.S. Battleships’ efforts even those of older type. 20004.
V E R Y S E C R E T
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.