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Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

Action Copy.                                File No. <25/9/16>

     Cablegram Received March <23, 1918.> 15524 RES

Origin Opnav,Washington                         Ser. No. 4159

Ref’d to




24 March

<Cabled Opnav #56972 – March 28 1918>



4159. Your 5217.3 At Conference between First Sea Lord Sir John Jellicoe4 and the Chief of Naval Operations the number of Submarine Chasers to be despatched abroad and their Allocation were discussed. The Commander-in-Chief Admiral Mayo5 upon his return from abroad brought with him a request for the service of 72 of the craft whose duty would limit them more or less to the waters of England and North Sea. Based upon above the organizing of 2 flotillas of Chasers was completed and steps taken to send these craft abroad as fast as possible. This was plan Department supposed was operative up to time of receipt of your 5217. While Department will push to the limit any plan involving United States Forces after Department sanction is given yet any distinct change of policy or plan it wishes referred. Department regards allocation of 1 Flotilla of Chasers to the Mediterranean Sea as a case in point and before giving its consent plan desires to have detail of general scheme submitted to it and to be informed6 on certain points as follows: What provision for protection and support of our chasers is to be made, where is it intention to base them<,> where are French Chasers operating<,> what craft will replace our chasers in North Sea and English Channel<,> how is it intended to use our craft, 22023.7


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Sims’ Chief of Staff, Capt. Nathan C. Twining.

Footnote 4: Jellicoe was, by this point, no longer the First Sea Lord. Benson here is referring to a meeting that took place during his November 1917 visit to Europe.

Footnote 5: Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet.

Footnote 6: For Sims’ reply, see: Sims to Benson, 25 March 1918.

Footnote 7: For a detailed discussion of the uses of subchasers, see Still, Crisis at Sea, 446-450. In his diary entry concerning this cable, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels wrote, “Benson cabled Sims not to change policy until facts were sent here.” Diary of Josephus Daniels, 23 March 1918, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers.

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