Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Documentary Histories
WWI

Army and Navy Register

[March 16, 1918]

Navy officers here are dissatisfied over the conditions surrounding the control of the American destroyers in British waters. While Vice Admiral William S. Sims has jurisdiction over all American warships operating in European waters, he and his staff are located in London, where he performs duties more in the nature of a representative of the chief of naval operations at our Navy Department. The American destroyers engaged in combating the enemy submarine are under the immediate command of Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, K. C. B., C. V. O.,1 of the Royal Navy, the local commander in the waters where the destroyers make their headquarters. At first the number of American destroyers in that locality was small, and it was logical that they should be operated with the British destroyers under the British commander. Now that our fleet of destroyers and other small craft operating there has reached considerable proportions and includes some of our latest and best of that type of vessel, our Navy officers here feel that the time has arrived when they should be operated under the immediate command of an American naval officer. It is believed, however, that the conditions that have developed are not so much the result of intention on the part of the British authorities as from inaction on the part of our Navy Department in failing to initiate proceedings that would lead to a change in the conditions. Doubtlessly the matter will be taken up sooner or later and one of our flag officers assigned to duty as immediate commander of the American destroyers in British waters.

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Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 46. There is a note handwritten in the left margin: “[u]nderhanded work/by some-one.” In several letters about this time, Sims had written that there was an effort afoot to replace him with another flag officer. See, for example: Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 25 February 1918.

Footnote 1: Bayly was the British Royal Navy commander in Southern Ireland. “K. C. B.” was Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath; “C. V. O.” was Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. The KCB was often given to senior military officers; the CVO recognized distinguished personal service to the monarch.

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