Skip to main content

Naval Stores Department, British Admiralty, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

N.S. Fuel 3404  10334.                       ADMIRALTY

                       “Secret”             16th March 1918.



                    With reference to Admiralty letter of the 10th instant No. M. 02753,1 and in view of the recent decision to employ the first 30 petrol burning U.S.A. submarine chasers on the Otranto barrage,2 I beg to inform you that the question of fuel supply in the Mediterranean becomes one of urgent importance.

     2.  The British Commander in Chief in the Mediterranean3 has reported that he proposes to base these vessels on Corfu.4 Unfortunately no tank storage is available there, nor is the Commander-in-Chief able ,with his restricted facilities to make arrangements for fuelling these additional vessels from other sources. In a telegraphic report dated the 16th instant he reports that it is very desirable that a tender should accompany the chasers, and also that it is essential thatshe have large petrol storage, or that an oiler should be definitely allocated for the service.5

     3.  It is regretted that no such vessel can be assigned from amongst those on British Naval Service, and I have therefore to request that you will be so good as to arrange for the necessary Tender or Tenders to to accompany the Flotilla into the Mediterranean.

     4.  With respect to the petrol faculities at the British Naval Bases in the Mediterranean (Gibraltar and Malta) I beg to inform you that, in view of the present limited accomadation possessed by the Admiralty, which is not more than sufficient to meet the requirements at the present level,steps are being taken to provide additionl tankage as follows

Gibraltar Tanks to accomadate 960 tons (say 290,000 gallons) will be erected on Coaling Island. Owing to the need for taking special precautions in erecting this installation till the latter part of the summer; in the meantime requirements of chasers on passage through will have to be met with the existing resources.

Malta     One commercial tank (750 tons) has been hired from the St. Paul Petroleum Company, and is now ready for filling.

    5.    As regards the maintenance of petrol supplies to the

Mediterranean for the service of the first thirt[y] chasers, and

also of others which may subsequently be alloted to this

station I beg to suggest the following procedure.

(a) Otranto Barrage  The Italian Authorities have a petrol

Installation of Augusta (Sicily) which is capable of receiving supplies direct from ocean tankers. It is suggested that the U.S. authorities arrange direct with the Italian Government for the petrol to tender attached to the chaser Flotilla at Corfu to load from time to time at Augusta (300 miles distant) Arrangements to be made for periodical supplies of petrol to be discharged at Augusta from an American tanker proceeding to Italy to replace the quantities drawn by the tender. Thencapacity of the Augusta tank is understood to be about 3,000 tons, A tank or tanks to be erected at Corfu, by agreement with the French authorities, to meet requirements of chasers during the absence of the petrol tender.

(b) Malta  An American Tanker proceeding to Italy for discharge about 750 tons  at an early date into the tank which has been rented to meet the future requirements of Chasers and subsequent issues of these vessels to be replaced periodically in a similar manner.

(c) Gibraltar Procedure to follow that suggested for Malta as soon as the new tanks are available to receive a first supply.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The document is unsigned and the author unknown. There is a document identifier in the top right-hand corner in two columns: “1/5/6” and “D/J.”

Footnote 1: This letter has not been found.

Footnote 2: The Allied Naval Council agreed to assign thirty-six submarine chasers to the Otranto Barrage in the Adriatic Sea. See: Sims to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 16 March 1918.

Footnote 3: VAdm. Sir Somerset A. Gough-Calthorpe.

Footnote 4: In his memoir of the war, Sims wrote that the decision to base the American submarine chasers at Corfu was his own and came after he sent Capt. Richard H. Leigh to inspect the southern Italian coast. Sims, Victory at Sea: 214.

Related Content