Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander, Battleship Division Nine, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
C O P Y
File 7 BATTLE SHIP DIVISION NINE, 1/Sc
UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET,
U. S. S. WYOMING, Flagship.
2 March, 1918.
From: Commander Battleship Division Nine,
To: Secretary of the Navy (OPERATIONS),
Via: Force Commander.1
Subject: General Report – week ending 2 March 1918.
1. MOVEMENTS AND EMPLOYMENT OF VESSELS.
Heavy weather interfered and prevented the exercise of the division underway at sub-caliber over the range on the allotted day; this will be carried out during the coming week.
The regular quarterly efficiency inspections were held on the FLORIDA and WYOMING, but the weather also interfered with that of the TEXAS, which, with the remainder of the division will be held as soon as circumstances permit.
The NEW YORK sailed from NEWCASTLE, Saturday, March 2nd, for this base [Rosyth]; is due to arrive tomorrow, March 3rd. Her paravanes have been fitted; she has been docked and overhauled.
2. SHIFTING FLAG.
The flag will be shifted from the WYOMING to the NEW YORK, Monday, March 4th.
3. RESULTS OF INSPECTIONS AND ANALYSIS OF TARGET PRACTICE.
Detailed reports of these will follow, but summing up, the results show that the vessels of this division, in spite of their long commission, were not up to that standard of battery efficiency, nor as ready for action, as should have been expected. Take the TEXAS for example. In spite of her four (4) years’ commission, that she has now the gunnery trophy, and was flying the efficiency pennant, she was not ready to fire under war conditions. She assigns certain reasons for it, outside of those based on changes in personnel, mentioning lack of rehearsals several times in her report.
The practice prescribed was based on a war and not necessarily on a competitive basis, and her unreadiness and that of the other ships of this division, as shown in their practices, is a commentary on our system wherein rehearsals, special grooming, and a cut and dried program seems to be expected before a ship can make hits and make them rapidly. Instead of her firing six (6) full salvos in something less than six (6) minutes, it took about twelve (12)minutes to get off fourteen (14) ragged salvos, and even then all of her ammunition was not fired.
The TEXAS is no exception to the rule, but rather a glaring generality, and if all of our vessels are as poorly prepared as these were, to actually go into action on short notice, some change should be made in our system, the basis of which should be that all vessels after preliminary training are kept ready to fire their batteries on short notice, under service conditions, rapidly and accurately.
On the assumption that the vessels of this division have had years of preliminary training, that, for the future, over here, has been laid out with a view of acquiring proficiency along the lines advocated above.
There is no question but that these ships are rapidly improving, making headway, and progressing very favorably.
In conclusion it might be added that at first there was somewhat of a tendency to adopt new methods, to make too many changes in the installation of instruments, and depart from former practice, based more or less upon information obtained from the Grand Fleet; and while every encouragement is given to acquire information and profit by it, it is never-the-less directed that they follow along our own lines of training and make no radical changes at this late day.
As stated in a previous report,2 the same condition obtained in the Engineer’s Department when we left home; namely, that they conscientiously thought that they were ready, but when put to the actual service test, found that they were not so. But since our arrival they have so vastly improved, that they are now up to the highest state of efficiency, and I believe the batteries, fire control, etc. will follow suit in short order, and be equally so.
RECOMMENDATION: That ships be kept in a constant state of readiness to fire full salvos rapidly and accurately on short notice without previous warning, under service and varying weather conditions even though the latter be sometimes adverse to making a good score. I am aware that this is laid down in target instructions. My recommendation looks toward making them carry it out.3
4. CHANGES IN OFFICERS.
Ensign Thomas F. Fahy, (M), U. S. Navy, reported and assigned to TEXAS.
Chaplain W. A. Maguire, U. S. Navy, detached from TEXAS and ordered to France.
Carpenter E. L. Harding, U. S. Navy, detached from TEXAS and ordered to Queenstown, Ireland, for duty on board U. S. S. BRIDGE.
(Signed) HUGH RODMAN.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 331. At the top of the second and third pages is typed, “C.B.D.9 file 7 of 3/2/18. Subject: General report – week ending 2 March 1918.” Following the close are routing instructions for this report: “To: OPNAV (2)/ Copies to:/ Force Comdr./CinC Atl.Fleet [Adm. Henry T. Mayo]/Chief Naval/Intelligence [Commo. Roger Welles].”
Footnote 1: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.
Footnote 2: See, Rodman to Daniels, 26 January 1918, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 331.
Footnote 3: For a detailed analysis of the deficiencies that Rodman reports herein and steps taken to correct them, see, Jones, United State Battleship Operations in World War I, 153-170, passim.