Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Report of Conference between Vice Admiral Maurice F. A. de Grasset, Commander, Division des Antilles, Rear Admiral Edwin A. Anderson, Commander, Sqaudron One, Patrol Force, Atlantic Fleet, and Commodore Cortland H. Simpson, West Indies Auxiliary Patrols

SECRET.                 C O P Y

REPORT OF CONFERENCE BETWEEN REPRESENTATIVES OF

THE BRITISH, FRENCH, AND UNITED STATES NAVIES

     On 16 February, 1918 Contre Admiral Albert Grasset, French Navy, Commander Division des Antilles, Rear-Admiral E. A. Anderson, United States Navy, Commander American Patrol Detachment and Commodore C. H. Simpson, Royal Naval Reserve, Commanding West Indies Auxiliary Patrols met at Kingston, Jamaica, in conference to examine the measures to be taken for protection of trade in the Caribbean Sea in case enemy submarines should appear in the Western Atlantic. In considering these measures every effort has been made to delay the trade as little as possible.

     The principles adopted by the conference are as follows:-

     First:- Upon the appearance of enemy submarines in the Western Atlantic the United States Navy should make immediate arrangements to safeguard the trade in the Florida Straits, where the traffic is largest and submarine operations would be most probable and profitable.

     Second: Until the defense of the Florida Straits is thus assured the conference agreed that the following temporary measures should be put into effect:-

     1.   When the United States Navy Department receives definite (tres serieuse) information of the presence of an enemy submarine in the Western Atlantic, it will invite the British Naval General Staff officer at Jamaica to put into effect the following routing arrangements:-

          (a) Trade from the Gulf for European ports, which joins convoy in United States Atlantic ports under the present Admiralty Instructions, will be directed through the Yucatan Channel to St. Thomas, where convoys will be formed direct to Europe, in order that such trade will avoid the dangers which may be expected off the Convoy Assembly ports on the United States Atlantic Coast, such as Hampton Roads and New York.

          (b) Trade from the Gulf for European ports which does not enter convoys under the present Admiralty Instructions will continue to be routed as at present, except that it will all be directed through the Yucatan Channel.

          (c) Trade from the Gulf for the United States Atlantic ports will be directed through Yucatan Channel and either Windward and Mona Passages.

          (d) The question of trade from the Panama Canal was not examined in the conference, as it is not so directly threatened and not so important as that from the Gulf. The desirability of sending this trade to join convoys at St. Thomas can be decided upon by the British and French Admiralties and by the United States Navy Department.

     2.   The Commander American Patrol Detachment will concentrate at St. Thomas as much as possible of his force to safeguard trade in that vicinity. The United States Navy will protect the harbor of St. Thomas and the anchorage behind Water Island by submarine nets and will place mooring or marking buoys for the large number of vessels to be assembled there. The United States Navy is to make every effort to keep sufficient coal on hand at St. Thomas for bunkering merchant vessels.

     3.   The French Admiral Commanding the Division des Antilles and the British Commodore Commanding West Indies Auxiliary Patrol will assist the United States Admiral at St. Thomas with any force they can spare.

     4.   The number of convoys necessary will be determined in advance by the Admiralties. It seems that two convoys every week, one fast and one slow, will be sufficient.

     5.   The French Admiral advises (fait connaitre) that he will be able to afford three or four cruisers as raider guards. If additional cruisers are necessary they will be furnished by the United States Navy.

     6.   When the organization for safeguarding trade in the Florida Straits is completed, the United States Navy Department will inform the Admiralties and will invite the British Naval General Staff Officer at Jamaica to resume the original routing and convoy arrangements.

     7.   The above conclusions will be submitted to the British and French Admiralties and the United States Navy Department.

/s/ A. Grasset,        

Rear-Admiral, French Navy,  

Commanding Division des Antilles.

/s/ E. A. Anderson,    

Rear-Admiral, United States Navy,

Commanding American Patrol Detachment.

/s/ C. H. Simpson,     

Commodore, Royal Naval Reserve,  

Commanding West Indies Auxiliary Patrols.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 341. Attached to the document was an endorsement and approval of this plan by Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet.

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