Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas

VERY SECRET.

March 29, 1918.         

From:  Force Commander.

To  :  Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas.

Subject:  Concentration of destroyers in North Sea.1

     1.  In certain possible circumstances of extreme urgency, it may become necessary to concentrate all the available British and American destroyers of modern type, in the North Sea. IN case such emergency arises, the Admiralty will telegraph the Senior British Naval Officer concerned, “Concentrate destroyers in North Sea.”

     2.  Among the destroyers affected by this plan are the United States destroyers based on Queenstown and armed with 4" guns, and the orders will be transmitted to them through Commander-in-Chief, Queenstown.2

     3.  Upon the receipt of these orders the following procedure is to be carried out:

(a)  Those in harbor are to be fueled and dispatched immediately.

(b)  Those at sea not engaged in escorting loaded troop

transports will proceed immediately to the base for fuel, and then to proceed to destination.

     (c)  Those at sea engaged in escort of loaded troop

transports will conduct the transports to their destination before obeying the recall orders.3

(d)  Those boiler cleaning are to close up their boilers immediately and await orders.

(e)  Those refitting are to prepare for sea at the utmost dispatch.

(f)  All destroyers are to proceed independently with all dispatch.

(g)  The destination, unless otherwise ordered, will be SCAPA, where destroyers arriving will place themselves under the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet.4

4.   You will please issue confidentially, to Commanding Officers of all United States destroyers concerned, the necessary instructions in accordance with the foregoing.

W. S. Sims         

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The document bears a signature but it is different from Sims’ ordinary signature and therefore probably was added later by someone else.

Footnote 1: Here Sims is transmitting to the American destroyer flotilla an order issued by the British Admiralty. See: Admiralty Memorandum on Concentration of Destroyers in the North Sea, 28 March 1918

Footnote 2: Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly.

Footnote 3: In their original draft of these orders, the British Admiralty had written that the American destroyers escorting troop transports should leave the convoy, refuel, and proceed immediately to the rendezvous point. Sims, however, suggested that the destroyers should first complete their escort duty and, “Anticipating the agreement of the Admiralty” to this alteration, issued the above instructions. Sims to Secretary of the British Admiralty Oswyn A.R. Murray, 29 March 1918, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 414.

Footnote 4: Adm. Sir David R. Beatty; “SCAPA” refers to the Grand Fleet's anchorage at Scapa Flow.

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