Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
<March 1, 1918.>
4550 your 2627 and 2823 after more complete study repair situation French coast, recommend against taking over French Yards, L’Oriente now engaged on valuable new construction and Rochefort generally unsuitable. Instead, will use French ports for minor current repairs only. For this purpose, am preparing schedule necessary material and machinery for temporary small general repair shops, employing about one hundred enrolled men each at Brest France and El Oriente [i.e., L’Orient], also for small extension in our Pauillac plant for similar purposes. No civil engineering needed yet, but shall need some person experienced in shop laying out and management. Suggest Assistant Naval Constructor W. Drake, Assistant Naval Constructor H. G. Knox of Wevebacher.
For extensive repairs Brest periodic refitting considering large number of destroyers and small vessels soon due, am convinced quickest, most economical arrangement will be for British to increase dockyard facilities as necessary and supply their own labor while the United States assists as necessary in furnishing materials. Am taking question up with the Admiralty whose first impression of plan is favorable, but though [i.e., thorough] consideration has not yet been given. Probably it would necessitate the withdrawal from British any [i.e., army] of artisans to furnish additional stock yard labor needed, and this would involve United States making up the drainage on British Army.
Request Department approve of principle involved before I proceed further in the matter. Machine tools not procurable in England, would have to be supplied from the United States for English and French yards.02201
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The date is handwritten and appears to have been added later; it is confirmed by the time stamp that appears just before Sims’ signature.