Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commodore Guy R. Gaunt, British Naval Attaché in Washington, D.C., to British Admiralty

COPY of TELEGRAM.

From      Naval Attache Washington.          Date 5/8/17

                    Sent

To        Admiralty                Recd. 8:30 A.M.

Cypher L.

16. Navy Department are asking –

A.   That all routing from American Ports be done by American Officers.

B.   All routing from Allied Ports be done by Allied Officers

C.   All routing of American vessels from neutral ports by American Consul in close touch with Allied Consuls.

D.   British officers now routing vessels from United States Ports get in touch with local Naval Commandants and do the work jointly until such time as all arrangements regarding exchange of information regarding routes have been perfected.

E.   In order that the work may be done efficiently to gain the advantage of our experience the Navy Department ask for details of our present procedure.1 2000

Source Note: CCy, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/655. There is a copy of this cable in DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. At the end is a list of those to whom it the copy was sent including: 1 S.L./Sir A. Wilson./D.C. (2)/Trade./D.I.D. (2).” The abbreviations stand for First Sea Lord [Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe]/Sir A. Wilson [a retired First Sea Lord]/Convoys Division/Trade Division/Director of Intelligence Division [Capt. William E. Hall].

Footnote 1: This “knee-jerk” refusal by the Navy Department to allow the British to control convoying was part of the need to portray the war as America’s contest and not an English war. Thus, the Americans would pledge support but would also work to retain control. For a discussion of this impulse, see, Elisabeth Glaser, “Better Late than Never: The American Economic War Effort, 1917-1918, in Chickering and Förster, Great War, Total War: 397. A short time later, the United States Navy did cede responsibility to the British Admiralty to route convoys of merchantmen from the United States to Europe, retaining only control of troop ships. See: Josephus Daniels to William S. Sims, 10 June 1917; Still, Crisis at Sea: 355.

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