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First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe to Commodore Guy R. Gaunt, British Naval Attaché in Washington



From Admiralty,

To Naval Attache, Washington.

Date 4.5.17.

Sent 1400.

     Your telegram of 2nd May following is summary of our scheme for directing British and Allied Merchant Shipping which should be communicated to U.S. Authorities.1

     Arrangements for issue of instructions are a follows.

     Outward from United Kingdom Naval Officers stationed all important U.K. ports title Shipping Intelligence Officers to issue routes to Masters after personal consultation when possible. All Masters at these ports have to apply to them for instructions. Masters outlying ports also visit them when possible and if not apply Customs who report to S.I.O. who send instructions through them. S.I.O’s are at Liverpool, Glasgow, Newcastle, Hull, London, Devonport, Falmouth, Cardiff, Queenstown.

     Inwards from ports abroad or between Ports abroad British Masters have to apply to Reporting Officers at certain ports.

     Allied Masters are given same instructions if they apply.

     Reporting Officers are certain Consuls or in Colonies Customs or other Officers. Consuls and Customs not having technical knowledge are not expected to be capable of designing route but in certain cases specially trained Naval Officers or Merchantile Masters have been appointed to assist as Vice Consuls and at certain Colonial ports Naval Officers do this duty. In these cases vessels are given full route for voyage from port in question but in cases where no expert stationed at foreign port vessels when possible are given route out and home on leaving England and Reporting Officers only modify route to conform with instructions. List of Reporting Officers given in C.B.237. Suggest get this from Captain Wells2 Vice Consul New York and any other instructions referred to below to save telegraphing them. Naval Vice Consul or other experts in Atlantic capable of giving full routes are as follows Naval G.S.O’s3 St John’s N.F., Kingston, Jamaica, Cape Town, Gibraltar, S.N.O.4 Bermuda, Comdr. in Charge Sierra Leone, S.N.O’s Archangel and Port Murman, Vice Consuls New York, Norfolk Va., Philadelphia, Charleston, Monte Video, St Vincent, Rio, Bilboa and following are en route Vice Consuls New Orleans, Baltimore, Boston, Savannah, Bahia Blanca, Buenos Aires, Huelva, Lisbon. Other Vice Consul now under training will be shortly appointed. French Naval Authorities issue routes in French Ports. List of route Officers in Canadian Ports can be given by Naval Ottawa. System of route instructions are as follows. Outwards from United Kingdom or French Channel and Biscay ports (One) Local changes in routes round U.K. owing to mines issued to all vessels through Customs on clearing (Two) System of routes to take vessels clar of Home waters say 20th meridian are laid down for Issuing Officers. These comprise multitude of routes from each main area namely Clyde and Irish Sea, Bristol Channels, English Channel, French Channel Ports and French Atlantic Ports to (One) North American Ports (Two) South Atlantic Ports viz South America Africa or Mediterranean and (Three) Bay of Biscay ports or U.K. Ports as case may be. These cover all area available for routes and are based on patrols protection from vicinity of land, evasion of normal routes, and dispersion, and routes to be actually used are varied to meet current situation. In these routes exact track or area is defined. (three) For crossing Ocean after clearing Home waters general principles of avoidance, dispersion are laid down for guidance of Issuing Officer and general orders are given them as to track of ocean or lanes to be used for different voyages. Latest instructions on this subject are no in course of issue. Believe Naval Vice Consul New York may have advance copy which is practically accurate. Alterations to these general orders necessary to meet any particular situation are sent to Issuing Officers by telegram, general in form of ordering a special lane or otherwise area to be avoided. Route Officers give each ship a special route base on these designed to disperse from other routes give and to suit vessels capabilities. (four) Approach to ports abroad allowed for by same instructions, which see. Homewards from ports abroad or between ports abroad (one) Routes for leaving port and route across ocean as above by same instructions (two) Route for approach to Home Waters. Multitude of detailed routes is impracticable on account o changes whilst en route and difficulty of telegraphing long cyphers. System of approach routes telegraphed to Reporting Officers dividing approaches into zones by Latitudes for crossing certain meridian and positions for making land. Approach routes to be used by vessels according to port of sailing and destination notified to Reporting Officers. Reporting Officers in giving route instructions give a route to come within these limits. . . .

     . . . Believe Naval Vice Consul New York also has personal copy of Western Trade routes i.e. Routes for leaving U.K. If so, these will show system but are not up to date in details. All our Officers at home and abroad have orders to give full instructions to U.S. vessels and Admiralty hope U.S. Authorities will use them and our system to fullest extent they wish.




Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/1436.

Footnote 1: This was written in response to a request from the United States government made by Gaunt. See, Gaunt to Jellicoe, 2 May 1917, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/655.

Footnote 2: Capt. Lionel de Vere Wells, R.N.

Footnote 3: General Staff Officer.

Footnote 4: Senior Naval Officer.

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