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Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Commanding Officers, Armed Guard Detachments



Washington, May 3, 1917.

From: Chief of Naval Operations.    CONFIDENTIAL

To: . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

     Commanding Armed Guard, S. S1. . . . . . . . .

        Via Commandant, Navy Yard, . . . . . . . .

       SUBJECT:- Instructions.

1. In addition to such previous regulations and instructionsas may have been issued you willbe guide<d> b<y> the following:-2

2. After assignment to command the Armed Guard of a merchant vessel the officer so detailed, before sailing, will make such inspection of the vessel as to satisfy himself on the following:-

(a)That the battery is in all respects satisfactorily installed and that all equipment in connection ther<e>with has been provided and is in efficient condition.

(b) That the magazine stowage is satisfactory, convenient, and provided with satisfactory flooding or sprinkling arrangement.

(c) That the quarters,-berthing, messing and bathing facilities,- provided for the Armed Guard, are adequate and satisfactory, having due regard to the fact that such improvised arrangements cannot in general be comparable to the same facilities on U. S. vessels of war.

(d) That the arrangements and equipment for abandoning ship, in so far at least as provided for the Armed Guard, are adequate and satisfactory.

3.   On vessels that carry no ship’s medical officer, the officer commanding the Armed Guard shall request a suitable supply of first aid packages sufficient for the Armed Guard. He will also satisfy himself that the vessel carries the ordinary medical outfit furnished by the company.

4.   Should the destination of the vessel be radically changed before sailing, from that given in the owners’ orriginal application, the officer in command of the Armed Guard should promptly notify the Commandant, so that the same vessel may be held if necessary pending the Department’s approval of the new destination. This is not intended to apply to minor changes in the general vicinity of the original destination, as a change from Liverpool to London, or from Harve <Havre> to Bordeaux, but is intended as a check on any change of route as from England to Brazil, or a change from a trans-Atlantic route to the Caribbean, etc.

     5. Should upon arrival on the other side, it be ascertained that the vessel is not <to> return direct to a United States port, but is to be diverted to some other route, such as to South America or the Pacific, the officer commanding the guard will promptly communicate this information to the Naval Attache, with the request that it be cabled to the Department.

     6. Upon arrival at a foreign port the officer in command of the Guard will report arrival, with name of vessel, to the U. S. Naval Attache

7. Upon completion of a trip in either direction the Officer in command of the Guard shall submit b<y> mail to the Chief of Naval Operations a complete report embodying the following:-

(a) A general resume of the voyage.

(b) Any incidents outa of the routine.

(c) A synopsis of the route on entering or departing from foreign waters.

(d) A copy of any written or radio orders received by the vessel from foreign Government officials, or a digest of any such verbal orders.

(e) Any items of general or special interest gathered in conversation or by observation on the other side.

(f) Any defects or deficiencies in location or arrangement of the battery, or in equipment as regards material, personnel, or operation.

(g) Recommendations tending to the improvement or greater efficiency of this service.

     8. In the absence of information to the contrary, it is assumed that the vessel is of American register, but should it be ascertained at any time that the vessel is not of American register report this to the Department.


Source Note: DTS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. The portions in angle brackets were handwritten corrections presumably added later. There is an identification number in the top left-hand corner of the first page” “#28754-24/Cp-24-D.” The first part of this number followed by the date of the document appears in the top left-hand corner of each succeeding page. Below Benson’s signature is a routing list for this order given as a column with the names of the bureaus situated one under the preceding one; the same is true of the Navy Yards: “Copies to Bureaus of Ordnance,/Steam Engineering,/Construction and Repair,/Navigation,/Medicine and Surgery./Office of Naval Intelligence./Commandants, U.S. Navy Yards,/Boston,/New York,/Philadelphia,/Norfolk,/Charleston.,/Key West,/New Orleans.”

Footnote 1: That is, steam ship.

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