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Rear Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Destroyers Operating from British Bases, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels


CABLEGRAM SENT:   May 24, 1917.

FROM: Queenstown.

TO: Secretary of the Navy (Operations) VIA:  Admiralty.

All Navy tugs or commercial sea-going tugs with Naval Officer in command which could be sent would be of incalculable value in rescuing torpedoed and mined ships. The salvage and rescue work being doen [i.e., done] in this area by the limited number of tugs and trawlers and cruisers from anti-submarine work is astounding. The number of torpedoed and mined ships which these vessels have beached or brought into port is surprising. Derelicts are a most constant source of danger both to shipping and naval vessels. Numerous lumber vessels are adrift bottom up. All vessels so employed are necessarily diverted from anti-submarine work and hence all tugs or craft which could be sent will amount to an actual increase of anti-submarine forces.1


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. There are identifying numbers in the upper right-hand corner: “19/25-9-18.”

Footnote 1: Sims requested the dispatch of sea-going tugs to Queenstown before, see: William D. MacDougall to Office of Naval Intelligence, 23 April 1917; and Sims to Daniels, 8 May 1917. In a cable  dated 28 July 1917, Lord Northcliffe, the head of the British War Mission to the United States, reported the U.S. Navy Department informed him that it was “doubtful whether more than 15 really good ocean-going tugs are available in Atlantic Ports.” They considered requisitioning “some” of these tugs but were “moving very cautiously on account of the political influence of the commercial interests involved.” Northcliffe added that the Navy Department was nonetheless anxious to help and planned to send to England “12 steam fishing boats which they say will answer the purpose of tugs.” Northcliffe to Eric Geddes, 28 July 1917, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/1436.