Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Destroyers Operating from British Bases, to Navy Department

[Cables sent to Department May 7, 1917.]

  Berehaven is now established, defended, and used as advanced base, and is suitable for our purpose in the present area of main activities of submarines.1 The British and French agree that our destroyer force should remain concentrated upon its own supply and repair ships; that it should remain essentially a mobile force ready to follow shifting of area of main submarine activity. The British will give us any necessary supplies and assistance, but their facilities for repair and supply are strained nearly to the limit. Therefore I urge that our force be as self-contained as possible; that both the Melville and Dixie be sent with complete stores as for extended West Indian cruise;2 also that supply ships be sent with meat, provisions, and stores to replenish the repair ships. In addition to usual stores carried by our repair ships, we should send in supply ships such stores as our experience indicates will be necessary, such as boiler and condenser tubes, spare parts, piping, repair material, etc.

  Depth charges as per drawing forwarded about 8th April should be made and forwarded as soon as practicable to relieve present drain on British supply for their destroyers and patrol craft.3 Oil will be supplied from small oilers from British oil stations to our destroyers wherever based. Oil situation becoming critical. We should therefore maintain a continuous supply from our large oil tankers discharging into their main tank stations, so as not to detain large tankers at advanced bases. The essential requirement is that our force should be not only as self-sustaining as possible but also mobile. There are no special equipments necessary for housing stores ashore.

Source Note: Naval Investigation, 1: 43. The square brackets were in the original and were not added by the editors.

Footnote 1: On 3 May, Sims had received a cable from Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels informing Sims that the British commission in Washington had suggested Berehaven on the coast of Ireland as a base for U.S. destroyers. Daniels asked Sims to investigate the place, suggest what equipment the U.S. needed to provide, determine if there were oil storage tanks, barracks, etc. Daniels added: “Report in general what kind of stores should be shipped from here in addition to the stores which are general carried by the destroyer tenders.” Ibid. In the end, U.S. destroyers were based at Queenstown [Cobh], Ireland; Berehaven was used as an advance base.

Footnote 2: Melville and Dixie were destroyer tenders. Melville arrived at Queenstown on 22 May; Dixie on 12 June.

Footnote 3: For more on these depth charge drawings, see: Sims to Daniels, 19 April 1917.

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