Rear Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Destroyers Operating from British Bases, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
SENT: May 8th, 1917. TO: Secstate, Washington.
THROUGH: State Department.
6166- May 8th, 5 p.m.
Following to be transmitted confidentially to Secretary of the Navy.
Begin: Situation continues critical. Total loss last week hundred and thirteen vessels of two hundred and forty-eight thousand tons including fifteen vessels of twenty-eight thousand tons of week before not previously reported. Many steamers and sailing vessels being lost which would be saved if tugs were available and strategically located. Therefore urgently recommend that as many sea-going tugs as possible at least ten immediately be added to our naval forces here.1 Tugs should be commissioned and armed. Hospital ship will be assigned our forces if found necessary. Request information as to sailings of our forces and from time to time as much information as practicable concerning department’s intentions or plans as affecting our naval forces in these waters. If desired at any time messages may be transmitted via secret code of British Naval Attache in Washington to my office at the British Admiralty. Can one anti-aircraft gun be supplied via supply ships for each of our destroyers not to delay sailing.2 Sims. End.
NO. OF COPIES: 4. REFERENCE NO.
Source Note: CCy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. Because their code was more secure, Sims sent most of his important dispatches at this time via the State Department.
Footnote 1: Sims first requested that U.S. Navy sea-going tugs be sent to European waters in a cable to Daniels of 14 April 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. He renewed his plea for the dispatch of tugs to Queenstown from the United States in a cable to Daniels of 24 May 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. For more on the type of tug desired, see: William D. MacDougall to Office of Naval Intelligence, 23 April 1917.
Footnote 2: Sims identified the lack of an anti-aircraft gun as a “principal” deficiency in the equipment of the U.S. destroyers then serving at Queenstown. See: Sims to Daniels, 11 May 1917.