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Regulations Concerning the Naval Convoy of Military Expeditions



[MAY 27 1917]1

     1. The following rules supersede for the time being all previous regulations for the government of the naval convoy of military expeditions to Europe.2

     2. All matters relating to the purchase, charter, fitting out, equipping and maintenance of transports, engaging their officers and crews, and providing rules for their government and their interior disciplinary administration, shall be controlled by the Army, except that all regulations concerning the security and defences of the vessel and the safety of all persons on board, both at sea and in port, shall be prescribed by the Navy.

     3. All matters relating to the loading of troops, animals or stores upon transports, and the quota of cargo to be assigned to each such vessel, shall be under the charge of the Army.

     4. When an oversea expedition requiring naval convoy has been decided upon, a naval officer of suitable rank shall be appointed as convoy commander. He shall be furnished full information concerning the strength of the expedition and its proposed objective. The army authorities shall afford him adequate facilities for inspecting the transports as they assemble for the purpose of ascertaining whether they are properly armed and equipped for defence, fitted with ground tackle, boats, life rafts, life preservers, lines, and all equipment necessary for the proper management and control of the convoy while in transit, or while disembarking men and animals, under the conditions which will probably be met. The convoy commander shall call the attention of the Army Commander to defects of deficiencies with respect to such matters and the Army Commander shall use every effort to remedy such defects or deficiencies in accordance with the judgment of the naval convoy commander. The naval convoy commander shall render all possible assistance with the resources at his disposal. In the event that it be found impracticable to remedy the defects or to supply the deficiencies, which, in the opinion of the navy convoy commander will, if allowed to continue, threaten the safety of the convoy or jeopardize the safety of the expedition, the matter shall be reported immediately to their respective departments by the Army commander and Navy convoy commander.

     5. The naval escort for each group of transports shall consist of not less than one cruiser throughout the entire voyage, The escort shall be augmented in special areas so that the navel [i.e., naval] force available shall render maximum protection of the convoy throughout the voyage.

     6. Each transport shall be armed by the Navy with the minimum of four guns of not less than 3-inch caliber, and shall be equipped with an efficient fire control and lookout system, including suitable glasses for lookouts.

     7. An officer now [i.e., not] below the rank of lieutenant-commander in the Navy, and two other experienced officers together with a suitable number of quartermasters and signal men, radio operators, and a full gun’s crew for each gun, shall be detailed to each transport by the Navy Department. The means for making flag,semaphore and wig-wag signals by day and by night shall be provided by the Navy Department.

     8. (a) The order as to destination of the convoy and time of sailing shall be issued by the naval convoy commander, after the Army commanding officer, under authority of the War Department, has stated that he is ready to sail. The orders of the naval convoy commander shall be immediately communicated to the Army commanding officer. Should circumstances arise after sailing, which render a change in plan or destination necessary or desirable, which change is not practicable to refer to higher authority, the naval convoy commander shall, after consultation with the Army commander, decide as to such change.

        (b) The naval convoy commander shall have control of all movements of the convoy and shall prescribe all orders of sailing and formation. He shall make provision for emergencies, such as an attack by an enemy, or a disposition of the convoy by weather, or other circumstances.

        (c) The naval convoy commander shall assure himself that his subordinates, placed on the transports and supply vessels, are familiar with his disposition and plans/

        (d) Should the transports be separated from the convoying vessels by accident or design, the senior naval officer present and on duty shall take charge of the convoy and control its movements in accordance with the plans of the convoy commander.

     9.  (a) The senior naval officer attached to the transport shall at all times, both in port and at sea, have complete command of the transport in all matters relating to speed, course, manoeuvring, anchorage, and defence of the vessel. He shall act in accordance with the instructions issued to him by the naval convoy commander. He may call upon the commanding officer of troops for officers and men for any duty connected with the security and defence of the vessel, or her personnel. The commanding officer of troops will detail officers and men in the numbers requested, and officers and men so detailed shall perform the duties for which their service were requested, under the direction of the senior naval officer on board.

        (b) All signalling and all radio shall be under the complete control of the senior naval officer on board.

        (c) The senior naval officer on board shall be responsible for the exercise of the passengers and crew of the transport at fire quarters and abandon ship.

         (d) The master and officers of the vessel shall perform their navigation duties affecting her speed and movement under the direction of the senior naval officer on board and should there be any opposition to or interference with his authority in any way, he may call upon the commanding officer of troops on board, who shall then take such steps with the force under his command as may be necessary to enforce the authority of the naval officer attached to the vessel.

     10. The authority of the senior naval officer on board shall be limited to those matters above enumerated.

     11. The time and place of landing shall be determined by the naval convoy commander, after consultation with the Army commanding officer. The order of landing shall be determined by the Army commanding officer, after consultation with the naval convoy commander. After the order of landing has been made known to him, the naval convoy commander shall control the disembarkation of men and material.

     12. It is deemed desirable that the Army commanding officer, if convenient, shall be embarked in the flagship of the naval convoy commander. If not convenient, the Army commanding officer’s transport shall be near the flagship of the naval convoy commander, in order that communication between them may be readily had at any time, and in this case the senior naval officer assigned to transports should be embarked in the same transport as the Army commanding officer.

     (S) TASKER H. BLISS            (S) W.S.BENSON,3

  Major General, U.S.Army,           Admiral, U.S.Navy,

       Acting Chief of Staff.      Chief of Naval Operations.


May 26, 1917.                      May 26, 1917

     APPROVED:                          APPROVED:

          (S) BAKER.4             (S) JOSEPHUS DANIELS


                    May 27 1917


                              WOODROW WILSON.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG45, Entry 517. Identifying numbers in the top right-hand corner: “11448- 31/5/4.”

Footnote 1: The document is undated but has a handwritten date of “May 27, 1917” at the top; that is also the date on which President Woodrow Wilson signed this agreement.

Footnote 2: The inter-service arrangements for convoying troops was an issue the plagued the Army and Navy during the Spanish-American War. See: George Dewey to Daniels, Baker, and Wilson, 14 November 1916.

Footnote 3: Adm. William S. Benson.

Footnote 4: Secretary of War Newton D. Baker.