Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Lieutenant Commander David C. Hanrahan, Commander, Destroyer Division Six
Op-1 MAY 9, 1917.
To: Commander, Division Six, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet,
U. S. S. Cushing, Flagship.
SUBJECT:-Protection of commerce near British and French coasts.
1. The British and French Admiralties have requested the cooperation of American destroyers in the protection of commerce near the coasts of Great Britain and France. U. S. Destroyer Division Eight is now in British waters and Destroyer Division Seven sailed from Boston on May 7, 1917, for Queenstown. Fuel oil can be obtained both from private (firms?) and from the British Admiralty stock at Halifax.1 The Navy Department has agreed to furnish escort for merchant vessels leaving Halifax for English ports by U. S. destroyers during the eastward passage across the Atlantic. The attached memorandum defining the Navy Department’s present attitude relative to convoy has been accepted by the British Admiralty.2
2. Your mission on this voyage is to convoy merchant vessels from Halifax to British ports; your final mission is to assist the naval operations of the Entente Powers in every way possible.
3. Proceed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and report your arrival to the senior British Naval officer present,3 fill with fuel and be ready to take charge of such merchant vessels as the British Admiralty may desire to send under your escort. Convoys may be made up of groups of four or less vessels with two destroyers as escort for each group. The senior officer of the escort will exercise military control of the convoy as a whole, prescribing the course, speed, formation, etc. Unless otherwise directed by the Senior British Naval officer at Halifax, proceed with convoy to a position:
Latitude 50 North, Longitude 20 W,to arrive at daybreak; Thence to Latitude 50 North, Longitude 12 West; Thence to Queenstown
Delivering the convoy to British escort, and report to Rear Admiral W. S. Sims, U. S. Navy, for duty. When within radio communication of the British naval forces off Ireland, call “ G C K” and inform the Vice Admiral at Queenstown4 by British General Code of your position, course and speed. You will be met outside of Queenstown Harbor.
4. Base facilities will be furnished by the British Admiralty.
5. Make no reports of arrival to the Navy Department direct.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. At the top right-hand corner of the first page is “N.S.O 65. Below Daniels’ signature, which is a stamp, is typed: “Copies: to C-in-C, Atlantic Fleet;/Commander, Destroyer force;/Cmdg. Officer of each Vessel/of division.” The commander of the Atlantic Fleet was Rear Adm. Henry T. Mayo; the commander of the destroyer force was Rear Adm. Albert Gleaves; the destroyers in the division and their commanders were: Nicholson (Lt. Cmdr. Byron A. Long); Cummings (Lt. Cmdr. George F. Neal); Benham (Lt. Cmdr. Jesse B. Gay); O’Brien (Lt. Cmdr. Charles A. Blakely); and Sampson (Lt. Cmdr. Burrell C. Allen). Attached as an enclosure is William S. Benson to Guy R. Gaunt, 4 May 1917, which is printed above.
Footnote 1: In a report to the Admiralty, the British naval attaché in Washington, Commo. Guy R. Gaunt, estimated that the American destroyer flotilla would require 400 tons of oil fuel at Halifax. He also informed the Admiralty that the flotilla was sailing from New York City. Gaunt to Admiralty, 11 May 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517.
Footnote 2: For the attached memorandum, see: Benson to Gaunt, 4 May 1917.
Footnote 3: VAdm. Sir Charles H. Coke.
Footnote 4: VAdm. Sir Lewis Bayly.