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Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Rear Admiral William S. Sims

Dispatch from Navy Department.                    11 May 1917.


“Consult with British Admiralty in regard to following:-

     Much opinion here is in favor of concerted efforts by the Allies to e s tablish a complete barrier across the North Sea – Norway and Scotland, either direct or via the Shetlands to prevent the egress of German submarines.1

     This plan would involve the use of various forms of mines, nets, patrols, and the release for this purpose of all ships upon American coast patrols as well as many vessels of the Allies now employed elsewhere.

     The plan also involves regulations for the commerce of Holland and Scandinavian neutrals to pass barriers and definite controlled gates. It also includes closing Norways territorial waters with her consent or over her protest.

     The difficulty and size of the problem is recognized but if it possible of accomplishment the situation would warrant the effort.

     If this plan is not feasible could not the same plan be carried out between Denmark and Norway across the Skagerack2

     Make full report.3

(Signed) Daniels, Secretary Navy.

Source Note: CCy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. The recipient is not given, though someone has written "To: Sims." on the left side of the sheet below the date. Moreover, Sims acknowledged this cable and sent in the desired report on 14 May 1917. There is an identifying number in the upper right-hand corner, “31-4-2.”

Footnote 1: This is the beginning stages of a process that would result in the northern mine barrage. On 10 May, the head of a British naval delegation then in the United States, RAdm. Dudley R.S. De Chair, reported on this initiative. In comments written at the bottom of a copy of De Chair’s cable, it is clear that the British Admiralty were not in favor of the initiative and provided Sims with material to dissuade further consideration of such a scheme, which Sims did. See: Sims to Daniels of 14 May 1917.

Footnote 2: That is, Skagerrak strait.

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