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Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

Action Copy.                                    File No.

Cablegram Received May <5, 1918.> 23405.   SFM

Origin Opnav Washington.          Ser. No. 5700

Ref’d to




May 6


     40 ADR



5700.     The late sinking of certain Italian ships bound from the United States to Italy via Gibraltar has caused Italian Government to make representations requesting establishment of a convoy system for ships bound to Italian ports similar to that for ships bound to British and French Atlantic ports. The number of such ships is estimated at about 6 or 8 per week. Italy has no cruisers to spare for this work and there are no other available here. In view of above and because at present cruiser escort from the United States to the Azores is not needed following plan was suggested pending your view and Admiral Dunn<’>s on the subject.1 Route all Italian ships of 15 knots speed direct to Gibraltar. Route ships of less speed to Azores to await escort from there to Girbaltar. Cable your view, also whether Azores harbor facilities at Horta, Fayal, and Ponta del gada will permit such a scheme. Even were submarines to extend their operations to the westward of the Azores later, it might be practicable to utilize both Bermuda Islands and Azore Islands for limited escort in manner similar to method used in present chaser convoy. 10005. 5700.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: For Sims’ request to Dunn, see, Sims to Dunn, 6 May 1918, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Sims also relayed his concern that the Azores were susceptible to an imminent submarine attack in Sims to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 9 May 1918. For proposed solutions to this problem, see: Charles R. Train to Sims, 11 May 1918, and Benson to Flag Officers, 17 May 1918.

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