Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

George I. Gay, Commissioner, Planning Division, to Raymond B. Stevens, Vice-Chairman, United States Shipping Board and United States Representative, Allied Maritime Transport Council


Chronological Copy.                           File No.

Cablegram Received May <16, 1918.> 88317  RES

Origin  Opnav Washington                     Ser. No. S M 113

     C-3  17 May

31 ADR


Boards Navy 113. For Stevens from Gay. 2 factors of importance in proposed revision of British Re-routing Plan Petroleum Mission 5 requires consideration.

     1. Any additional burden on Atlantic Seabosrd [i.e., Seaboard] Refineries at present time will require additional tank ship transportation of crude from Gulf Coast point.1 Same point is involved in general policy of routing all oil shipments from North Atlantic Refineries. Policy is valid up to quantity of refinery output possible without additional crude from Gulf Coast points. Revision of tonnage estimate therefore necessary.2

     2. Recent developments indicate superiority of Napathene [i.e., Naphthene] Base Aviation Naphtha such as derived from East Indies and Southern Asia based upon British and French experience and trend of opinion here. Enemy used this type. Pershing3 cables must have equivalent of enemy gasoline. Bureau of Mines Bureau of Standards and Signal Corps now investigating. If Correct our supply Aviation Naptha must come largely from California. At best only small quantities available United States. Believe destruction this superior material hazards policy not justified by saving and revision should be delayed at least pending further result of investigation.4 20016.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The date is handwritten but agrees with the time/date stamp at the end of the text. This message was sent to Stevens via the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, which is why the “signature” of William S. Benson, the Chief of Naval Operations is at the bottom of the message.

Footnote 1: With the loss of the Russian oil fields, the United States was supplying eighty percent of the Allies wartime requirement for petroleum. In 1917, this surging demand exhausted available petroleum supplies in the United States. The gap was closed by using up inventories and by importing more oil from Mexico. Daniel Yergin, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1990), 178.

Footnote 2: On the continued use of double bottoms for transport of oil because of the shortage of petroleum stocks, see: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to William S. Sims, 19 May 1918. Also, there were complaints that United States tankers were being sent on “more dangerous” routes than was necessary. See: William S. Benson to Sims, 22 May 1918.

Footnote 3: Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force.

Footnote 4: Stevens’ reply has not been found.

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