Lindon W. Bates, Chairman of the Engineering Committee, Submarine Defense Association, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
The Submarine Defense Association.
NEW YORK CITY
May 9th, 1918
Admiral W. S. Sims,
United States Naval Headquarters,
30 Grosvenor Gardens, S.W. 1,
My dear Admiral Sims:-
On May 3rd we had upon the U.S.S.GEM to witness demonstrations of the “S” Course Indicator a large number of British Officers, among them I may mention Admiral Henderson, Captain (Acting Commodore) Stockwell, Captains Williams and Smith, Engineer-Commanders Nibbs and Grant.
All but Commander Nibbs have sailed in charge of convoys. All of them having seen and steered by the Indicator themselves are most decided in their expressions that it would be invaluable for convoy as well as single ship use. I wish you would get hold of Captain Stockwell or the Admiral and hear from them at first hand all about it and what they say, will, I hope convince you that the “S” course is much better than the Zig-Zag.
We believe it is to be very much desired that vessels shall be given the Automatic Course Indicator and shall be painted and treated by the Camouflage system to which our investigations have led. War success, life and property so critically depend upon doing all that is possible for ships, whether going singly or in convoy.
The convoy system, by no means includes, nor can it include, all vessels navigating the submarine infested zones. Almost all of the ships proceeding to Europe in convoy return singly and are escorted a short distance only on their journey. Many merchantmen and war vessels at all times are obliged to proceed alone or with naval escort, Such, for instance are vessels of less than about eight knots speed, vessels engaged in European coast-wise traffic, vessels proceeding to ports other than those for which their convoy companions are destined, and vessels proceeding to or through the Mediterranean.
Ships have been picked out of a convoy and sunk by torpedo. In many cases too, the convoy formation has not been successfully maintained, and then U-boats have attacked laggards. Massed attacks upon convoys have taken place with varying results. The convoy system has, indeed thus far prevented the loss of transports but such good fortune cannot be counted upon. Since it is quite impossible for all vessels to travel in convoy or with escort, and since the number of vessels in convoy may have to be reduced in the near future, the problem of the protection of unconvoyed and unescorted vessels remains most serious.
Since the first successful demonstrations off New London, Conn. Opportunity has been taken to bring the Course Indicator to great precision and chronometer accuracy. A Voyage Recorder registering automatically the hours in which the ships made the official Zig-Zag and “S” courses has been devised so as to assure observance of War regulations. There has also been devised, as an extra attachment a Course Monitor for timing the turns and courses of the official and mandatory Zig-Zags when in convoy or fleet formation.
In the present shipping crisis it is a vital necessity that vessels traversing the U-boat danger-zone have the best means of fulfilling the mandatory war instructions for navigation and manoeuvering prescribed by the United States Navy and the corresponding instructions of the authorities of the co-belligerent powers, with despatch, harmony and accuracy whether singly or in convoy.
The Automatic Course Indicator, which among other protective measures under development by the Submarine Defense Association of New York has been demonstrated through appreciative co-operation of the United States Navy Department, is a new navigating instrument whose use on shipboard will secure ready compliance with the war instructions and emergency orders with chronometric accuracy and technical precision, will increase the speed and manoeuvering power of ships, diminish the time in the danger-zone, render more difficult torpedo and gun fire attack by submarines, and will materially contribute to the safety of lives, ships and cargoes.
Under existing conditions in Washington, the Shipping Board puts all responsibility of approval on the Navy Department. I can quite understand that on destroyers and battle ships the Navy may not now think they need it, but, there are transports, tankers, colliers, etc. and the Shipping Board will have thousands of new ship-victims for the submarine.
Won’t you get in touch with these experienced convoy captains? One of them, Captain Stockwell, was for two and a half years in charge of the anti U-boat patrol in the Irish Sea and I would count much on his horse sense and great experience. No one could have been more emphatic in his approval and his wish to have the convoys he conducts equipped. I cannot understand why it is impossible to get Washington to move.
By the way we have just developed and proved a Colloidal Fuel which is 31.2% Pocahontas Coal, 67.8% Navy fuel oil, 1% a Fixateur which keeps the coal in suspense. It works as easily and as well as Navy Fuel oil and if the composition is made in Cardiff, it is absolutely certain that we can save 30% of the oil or can make more patrol mileage with the present available supply. We can use the lignites in France and Italy also. We made no change in the Standard Navy tanks, piping, preheater or burner.
It is quite a fuel revolution!
Lindon W. Bates
P.S. We are sending to you under separate cover two additional sets of pamphlets issued by the Association.