Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Joseph Strauss, Commander, Mine Force, Atlantic Fleet, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

3 May, 1918.

From: Rear Admiral J.Strauss U.S.N.

To:  Force Commander.

     In an interview with Rear-Admiral Clinton-Baker1 on the 2nd inst., I was given to understand that it is not the intention of the British Admiralty to mine Area “B” in any manner in the near future.2

     After my interview with the Admiralty on the 18th ulto., and the conversation with Admiral Baker above referred to, I have been left with the impression that the British Admiralty were rather unfavourable to mining Area “B” at all; the definite understanding heretofore has been to the effect that Area “B” would be deep mined.

     On the 18th ulto., it was urged upon the Admiralty that, not only should the scheme of deep mining Area “B” be carried out, but that it was an essential that surface mines be also planted in this Area.

     A careful study of the situation, together with the unfavourable history of attempts to patrol much narrower waters against submarine passage, convinces me of the absolute necessity of both deep and surface mining Area “B”, without which the whole scheme of a North Sea barrier will prove abortive.

     In view of the magnitude of the enterprise, so far as the United States is concerned, I strongly recommend that, unless the British Government now definitely agree to carry out the plan of making the barrier at least as complete as was agreed to by the Planning Division of the British Admiralty in March 18 last, that we withdraw from the operation entirely.3

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, Joseph Strauss Papers, Box 4.

Footnote 1: Adm. Sir Lewis Clinton-Baker, Commander, Benbow, and senior officer in charge of laying the British portion of the Northern Mine Barrage.

Footnote 2: For a map of the Northern Barrage showing the precise location of Area B (as well as the other portions of the barrage), see the Illustrations section for April 1918.

Footnote 3: Strauss’ concerns proved to be unfounded, as the United States and Great Britain worked jointly to lay approximately 10,400 mines in Area B by the end of the war.

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