Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of the British Admiralty Sir Oswyn A. R. Murray to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

19th May 1918.     

FORCE COMMANDER,

     UNITED STATES NAVY.

          With reference to previous communications on the subject of the oil fuel reserve in Home Waters for the use of the combined Navies, I beg to inform you that, nothwithstanding the continued employment of double bottom for transport of oil,1 at the expense of food and other important essentials, the stocks at the end of April were still 150,000 tons short of the low s tandard of reserve which the Board of Admiralty have, through force of circumstances, been obliged to accept. So far as can be foreseen, this situation will not have been improved y<u>pon by the end of the current month.

          As you are aware, additional operational activities are being imposed upon the combined Navies which are resulting in a steadily increasing expenditure of oil fuel, future prospects still indicate that the food situation in this country will, before long, compel the discontinuance, except on an insignificant scale, of the use of double bottoms for the import of oil fuel. The outlook is therefore a source of grave disquietude to Their Lordships.2

          They note with satisfaction that imports of oil fuel in U.S.Navy Tankers have now overtaken the expenditure of American Naval units in British Waters, and are also glad to learn from recent telegrams, that there ate <are> good prospects thate the rate of import of these vessels may be somewhat accelerated during the next few weeks.

          As it is most important in our common interest that every effort should be made during the next few months to improve the position of oil fuel stocks in this country, I would ask that shipments in U.S.Navy Tankers may be increased so as to meet if possible the deficit in the standard reserves which now exists.3

/s/ H Eastwood

                  for the Secretary.   

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

Footnote 1: A double bottom is a ship hull construction method where the bottom of the ship has two complete layers of watertight hull surface. The space between the two bottoms was used to transport fuel. What Murray is saying here is that both hulls were being used to transport oil at the expense of other cargoes, such as food.

Footnote 2: That is, the Lords of the Admiralty.

Footnote 3: According to the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy had “available only sufficient tank ships to keep up with your [Sims’] present demand.” See: William S. Benson to Sims, 22 May 1918.

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