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


From Vice Admiral Sims

To   Operations                         <May 6, 1918.>

7484 Your 46851

First Our basic Naval Policy should be “The Navy of the United States shall be a self-contained organization designed to exercise in the Pacific and Caribbean Sea, a defensive superiority of naval power against all potential powers who may seek to extend their spheres of influence over or to impose their sovereignty on any portion of the American continents or islands continuous thereto not now in their possession, or who may interfere unjustly with out [i.e., our] international rights or our trade expansion.”

     In interpreting the basic naval policy we should consider for the present an alliance of Germany, Austria and Japan against us as the maximum probable force which we must prepare to meet.

Second No change should be made in above basic policy to meet the present situation, but the execution of a general building program should be subordinated to the special need of the present war.

Third. No submarine additions to present program are essential in the conduct of the present war. If the war in a subsequent age becomes a war in which we alone opposed to Germany the execution of the general building program called for by the sic naval policy should be undertaken.

Fourth The following submarine additions to those now under construction are advised as part of a general building:

          Scout Submarines

          General characteristics:- raduis [i.e., radius] 10,000 miles at speed 10 knots. Diesel engines and surface speed of at least 16 knots, as much more as can be obtained with complete reliability of machinery. Submerged speed 9 knots but less if necessary obtain high surface speed. Armament one 6-inch gun one anti-aircraft gun, 6 twenty-one foot 21-inch torpedo tubes. Radio sending power by day 500 miles. Habitability: maximum-there should be comfort for every man on board. One should have mast at least 75 feet high. Other characteristics standard. This class is to be laid down when type is developed: no experimental machinery to be used.

Submarine Mine-layer – one as a pilot and experimental boat.

Fleet Submarines – one as a pilot and experimental boat. No anti-submarines are recommended.

Your 5046.

First Naval building program should be reverted to whenever the military situation in Europe reaches a decision or when the need for ships is no longer the controling factor in present war.

Second No new type of submarine chaser and no additional anti-submarine programs are recommended, but the earliest possible completion present programs is recommended. Immediate deliveries are of the highest importance, justifying delay in subsequent delivery.2

Third The United States should prepare now for the most vigorous possible resumption of the big-ship building program and should undertake that program when the merchant tonnage demands of the present war permit. Fundamental policy governing number and type of battle ships and battle cruisers should be: number equal to Japan, Germany and Austria combined; type to be superior in speed, radius and gun power, to best foreign type. Following characteristics recommended for battle cruiser:- battery eight 16 inch guns, torpedo maximum possible, speed 32 knots one half plus under water protection equal to battleships armor 12 inch for belt barbette and turret, displacement about 42000 tons. Other characteristics as at present.

          A fighting scout type is recommended of the following general characteristics:- eight 8-inch guns center line, two AA guns maximum number torpedo tubes: Speed 32 1/2 knots plus: 10,000 miles radius at speed 12 knots: other characteristics standard except aircraft capacity modified as necessary.

          A super-destroyer is recommended of following general characteristics: guns five 5-inch, torpedo two or four quadruple tubes, speed 37 knots with emergency speed of 40 knots, radius as great as possible on a displacement of about 2000 tons.

Fourth No light cruiser type is recommended for anti-cruiser-submarine work. The super-destroyer believed to be an adequate tactical reply to the cruiser submarine. A vitally necessary accompaniment of a building program is a system outlying bases that will permit the full use of the fleet. Susana Bay, San Domingo,3 Pearl Harbor and Guam are essential bases.

          Planning section memorandum following by mail 00706. 7484

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. List below close: “Op-19/Op-28 (2)/Paraphrases to Op-28.” The handwritten date is confirmed by the time/date stamp at the end of the text. Identifier in top right-hand corner: “I-L-7492.”

Footnote 1: This cable has not been found.

Footnote 3: Samana Bay, Dominican Republic.