Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, Circular to All Forces

U.S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS

U.S.S. MELVILLE, Flagship.

London, England.

CONFINDENTIAL                                       May 14, 1918.                                                     

CIRCULAR LETTER NO. 35.

From:     Force Commander.

To  :     All Forces.

SUBJECT:  U.S. Depth Charges, Mark 11, Mod. 1.

     1.   Information has been received from the Bureau of Ordnance concerning further experiments with Mark 11, Mod. 1, 300 lb. U.S. depth charges. The experiments indicate that these charges will countermine1 at distances up to 150 feet; they will not countermine at a distance of 200 feet and above.

     2.   The rate of sinking has been determined as 6 feet per second.

     3.   In successive laying of depth charges in accordance with approved tactics2 the time interval should be so regulated that the distance between charges will be not less than 200 feet.

SIMS.              

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Addressed below close: “Copies to:-/Brest 75/Gibraltar 35/MELVILLE 75/Aviations (Captain [Hutchinson I.] Cone) 5/Azores 15/Commander Mine Force [Joseph Strauss] 10/Sixth Battle Squadron [Hugh Rodman] 11/C-in-C Atlantic Fleet [Henry T. Mayo] 1/Operations 2/Bureau of Ordnance 2/Bunav for New Destroyers 50/Base 25, 45/Admiralty 2/Staff Representative, Paris [Richard H. Jackson] 2./Files 10.”

Footnote 1: A countermine is a mine laid for the purpose of destroying an enemy mine. In this case, Sims seems to be referring to mines detonating each other.

Footnote 2: The Navy’s policy, which Sims enthusiastically supported, was for ships to unleash as many depth charges as possible upon any suspected submarine, rather than working to conserve them. This led to much greater effectiveness in combating U-boats. See: Sims Circular of 9 April 1918; and Sims to the Office of the Chief of Naval Intelligence, 19 April 1918.

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