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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas


May 18th 1918.     

My dear Pringle,

          The officers ordered from the Flotilla to take charge of the outlying stations will hold down the job until the trouble is over or until the Department sends out people to take their places. The Department is very insistent that officers with destroyer experience should not be diverted from that work.1 In this I entirely agree with them though sometimes it cannot be avoided.

          We have telegraphed to you concerning the possibility of getting three destroyers to operate with our chasers, this to be accomplished by lengthening the repair period until the damaged vessels now under repair are available.

          We must do something to get after the submarine in the Mediterranean. As times become harder for submarines in the north, they are diverting additional submarines to the Mediterranean. Three have already done [i.e., gone] down there, and the Mediterranean is very deficient in escorting vessels. The three destroyers are intended to be used solely for hunting work in the Otranto Straits and that neighborhood. It promises to be successful.

          The time is approaching when the oil situation in Brest will permit the basing on that port of sufficient destroyers to take charge of all troop transports going into the coast of France. This will enable those transports to be brought in by much less steaming and consequently less consumption of oil. It would probably take ten or twelve boats to do this, and would relieve Queenstown of all responsibility for the troop transports going into France.

          Of course I recognise that in no station whatever are there as many destroyers as are necessary for the efficient carrying out of the work. We hope that some of our new destroyers will be starting very soon. These will be based where most necessary. Doubtless the first arrivals will go to Queenstown so that the hunting of submarines in the Irish Sea may be augmented. These will be followed by submarine chasers fitted with the latest listening devices. When we get a bunch of these we should be able to make the Irish Sea practically untenable to submarines. That is the great hope of the future.

          I think you will find that Lieut. Commander Dayy’s trip will be useful to us.2 He appears to be a very level headed young man and earnestly desires to do everything he can to advise the Bureau of the line of efficiency of the vessels at the Front.

          Concerning the store shed, we have never het [i.e., yet] received authority from the Navy Dept. to spend the money necessary. After cabling them three times, I cabled you authorizing the expenditure and informed the Department what I had done. There has been no reply from the Department. Of course I have blanket authority to spend money for such purposes but I thought it best to refer the matter to the Department on account of the considerable size of the sum required. I think there will be no trouble about it. I fancy the peoply in the Navy Dept. were having trouble to persuade the Secretary3 that it was necessary. Probably my telegram to the effect that I had authorized the expenditure finally convinced him.4

          I am glad to know that Price5 is coming down to London. You may be sure we will be glad to see him and will look out for him.

Very sincerely yours,

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 79. “Admiral Sim’s Personal File” and identifiers “1/3/J/D” appear at the top of both pages. Document is addressed below close: “Captain J.R. Poinsett Pringle,U.S.N./U.S.S. MELVILLE./Queenstown. Ireland.”

Footnote 1: These officers were Lt. Cmdr. Henry D. Cooke, Commander, Allen, and Lt. Cmdr. John H. Newton, Pringle's Gunnery Officer. They had been sent to take charge of the recently established naval air stations at Lough Foyle and Whiddy Island, respectively. See: Pringle to Sims, 16 May 1918, and  Sims to Pringle, 18 May 1918.

Footnote 2: Lt. Cmdr. Charles G. Davy, an officer in the destroyer force, was on temporary assignment at the Bureau of Navigation. For more on his visit to Queenstown, see: Leigh C. Palmer to Sims, 26 March 1918, Pringle to Sims, 12 May 1918.

Footnote 3: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

Footnote 4: This cable has not been found.

Footnote 5: Capt. Henry B. Price, Commander, Dixie.